My first camera back in Poland was DRUH, which I got when I was eight. It used large format film and had two aperture settings: sun and clouds. I almost exclusively used FOTOPAN, Polish black-and-white film.
My next camera was Russian SMENA 8M, 35 mm P&S, highly sophisticated as compared with DRUH. My SMENA helped me to preserve a lot of good memories from high school. It is still sitting boxed somewhere in my parents house in Poland.
My SMENA was superseded by ZENIT-E, Russian-built SLR, which I bought in East Germany after my first year of university. I worked hard for this camera logging trees around Jena for one full month. And later I had to work hard carrying it around, as it was pretty heavy. Heavy aside, it was a very reliable camera. Once, in Riga (Latvia), I dropped it from a waist height on a concrete paved sidewalk - I picked it up and it worked just fine. As the matter of fact it still works, although I rarely use it. Soon after the Riga incident, my ZENIT-E lost its timer. A friend of mine wanted to play a big-time photojournalist during the first visit of John Paul II to Cracow, but he did not have a decent camera. So, somewhat reluctantly, I lent him mine. A few days later he returned it damaged. When confronted about it, he claimed we were even because several of his films were fogged as the result of the timer problem. But really angry I became a few months later, when he wanted to borrow it again.
Sometimes later I upgraded to a newer, and even heavier, model ZENIT FM. In the Zenit era I started shooting color ORWO slide and negative film. ORWO negative film (and ORWO paper as well) was "warmer" than Kodak, meaning that with time even trees and sky in an image were turning red. I took a lot of precious pictures at that time and ORWO slides are still in a relatively good shape. The new Zenit FM served me well for several years until it was stolen in 1989 from my apartment in Boston, MA.
Soon after that I got a SAMSUNG P&S. For many years it served me very well. Later I passed it to my wife and my daughter. Some of the best moments of my family in 90s were preserved with this camera. I also used it to shoot hundreds of pictures on my trips to China, Japan, and Italy in early 90s.
While living in Japan, I bought in 1997 my Minolta alpha 707si, a SLR, which is known outside Japan as Maxxum or Dynax. I have used it for over 10 years and loved it very much. I shot with my Minolta several thousand pictures when traveling in 1996 and 1997 for several months in China and South-east Asia. During a day I always had my camera handy, and at night I slept with it (well, besides the rather expensive photo equipment, I also had several thousand dollars in cash and travelers cheques in my photo bag, which explains). During the last leg of my trip, I dropped my Minolta from about 2 feet on a grassy ground when hiking in western Nepal. The camera stopped working and the repair was rather costly. Well, Japanese technology of 90s failed where Russian technology of 70s performed well. However, rather than switching back to ZENIT, I decided to be more careful with handling my camera in the future.
I took me some time to go fully digital. First, I was waiting for several years for Minolta to come up with a digital SLR. Also, I was not sure that any digital camera I could afford would perform better than my film Minolta. Later, after Minolta came up with a digital SLR (7D), I was a little bit disappointed with the only 6 MP sensor, although the in-body image stabilization was a very tempting feature. In the meantime, I occasionally used a borrowed Nikon 995 (and, more recently, a Nikon P2, which bought for my wife). When I finally convinced myself to go with Minolta 7D anyway, the company folded Canadian operations and, later, left the camera business altogether. It was too much even for such a loyal Minolta user as I was. In April 2006 I bought Nikon D200 with an 18-200 VR lens. After several thousand "clicks" I am extremely happy with the new camera and hope not to shop for another one for at least a few years. Since April 2006, my Minolta is being pulled out of a bag only on special occasions.