We all have to start somewhere. Where and when we start is dependent upon many things but mostly our motivation.
Anyways, I started taking a lot of pictures with my P&S cameras. I think a lot of them were with a Sony Mavica (borrowed from Dad) that stored pictures directly to a 1.44 MB 3.5" Floppy disc. 1.3 MPs of neato! There was only so much that you could squeeze out of that thing and you looked like an idiot using it.
At some point I decided I'd like to have a nicer P&S. I picked up a Fuji S3100 that had some manual controls felt nice and was fairly compact for the features it offered. I used that camera for most of the time I was on board the USS Ronald Reagan.
We went around South America hitting up Rio de Janerio Brazil, The Straights of Magellan, Chile and Peru. It was a blast. I have a lot of snap shots from then, a lot of memories.
I started to look at a lot of what I was shooting and considered it to be OK stuff. I was able to look at something and capture it. Pretty straight forward. I was able to understand what different manual settings on my camera could do for me and was pushing those to their limits. It was a good time until I started becoming frustrated with those limits.
At some point in 2005 the Navy ended up giving me a bonus, back-pay or was it a tax return? I forget, but I had decided that I wanted a Digital SLR. I had been playing around with my parent's old Nikon film SLR and was happy with the results I was getting.
There were a few drawbacks:
-No instant feedback. I had to wait to get the film developed.
-No AF. My wrists were getting tired turning the focus rings (:))
-Film and developing was getting expensive. I was averaging about a roll a day.
Anyways, I went to the local camera shop and messed around with a Canon Digital Rebel and the Nikon D70s. Those were the only ones in my price range. The Canon felt like a toy. I don't think that anyone will argue with me that the 1st generation Digital Rebels were built like toys. This is what really drove me to the Nikon line. Plus, all my old "legacy" lenses would work with the system. BONUS!
I was quite happy. I took pics of everything. I left the camera in manual all the time and learned as much as I could. I even realized that no flash is so much better than the pop up flash on the camera.
At this point I had a Nikon D70s, Nikkor 18-70, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 and Kalimar 35-135mm. Pretty decent setup for a hack like myself.