Rather than tag onto the other debate about buying an SLR I started this one... When I was about 12 my dad bought me a Halina 35X .. that was my introduction to photography.. a fully manual 35mm camera, no light meter or auto focusing with a manual film winder... I learned about exposure, aperture, shutter speed, film speed, focusing and the relationship between them.. had it right up till I was about 37 .. until my present wife Jan decided I needed something a big more up to date so she bought me an all singing dancing Pentax SLR and a couple of lenses.. did I take better photos ? No, they may have been better technically but no better than my photos taken by my old faithful Halina .. Sadly I gave it away when I went full time in the RV .. Since moved on from film now use a Nikon D50 .. but still hanker after my old camera.. So.. what was your first camera and do you still have it ??