From I began photographing in 1987 until 2003, I always owned a 35mm camera. From 1995 to 2003, I only used 35mm cameras for infrared film.
Small Format - Advantages
35mm film cameras were well suited to rapid photography, with its small size and easy handling. With good film and lenses, high quality images were easily achievable with 35mm cameras, and coupled with their size and price, this made them the overwhelming favourite among amateur photographers, and many professionals as well.
One of the greatest advantages of 35mm camera over larger film formats is lens length; it is quite easy to purchase a lens for a 35mm that can make a subject appear six times closer (a 300mm lens). For larger film formats, such a long lens would be cost-prohibitive, impractical or even impossible (for a 4"x5” camera, 900mm, for an 8"x10” camera, 1,800mm). This makes 35mm cameras ideal for wildlife, sport and other such applications.
Small Format - Personal Camera History
My first film camera was a 35mm Olympus ON-10, with a manual adaptor. This was a small, lightly built camera that was more then adequate to spark an interest which would grow to fill my life. That said, the body wasn’t quite up to the kind of use I would put it through, and in under three years, I had worn it out.
My next camera system was a Nikon system, built around a Nikon FM2 which I bought used. This system, and a variety of bodies (14 in all), would serve me from 1990 to 1998. In 1998, I switched from Nikon to Canon EOS (Electro Optical System) with an older EOS 650 body which did not have an infrared advance. My EOS lenses included a 20mm, 50mm and 85mm lens. In 2001, I shifted back to Nikon, and eventually scaled down my 35mm system to a single body (an F3) and two lenses (20mm and 85mm). I sold this equipment in 2003, to fund the purchase of a digital SLR camera.