When I started taking photos as a young boy, it was with a Kodak Brownie B, which took a roll of 626 film. 8 shots. I would get ONE film for a week’s vacation. It was 2-3 weeks allowance to get it processed, and it took 7-10 days to come back, after I’d dropped it into the local pharmacy.
I used to wish I could have color, but that was too expensive to buy, let alone develop.
Then I got my first film SLR, a Minolta XG1. I had that camera 20 years. Strange thing was, that although I could now afford color, I used to love to shoot Black & White. There are, of course, ways to manipulate Black & White that you simply cannot do with Color.
I used to get a 64 ASA (ISO) black & white slide film, quite often.
I still have all those slides, and one day, I’ll get around to getting them digitized.
Now, with my DSLR (Canon Rebel XSi, or 450D to Europeans, and those in the UK), I shoot everything in color, and post process some in Photoshop to black and white.
To get the best results,I don’t simply use the monochrome option on the camera, nor just de-saturate the color image. Both of those options are one way destructive. I work with RAW files, and use adjustment layers to end up with a high quality black and white jpeg.
That way I still have the original color RAW file. I also save the PSD, particularly if I’ve used a few steps to get to the result, so I can re-produce the image again if I wish.
I’m not a professional photographer, this is (aside from photographs I take for web-site work), simply a hobby that I enjoy.
If I had bottomless pockets I would no doubt carry around a few thousand dollars worth of equipment, but, like most people, I haven’t.
Still, one can even get excellent results from some of the higher end Point & Shoot cameras out there these days, so it’s not imperative to have a back pack full of gear to get some decent photographs.