My first introduction to SLR cameras was a rather old Canon my mother had stashed away in a closet. She had purchased it at a pawn shop in New York back in the 70's. It was sturdy metal and had a pretty retro look to it compared to today's models. Best of all it still worked perfectly! I loved the pull-lever mechanism for advancing the film, and the loud click it made when you pressed the shutter.
My first digital camera was a Nikon. I received it as a high school graduation gift from my big sister. It was an adorably fat little thing. It boasted a whopping 3.21 Megapixels! Pretty impressive for an 18 year old back in the early 2000s. And yes, I actually still have it.
When I was studying photography and shooting mostly film (gasp!) in both high school and college, I had a Canon Rebel SLR. It was definitely lighter weight in comparison to that old sturdy Canon! Unfortunately this one only lasted a few years until certain mechanisms broke on me. Not having a ton of funds for upgrading, I replaced it with nearly the exact same camera. I held on to that baby for a long time and even shot several weddings using film (so risky and expensive, I know!). Needless to say I have boxes upon boxes of old negatives in my closet.
My first DSLR (the D makes all the difference!) was a used Nikon that I bought from a friend of a friend. It wasn't the newest or greatest, and it even had a few problems. But I was finally able to create digital images similar to those from my film camera. And with the manual settings I had infinitely more control than with a point-and-shoot.
Soon I was able to save up my pennies and purchase a new (not used) Nikon DSLR, and with that I began investing in lenses to go with it. My favorite lens for portraits is my trusty 50mm prime lens. It doesn't zoom at all, so you may often see me scurrying myself back and forth, closer and farther away from my subjects to frame just the right image. It's just beautiful for portraits and can create those crazy soft blurry backgrounds that I'm in love with. Once you start really investing in lenses and other accessories that are not interchangeable between cameras, brand loyalty starts making a whole lot more sense.