I've been shooting a lot lately with two fully-manual, fully-mechanical film cameras: a 1956 FED-2 (pictured above), and a 1968 Mamiya C220.
This might seem odd, given the extreme abilities and technological prowess of my digital camera, a Fujifilm X100T. And it's true, the X100T is a marvel of a camera - it's fast, compact, and produces gorgeous files.
Taking a spin behind the viewfinder of a camera with absolutely no automatic, electronic components of any kind might seem regressive, but I find it to be both an interesting challenge and almost a kind of meditation. In the FED and the Mamiya, there's no autofocus, no auto exposure abilities of any kind, and no light meter. There are no safety nets. It's entirely upon you to judge the exposure of a scene and set the aperture and shutter speed to some combination that will result in an image of some sort (and it's further up to you alone to decide which combination of aperture and shutter speed with both create an image and make one with the aesthetics you seek).
It can be intimidating the first time you go off on foot somewhere with a camera like this if, like many people my age and younger, you formed your photographic mind in an age of easy access to advanced digital cameras. Every click of the shutter is costing you money, and unlike a camera like my Pentax ME Super (my go-to film SLR), which has a built-in light meter, there's nothing helping you make those exposures.
(Speaking of which: a lot of photographers know the "Sunny 16" rule for taking daylight photos without a light meter (on a sunny day, set your aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to the reciprocal of your film speed/ISO setting), and one benefit of immersing yourself in a fully mechanical camera experience is that you start learning how the Sunny 16 rule is really just the foundation of a system of exposure values that lets you learn to interpret virtually any scene and set your exposure without a light meter. )
Once you've spent some time with completely mechanical cameras, though, I find them to be calming. They force you to slow down and think things through, with the end result often being a far higher percentage of "keepers" when you develop the film. Living as we do in an age full of incredibly advanced, borderline Star Trek-level everyday technology, being able to take a hunk of metal with absolutely zero electronics in it and create images with it via purely mechanical means almost seems like magic. Making images without a drop of electricity feels extremely organic and tangible, an increasingly fleeting feeling in the modern age.
Cameras like these take you back to the roots of photography, and I find it an incredibly fulfilling experience to hang around a city street corner with a completely mechanical rangefinder and be able to make photos with nothing more than the metal in my hands and the knowledge in my head.
It's rewarding to use a process so physical and "real," especially when our day-to-day lives are so full of things that only exist on handheld LCD screens. I'm not a purist - there are many things for which I will happily reach for my X100T, or a more advanced film camera - but shooting with cameras like the FED and the Mamiya is an experience I really love.