As far as this blog goes, I haven't posted much on what gear I recommend, but here it is:
DSLR's allow you to have more control over pictures than your traditional small "point and shoot" camera. After a long time of being a gear snob... I'm going to tell you now that your gear isn't THAT important. There's really a marginal difference after making the jump to these somewhat larger/clunky gadgets.
Right now, if you're looking to buy a DSLR, I recommend getting almost any camera you can get at a reasonable price. Well, whats a reasonable price you ask? Use the search feature(by registering) on the Fred Miranda Buy/Sell forum and see what the average price is... the market fluctuates too much for me to tell you right now ^^; Generally an older body should be around 300-500 dollars, models released recently in the past year should be relatively expensive still... take a look and see what fits your budget.
**(Update): I have a general brand preference for Canon and Nikon... but brands such as Olympus, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, and (of course) Leica are all good, I just didn't do much research into their DSLR lines. My photography professor, Eli Reed, prefers Olympus and Leica to any other brand. If you asked me... "What is your dream camera?" I would answer "Leica M9 with a 50mm Noctilux." anyways~...
As far as used gear goes I use Fred Miranda. For new i use BHphotovideo or Amazon.
Camera bodies to look out for: (generally from cheaper to more expensive)
-Canon: XTi, XSi, 30D, T1i, 40D, 50D, 5D
-Nikon: D80, D90, D200, D300, D300S
Most recent models, which would be harder to find at a discounted price:
-Canon: T2i, 60D, 7D, 5D mk2
-Nikon: D7000, D700
**You'll notice that I left out the Nikon D40, 40x, D60, and D5000. These cameras are perfectly fine, but they lack an internal focus motor that will limit your next lens choices. I know a lot of people who have been taking amazing pictures with these cameras. If you see one at a bargain price, get it.
Lenses are a tricky issue now days, there are just so many of them. They come in all sorts of zoom lengths... and everyone's preferences are different!
In my opinion it would be best to start off with 2 lenses. A general zoom lens, and a prime lens (a lens that cannot zoom). Most cameras come with a general zoom lens, most of the time its a 18-55mm. If your camera comes with it, use it for a bit and get your next lens based on your own personal needs. If it doesn't... I would recommend jumping to a better lens (mentioned below).
As for the prime lens, its the 50mm F/1.8 lens for both Canon and Nikon. Now why does everyone recommend this lens, and what does it offer that your zoom lens doesn't? In short it allows you to be more creative with your pictures. First off it's a fixed lens... you can't just stand there and zoom in on something. You will have to zoom and frame with your feet, you'll actually start to give a damn about your framing due to the extra effort. Second, the lens lets you achieve a shallow depth of field or DOF. What is depth of field? Let this wonderful youtube video explain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOC_Msb1dI
However if your camera does not come with a zoom or if you're looking to upgrade your zoom lens, hands down I recommend either the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. These zooms have a constant f/2.8 aperture. No more having to deal with your F stop changing from 3.5 to 5.6 when you zoom in! Also they're sharper than your average cheap zoom. If you get one new it comes with a 5 year warrenty, but either used or new... its the best bang for the buck in my opinion!
**There is a newer version with vibration compensation, I recommend the older one with out it due to the price difference. The 17-50 is 414$ after rebate from BHphotovideo.
The most reasonable combo for a person starting out would be in my opinion a Canon XSi, 30D, or 40D with a 50mm Prime, any zoom lens that ranges from around 18mm to 50+mm, any flash compatible with your camera, and any basic tripod(would at least spend about 100$ on one).
For a person looking for a true workhorse combo. I recommend the Canon 7D, 17-55mm F2.8 lens, 70-200mm F2.8 L lens, and a 50mm F1.8 lens(the 1.4 ain't that much better at the moment). For the Nikon shooter, either the D300, or D300s should do nicely, same with the equivalent Nikon lenses. A Canon a 530EX flash, or for Nikon a SB600,800,900. Also a Gitzo or Manfrotto tripod would be ideal.
Personally I never use flash, and I don't use a tripod either. But that's because my style is usually spontaneous and not calculated. Flash and tripods will only expand your creativity =).
-If a DSLR is not your thing
DSLR's are a pain to bring around sometimes, they're big, loud, and obtrusive. What's a better alternative?
Best point and shoots period: Canon S90, Lumix lx3
My thoughts on this system are somewhat divided. I have a M4/3'rds or "EVIL" camera, and I actually like it. It provides excellent image quality while being relatively small. If you're interested visit your local camera shop and check out for yourself. To be honest the picture at the top of this post was taken by one of them... they are the real deal!
Only gripes about these cameras are that they are still pretty expensive, and their low light capability is pretty poor.
The most consumer friendly EVIL camera: Olympus EPL1.
Get the zoom or the 28mm.. either one would be good =). These cameras also allow you to use virtually any lens out there via an adapter, with some research you can find some reallyyy cheap, but fantastic lenses that will pair nicely with your camera. The EPL1 is simply hands down the best M4/3rds camera available, sadly... its painful to say that it's better than my Panasonic GF1 (pic above)
-In the end...
The idea is to get any camera you can get your hands on and go out and take pictures! practice practice practice!
**will be updating/editing this frequently, along with linking you to most of the gear... I have homework =(.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment, or message me on aim, my sn is "ibeplu"
***new site called "snapsort" for comparing cameras side by side spec wise. Keep in mind that there is no sure fire spec or feature that makes a camera better than another. All cameras are trade offs in a sense, you'll need to find what features are more important to your style of photography.