That being said, here's what I have:
- Canon Digital Rebel xsi. I believe that I have the 10.1MP version. There is now a 12.2 MP xsi out. I'm sure it is a fabulous camera. This is a great entry-level digital SLR camera. You can either purchase this camera as just the body (with no lens) or as a kit with the "kit lens." On the camera that I purchased the kit lens is a 18-55 lens. It is actually a very versatile lens.
Nikon's entry-level digital camera is also really nice. I really think you'd be happy with either one.
The more I used this camera, I became aware of my need for additional lenses. Honestly though, you really don't need a thousand dollar lens~ at least not at the skill level that I am at. Here are the two additional lenses that I use~ and I do use them both a lot!
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. This is a "portrait lens" often called the "nifty fifty." There is no zoom on this lens... your legs are the zoom, but it does take really nice portraits. Do you like portraits that have the "blurry background?" You can do that with the kit lens included with the Rebel, but you can really get some fabulous background blur with this lens. Not necessary, but nice and, as lenses go, not too expensive either.
Last spring as I got ready to go on our trip to Europe I began to shop for a nice zoom lens to use as we traveled. I read lots and lots of reviews on Amazon and other photography sites and finally decided on this lens. For the price, it has been fabulous!
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
- Finally, you need to make a fabric cover for your camera strap! Not only is it uber-adorable, but you'll always know right where your camera is. You can even make one to go with every outfit!
And that's it! Honestly, for the vast majority of people, it is more about the time you spend taking photographs than it is about your equipment. I have seen fabulous photos taken with little pocket cameras like a Canon Powershot. The really critical thing is to be willing to experiment with manual modes and learn to use aperture priority, control shutter speed, etc. I use my camera almost every day... a few days ago I took a walk up in the woods with our boys and was surprised to see 97 photos when I uploaded them. The more photos I take, the more I learn and the greater chances I have of getting a few good shots. And hey, digital photos are cheap, right? How cool is that?
A few years ago I was able to take an online photography class at Jessica Sprague. It was fabulous for getting me to actually use the manual settings on my camera. I highly recommend a class like that. But, that being said, there are many, many free resources to improve your photography skills out there. I'll try to post a list soon of some of my favorite free resources, ok?
And finally, a few favorite tips to get you started:
- Turn off the flash! Really! Your photos will have much nicer natural lighting that way. If the room seems too dark, try repositioning your subject or raise the ISO on your camera. Experiment, experiment, experiment.....
- Don't just stand to take your photos... the children frequently find my laying on the ground, squatting or even climbing up on things for the best vantage point.
- The zoom lens can be great for candid shots and capturing "real life" interaction between siblings that wouldn't happen if the children knew that I was photographing them.
- Don't position your subject right in the center of your lens... off center adds some real energy to the shot.
- Zoom in on your subjects. Even part of a face can contain so much more personality than a square-on full face/body shot.
- Don't just photograph people... take pictures of everyday life.
There you have it! Hope that is helpful!