What do you really need?
This is the single most important question you need to answer when buying a REAL camera.
Sure you can get a new Canon with fifty megapixels and a price tag the size of your first mortgage, but do you really need all that resolution?
If you are shooting birds on the wing or in their nests, or trying to get a fly's eye view of a dangerous predator, then the answer is yes. But if you are shooting landscapes, skyscapes, cloudscapes, ocean scenes trees, rocks waterfalls the answer is no. Even if you are shooting those birds or wild cats the glass you use will be more important than the body it sits on.
(Why yes, I did end a sentence with a preposition an I know you are not supposed to do that very thing, my fifth grade English teacher wept bitter tears trying to get me to stop and I wrote sentence after sentence on the board in an effort to correct my lack of appreciation for proper American Grammar. But no less an authority than Winston Churchill had this to say about the Rule: A young reporter corrected the immortal Englishman for ending a sentence with a preposition and the great man snapped back, “Young man that is an effrontery up with which I will not put!” Two lessons when battling wits with the top gun be sure to bring your wits and sometimes a RULE is just a rule.)
So let's be practical, you are not going to suddenly be Kelle Herrick or Susan Dimmock and thank goodness cause they do a very god job of being Kelle and Susan and you couldn't do nearly as good a job and they spent years learning their craft and they are the top of their class so let's aim just a bit lower and see if there is room at the bottom.
And since you aren't, glance back one paragraph if you have forgotten and don't be embarrassed cause we all do it like walking into a room and not having a clue why you did so since you aren't what kind of resolution do you need?
Try twelve megapixels. This will give you consistent wonderful 8x10's and if you need larger you can go as high as 16x20 with a good custom printer, yes, you could do it yourself if you get a serious Epson printer and spend the time to learn how to get the best results, but maybe it's better to just let Iprintfromhome,
or if you need it framed and mounted then American Frame is the ticket
Cause they will do the whole magillah and send it to your very doorstep in double quick time and you can spend the time you save herding kids or sweeping around The Thing on the Couch.
Now you'll find out pretty quickly they don't make twelve megapixel cameras any more, which is a very good thing for you cause you can get the nifty, neat and cool low-millage camera which someone with more money and less brains discarded when they bought that fifty megapixel Canon.
Now let me 'splain something to you, you do not want the very top of the bar, high-end pro model camera for a whole bunch of reasons.
Like they still cost more than your first home, even after they have been discontinued and left behind in the technology revolution. And the good stuff you want to buy after you get them will cost almost as much as the body so be cautious.
Also pros treat their equipment like tools, they take care of it so they can count on it when they need it even if they are knee deep in a frozen river in Latsuana, ten thousand miles away from the nearest distributor and they work it into the ground squeezing every frame out of it until the poor thing is a broken mess of gears and cone3ctors and they can't even use it for a paper weight. They do that because it is a tool and tools get written off on income tax and replaced with new and better tools but not before they have given the last full measure of devotion.
So if you buy a pro-level camera it will likely have given it's best long before you got your hands on it.
Pro equipment is complicated, you can send a man to Jupiter with less knowledge and technical skill than getting a Canon D model set right for a back-lit scene with slanting cross-light and a serious color shift. Do you want to learn how easy it is to launch a man into space? Cause you can do it long before you get than Canon set right!
Then what do you want?
An entry level or mid-range camera which has been owned by an up and coming professional yuppie who has to have all of the latest toys and has no idea how to use them and gets bored after six weeks and sends it off to the camera's graveyard and buys another more powerful camera which he still doesn't know how to use.
So what's the answer? I have three and they are all good and they all have their quality features and they all can be had for around two hundred dollars. Now that's what you spend on a point 'n' shoot pocket stuffer which ill just leave you grinding your teeth cause it won't do what you want and let's not forget that you already have a cheap, bad Cranmer in your phone which you are please not using for serious photography are you, no of course you wouldn't do such a horrible thing cause you want your pictures to be useful and you know that a tiny box added on to the radio is just a gimmick to get you to buy that parking lot sized phone in the first place.
They are in no order, the Pentax K-x, the Nikon D90 and the Canon Xsi. They all pack twelve megapixel CMOS sensors which you do want and they all come with lens mounts so you can change lenses when you learn how to make use of them and they all live and breath on the used market for under two hundred dollars.
Don't believe me, go to KEH, Adorama or B&H
So go take a look and tomorrow we'll talk Pentaxian!