As a photographer I am constantly asked, “What camera do you recommend I get?”.
Well that all depends on what you want to do with it. If you are just going to take a few snapshots of your seconds cousins tea cup poodle sweater collection a couple times a year, then I wouldn’t go all out and spend a lot of money. Unless you happen to have the contents of an average sized Brinks truck and simply want to spend the money because it makes you feel just a few inches north of a dwarf. <- Big and tall, if you didn’t catch that last reference.
There are plenty of great cameras in the mid $100 range. There are even better cameras in the mid $200 – $300 range that will take an amazing image. They have a fair amount of manual control for when you feeling a burnin’ desire to be “Artistic”, and they are simple enough for a slightly trained circus bear (you know the one that rides into your nightmares on a unicycle to torment you) to use. Canon makes a fair number of these cameras in the Canon Powershot series. Canon is a known and respected name when it comes to optics and image quality and you really cant go wrong with any Canon brand camera. I personally shoot with a Canon camera and I would recommend it to everyone.
Another great option for entry level point and shoot cameras is Sony. Ever heard of them? It is a somewhat small company based in Japan. They seem to think they are going to be some industry leader in consumer electronics and their brand name will someday dominate everything from home theatres to game consoles. Great! Anyway, while they waste precious time and fossil resources planning to take over the world they have at least taken the time to produce a surprisingly stable and feature rich line of cameras with the Sony Cybershot series of cameras. I also would not hesitate to recommend these point and shoot models to anyone.
Now if you think you want more control over your photographic and artistic endeavours or you would like to persue photography as a career, then a SLR Camera is the only option that you have. I know you might be saying “But I can always get one of these it will be good enough!”. Well you are WRONG. I am not saying that you need to rush out and drop an entire truck load on a really high end SLR like the Canon EOS-1d MRKII. While it’s a great camera, it’s a bit of an overkill for entering into the field. However there are great SLR models in the $600 – $1000 range that will take superb image when paired with high quality optics. My advice to you… get the best body that you can get within a fair budget. Then dump your truck loads of cash on lenses. If you have bad optics you will have bad photos.
Now that I have been entirely vague, and completely helpful, you should have none of the information you need to make your descision. Happy hunting!