Film is dead. While you can still get it and get it processed printed you might as well try and ride from DC to anchorage on a steam train or horse and buggy. It can be done, but it's going to be very hard.
digital is king. Yes, there are SLR's that are digital - TONS of them. For your budget you'll need to go used.
Canon is what I'm familiar with but as a full time pro I'm out of the loop on what the current 'consumer' model is.
A used canon 40D (2 models back) can be had for $175ish. A Rebel (many models) is canon't consumer dSLR. (the XXd is their mid grade line - 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60D models. 40d and up are good). The Xd (5, 7, 1d models are the pro models).
Some of the pro models are 'full frame' (as in full 35mm film size). All the others are 'crop' cameras - smaller sensor. 99% of the time you won't care. Where you'll see it is the way the lens works - a film camera had a 28-80 lens. On a full frame (FF) dSLR it is a 28-80 lens. On a 'crop' body the frame is smaller and centered - so it's like you cropped in the picture. So a 28-80 will give you the same field of view as a 45-120 lens, give or take a bit depending on the brand of camera. great for zoom lenses not so great for wide angle.
lenses come in 3 grades - 'consumer' like the kit lens, the 50 1.8, etc. These lenses are inexpensive due to lots of plastic, slow focus, inexpensive lenses and coatings. Under $200/lens generally.
Mid grade are $250ish to $900ish in cost, and with canon most are 'USM' lenses (a type of focus motor). Better build,better glass, better coatings - better images (color, contrast, faster focus).
Pro grade (aka "L" lenses) are $1200 and up - some go WAY up. You get better build, better optics, weather sealing, constant aperture, etc.
On a beautiful day with a flower every camera does pretty good. Now make it 9 pm and raining and have the subject be a moving athlete and now you need every bit of light and focus you can get.
So what you need depends on what you want to use it for and how much money you have.
YOu will also want a computer. I'd say need, but it's not 100% necessary. A new camera will come with software to download and do some basic editing, like crop/straighten, sharpen, white balance/color correction, etc.
Originally Posted by dwaynerz
alright camera gurus, experts and weekend warriors. i would like to get back into photography after a many year absence. i used to have a 35mm ricoh slr until somebody decided it would look better in their possesion. with all the digital cameras out there, are slr cameras dinosaurs? or do they make digital cameras that look/operate like slrs? i could look all this up i know, but getting someones opinion is almost like having someone shop with me. any recommendations? i do NOT want to spend 1000's of dollars, but a decent camera in the low to mid 100's range.