What is a good camera to buy to learn photography ?
This is a question that I am often asked. I can not say that there is one best camera but I will recommend the Canon EOS Rebel XSi digital any way. This is an interchangeable lens camera and is larger and a bit more expensive than most of the point and shoot cameras out there but it is FAR better. The reason to start with an interchangeable lens camera (hereafter referred to as an SLR) is that it allows much more control over the final image. I recommend shooting in manual mode so that you will learn the relationship between aperture and shutter speed and how each relates to the final exposure. I can go off on a discussion of what each does forever but it isn’t nearly as effective as seeing the results first hand. That is also the advantage of digital in the learning process. You can immediately see what has happened with each change of the controls. If you are reasonably serious about learning then it will happen very rapidly with this camera and the accompanying lens that comes with the kit.
Here is an easy but extremely effective exercise: Set your camera up on a steady platform and photograph something fairly close to the camera. Don’t change ANYTHING except the aperture and shutter controls keeping a consistent exposure (as you increase the aperture you decrease the shutter speed). Do that incrementally for both variables and examine the resulting images. The exposures will be the same but there will be differences in the photos. Understand this and you have only lighting to go to get the technical out of the way. Lighting is a bit trickier though.