First I'll have to disclose I'm biased towards Nikon and have been using Nikon equipment for both film and digital. Others are biased towards Cannon
although I think that is an issue more of price than quality.
Two thousand is enough for you to think entry level DSLR. There are many advantages over a point and shoot. You have to first decide how much effort
in learning you want to put in and is this a passing fancy for you.
First with a DSLR you have the huge advantage that as you collect lenses, you will be able to use them with each new Body you purchase in the future.
This is another reason I endorse Nikon. The huge disadvantage to not going DSLR is that if you do go point and shoot at consumer level and then decide
you like Photography enough to stick with it, the point and shoot won't satisfy you and it will land in a drawer or sold for pennies on the dollar as
they don't hold value. While a good DSLR will remain useful to you for a long while and when you retire the body you only need to purchase the newer
body as the lenses will survive many new bodies.
I'd say you should carefully consider how serious you are. If all you want to do is take family and vacation photo's, you should maybe spend a few
hundred and there is no reason for you to spend two thousand, so why waste it on features you will never use.
On the other hand, if you want to learn photography at a serious level a point and shoot will disappoint you very quickly. You will find you want to
be able to shoot from long distances, no way to do that without a DSLR and a long lens. You may find you want to do large high quality prints, the
quality from a point and shoot won't satisfy you. You may find you want do to take studio shots and again a point and shoot does not have the features
you need provided through all the accessories. The programed modes on point and shoots limit greatly what you can do but work wonderful if your just
filling the family album.
The downside of DSLR is that the initial purchase is just the start. One good lens can cost far more than the body. Say you decide you enjoy shooting
birds in flight or you are into wildlife shots. The lenses you need will far exceed the cost of the initial camera.
If in doubt, buy a point and shoot under five hundred and then decide if its something you will want to truly learn and take up as a hobby. Then if
its something that is just a passing fad with you, your not out a lot of money. If you do decide to then step up to good equipment, you still have a
good point and shoot to keep in your car or handy for unexpected shots and your not out anything.
As to what brand? I say Nikon if you can afford it but Cannon is a good option also. My Wife who is a Pro and myself have both, but we never use the
Cannon body and lenses that sit unused. The sensors in the Nikon bodies are simply better.
I should mention when dealing with Nikon, you need to understand that the mega-pixel count is misleading. A for instance ten mega-pixel will give
better quality images than say a twenty mega-pixel in another brand with inferior sensors.
You can likely pick up a like new used D200 (excellent camera for a beginner), D300 (even better) or similar for low enough to even have money in your
budget for another entry level lens or two.
Remember on top of the camera body and lenses, if your serious your looking at needing Photoshop and PS Plug-ins and all the time that goes into
learning. Photography requires a real investment of time and money.
Again if your needs are met by a point and shoot, you don't need to spend that much. Remember also that the DSLR functions as a point and shoot also
with excellent automatic or programed settings.[
edit on 1/21/2011 by Blaine91555 because: (no reason given)