For anybody new to digital photography I hope this will give you an idea of what you will need to get started and get the best out of this wonderful new media.
If you are a computer owner with a fairly modern PC then you will get the best from your digital camera. Digital images of above 2million pixel resolution will take up a bit of space on your computer hard drive and I would recommend that you have at least a 40GB hard drive to store files on. You will also benefit from a decent amount of RAM for manipulating these images at a reasonable speed. Such systems will usually already have a modern processor and at least a CD burner if not a DVD burner to save your photos to disk.
If you don't want a computer you can still benefit from a digital camera and take your pictures to any of the services that print digital photos or even buy a small printer that will print directly from your camera or the flash memory card that comes with the camera.
Don't buy a camera with only internal memory. These are usually only the cheapest of models and they usually only store photos while the battery power is still there so they can be very impractical and really just a kind of party gimmick. Look for a camera with removable storage media which is called flash memory. There are various formats available from the different manufactures but they all work well and you can buy a multi card reader that will read up to 7 different formats for as little as £7 from any good online supplier. The cards vary in size and cost but in general you need 1mb for each photo, so a 128mb flash card will usually hold about 120 photos at 2million pixels that will print up to a4 size. It will hold 3 times that amount at a lower resolution that can print as snap shots or keep for emailing or just viewing on a computer or TV screen.
So if you already have a decent computer then get yourself a digital camera, rechargeable batteries and a charger and flash memory. Digital cameras use quite a bit of battery power and it's advisable to go for one that uses ordinary aa sized batteries as the rechargeable versions + charger are reasonably cheap and will save you a fortune compared to buying alkaline batteries all the time. They are also very easily bought anywhere internationally should you be caught short without your batteries being fully charged. I always keep a spare set with my camera in case I run out of charge with the rechargeable, which is so easy to do by the way, as rechargeable batteries don't keep their charge so indefinitely as do the ordinary alkaline variety.
Don't buy a camera with only digital zoom. If you want to zoom in on a subject and still get a good picture you need optical zoom and a steady hand. Any amount of digital zoom the camera offers is going to badly affect the quality of the finished picture you take whereas optical zoom when used is going to get you closer to a subject using the lenses of the camera and provided you have a half decent make of camera with half decent lenses then the only thing that you need to remember is that you need to be even more steady at holding the camera when using the zoom feature and all professionals would say use a tripod stand so the vibration is eliminated completely.
Don't believe anything you read about interpolation increasing the resolution from 2million to 3million pixels as you'll only loose out on the quality of the picture a bit like digital zoom..
If you want to take videos buy a camcorder. The little avi movies most of us take on our digital cameras are good fun and can be first class but only at lower resolutions like a smaller screen on windows media player for instance. Make sure the camera has it's own built in microphone for such video clips. They are great fun and you'll be amazed how easy they are to take and how good they are but it's really just an introduction to video photography. You'll get a range of excellent digital cameras these days that will take wonderful still pictures but you will still need a video camera to take wonderful video pictures. And this is the same for Video cameras taking still pictures. You'll still need to spend about a grand on one that will do both whereas you can get a reasonable digital camera for £100 these days and maybe a half reasonable video camera for £300. Do shop about and use the net to find the best prices.
Don't buy a camera with less than 2million pixels resolution. Do get a padded case for your digital camera as they won't take a fall and survive.
Consider a camera powered by 4 aa sized batteries as they use a lot of battery power and you can buy an aa sized battery charger and rechargeable batteries for less than £20 which will save you hundreds of pounds in alkaline batteries and give you the freedom to get snapping everything that moves till you've got at least some good pictures worth keeping or printing.
There are now so many different models available but stick to the names associated with photography like Canon, Olympus, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Fuji, Sony, Kodak or large computer companies like HP. There are many small cameras that do what they say they will but if you are the type of person that's looking for a good quality photo forget anything below £80 these days and that's internet prices. Don't be taken in with a make you never heard of at any price as you really need to research and read the reviews on digital cameras which is easy as google on the net. The price of these cameras has fallen dramatically even as I speak but some models at £100 today were £150-£200 6 months ago and some retail outlets still charge well over the odds to get rid of their old stock as these things are evolving as we speak and becoming better and better value for money by the day.
I deal with http://www.ebuyer.com for everything from digital photography equipment to computer peripherals. The high street prices for all these items is sometimes 2 or 3 times the internet price.
So to get started you need a good computer a good camera with bag and spare flash memory cards and a battery charger and rechargeable batteries. If you intend to print a lot you also need to get a printer that doesn't cost the earth in ink cartridges as some do. I have 2 canon printers and I can get replacement cartridges from http://www.cartex.co.uk at a fraction of the cost of Canon originals. The first cheap printer I bought the grandchildren was a Lexmark and the cheapest cartridge you will find for it is £26. The printer cost £28. and it's no doubt in the garage now. I wouldn't even give it away as it's only going to cost some other poor soul £26. to put some ink in it.
The main thing about digital photography is that you don't need to print too many photos as you can burn them to a dvd or cd and make up wee slide presentations with added music and transitional effects and an ordinary cd will hold anything up to 700 photos and a dvd 4500. You can go back and print them in any shape or form at your convenience and alter the images in all sorts of practical and creative ways without a great deal of knowledge with the simple user friendly photo programs that come free with most digital cameras.
You can now buy a 5 million pixel camera very cheap and for most situations that's as good a quality as you will need. My previous advice still stands about you needing to check the optical zoom it has as there is still no substitute for a good lense. Photo printers are getting better and cheaper but the good ones tend to be big machines now with individual cartridges for each colour. If you have a good 5 million pixel image you want to print up to frame I would consider using the web services to get it printed for you on a large zerox machine. By the time you buy cartridges and photo paper + the cost of a decent printer I think most people would save a fortune by just paying for the prints they really want. The main idea of your photo collection is now changed for good. We will brows our photo albums on a flat screen monitors from dvds or images held on portable hard drives. Gone are the days of printing all the dross to end up with a few decent pictures worth keeping. You can delete the the dross as you take it and further edit out the less than great images to end up with a collection of first class images that can be printed anytime and will more often than not only ever be viewed on a monitor. You can make up slide shows of your pictures like mini movies with your favourite music playing in the background.