Thanks for the Twitter help with cameras last night, everyone...
Due to some unexpected generosity, I find myself with an Amazon gift certificate of substantial worth. (Thanks!) I've decided that I'm going to use this to help offset the plunge into the world of digital SLR cameras. I was looking at a package for the Canon Digital Rebel XSi with 18-55mm lens for around $850. But I was also pointed in the direction of the Nikon D60. I can get that one with *two* lens (18-55mm and 55-200mm) for less than $800, and that seems to be a far better deal for someone like myself who is looking at entry level options.
I know there are a ton of really good photographers in the Lotus community, and I have no doubt there are strong Canon vs. Nikon vs. Olympus vs. whatever arguements on both sides. But it sounds as if we're at the point of most of these cameras being very high quality, as well as being very acceptable for a photo noob like me.
I think I'll mull it over while working today, and then pull the trigger tonight. I know I'll have to get an SD card for it (4 vs 8 gb?), and I'll probably buy a UV filter to protect the lens (those are pretty cheap also). And with that, I think I'll have enough to launch myself on a hobby that will suck up any discretionary income I might find lying around. :)