Sunny Wieler from Stone Art ask a simple question. The answer is YES...well not really yes....
A SLR can be a good investment if you plan to shoot in anything but AUTO mode. If you really don't have the time to master Manual Mode stick with a great Point & Shoot camera! I took a basic continuing studies class for digital. But I also had previous education in Photography (shooting traditional film with a 35mm canon camera.)
There are some great choices on the market. I like the Nikon D90 (review) since it was the first SLR to shoot Video. At the time it was nice to have both. The camera is considered top of midrange. I would say if you’re looking consider the D300 (review).
This camera is a true professional level. Look for one used and spending as much as you would if you bought a new lower model.
I found the Canon's to just be priced out of my range for what I wanted to do. Between Nikon or Canon you can't go wrong. The other thing to consider don't under value some of the older less pixel SLR's on the market. In our class a fellow was shooting with an old digital Pentax with I believe maybe 2 meg pixels. But man that camera could do some stuff.
Other things to really look at are if you’re going to shoot manual you NEED to be able to adjust Aperture and Shutter speed with separate dials. Some camera's Nikon etc. have both on the same knob. This is a no no!
Buying a great lens. You can spend just as much for a lens as a camera body. Why spend the money? Because if you don't your pictures will only be as good as the quality of the lens your shooting through.
-Nikon or Canon are not a bad place to start.
-SLR is great investment if you’re not shooting in Auto Mode. Other wise don't waste your money!
-Make time to take a basic class
-Don't get suckered into pixel world unless you’re photographing for print mag
-Separate dials for Aperture and Shutter Speed- for quicker set up when shooting.
-Buy the best lens you can afford. Just having a great SLR won't be the great if you buy a cheap lens.
-Good SD Card. SD cards do have speed rating class's such as 4, 6, 10 these all refer to how quick the data gets transferred to them. Think of it as a recoding speed. If you own a SD card with out any data listed then chance are you have a basic card. SD (8MB-2GB), SDHC (4GB-32GB), SDXC (48GB-128GB) Lexmar is about to launch the first 128GB card
-Spare battery - for that just in case moment!
-Lens Filter - to protect your camera lens from scratches. Cheaper to buy a lens filter then replace a valuable lens.
- USB, SD card reader for quicker downloads to your computer
-Extra hard drives-my instructor always said since memory is cheap have your images stored off your computer as needed.
-Spare battery charger kits ie car charge..
-Always shoot in Highest JPG/Highest Raw. You can always down size image information.
-Learn your camera filters
-Trial and error are great learning tools