I finally took the plunge and bought a new camera to replace the Sony F505 I have been using for the last 5 years. Upon the recommendation of several folks a hell of a lot more experienced & talented at photography than I am, I picked up a Canon Digital Rebel XT with the 17-85mm lens kit.
Now, the Canon certainly does the point-and-shoot mode of operation extremely well. Much better results than the F505. Certainly, this is not a criticism of the F505 as much as an indication as to how much digital photography technology has changed in the last five years and that the Rebel XT is aimed at a different market than the F### series.
The photo included in this post is my first attempt at actually taking a shot based on consciously hacking the various settings to achieve the desired composition. That is, trying to deal with the potential photospace that results from futzing with things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc...
Wow. Quite the change. Boy Howdy, do I have a lot to learn! I have no idea what I'm doing yet. Well, that isn't quite true. I do have Derrick Story's incredibly useful Digital Photography Pocket Guide. It has definitely given me a leg up, but I'm still a total newbie.