Hi Brynn, and welcome aboard.
I've been a little reluctant to respond here as it's such a tough question, but we get these questions at our camera club regularly and we usually answer the questions with a list of questions you need to answer first...
1. What do you want to do with your photography - just take better pictures of your family and travels, or learn to move towards photographs as art?
2. Do you have the time and interest to learn about your camera, and all the amazing functions it has, or would you prefer the camera to be able to do these things for you?
3. Are you prepared to spend the time to learn a program that will enable you to enhance your photos (ie Elements, PS)?
4. Are you brave enough to put your work up for comments so that others may support you and provide you with some education or direction?
5. How much do you have to spend (you talked bout $1000, is that US$) as this can be an expensive hobby?
6. Do you have the manual dexterity to hold or carry a heavy camera/ lens?
The technology today is amazing, and the entry level DSLR's take amazing pictures, but once you move to a full frame you are looking at big $$$ and heavy equipment. We (our club) always advise that you have a good lens (kit lenses are also good, but they have limitations) and that you negotiate with the store for a package with the camera body and lens you want, rather than be tempted with some kit lenses that you will have to change all the time.
As a Canon user I can't suggest any other brands, (and I'm not sure I am allowed to suggest any particular model) but as a start you might want to look at a 650D with a zoom (such as a Sigma 18-250 or Tamron 18-270) which you can get for under $1000 Aust. I don't know what the Nikon equivalent is but a camera kit like this will meet all your needs as a new, emerging and amazing photographer. Check out what cameras and lenses are used by photographers in magazines and you will find that many use cameras like this. And don't forget you will also need to buy a UV filter to protect your lens (and then the door opens and you will want a camera bag, tripod, other filters, a cable release......)
And as for becoming a crazy and obsessed photographer... welcome aboard.
No worries about making recommendations. As I said before, I won't take anyone's word about what they think is best for me, then run out and buy it. I'll learn everything I can about cameras, and make a decision on my own
I'm sure everyone would have different ideas about what might be best.
1 - More towards art, but it will be used like a family camera as well, sometimes. The only thing on my "bucket list" (as they say) is to visit Alaska. The reality is that it probably won't happen. But there's an outside chance I might travel with it. (More below.*)
2 - I prefer to learn about all the settings and functions. I understand it could be a long process. And maybe I'll learn that I actually do want the camera to handle some of the variables. But I hope I can learn all the settings.
3 - I'll probably lean more towards getting it right with the original photo. I have a LOT of experience with vector graphics, which is basically useless for photos. But I have a little experience with GIMP and not afraid to learn. I have plenty of time, although I'm at the end or maybe past middle age. Maybe I'm a senior? -- 57. So I don't have a lifetime ahead, but still probably plenty of time.
4 - I won't have any problems sharing my work for constructive comments. By this age, with health issues, there's not much left to be shy about, lol. Also I've learned through sharing my vector graphics work, that I learn so much more by hearing outside comments.
5 - That's $1000 US. I apologize for that -- I thought the dollar sign was only for American dollars.
6 - I do have some physical limitations. I haven't shopped in what they call the "brick and mortar" stores yet. So far, just browsing online. So I don't know how heavy a dslr camera is. I was thinking the digital part would make it lighter. Anyway, I should be able to handle it. And I won't be taking any long hikes, in any case.
More questions. Why does the lens need a UV filter? Isn't the lens made out of glass?
Hopefully I can sort of defray some of the costs of this expensive hobby, by spreading out the purchases. For example, I don't see myself needing a tripod right away. It can wait until I see a need for it.
Regarding kits -- I had the impression that the kit was just a grouping of body and lens, for whatever marketing purpose. But something someone said (I can't find it now) made me think they're of inferior quality. So is the kit anything more than a marketing gimic? Or are the lenses often inferior?
You can get all the software you need for free. I use XnView. I shoot in raw (a picture format that is basically all the information from the sensor untouched) and use XnView to make adjustments, crop, resize, rotate, etc. and final save to a format (jpg) I can upload to my gallery. If I want to 'shop and image, I use the Gimp.
There's no simple explanation of the numbers used to describe lenses. To get started, though you might want to look at kits that come with two lenses. This isn't the 'best' choice, but it will get you further along with the budget you have. To put it simply, one lens for close subjects and one for distant. It is more expensive to buy the camera and the lens separately, but you get more, and better, choices that way.
As someone else said, tell us what you want to do, what you want to take pictures of, and you'll get more specific recommendations.
I like using open source software. Is XnView open source? If not, I'll bet there IS an open source solution though!
That's an interesting idea about shooting raw! I'll have to try that, once I have some experience.
(*)I thought I already said, but maybe it was in my intro topic. Mostly nature subjects around my apartment building and neighborhood parks, some indoors in what I could only call "still lifes" (lately I've been fascinated with the simple beauty of fruits and vegetables, for example) and then just general family type stuff. Oh, also, rarely, I might be able to drive some distance and do some landscapes. I live in a large city in Colorado, USA so we have some serious landscapes, outside of the cities! But it's hard for me to drive that far, and certainly not very often. Ever since I graduated from college (over 30 years ago) with a degree in Forestry, I've wanted to do a study of mature tree barks (with a good camera), and maybe a catalog of leaf, twig and buds photos, for all different kinds of trees. I won't have much use for a leaf catalog anymore. But the tree bark study could be fun!
Regarding lenses, do I really need 1 for close and 1 for distance? Isn't there a lens that will do both, at least while I'm just learning? I thought there would be something like a basic lens, and then later I could get a zoom or wide angle, or whatever.
Re catalogues: I worked for years by using quite descriptive file names, but a catalogue is so much easier. You can add any keywords (one or several) you like to your photo files then easily find them later.
for example if you have a People keyword and a sub-key John, and another keyword Trees, you can later find all the photos which ahve John in, or just those with John and a tree. and so on....
Oh, I see. The catalog software allows for keywords or tags or whatever you want to call it. I'll look into that, once I have enough photos that I need something like that.
The image size actually has nothing to do with the size of the sensor. In digital photography the image size is measured in mega pixels. The more mega pixels the larger the image. Some APS cameras therefore produce larger images than some full frame cameras do. What the larger sensor area in a full frame camera offer is a lower pixel density; this in turn means the individual pixels can be bigger, gathering more light. So what you get is superior low light performance. However, all modern DSLRs and Hybrid cameras have much better low light performance than film cameras did (without very expensive specialist film stock).
Field of view describes how many degrees of a view can be captured by a lens. The lower the focal length the wider the field of view. On a 35mm camera a 50mm lens gives approximately the same field of view as the human eye. On an APS camera this is achieved with a 35mm lens, on a full format (larger than full frame) camera that would be an 85mm lens.
A hybrid camera is one which has interchangeable lenses like a DSLR, but is smaller as it does not have an optical viewfinder and therefore all the gubbins that goes with it; they have electronic viewfinders and large LCD screens for seeing what the lens is seeing instead.
Oh yeah, mega pixels! I need to do some reading about that, because apparently pixels mean something entirely different regarding mega pixels, than pixels on the computer screen. Pixels on the computer screen can only be 1 size. In fact I know some software that uses a pixel as a measurement (although not necessarily a precise measurement). So the concept that pixels can be different sizes seems odd to me, at the moment.
So however many mega pixels of the camera is how I know what size of photo the camera will take. Right?
I thought all...or at least most digital cameras had an LCD screen these days. Do you mean that the hybrid only
has the LCD and no viewfinder? Or maybe a better question -- what is it a hybrid of? Hybrid implies a blend of 2 or more things.
Ok then, sorry for the long list of questions. They'll probably be the last for a while. Although I may still hang around the forum, and learn what I can by reading other topics. (Not to mention the Arcade, which I have a real weakness for those little Flash games, lol!)
Next I'll have to research some smaller-than-full-frame cameras, online. And do some more study about all the settings, and play with the Canon online simulator some more. And then go shopping to some camera stores, to look at all the different brands and models. Then once I make a decision, I might wait for a good sale. But I'm sure I'll have another question or 2, sooner or later, lol.
Because of health reasons, I probably won't be able to join a club. Although I can see how that would be a great way to learn! And I'm not ruling it out altogether. If it get really motivated, and there was a club where regular attendance was not mandatory, maybe it would work.
Anyway, thank you all SO much for all your helpful comments and answers!