There are many beautiful things about cameras and photography, but one of the best aspects of cameras and photography in general is accessibility. Anyone can take beautiful photos and you do not need a whole lot of money to do it if you have a broad vision of what you want.
Many people chase the newest gadget, the highest mega-pixels, the best new features; the truth is you don’t really need the best to capture beauty, you just need the camera to be able to go as far as your vision does and the practice to capture that vision. There is no reason a camera that took beautiful scenery photos that graced posters and prints 50 years ago cannot do so now. Are those old photos that Ansel Adams took any less beautiful because they were taken on an old analogue film camera, or are the photos of women that Helmut Newton captured any less striking? Who would challenge the romance of “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville” by Robert Doisneau for its lack of fine detail? The truth is that although having a new advanced camera adds more options to your photographic tool belt those features are not your most important tool.
Your eyes and the way you see the world are your base and your ability to capture and express that vision to others with your lens are your photographic expression. I have used everything from toy film cameras to my current Canon EOS 5D MK II and I have had photos I liked out of all of them. There are different things about the photos I like, and for some subjects different cameras gave an effect closer to what I wanted to portray without post-processing (Photoshop and Aperture are a whole different blog). Would I want to give up my 5D MKII and go back to a film camera full time? No, it gives me huge flexibility in what I can do and I can see no advantage to that other than forcing me to pay a bit more attention to the moment when shooting. But would I say that I would not take anymore photos if I did not have my 5D MKII or that everyone needs a camera like that to take photos? No, everyone who wants to capture moments and show others the way they see the world should not limit themselves or give up due to the equipment.
Find a camera that suits your personality or your budget. If you are just learning about SLR’s (Single Lens Reflex) then any modern DSLR or pretty much any decent quality film SLR will allow you to explore your creative vision and produce beautiful images. I have stressed a modern DSLR as older DSLR’s tended to have less satisfactory results that comparable film SLR’s and I would prefer a classic film SLR to a 5 year old consumer DSLR. Learn about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. Autofocus is wonderful and useful, but play with manual focus just to get a feel for it and better learn how to get what you want out of your AF. Play with light and shadow, Depth Of Field and exposure. Add skills to your tool belt as they will benefit you no matter the hardware you use.
Simply enjoy looking at the world in a unique way and others will see that in your images.