It seems like people treat new digital photography technologies as if they were magic - expecting much better results from traditional cameras with no added effort.
This is true to a small extent, but if you want to create the kind of amazing photos that you might see on a postcard or hung on a wall, you are going to need more than just gadgets.
I would say that digital cameras are nothing more and nothing less that a "better tool".
You can do more with them, but it's still the photographer who is the heart of the process of creating great photos.
The introduction of the LCD screen was a milestone in photography, because it made photography more affordable and more convenient.
But did it create better photos? Not necessarily.
I would say that's down to the photographer.
Now that digital cameras have been around for a while there are a heap of great 2nd hand digital cameras available on eBay.
A 4 or 5 megapixel Canon PowerShot camera would be a perfect camera to start learning digital photography.
They have superb lenses, can shoot raw files, and can be picked up for peanuts.
To read up on some of the best cameras of previous years, visit a good camera review website.
Your computer is an essential item - it as vital as your camera.
As a priority, your display should be as display colours as accurately as possible.
If you are going to work with 4 - 5 megapixel images you don't really need the cutting edge of computer performance.
One machine that fits the bill is the eMac.
This is not really one machine as there are loads of different varieties.
They all have a G4 processor but the speeds range from 800 MHz to 1.
They all have USB ports but the earlier ones only have USB 1.
1, which is annoyingly slow for downloading photos.
I would go for one with USB 2.
Once you get your eMac you will want to max the RAM to 1GB.
Prices vary with each specific revision of eMac so you should go to crucial.
com before you buy to check the prices for that specific model.
Photoshop is the very best photo manipulation application.
Learning Photoshop is a crucial part of digital photography and with good use can help a photographer turn a good photo into a great one.
EBay has some older versions of Photoshop for a lot less money - these are fine but make sure that you get a version that features the Camera Raw plug-in.
Learning how to use Photoshop is not something that can be just picked up by anyone.
I would strongly recommend attending evening classes at a local college.
DVDs are another solution which is a little more convenient and worth considering if you don't mind a non-interactive learning process.
You can watch preview videos on the publishers' websites - so you can try before you buy.