I went with a Canon T2i this year as my first DSLR. My uncle is an enthusiast and he basically told told me your pictures are only as good as your equipment. His words were more like a $10K camera takes a $10K picture and a $500 camera takes a $500 picture. To an extent there is truth to that. Kit lenses are functional, but once you figure out what focal length works best for you then plan on dropping large on a lens or two. Everything else mentioned is good. Steve was right on and obviously has way more experience than I so not much else I can say. Get out there and take pictures. I try to get out several days a week to just shoot whatever I can. I've taken about 800 pictures so far and have about 20 good ones and 4 keepers worth showing off. Some night shots, but I'm not sure what I did other than use a tripod, remote, low iso, and play with shutter speeds. I'm more into general nature scenes. I've been reading the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson and it is helpful. If you have not yet get yourself a nice case. I went with 2 Lowepro ones. A large carry all and a smaller hiking case.