Hi, Long time lurker, finally decided to join up. Ain't Digital Photography COOL!!!!!!! I remember once upon a time, when, once you got a good 35mm SLR camera to take photographs, a roll of film cost $4 - $6 to buy, and even processing the photos into a contact sheet was expensive enough, and printing all of them (or slides) was pretty expensive. So, 36 exposures might cost $.50 - $.75 or more a shot to purchase and process and print, and that was expensive enough for a hobby, much less when a photographer took dozens or more shots in a short time, many of them "bracketed" (duplicated) to try to get the optimum photograph (then send to a profe$$ional proce$$ing hou$e). Also was plenty expensive for a 20 year old College kid on a normally limited income trying to support what was just a hobby. Nowadays, even with an entry level Digital camera and a good program on your PC, one can take shots that most people will be impressed with, and after equipment is excluded (as was done in example above) the actual cost of the shots themselves is ridiculously inexpensive. In 1969, as a college kid of 20 I started out with a Nikkormat FTN body (I couldn't afford a Nikon) and fast (1.4 and 1.2) normal lenses (and upgraded from there with other zoom and telephoto lenses, teleconverters, and tons of filters). Also had free use of a Beseler 67C enlarger, a Yashica Mat 124, and later a Mamiya RB67. Used those to do some wedding stuff for a time... I started doing lots of available light work, b/w photos, learned to use filters to alter what the lens would actually see (MUCH more than the eye could ever appreciate) and learned to do other tricks in the darkroom. Went to several Nikon Schools, learned a lot there... Used to love to go to Road Atlanta and shoot (had a Nikon 50 - 300 zoom lens, WHAT A MONSTER....lol) Road Races, cars and stuff like that, and turned to liking all kinds of other outdoor stuff from there. Nowadays all of these editing programs are AMAZING. Like where you can take a bad shot that looks WAY too dark after loading to your PC, and edit it to where you still can see decent color and details. Back then, I learned all I could about content and contrast, how to alter tone and coloration with filters. Later, when I went digital I learned all I could about how to use White Balance, as you can do a lot with that even on a cheaper point and shoot Digital camera. Learned to be patient early on, wait for the right shot. A PERFECT shot will not look nearly as good 5-10 minutes before, or 5-10 minutes after the time when the light is "just right" for that once in a lifetime shot. A few years later (1980's) I moved to Olympus OM1 equipment (LOVED the big bright microprism screen and that cool Winder1, and their lenses were plenty good for me). I still remember buying my first "Coast Space Bag", made of 2-tone tan canvas with brown trim, BOY! was I ever proud of that camera bag. Eventuallly went into the Digital Age (kicking and screaming at first), but now that I am here, the technology can be amazing, and your shots will only cost pennies per shot, even that once in a lifetime, World Class photo we all wish we could take someday. I have settled in with a Nikon D40, 18-55MM kit lens, the 55-200mm lens, and a SB-400 flash. Not sure there IS any higher grade 35mm SLR camera that will do anything I would need that the D40 will not do. So far, WHAT a camera!!!!!!!!! I am still kinda behind the times on software. Right now I use Picasa2, and it does okay for me, but am still looking for other free or inexpensive software packages that I might try. I am DEFINITELY open to your suggestions here. Otherwise, happy to be here... Happy photo taking!!!!!!