The major difference between a $600 beginner DSLR and a $1400 Intermediate/Pro DSLR
Bare with my questions please. I know I hassled you guys about getting a beginner cam, but now i'm just thinking I should save some more and jump knee deep into it.
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For this reason I've heard compelling arguments for the micro 4/3rds format because the lenses are cheaper and plentiful.
For hobbying, its well worth a DSLR, if you're committed. But also worth approaching it slowly - the entry level DSLRs from Canon & Nikon are, imo, the best way to wet your feet and make a decision if you want to invest much more cash.
I started with a Canon 400D (Rebel) and a few years later decided to upgrade to a Canon 60D. Its all been a pleasure to date!
A better camera will not make you a better photographer, but it may make it easier to take some photos, and allow you to use more complicated setups. A higher end camera can make you look more professional, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Having an SLR makes a big difference over a point and shoot for learning and mastering photography, in terms of learning to control light and getting an understanding of shutter, aperature, and ISO. An SLR will not in itself give you an eye for photos, nor make you subjects comfortable, nor help you manage a group of people for a shot. Those things just come from experience shooting with any camera with an eye for improvement.