Since 1988 when the first camera was ever produced by Canon (the RC-250 Xapshot) cameras have been popularized by TV shows, commercials and marketing strategies by companies, and for good reason! Cameras are the ultimate piece of technology to own. It doesn't matter if you're an amateur, a professional, or you just take pictures when you're going to a Birthday party or get together's, cameras are a large part of our lives. Not only can you find numerous types of cameras, but you can also find a lot of different options that are made with you the user in mind.
Cameras have come a long way however, from the ones that used to use film that you would either have to get developed or develop yourself, and that didn't really come with a whole lot of options. Nowadays you can have almost any option you want in your camera, and you can even make old black and whites with a push of a button. Two of the most popular camera manufacturers are Nikon & Canon and this has held strong for quite a few years!
Of course there are many other different brands you can take a look at such as Kodak, Sony, Fuji and Olympus. Depending on what sort of camera you want, the price you're willing to spend, and what you're going to primarily use it for, you could use any one of these available brands, or ones that I haven't listed. You also have to take a look at the format of the camera you're interested in. Most likely you will find four formats when it comes to cameras.
Compact - Designed to be small, light weight and portable. These are usually the most inexpensive and smallest of all the cameras. Compact cameras are a good idea for people that are willing to sacrifice things such as advanced features, advanced lenses, and quality.
Small & Medium - The small format is good for an amateur that is just getting into photography but isn't willing to spend a bundle on it. Medium format cameras are good for professionals or people wanting to do photography professionally. Medium formats come very close to large formats, and are a good way to test out the waters.
Large - These cameras are fit for a king. Not only are they larger in size compared to the other three, but they are large in price as well. You can find large format cameras for as expensive as $5,000 or more depending on the brand you're looking at. These cameras are obviously fit for professional photographers!
You can start out at any level you please, but make sure if you buy a camera that is $5,000 that you know you're going to use it, you are going to know how to use it, and you're going to really get your money out of using it! I took the middle road and bought a medium format camera because I knew I wanted to be a professional photographer eventually and I wanted a really good camera that was going to stand up to the places I would be traveling and doing.
A major piece of equipment a lot of people don't realize they might need is a tripod. A tripod can allow you to take really noteworthy pictures without the blurriness that can happen when your hand shakes sometimes while taking a photo. Of course you don't have to buy a tripod, but if you're going to be doing a lot of macro shots, or if you are taking pictures of things that are far away like birds, sunsets, water trails, etc then it's a great idea to rest easy and take advantage of the tripod!
If you're going to buy a camera anywhere online it's a good idea to check out a few review sites. I always use the exact same one, because its simply the best site to go to. The next time you're thinking about buying a camera, take a good look at a site called DPreview. You will find every piece of information you could possibly ever want on that site! Also, if you want to buy a camera online this site will also recommend places where you can buy the camera as well as prices.
Good luck finding your new camera! I hope you find what you're looking for!