Discussing camera equipment often brings up the same level of debate as religious discussion, so the superiority of a brand is best left up to people who spend most of their time talking about photography instead of doing it. I’ll say now that you are more important than what equipment you are sporting, so you don’t really need to worry too much if you don’t have the latest camera body or largest aperture lens. It is possible to take any image recording device and make a pleasing picture.
A prosumer digicam.
That being said, I also think equipment can make a difference, especially in regard to lenses. Some specialty lenses such as Fisheye or lenses with extremely large apertures can produce images that can only be rivaled with custom software processing. There is also something to be said for high quality glass in relation to absolute image sharpness, quality of background blur, and solid dependable construction.
If money is an issue, start off with a decent “digicam” that will be a great learning tool until you are able to buy a camera capable of switching out lenses. Find one that has as much manual control as possible. Research on-line and find as many reviews as possible. Try to become familiar with all of the technical terms and aspects, so you can select a camera that will fit your immediate goals. With fixed lens digicams, look for something with a large aperture (a smaller f-stop number, say f2.8 instead of f3.5), a larger than average imaging sensor (greater than 1/2.5″ square), and as much manual camera control as possible.
Try to make it a third eye in time spent being used, so that it feels very fluid and natural when you use it to take photos. Upon switching to a SLR style camera, you might be surprised that the overall quality of your photos will take a turn for the worse, at least for a while until you understand how to properly use the more advanced camera.