You cannot be a photographer without having something that records light. If you are just getting started, finding something cheap that will work is not a bad idea. Getting out there and taking photos should be the first thing on your mind, whereas equipment should be second. Often there is a natural progression that goes on with equipment. A person buys a small fixed lens digital camera, as time goes on they move up to larger and larger equipment, eventually hitting the top of the mountain by buying a DSLR. Sometimes they start moving down the mountain as they figure out DSLRs are not a good fit for their style of photography. While I personally went through that progression moving from digicam to pro-sumer camera to DSLR, I think with a little forethought you can save some money by first figuring out what type of photography you are most interested in. While I primarily use DSLRs, I feel that smaller cameras can produce results with proper technique and often have a digicam available.