I do get asked this question very frequently. The bottom lines is that any of today's cameras will take great photos.
So to me there are two questions:
- What do you want to take photos of?
- and what do your friends use?
If you want sports or nature (flying birds as opposed to landscapes), then you need a DSLR from Canon, Nikon or Sony. Choose the one that your friends us so that you can swap gear and share experiences. They will all work.
If you are thinking people, landscapes, abstracts, then a micro 4/3 (terrible name) mirror less camera is better choice. They are lighter, easier to carry around and you can mix and match from different supliers.
In any of these cases, it is the lenses that make the big difference, so don't worry as much about the bodies, and focus (pun intended) on the glass.
You can always buy used to start, or sell yours to switch if you have to.
What is more important than the camera, is the photographer (I do use the same golf clubs as Tiger woods). I would recommend some online learning with either Kelby.com or lynda.com which both have tons of courses at all kinds of levels to master both the technical and artistic facets.
500px is a great source of inspiration.
ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW
Here is an article that summerizes some ideas. http://photofocus.com/2012/05/21/what-camera-should-i-buy-updated-version-may-2012/
WHAT DO I USE?
I shoot a lot of sports and nature, so I use DSLRs. I started with Canon because they had the first reasonably priced DSLR back in 2004, and once I started to buy lenses and flashes I saw no reason to switch.
- Cameras: 5D III and a 7D II, both with battery grips (they go longer in a day, and it makes it easier to shot portrait mode).
- Lenses: 17-40 for landscapes, 24-70 with macro for walking around, 70-200 for portraits and music, 100-400 for nature.
- Memory: fast 32Gb CF cards for video, and 64Gb SD for stills
- Lighting: Canon 600RT for flash, and Westcott Icelight for constant lighting
- Software: Apple's Aperture (even though it will be phased out), Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust
- Computer: 5k iMac, with 5 Drobos for storage
- Printer: I am between printers.