1. My Experience
a. Started with online research…led to Canon T3i knowing Nikon D3100/D5100 as alternatives
b. Further research/discussion with people let to settle on the T2i
c. Decided to go to a store that would match on-line prices
d. After looking at the T3i, T2i and Nikon D3100 I went with the Nikon D3100
i. Fit my hands better
ii. Liked the interface
2. Mistakes I made
a. Bought UV filters…while they maybe useful in a dirty environment in general I haven’t used them
b. Bag too small…the salesman actually showed me a bigger bag rather than the one I first looked at but I should have gone bigger…that being said, my bag is a lowpro and I am very satisfied with the quality.
c. What I didn’t realize (and this a mistake I *avoided* by going to the store is that cameras all come with body caps and lenses with top and bottom lens caps.
3. Software – you can’t really take full advantage of your DSLR unless you’re shooting in “raw” format. Those images will have to be processed so you’ll need software.
a. Your camera may well come with basic software to read in raw files and process them
b. Adobe Photoshop elements is relatively inexpensive…good starting point
c. Adobe Lightroom is also very popular…big focus on workflow
d. Picassa – free. Not as powerful as adobe products but can be an excellent starting point
e. Gimp – also free..there is a plugin (UFRaw) that will read RAW files
4. Other items
a. Tripod
b. 3rd party camera strap
c. Cleaning implements

5. References
a. Youtube:
i. Jarad Polin (froknowsphoto)
ii. New to Photo
iii. Adam Lerner
iv. Photo Extremist
b. Books:
i. Complete Digital Photography (Ben Long) – good general overview on a variety of basic topics.
ii. Digital Photography (Scott Kelby) – a very popular book..I’ve looked at it briefly and it has a lot of information, in particular info on specific shooting situations