Here is my guide, I'm new and experienced it. Hope you'll get some ideas out of it.
- Talk to your photographer friend.
- Borrow a DSLR from ur photographer friend so that you get a feel of owning one.
- Read reviews (dpreview/steves-digicams/etc), lots of them and drill to a camera that match your needs and personalities.
- Pay some visits to your local camera shop, see the camera for yourself. Hold it, feel it and try it out.
- Try to get the best bargain or better still get ur photographer friend bring you to his fav camera shop. (U can enjoy the member's price)
- Once you got it, play with it and enter to a new zone where you'll get better quality and control of your pictures.
- Lastly, enjoy it and share it with your friends.
- Another last word, since it's a quality pictures why not earn money with it? Google for Microstock photography and you'll know what I mean.
I will blog about Microstock photography as well, stay tuned. :)