Hi Just wanted to stop by and let you know I use the T3 (1100D) and have gotten some solid results from it. It really helps to know the basics of photography... such as when to open up the aperture in lieu of using a higher ISO, and stuff like that. Try to avoid using a flash, unless you're using it for a specific imagery.
And yeah, check out GIMP as a free software. I have PS5, but GIMP is a really solid and powerful tool as well.
I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any specific questions! I will try to help as much as I can.
I use a Canon 1000D which is the predecessor of the 1100D, and I can tell you that your technique matters A LOT MORE than the price of the camera you own. Especially for a beginner it would be completely pointless to get a very expensive model, as it wouldn't make any difference. It may be even counter-productive, as a more expensive model gives you more options you don't know what to do with. My advice is this: Learn the basics (all about lighting, exposure, noise, focus, depth of field, etc.), and then get out there and take pictures. It's the only way to get better.
CarolineCherryFeatured By OwnerNov 2, 2012Professional Photographer
The higher end cameras use different sensors [or something like that, I'm not the most technical person] so they record the information that makes up your image differently. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with a 1100D. I have the 1000D, my boyfriend has the 7D and from a technical how-the-camera-makes-it-look standpoint his raw photos are only a little better than mine.
As for free photoshop like programs, I've heard GIMP is good but never used it myself. If you are a student you can generally get a MAJOR discount on photoshop, which is handy because that shit's expensive.
If you really want better gear for better shots, focus on getting some better lenses than the ones that would have come with your camera. Prime lenses [the one's that don't zoom, such as a 50mm] are cheaper than zoom lenses and you can get some great ones for only a few hundred dollars.
For learning the technical side of things, read your instruction manual, check out some tutorials on dA to elaborate on the bits you don't get and then practise. Start with maybe a still life subject and experiment with all the settings on your camera and see how it all works. Take your time to learn to use the full manual mode - auto modes are great but you can do so much more with manual!
I'm a pretty experienced photographer working with mostly low end equipment, so if you have any specific questions feel free to drop me a note and I'll help as best I can.