You also want to learn about photography.
The Kodak site:
Near the top of the screen, click on a button called:
"Taking Great Pictures"
They have a wealth of information that will help you be a good photographer.
If the college has a photography club, be sure to join. It is always nice to know people who can help with your new hobby.
Now for the equipment:
The Canon S410 and the Konica Minolta Xg are point-and-shoot cameras and do not fit the profile you are looking for.
The "A" series of Canon cameras are all a good choice.
Just pick one based on how much you want to spend. They are all intermediate level cameras with all the manual over-ride controls.
The Sony V1 is in a class that is a notch above the Canon "A" series of cameras. I am seeing bargain prices on this camera lately. Some dealers are phasing it out and plan on selling the V3 instead.
The V1 is still a good choice.
Many people prefer a camera that uses alkaline AA batteries. If a set of batteries poop-out during a long session of photographing, you can always find alkaline batteries at any store and finish your day of shooting.
You should, of course, buy a set of rechargable NiMH AA batteries. Two reasons: it will prove to be far cheaper in the long run and NiMH batteries will give you maximum photo time between charges. A set of NiMH batteries and charger sell for as little as $10 at WalMart.
I'm interested in taking up photography as a hobby, but have never owned a serious camera before, digital or otherwise. I'd want to be able to photograph outdoors well such as nature, buildings, scenery since that's what I'm most interested in. I'm a college student though, so I'd also want to be able to take good quick snap shots. I'm looking in the $300-$400 range right now since I'm on a budget obviously and so far I've seen the Canon Powershot A80 (or A95 or A75), S410, and the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-V1 look good. Konica Minolta Dimage Xg sounds good too. I guess right now I'm leaning towards one of those first Canon Powershots. Any recommendations? And is the fact that it's powered by the alkaline batteries rather than lithium gonna be a nuisance? the added weight and bulk I mean.
Thanks a lot for any advice.
P.S. Although I'm new to photography, I'm not concerned about getting a "user-friendly" camera, I'm more concerned with getting whatever can give the best results for the price. So I'd be willing to put in time and learn the intricacies needed for a more complex camera if that's what's better.