Digital photography for beginners is a subject which is surrounded in more controversy than it truly deserves, as it is a relatively simple subject to grasp when a few fundamental are observed. A lot will depend on whether you are a beginner in photography as a whole, or an experienced user of film cameras who wants to transfer those skills to the digital realm. Any experience you have gained previously will be extremely useful, but even if you have none, it will be easy enough to get you up and running taking effective digital photographs in a short time.
The absolute beginner will need to work much harder, as they will have to grasp the basics which those experienced in film photography will already know. You will need to be able to understand how lighting conditions will affect the resulting print, and also how distance, focus and zoom all affect the result. Most of this will be similar to what you would have learned in the days of film cameras, but there are some differences. Most of these are caused by advances in technology, as the digital camera can make automatic adjustments.
The film photographer coming into digital photography for the first time may find these settings difficult at first, as it will seem as though the camera is intruding on what was traditionally the domain of the photographer. All settings are adjustable, and can be switched off if that is how the photographer wants to operate. It is best to carry out some practicing with still subjects, so that you can see how different effects are created by the automatic settings. You may then decide to use them on a limited basis as and when you feel that they can make a significant difference.
Of course, taking the initial shot is only the start of mastering digital photography for beginners. The greatest advantage the digital photographer has is the ability to manipulate images with software, so that errors which would have ruined a film picture can now be taken out and replaced with the correct result. It is also possible to introduce new enhancements to the picture, in a way which film photographers would have found completely impossible. This involves the use of software, and the best photograph manipulation software on the market is definitely not cheap. You can pay over $500 for Adobe Photoshop, or you can look into cheaper alternatives.
The cheaper alternatives are often free, as they are created under open source licenses which allow them to be continually developed without charge to the end user. The most comprehensive of these packages is GIMP, which has many of the features of the paid products, but which is incredibly difficult to use due to a complete lack of documentation. If you have more time than money to spend, you may benefit from trying to get to grips with this difficult program. An alternative, called Paint.NET, is far simpler to use, although it does not have quite the same extensive range of features. It is ideal for the amateur who only needs basic manipulation.
One of the most positive features of digital photography for beginners is the scope it gives you to to learn as you go along. Unlike film, digital data cards can be endlessly reused, giving you the ability to take multiple test photographs of the same subject with different settings. There is never the same pressure to achieve the right result first time round, until you are going to be taking photographs of moving objects. That will be the most challenging aspect of digital photography for beginners.