May I suggest a few guiding lines of thought to be followed when buying/upgrading your equipment. Here, I will list very simple steps or a checklist of sorts if you may, to help you gain clarity on your expectations from your equipment.
What is your need?
If you figure this step out, you don't need guidance from any guy holding a camera and pretending to be in deep, poetic thought. You need to be true to yourself and let yourself know if your interest in photography is aimed at satiating your soul or do you belong to the "travel. click. upload." creed. If you think you would associate yourself with the latter, then you should not think about long term investment in this field in terms of technique, time and money. Remember the concept of ROI - if you invest in something, make sure you get the returns. On the other hand, if you think that photography is your calling, then don't rush into it. It needs technique, style and attitude - all of which need to be cultivated over a period of time. Without these, equipment in your hands is like a scalpel in the hands of an untrained surgeon - you're just gonna make a mess of things and brood over it!
Do you feel the passion?
When you think of photography or witness a visually beautiful phenomenon, does your mind take a mental picture and go "klik!"? Do you curse yourself for not carrying a camera with you at that moment? Do you fall in love with your best clicks and stare at them for hours like a mother lovingly stares at her child? Well then my friend, you are in the Kida club of photography enthusiasts! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise :). Start working on your passion and don't stop till you feel that you have found and perfected your own style.
" yaar lekin camera ho toh ekdum zhakas ho..aise lage ke main koi amateur nahi hu.."
When I quiz my friends about the kind of camera that has their attention at the moment, the above is the most common response that I get. In fact, by now I have trained myself to expect the above response and I keep a mentally scripted monologue ready. It is only when the person answers differently that I have to pause and ponder before voicing my opinion on the matter.
What kind of investment are you willing to make?
As I mentioned before, camera equipment is not cheap. Add to that the time it takes to master whatever equipment you acquire. For example, if your camera has features that let you manually control parameters (like shutter speed, aperture, ISO) and you intend to get fairly acquainted with these, let me tell you that it is not an overnight job. Even the most acclaimed photographers take time to get acclimatized to new equipment, however simple or sophisticated it may be.
For the above and more reasons, be true to yourself - identify your need, gauge your passion and set your budget to zero-in on the perfect equipment for your needs, passion and budget. For example, if you believe that your current camera does not let you click photos the way you want or has insufficient zoom or hampers your creativity and you clearly need a camera that compliments your abilities, then do not resist the temptation to upgrade. On the other hand, if you think that it is a crime to not upgrade your equipment now that your friend has done it, you are in the wrong lane! I have seen people buy expensive cameras because it looks cool or simply because someone else in the gang has just gotten a grade cooler after purchasing a new camera. Decisions made in such haste usually make the buyer regret and re-sell the equipment in the near future.
Monetary investment is one aspect; another is investment in terms of time & learning. You need to learn the generics of the trade and then branch into your own style. Remember, there are millions of camera owners out there who click billions of pictures and share them with their friends. Are you gonna be just another one of them or are you gonna be "the one" of your kind? Once you get a camera, plan to use it for a year or two before you upgrade your equipment.
(to be continued... )