I mentioned previously about the many subtle differences. Whats megapixel mean to me? Its somewhat of a marketing ploy, a number not to be confused with the quality of your digital photos. Wow. Yes thats tough to explain when everyone in the market boasts about their megapixels. It seems all entry level camera manufacturrers compete boasting about megapixels. Marketing gives the general impression the more pixels the better your picture will be. Not exactly true.
Consider the camera sensor. In reality better the sensor the better the picture. Also how the sensor is divided up into pixels affects picture quality. Counterintuitive fact: same size sensor with more pixels than another it yeilds no better photos. More megapixels the picture is simply larger. A larger file size but less clear. So don't let megapixels drive your choice in camera purchase.
You can get a nice entry level pricepoint digital SLR for about $500. Get one with a detachable lens for about $500. Doing so gets a cropped sensor camera. Warning: if you spend less than $400 for a camera and detachable lens you are spending too much money on a DLSR. Spending too much for too little camera. The average is $500 and the floor price is around $400. Skillfully managed market pricepoints. Gets people in the door of the hobby. Gets people a good enough camera and lens.
Good entry level DSLRs can be found in a big box store. My choice was to go to an actual camera store where the price was competitive to big box. Better still my purchase was backed up by someone who knew what they were talking about. In Wisconsin I suggest two awesome brick and mortar companies: The Camera Companyin Madison or Camera Casino in Oshkosh.
Unless you spend some real serious money the DSLR today all will have a sensor which is smaller than 35mm film. Lots of terminology so I'll oversimplify. The DSLR cameras I use have cropped sensors which are 2/3 as large as full sensors. The full sensor are the same size as 35mm film but the cost mind blowing more money.
The not obvious difference about a cropped sensor is your familiar focal length is 150% that of 35mm film. Things that were far away now seem closer than you recall shooting on film. The science of how goes beyond what I can explain. Essentially the DSLR I purchased came with an 18mm to 55mm lens. But it takes pictures as though its a 27mm to 82mm lens. Its most noticiable with the telephoto lens I use.