I am a novice looking to add photography to my list of hobbies. I want to learn how to take great pictures. I want a camera that takes the best possible pictures that $300US money can buy. I'm not sure how to read all the camera specifications or which ones affect image quality. Based on camera specifications, a floating $300US budget, and your expert opinions, what cameras should I be looking at to get some of the best pictures available in that price range? I would rather put less money in options and more into image quality. The camera will begin as a general use/snapshot until my knowledge grows. I want to take great pictures of my 3yr old and various nature/outdoor shots. Thanks!
To clarify...I want to move up in image quality from basic point and shoots, but don't want to invest in dSLR. What cameras do professionals put in their pockets when not travelling with their 'equipment'?