It's about 15 years since I 'gave up' film SLRs...they were big, bulky and heavy and I didn't want to carry them around anymore. Like many, I flirted with a few compact cameras before working my way onto a few digital compacts (Sony, Canon etc).
Now at a different stage of my life (the kids are grown up!) it felt like the time to get back into SLRs once again.
To be honest, technology is now such that it's probably difficult to buy a bad DSLR...try some out...they all have fantastic features that put my old film camera to shame. I have however always hankered after a Nikon...cue the D80.
Initially somewhat daunted by the many features available on the D80, I have spent an enjoyable time getting back into SLR cameras again with the D80 - it's more compact than my old beasts and an awful lot more capable. If you're unsure, drop into 'Auto' mode initially and the camera will do everything for you, other than compose and zoom - you'll get good results this way. Natural curiosity however will soon have you exploring the Programme, Aperture and Shutter priority modes, plus the auto-bracketing, excellent exposure compensation modes and even in-camera editing facilities. Fancy everything in Manual mode?...not a problem, go for it.
When handling the D80 you will be impressed I'm sure by the feeling of quality and class - not 'plasticky' at all as some modern DSLRs tend to be. The 18-135 kit lens is very good and, again, feels solid and reliable.
The D80 has some very detailed and comprehensive in-camera menus. After a couple of days, they all make sense and you'll soon be whizzing through them. The key thing with the D80 though is that you have bought into the Nikon 'system' - an unrivaled collection of lenses and accessories, all oozing quality and class. Nothing is forever of course, especially in this disposable world, but I do tend to feel that the D80 is definitely a long(er) term investment.
Things to buy with the D80 at the same time...? A lens filter (67mm thread), a decent SD or SDHC card (I bought a 4Gb SDHC card) and a nice padded case/bag. After that, well, the Nikon world is your oyster!
A stunning camera - I'm delighted I bought it.