Can't stay long, so just a quick tip. I would start by leaving all settings on auto, and begin taking photos...see how they turn out. Here is a quick explanation of what the settings do:
Shutter speed: The speed that the "film" is exposed to the light coming in from the lens. Longer shutter speed = brighter, more exposed image. The shutter speed options you have are in seconds.
Aperture: This value is the size of the aperture (duuh
). The aperture is a little covering that determines how big the hole is, where the light comes through, to hit the film when the shutter opens.
ISO: This is basically the light sensitivity of the "film". The lower the number, the less sensitive to light the film is, ie: the longer the shutter speed needs to be to not be over-exposed (too bright). However, be aware that with a higher ISO speed, the picture becomes overall more grainy. I try to always shoot with ISO 100, to keep the picture as "grainless" as possible. For bad weather shots, you would turn it up maybe one or two notches.
About the sharpness here, I don't really know if I can be any help. As far as I know, "normal" point-and-shoot cameras do some processing in the camera (ie: sharpening, contrast, etc). I believe here you can decide whether you want the camera to do it for you, or if you want to leave it unsharpened to later modify it in photoshop. I would leave it on standard for now, and after experimenting a little, change as required.
Overall, just experiment. Try different things, and to start, try during nice weather/light. Don't try and begin with night/cloudy shots. I know it's hard to find sunny days in the UK
Anyhow, I hope this helps a little, and if you have any other questions, just reply. I know I would have liked to have someone help when I started
Edit: added some ISO info...
[Edited 2004-07-17 03:35:30]
I guess that's what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.