Unless you want to experiment with aperture, exposure, depth of field or focal lengths, you don't necessarily need
an SLR. A lot of new digital compacts now have usable manual modes. Here's a link to the top selling compacts recently: LINK
Most are reasonably priced. Take into account memory card type if you already have some around or if your computer has memory card readers built in. Having a Sony compact digital and a Sony desktop computer makes it real convenient to swap memory around.