Here is a photo of our neighbor's cherry tree, taken with our old Canon PowerShot A510 in full automatic setting. The tree is about 40-50 feet away from me (I'm sitting upstairs and taking the photo from our little office). Pretty, but a bit overexposed.
Here is the same subject, taken with our new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. It's also on full automatic setting, yet the focus and exposure are already better.
And this is how close I can get with our 300mm lens. I used the macro setting so the blossoms really seem to pop out of the background.
I'm looking forward to playing with our new camera and learning to take some awesome pictures!