| | Re: taking good pictures
No suggestions on cameras from me (mine are both much more then $50... one is a DSLR) but for good pictures, I agree... no flash! Natural light! If you can't get enough good light try to make a DIY softbox... I think there's info in the sticky post at the top of this board... otherwise google DIY softbox or DIY lighting and you'll find some great stuff!
Also, make sure you have a very steady hand or even better, use a tripod or set camera on something (like a stack of books) if you do that and use a 2 second timer on the shutter (check your camera manual for that) then you won't have problems with blurring. Another way to get colors that are truer to real life is to set the white balance in your camera (see your manual for that too) a custom white balance would provide the best color.
Last, don't forget about editing! Good editing can bring out the colors and sharpness! There are some great free editing sites and downloads you can get. (I used paint.net... a free download before buying software)