I have tried out Blender in the past but got so frustrated at it's bizarre way of doing things that I gave up. I decided to check on the recent progress though and I'm excited to see that user interface and usability improvements are a big focus for 2.5. Some of my past issues are being resolved. Thanks to customizable hotkeys and the Maya preset the program can now interact much more like a sane program (honestly, I've never seen a program so strange and frustrating as Blender with it's default settings.)
There are still some issues I see, even with my limited experience. I am posting these issues in the hope that developers will take note and make improvements in these areas. I will cover some little ones first.
Why can't the camera be moved using the regular view orbit/pan/dolly controls? You can set the view to show you what the camera sees, but then when you orbit or pan the camera stays behind. Imagine if you could only position a camera in real life by taking a picture remotely on a tripod, viewing the picture and then deciding whether to move the tripod up, down, right, left, etc. This isn't the Mars rover. Let me move the camera like I'm looking through the viewfinder!
I haven't been able to test this now, because Blender is crashing every time I try to open it, but there was a problem before when you were dollying the camera. If the camera came to the same location as the camera target, it would get stuck. I can't remember but I think it got totally stuck and had to be reset. Maya avoids this issue by popping the target forward when this happens. However it's done, it needs to be addressed.
You can't bevel just certain edges on an object, only the whole thing at once. This should pretty simple, but I think it reflects a problem with workflow in Blender. I can't be confident about that though due to my limited experience. Bevel is currently a modifier but it should be just a tool to use in your poly editing.
Now a big one. Why are program settings and scenes saved together?!?!?! This is the most insane thing I have ever seen in any program and I am shocked that it is still this way. Why would you ever want to have your user preferences attached to your scenes? When I open up somebody else's file now suddenly I have to put up with the demented default settings of Blender again. When I try opening an old .blend file in 2.56 the interface is totally screwed up and can't be corrected by selecting a preset from the top. If I make changes to the settings and save them, whatever I was working on at the time gets saved as well so when I create a new scene it's like I am making a copy of another one. What the heck? So if I want to save any settings changes I have to save what I'm working on first, then delete everything in the scene, THEN save the settings. This is dumb and there is good reason why no other program has ever thought to use such a weird paradigm.
The only non-scene stuff that should be saved with the scene file is the current window layout, which can easily be switched back to default with the presets. This is how all other 3D software works.
So those are just a few things. I'm sure I could find a bunch more if I kept using Blender. I hope nobody is offended. Last time I posted issues people got really angry. If you compare Blender to other 3D software though I think you will see that what I am suggesting is quite reasonable and would improve usability.
The camera is just another object in Blender. In the 3d View, you can move it around just like any other object. In Camera view, with the camera selected, Rotate and Grab control where the camera is pointing, just like you are looking thru the view finder.
Note that Lights can be treated like Cameras which is handy for aiming them precisely.
Ah I didn't realize that the viewport would follow with the camera when you move it. That's nice. But still, why won't the camera follow the viewport as well?