Is space a consideration? If you have the space, an older Shopsmith makes a great starter lathe. 10ERs can be bought in the range of $75 most places, and even MkVs can be bought for $150 or so.I apologize if there are already a hundred of these threads. I am looking for a beginner lathe and my budget is around $250.
Advantages are variable speed, large enough swing to do moderate sized pieces, and enough power and stability to turn an out of round blank.