Whatever you wind up buying, just remember that when you "buy into" a system, you're likely to be with that system. http://www.bhphotovideo.com has perhaps the benchmark pricing for most equipment, and above all else, I've found them extremely reliable. I can't say the same for Adorama. I've been Nikon because of their optics since I started out 40 years ago, and I'm a happy camper, but hardly what you might call a "professional." Do your research, and be your own best teacher.
If I had 2-3k to spend I would get the 40D or 7D. Not the 60D. Here's why.
Originally Posted by wrongislandsurfer
The 40D body is made of metal. shoots @ 6.5 fps.
The 60D body is made of plastic. shoots @ 5.3 fps.
The 7D body is made of metal. shoots @ 8 fps. (machine gun)
I travel a lot too. So having a metal body keeps my mind at rest a little. I recently upgraded from the 40D to the 7D. I completely skipped the 60D for the simple fact it shot at 5.3 fps which is less then the previous 40D and it's made of plastic.
Lenses you will not want to cheap on. Get yourself a used fixed lens. 300mm is all you need. I would stay away from the 100mm-400mm EF as you will need lots of light. I believe the aperture on that is 4.5/5.6. If you want great pictures you will need to get a 2.8/3.2 lens. I had a 75mm-300mm EF. It was decent...but on cloudy days @ 300mm you will get grainy pictures, regardless of your ISO settings.
My 2 cents....
I got my first "dslr" recently and went a different route: sony. It's actually not a true dslr, (and not one of the mirrorless cameras either) but rather sony calls it a single lens translucent camera. It's pretty good for shooting at high speeds for a $600 camera. There are less lens options out there for sony compared to canon and nikon, but with the ability to use most minolta lenses, the difference isn't too bad. Also, be prepared for canon and nikon fans to scoff at you for not having a real camera (to be fair, it isn't).
One other thing I'll add: get Adobe Lightroom. It retails for $300, but it's easy enough to find it for about $100 if you look. Great way to "develop" and organize your photos. Has very good noise reduction too, which has resurrected it's fair share of pictures for me.
Like a lot of posters are saying, find a used body in good condition and save the money for a top-notch lens. Great sites to follow:
I scooped up a 50d off of fredmiranda for a pretty good price (50d is very similar to the 40d).
As far as Nikon v. Canon, it's a pick 'em. Sure there are some subtle differences between the platforms but nothing significant to deter a beginner one way or the other.
Use the search function as well since this topic has probably been discussed extensively.
check out the nikon d7000- great video too. If you have the $$$ and your serious... you will not be sorry!
A pro photog/AV guy recommended the Canon 60D to me and I am super happy with it. You get pro quality capabilities without having to be a photography expert. You can shoot in autofocus and manual focus as well as JPEG & RAW (get the training DVD and decent photo editing software for best results). B&H Photo in NY has a great website and the most supply. The 60D is in your price range with a decent lens. Yeah, as aguaholic noted, the body is plastic and the fps is slightly less than the others but it's easy to use and shoots the same sick HD video. It's a matter of personal preference but my experience with fps is mixed because these cameras give you the capability to fire a machine gun when sometimes the best shot is taken with a sniper rifle. I use this camera regularly for surf photography and have had no problems with durability.
dude if you want to go cannon definitly get a 7d. Those cameras are amazing. they are also weather sealed so if you get cought in a little shower it wont mess with the canmera. although you would also need a weather seald lens. and for that price range i would go canon 7d ($1350 body only) or (1500 with 28-135mm lens) and the canon 70-200 l lens 2.8 ($1200-$1500)