Well, I think I've decided on my camera. The Canon EOS Rebel XS.
I think you'll be happy with that choice. Actually, either Canon or Nikon is a very solid choice. Though, chances are, you'll eventually want to move beyond your kit lens. Most people view their lenses as the greater investment over the camera itself. Unfortunately, this sort of locks people into one system on another.
With that said, you might want to be careful with any future lens you buy. You may be tempted to get an EF-S lens, but remember, they are only good for the smaller APS-C equivalent sensors (like the Canon XS). Canon actually just came out with a decent 18mm-200mm zoom in that format. Eventually, full frame sensors will be affordable to the masses. When that happens it would be nice not to dispose of your lens collection.
Anyway, enjoy and let us know how things go. If this is your first dSLR experience, you'll be amazed at the performance and quality of your new camera. Imagine no shutter lag, fast processing, low noise, better autofocus, etc. in every shot. People might actually start to think you know what you're doing!
Ah... you fell for the promotion... It should be okay as long as you keep your expectations in check. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. If you're using a tripod or you have a very steady hand in good lighting, this should be okay. Unfortunately, good lenses cost a lot of money. For Canon, the L series is the high quality but very costly set of lenses.
However, you can get a nice step up for a reasonable price.
It's basically the same thing but it has image stabilization and a USM motor for quiet and fast autofocus. The bigger the zoom lens, the more important image stabilization becomes. But, as you mentioned, for $100, you can't really go to wrong, especially when you're experimenting and learning, etc. Let me know what you think of it once you get it.
It was $100 off ...not $100 So the lens ended up costing me ~$60. I do know all about its limitations but I figured it was definitely worth $60. If I find that I don't like it I'll just sell it and make a bit of money in the process
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