Nikon D80 vs. Canon REbel XTi
Nikon is now way more competitive, while they had trouble with the 8MP Rebel XT vs. the 6MP D70, now both Nikon and Canon sport 10MP sensors. While Canon makes its own sensor, Sony supplies the 10MP sensor for the Nikon D80, the Sony Alpha 100 and the Pentax K10D. Net, net, there's never been a better time to buy a DSLR. They have finally reached an amazing maturity level. The 8MP were IMHO the first that didn't have too bad a tradeoff, but these cameras are now mature enough that everyone should pretty much upgrade.
The net is that the image quality of the Nikon and the Canon are both truly amazing. They resolve 2200 lph which is really very, very good and they are both low noise, so you can take pictures at ISO800-1600 with only moderate noise on both. Where they distinguish themselves is that the Canon has an automatic dust reduction system to keep the insides very clean while the Nikon has really great images and a 2700 shot battery (you'll never charge it!) and is about $200 more expensive. The standard lense they both come with is amazing, basically a 10x zoom that should do for most uses unless you are a serious amateur.
As usual it comes down to what you already own. If you already have Nikon, you stay Nikon, if you have Canon, you stay Canon. If you have neither and are a newbie (almost by definition), the lower cost of the Canon is probably a pretty big deal.
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