Here was my strategy to buy these. It was literally a constrained optimization problem with a budget constraint and (feature+lens choices)/price ratio as the cost, or rather benefit. I would have gone for the Canon Rebel XT if Canon had a very good lens choice/variety. From the reviews I read, it appears like Rebel XT performed better (sharper) than Nikon at high ISO numbers. Also, Rebel XT is a 8MP camera, but this is something I am not really worrying about right now. A 8 x 10" printout at 300 dpi requires 8 x 10 x 300 x 300 = 7.2 MP image. For most eyes, even a 6.1 MP from Nikon D50 should be good enough.
Given that lens prices don't drop much ( if at all they drop ) but the body price drops a lot over a year or two, it made sense to me to invest in the Nikon D50, 6MP and buy very good lenses for it. Nikon D80 is about $500 more and the Nikon D200 is about a $1000 more compared to the D50. Both of the latter ones are 10.2 MP cameras with lots of extra features. But then, I really don't know if I will make use of these extras very much. I will use the D50 for a while and see how it goes and if after a year or two, I miss the D80/D200, I might consider selling off the current D50 and buy the D80/D200, which I hope will drop down to the current D50 price by then.
Here are some of the websites I used to make my decision. Inputs from MP and Sujiet were also quite useful.
- D50 at dpreview.com
- Canon Rebel XT, also called the 350D at dpreview.com
- D50 review at kenrockwell.com
- Rebel XT at kenrockwell.com
- Wide zoom lens comparison at kenrockwell.com
- The Nikon 18-200mm lens review here and here.
Some other tips which helped me save about $100 are:
- If you are buying two or more items above $50 each from buy.com or ritzcamera.com or any other site providing googlecheckout services, do separate checkouts and save $20 on each checkout.
- If you don't have amazon.com card yet, get one. I got my Samsonite camera bag for free that way.