consider details and extras
Both are great cameras. I own a canon digital rebel xt.
I first suggest going to a retailer and comparing hands-on various DSLRs. Ask a lot of questions.
You may also want to research various photography discussion forums to see what types of questions and problems current owners have. Ask about the pros and cons of the software the camara manufacturers' provide with the camera. Is it intuitive and easy to use? Is it compatible with your operating system? (This could be a significant problem if it is not compatible, for example with a new mac or vista computer, or if your operating system is older).
Some minor things to consider are the costs of extras. How much storage card capacity do you require? On a recent vacation I took 5 gigabytes worth of pictures. The xsi uses SD cards - its a bonus if you happen to have a camera or other devices that use sd cards. There are other means of downloading pictures for storage, but I find extra memory cards to be cost effective and use little space in a camera bag.
Whatever camera you choose I recommend getting a second battery. Keeping a backup, fully charged battery is very useful. You may want to comparison shop the availablity and cost of backup batteries, depending on the camera.
You may also want to consider the costs of additional lenses, external flash, etc. I suggest you shop around online. Both nikon and canon offer excellent lenses. (I use canon, tamron, and sigma lenses). Regardless, compatibility and cost may be important to you. What you may save in the initial purchase may be forfeited in the cost of any additional accessories.
You will find that canon, nikon, pentax, sony and others all take excellent pictures. Although you won't enjoy your new camera if its difficult to find accessories, they're expensive; or the camera uploads slowly, or is incompatible with your operating system, etc.
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