For your budget, Nikon. For the quality in its class, Canon
Overall, the Canon 40D and the Nikon D80 are very similar cameras'; the Nikon is considered a prosumer level camera while the Canon is considered by some as a professional level camera. They both have 10 megapixels, both are from a great company, and both have a lot of lenses and accessories to back them up. One of the biggest differences is in the fps (frames per second). The Nikon shoots at around 3fps while the Canon doubles that at 6.5fps. This means that it you put the camera into its maximum shutter speed and hold down the trigger, the Nikon or Canon will shoot 3 or 6.5fps respectively. It you are more likely to leave the camera on auto and simply take everyday pictures with it, Nikon may be the better choice. It you are planning to really get into the camera and play with the setting, such as ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, etc, Canon may be the better choice; Canon also has 3 additional slots on the mode dial that you can customize and give personal settings to. Personally, I have the 40D and love it, though I did compare it to the D80 before purchasing. One of my family members has the D80 so I do know both camera fairly well. If we go back to your budget, the Nikon D80 with a lens can probably be found for under $1000. Though, if you want to go with the Canon, you will pay around $1,200-$1,400 depending on where you shop. The first thing I recommend doing, is going to the store and picking them both up, take some pictures, and test out the cameras in person. This will give you a better idea of how they will feel being carried around on a day-to-day basis. Next, go back and really compare the features side-by-side, make a list if you have to, and see what the cameras offer, and which features you need, and don't. For a site geared specifically toward cameras, try: [www.dpreview.com]. There, you can compare all of their features side-by-side, and read reviews on them. I use Cnet a lot though I have found that dpreview gives you a lot more info on cameras and they specific abilities. Good luck on your decision making. Cheers.
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