The quality of images depends more on the photographer and the lens choices than the exact brand and model.
You start off with what kind of image and effect you want to create, then you pick your lens and accessories to create the effect you want. And you study the best angle and perspective to capture the image, and then you wait for the right lighting (or use strobes and gel to create the lighting/color you want), and take the shot. The depth of field, shutter speed, lighting and exposure, angle of view, selective focus point etc all play important roles in making a good image. You are the one who has to decide on these factors to make the best photo, not the camera. The cameras can help you to meter and calculate some of the parameters, but they can be wrong.
Most D-SLR camera bodies in the same category have similar capabilities and performance, and they are getting better with each new generation. Today's entry level D-SLR has more features and capabilities than some of the mid-range D-SLRs several years ago. You really will not be able to tell the difference in performance between Nikon and Canon. If you want a smaller camera with SLR capabilities, then the Olympus and Panasonic micro 4/3 come in smaller package but they also have smaller sensor size. If you want the best low light performance, then you may want to consider the full frame D-SLRs with larger sensors. If you want to have built-in image stabilization to save some money on lenses, then Sony and Pentax can be a consideration. Canon and Nikon have been the mainstream D-SLR for the serious amateurs and pros, you won't go wrong with either one.
The best thing to help you decide is to go to a professional camera shop, and try out the different models.
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