Thanks for this nugget.
" T4i has the same sensor as the older T3i "
I picked up the T3i and it's been fine. As to the battery I found a nice enough battery holder with some time lapse feature and it takes either 2 of the rechargeables or a small pile of AA's. I think that I have more than enough battery power options now.
What I did for lens is where I spend a bit more on. I have the stock bundled lens but added the next 55-250mm size and am waiting for a fixed 50mm lens that seems popular.
This feels just like owning a sail boat. The boat is cheap but the rigging is where the money is.