If you are use to a Canon, my advice stick with a Canon. If Nikon, is your choice, stick with it. Just some suggestions that should fit in your budget (I am in no way suggesting Canon over Nikon, or Nikon over Canon)... Canon 600D, Canon 650D, Nikon D5100, Nikon D7000
You can make the decision for yourself. Here are some comparison links to help show you the difference between all 4 of these cameras...
I use a Nikon Coolpix P500 with a 36 x zoom. Some rejections because, they say, "poor lens quality" etc. Is that a Nikon lens so bad? (even if not a DSRL camera). Of course, I would prefer a Nikon D7000 or like that but for the moment I have to stick with what I have. Could it be that the distortions are too big with a 36 x zoom lens? How to use this camera and not get rejections for "poor lens"? Stick to the middle range, not use the wide angle and the extreme 36 X?
I would also look at second hand market - my favourite is canon 5D (Mark I should be getting close to your budget) Than I would get crisp prime lens (EF 50, 1.8 - is below 100 Euro) - Now you have superb picture quality and ability to shoot at higher ISO without compromises to quality... with this combo you will not be betrayed by camera - with new camera in your specified price range you will be facing a some trade-offs in terms of quality (get ready for distorted pixels due to pixel density and similar diseases of APS-c and smaller sensors with high Megapixels). The only drawback is - the age of camera - this camera was built to last for decades but the shutter has a limited amount of cycles, so make sure to check the number of exposures taken by that camera before buying...
I would have a Sony nex 5R. Small and compact with same or better image quality than most entry level dslr's on the market. Has nice features, you can change lenses (not many compact cameras have this option), you can shoot without being noticed by tilting the display and keeping the camera close to your hip (great for events or real life situations). The high ISO performance is amazing. You can add dedicated Zeiss lenses on it :D
Quoted Message: I would have a Sony nex 5R. Small and compact with same or better image quality than most entry level dslr`s on the market. Has nice features, you can change lenses (not many compact cameras have this option), you can shoot without being noticed by tilting the display and keeping the camera close to your hip (great for events or real life situations). The high ISO performance is amazing. You can add dedicated Zeiss lenses on it :D
With 30 Sigma I have to bring down the "Clarity" in LR... not happened before with other lenses :)
Photography I use Nikon 105mm F2.8G, Nikon 35mm F1.8G, Nikon crop body...
I'd suggest the model I have - second hand Canon 50D. For the price (you can find one under 400$) it is hard to beat. Semi-professional features (magnesium alloy body, AF microadjust, good burst rate, good IQ). Running alternative firmware Magic Lantern adds dozens of extra features, including automatic lens calibration (dot-tune), focus peaking and zebra, full HD video (and recently - HD RAW video), focus stacking, ghost imaging, HDR, etc. etc.
Guys are right, I only need to add a two aspects, which are not obvious from our responses so far, but crucial...
1. Camera body is a short term investment - let's say up to 4 years, and then you will be pushed by competition to upgrade it (well the time actually varies depending on how stubborn the photographer is :) ). The lenses will stay with you much longer - one can say "for lifetime..." So for the body you should not spend more, than you are able to make with it in 4 years. (otherwise you are "paying for being a photographer" [- you are in red numbers], but I think all of us started this activity to get payed for being photographer... :) )
2. When starting with cheaper starter DSLR body and going to invest in lenses, make sure, the lenses will fit your next camera body. - As example if you start with Canon APS-C sensor DSLR and you will buy heap of EF-S lenses, than you will hang yourself when you will upgrade to full frame camera and find out, that those lenses do not fit :) So if considering Canon, make sure you are investing in lenses that fit both sensor sizes (th "EF" is the right type - all "L" series are EF. Do not invest in "EF-S" as this will ban you from going to full frame later - or at least it will make it a big pain in the ... because of needing new heap of lenses)
(The path, which Robinstockphotos suggested is good one, but me personally would still consider to buy used Canon 5D instead of new starter DSLR - the price is similar... )
T4i used or refurbished (full time auto focus in video mode) 18MP sensor, and 28 - 135 EF lens. Or similar, but the 500 pound limit is a limit. 24 -105mm could be betterr. If you can save for a zoom later, get a nice prime lens which will produce even sharper, better quality images.
Janceluch is 100% right about, EF lenses and save for L glass. The good lenses will make more difference than a higher priced body. T4i shares sensor with 60-D. T3i and 7-D are same sensor. It starts to get confusing with the overlap, but the point is, you get an equal recording device, the features and build will be less, with the Rebels.
After you get your camera and a lens, get a Canon EX flash. Or any good ETTL flash. Lighting is important too and you'll need that. Needed for fill, not just dark.
Olympus is announcing their EP5 Micro Four Thirds camera. It is now the top tier of the Pen family of cameras under the Olympus brand and in some ways challenges the flagship from Olympus–the OMD EM5. Everyday, we see and hear about new people purchasing the OMD EM5, but if you want to go with the Micro Four Thirds system you’ll be able to now take a look at another very good option within the Olympus world (though Panasonic does offer some good selections as well). best camera brand
Nikon D7000 for sure! :) My first camera was a D5100. Great camera! De D5200 will also do great by the way. I now own a D7000 + a D7100. I bought them with my earnings from stock. :) Why Nikon? Because it has the lowest noise. Canon absolutely also makes great camera's! I'm not a fanboy but bought them after research. Nikon in my opinion gives more quality for less money. And noise is one of the most important thing to watch out for when doing stock.