Originally Posted by hauntinghelper
We've been thinking of making the upgrade to a DSLR. For the money and our experience (which is minimal).
I've narrowed it down to either a Canon rebel T3 and the Nikon D3100. Both seem to be considered great entry level SLR cameras. The Nikon seems to have a little more going for it, but people keep telling me to go with a Canon over Nikon.
Both cameras seem to have great reviews, especially the D3100, but I am simply torn between the two. I could really use some insight from some camera people.
You are going about this all backwards.
First, you need to identify why your current camera isn't meeting your present photography needs. Odds are good that you haven't yet exhausted the capabilities of your current camera. A lot of people think that a DSLR will "take better pictures" but in most cases a pocket camera will do better! A DSLR takes more *skill* to get better pictures.
It also takes better lenses. The price for the camera body is small potatoes compared to what you need to spend on good glass to get good photos. The kit lenses are not very good. You can easily spend 2x-3x the price of the body to buy just ONE good lens.
The camera body you buy will depreciate 50% within one year and be mostly obsolete within 5 years. What matters most are the other items that will hold their value, the lenses and flashes. I bought into the Canon line because Canon had THE LENS that would do what I wanted (the 70-200 IS f/2.8 lens, used for sports photography). But today I'm doing a lot of off-camera flash photography, and there are some who are getting GREAT results with the Nikon line, and Nikon's flashes are much easier to use in this field than the Canon flashes. If I was advising someone who really wanted to get into off-camera flash, I'd tell them to go Nikon.
You mentioned your wife will want to take bird photos. For good wildlife photos you need a good telephoto lens (good glass + fast glass = expensive). The camera body needs to have a fast shutter response (the lag between when you press the button and it takes the photo, which varies even among DSLRs) and a high frame rate can also be very helpful (high number of frames per second in burst mode) and neither of these are present in the entry-level DSLR models you are considering.
Finally, it really helps to have a network of people using the same gear you can contact to get help. If everyone in your network has Canon gear and you buy a Nikon you will not get as much out of your camera as if you had purchased a Canon, and visa versa.