That is the million dollar question.
It really depends on what you want to do with it. If you’re truly a MWAC (mom with a camera) chances are you want gorgeous pictures of your darling babies. You don’t need a professional dSLR to do this. Entry level dSLR cameras with decent lenses will allow you to take stellar pictures.
I am a Canon girl all the way. I’m shooting with the first camera the husband and I purchased, the Canon Rebel XT with the kit lens (the lens it comes with). We don’t use the kit lens though.
CNET has an article on entry level dSLR cameras. Your most difficult decision will likely be which brand to go with.
The great debate of Canon vs Nikon can easily be settled by going to a store and handling both. Figure out which one you like best. You can Google this topic to death, but it’s really all about what feels right to you.
My recommendation for a beginner is the Canon Rebel XSi, but I would skip the kit lens. For nice portraits you want a fast lens – a prime. We currently shoot portraits with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens which will not break the bank. You may also want a zoom lens which can come in time if you’re mainly shooting portraits.
Nikon also makes a nice “starter” camera, the D3000. This is the camera listed in CNet’s article linked above. I have no experience with Nikon, but I know some people love them.
If you have more to spend check out Canon’s T2i. It’s an 18mp camera that takes high def video. It will cost approximately $750 without a lens. However, this kit lens is an image stabilization (IS) lens. I would consider springing for the kit lens in this case.
If you want something professional go for the Canon 7D or 5D Mark II. But you will spend $1350 for the 7D or $2250 for the 5DM2 for the body only. I have seen amazing pictures from these cameras, and one of these will be our next purchase.
A nicer camera has the ability to take better shots, but you must know how to use the camera. Learning on something less expensive is perfectly acceptable (and wise).
What’s in your camera bag? What are you lusting after?