40D will give you a little better high ISO and is slightly faster at 6.5fps. It has 14 bit ADC which is supposed to give smoother tonal ranges "gradation" is what I think they call it..
Build quality is about the same, as is the size and weight..
D200 has more buttons for direct input and more AF configurations..
It should come down to what lenses you want and if Canon or Nikon has them..
If both have what you want, get the one that feels best in your hands. You'll be the one using it..
I like Canon. I'm lost when trying to use my friend's D200..
And the Canon flash system is good- it just takes some getting to know it and how it works..
Caveat: I've got a Canon 30D.
Firstly, you can't go badly wrong with either option..
Secondly, while the 28-135IS is a good choice for general portraiture (when stopped down), I'm guessing it'd pretty much suck for night sports, as the aperture is f/5.6 at the long end, and IS dosn't help you freeze action. I've tried night sport at f/1.8 (under admittedly poor illumination) and it was pretty marginal even at ISO 3200..
Thirdly, I've heard that Nikon's flash system is better than Canon's, but I have no complaint with my Canon flash. One nice feature of Nikon's cameras though is that the pop-up flash can act as the wireless master for a remote flash, whereas with Canon you need to use the ST-E2 transmitter or a 550/580EX on the camera to control a slave flash..
I'm not sure those advbantages and disadvantages of Canon vs Nikon really esist, and if they do exist, they certainly do not matter..
But I do think you are on to something wise when you write in the headline, "or drop down a level.".
The Caon Rebel XTi and the Nikon D40X are wonderful cameras and will serve you well for years..
About the Canon 28-135. Certainly a good enough lens, but I'm willing to bet it is a marketing department plan to package this as a kit lens, because Nikon has a lens with 135mm in the name, and Canon wants to compete..
It's too "long" to use as a general purpose lens for most people, and thus you'd need to buy a wide angle lens, too..
Okay, after reading the replies I think I either want to go whole hog with the 40D + 28-135 kit (I plan to add lenses over the next couple of years, probably in this order: 50 1.4, 10-22, then eventually the 70-200 2.8 IS)..
Or, drop down to get a really good walkabout lens with it. Pricing the 40D, 28-135 kit at $1,500: Could someone recommend a really good walkabout lens to go with an xti or used 20D for the same money? I'm guessing dropping down would put me in the $600-700 range on the camera, leaving $700-800 for the lens..
......Given my interests, I'd appreciate any recommendations. I do hear alot that Nikon's hotshoe flash system is ahead of Canon and easier touse. If so, are we talking minor differences or something more? Iwant to minimize the chances of becoming frustrated and leaving thething on the shelf..
The Nikon flash system is significantly better than any other at the same price range. Just add an SB-600 and you can control it remotely from your D200 standing it on a table, a tripod or whatever as well as mounting it on the hotshoe. You have to buy a separate control unit to do that with a Canon. A D200 (or D80) can control up to I think 9 flashes in three groups in that fashion using the onboard flash. The system is much more useful than you might think. Getting your main flash off camera eliminates red-eye and allows you a complete portable studio for minimal cost..
Egonomics on the D200 are better..
I have yet to see a review of the 40D. I would not buy anew camera without seeing at least two good reviews It might be a lemon. I doubt it but there are major problems with the Canon EOS-1D Mark III autofocus system and I would not have expected that..
The D200 is to remain in production and so is not replaced by thge D300..
I would get that D200 or hold fire for a few reliiable full reviews of the 40D before spending your money..
*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.
The "best" camera for someone usually means one can prioritize one's needs and budget. But with a beginner, it's extremely hard to know enough about what you want to do to set those priorities. For example, the D80 does almost everything the D200 does, the big differences are body size and build, the D200 being sturdier and heavier, "sealed," etc. It's also faster in that it does 5 fps over 3 fps. But if you aren't going to deal with rugged conditions or "need" 5 fps, do you need a D200? It kind of depends on how passive your interests are. I wanted to speed up over the 3 fps of the KM 7D when I went to the D200 but outside of some soccer shooting and birds in flight, I seldom run off a fast burst or more than a shot of two at a time.
Or are you interested in available light or low light shooting where you want the best possible noise responses and high iso's. Maybe now you need to consider the availability of VR/IS lenses..
Even the ergonomics have fans. Maybe the decision should be on flash and lesnes as it's the second camera which will be closer to right?.
I happen to have a D200 but know many people as happy or more with their Canon gear...
Over on the Canon lens forum these questions are delved into with detail. Currently Canon's best EF-S zoom is the 17-55/2.8IS, though the 17-85IS has a bit longer tele end..
Having said that, the 40D is a much nicer camera than the 400D and you might find use for the extra functions such as liveview..