Great cam. :thumbsup:
Quality of lens matters more than the body (and unfortunately also sucks up more money than the body), with that said Canon makes some amazing cameras and the t2i is a really great camera. The kit lens it comes with is better than your avg kit lens but still has room for improvement.
I would really like to suprise her. She will be expecting something for her new car so this will really come out of left feildI would take her to a store to check out dslr and see what she likes best in her hands. You could look at factory refurbs on "older" models to save money for lenses/flash/bag/filters.
can you recommend a lens tripod she hasyeah, the rebel is pretty good. If you have extra money, buy a telephoto or macro lens too , tripod and maybe a remote flash. Both of you can use it. You can use it too take photos of your tank.
Nikon D3100 just came out a month or two ago... very good DSLR for beginners. It has a nice guide mode. I convinced my friend to buy one b/c he just had a kid and doesn't know anything about camera settings etc but wants something that will allow him to access more features as his knowledge increases yet be able to do some cooler things ASAP (eg guide mode). It also takes 1080p movies in native bluray 24 fps. I spoke to a photographer who does a lot of wedding gigs etc and he pretty much lost me in 2 minutes but he mumbled something about how although he bought a Nikon (I use a D40, my friend has the D3100) he said he really wishes he picked up a full frame Canon a long time ago before investing so much money in all his lenses for his Nikon. He really likes his Nikon but thinks Canon has been ahead of the game with DSLRs from the getgo when they debuted their DSLR a couple of years ago and still are ahead of the curve. Anyways... I think the best thing for you to do is to always identify your budget first while thinking about how far you plan to take your photography skills... Will it always just be a hobby? Will you one day need to purchase a camera body that can use lenses that your current camera can not use? Will the lenses you will buy first be compatible with your future camera body? Pick up a B&H catalogue and thumb to the DSLR section and your head will spin with all the DSLRs that one can purchase. Camera bodies ranging in price from a couple of hundred $ to $42k Hasselblad 60 megapix camera or Leica bodies that can cost $28k and each new lens can burn a $10k hole in your pocket. LOL Anyways I guess what I'm trying to say is the sky is the limit if your pocket is deep so focus on how much you want to spend now and how much you think you can invest in the future. Also weight is a huge factor. Yea it's nice to have a ridiculously expensive camera with tons of lenses but how long can you hold it before you start having fond memories of your slim pocket digi camI am biased so I would say a Nikon, image quality is incredible even on budget cameras. The new D3100 is supposidly very good and for a DSLR isnt terribly expensive.
It won't fix a changing plane of focus when using a macro lens then again I'm still new to adjusting the settings in regard to increasing what is in/out of focus when I'm really zooming in on something. Taking pics of fish with a macro lens has brought my timing to a whole new level.Nikon's VR function pretty much automatically fixes any minor disturbances from breathing or a jittery hand.
The 18-55 IS kit lens is pretty good. Adding a telephoto lens will let you/her capture those faraway things (animals in the wild, candid shots of people/kids etc). The 1.8/50 has a slight edge on image quality, but I'd say outgrow that kit lens first.
I'd rather spend some money on a good external flash (430EX) before diving into more lenses. Especially for indoor shots it makes a huge difference.
Oh another thing to think about:
Camera remote control. Most cameras can use a wireless remote control for taking family portrates so you (the photographer) doesn't have to run back and forth after setting the timer. Some use wired remotes, most new ones use wireless remotes. The Nikon D3100 doesn't let you use a wireless remote.