Not that I am a professional but I get a lot of questions from my friends and FB/G+ peeps regarding camera gear. Most of them want an entry level DSLR and the ones who can afford want the best gear available.
This is what I am going to focus on this post. What is the best Gear? Initially when I started I was confused too, wanted most mega pixels and lens with lot of zoom, etc. But eventually I found my answers.
Essentially for me the Right Gear depends on what my requirements are. Brand doesn’t matter. You can go for a Nikon or a Canon or any other brand out there. What it eventually boils down to is what kind of photography you are interested in. Some (like me) are interested in nature and landscape photography and and some like to do portraits, some like fashion photography, and some just like to shoot what they see. So based on your requirements you can buy a Full frame or a Crop Factor.
I personally use a crop factor NikonD90/D7000 and that suffices my need. Largest of prints that I have got were 20X30. which is big enough, even if I want to sell. I mostly do Landscapes shots and some wildlife. And Nikon D90 and D7000 are just right for me. The Canon equivalent would be the 7D. Thats a great Camera as well. Of course the Canon 5D and Nikon D3s are a class apart and are full frame cameras, you might want them if you are planning to make it a profession eventually.
The other most important peice of the puzzle is the Lens. You need to have a good glass to get that great image. Lens between 18mm to 55mm come under wide angle/Landscape. If its a Crop Factor then 18mm will come to about 22-24mm (good for family/group photos) . For Close Ups, portraits you will require a lens between 50mm to 100mm . For wildlife/birds and sports you would require something like a 300mm to 600mm. You get combinations of 18-200mm (all in one) which are good, or you can buy two like 10-20mm, 18-55mm or 70-300mm.
Nowdays the digital cameras pack a great sensor which is important because that’s where your image is captured. I will not tell you which brand to go with but just to mention few of the good Entry Levels are Nikon D3100 and D5100, and Canon EOSRebel T3 and T2i. Semi professional cameras would include D7000 and Canon 7D. And for Professional you can try Canon 5D and Nikon D3s.
Although I have only spoken about Nikon and Canon because they are the most popular in Digital photography, and thats what I have experience with. If you are interested in any other brand then check out the reviews at DPReview.com. Rest figure out what your budget is and go get yourself a DSLR.