imho Canon is a no-brainer here. Can't be touched at the price and alot of good lenses used and new.
I'd highly recommend a refurbished unit from Adorama (major, online reliable retailer) or elsewhere to save $$$. What is nice is the canon refurbs are eligible for Mack extended warranties so you can extend the camera a few years for cheap (helps resale).
here is the Rebel XTi in black, body only $519
The camera i'd consider (and recommend) the EOS-20D. Adorama had them for months for $719 but it's not listed now. That has a bigger body for a more comfortable grip along with a few extra features such as better viewfinder, ISO3200 capable, magnesium alloy (not plastic) body, more control buttons, etc. It's a better camera overall even though the 20D is a bit older and 2MP less (8 vs 10) and smaller LCD screen AND heavier. You might want to handle them in the store the 20D is identical in feel to the 30D and close to the new 40D.
20D detailed review
XTi (400D named overseas) detailed review:
search adorama canon refurbs here:
This e-bay reseller has alot of canon refurbs and gets good marks. they have a 20D for $645 BIN. item # 230181544551 + S/H
These prices make buying the older XT pointless imho.
Regardless of the body you then need a lens. Lots of choices here you'll probalby want a walkaround zoom and maybe fast prime... can be done and stay under $1k total.
I think the better "kit" lens is perhaps a no-brainer at $110 to get you started. it's USM which means ultrasonic motor autofocus so it's smooth & quite & pretty fast focussing
still leaves $$$ for a low-light prime after you shoot a bit. ...glen