I have a D90, I can only offer advice on Nikons really, as my experience with Canon is limited. Just know they both make very solid camera models, you won't go wrong with either.
If you're looking for an entry level, on the Nikon side I think the D60, the D90, and the D5000 are all great choices. It's probably better to save a bit of cost on the body and buy nicer lenses than it is to save on the lenses and buy a nicer body. You can get a great 50mm lens that will take some amazing pictures (at one very specific focal length) very cheap, for less than $100. After that, it depends on what you plan to be shooting.
Landscapes? You'll want something a bit wider. Portraits? You can probably get away with the 50, maybe something of variable focal length like a 18-70 (There's a great 18-70 AF Sigma lens you can get for either Nikon or Canon cameras) If you want to do wildlife, you're gonna want something with more zoom. I have a 70-200mm that is a good starter for most things short of avian photography (where you will want an even more powerful zoom)
I recently picked up a D5000 as my first DSLR. I really have no business recommending cameras but I really like mine. Very easy to use and wasn't intimidating for someone like me who was moving from point-and-shoot stuff. Mostly it's just nice to take a portrait and get soft focus backgrounds, something I really couldn't do with my little Canons.
Looking to get a DSLR for myself too - it's hard to find something that covers what I need, what I might need, without what I don't need, while being affordable (i.e. cheap), while still satisfying my "I must have the best!" desire. That was a complicated sentence.
@david: Depends how familiar you are with the camera, a kit lens is typically not the best thing in the world, but it suffices for entry into the hobby as well. If you've done a lot of photography before, you are familiar with manual SLRs and just looking for upgrading into a DSLR, you can easily skip the kit lens and just buy some decent starting glass.
As I said before, you can pick up a 50mm f/1.8 for really cheap with either a Nikon or Canon and that is a great starting prime lens for portraiture or other basic shots. If you're really not sure what you're gonna be doing with the lens and just want to practice general photography, the kit lens may be a good place to start.
@itchyeyes:@Addfwyn: Thanks for the input. Regarding the weight issue, I don't think I would really mind it all that much. My main problem with Point & Shoot cameras are their relative lack of manual controls compared to a DSLR.
I would not call myself a hardcore photographer, but I would say that I have a fair amount of experience shooting with SLRs. I am familiar with using ISO ratings, f/ stops, shutter speeds, etc., as well as the use of various composition techniques. My major shortcoming when it comes to photography is that I know very little about choosing the right gear. So from all the suggestions so far, I think my best bet would be to buy a used DSLR with a kit lens, and purchase new lenses as needed.
The main reason I want a DSLR is because I thoroughly enjoyed taking photographs using a SLR and going through the entire process of developing the photos. However, I no longer have access to a darkroom, chemicals, or developing equipment, so the fun of a SLR has been slightly diminished and it is no longer economically sound. I think that a DSLR would be a suitable replacement as it would still leave me in control of my shots from start to finish, in addition to being friendlier on the wallet.
Alright, camera people. I'm not sure whether or not you have experience with these two cameras, but I'd like your opinion. Given the choice, which camera would you pick? A Nikon D40, or a D60 for $20 more?