Well this is my 50th year and it has been 5 years since my family clubbed together to get my first Digital SLR so it seemed appropriate to go for a camera upgrade.
The boys and Anne contributed to the project and I went to pick up the camera this afternoon.
It was a tough choice. Camera technology has really come along in the past few years. Most camera manufacturers have brought Video into play (imagine HD video with the great lenses that you can put on a DSLR body)!
The direct upgrade from what I had is the Rebel T1i (500D) which uses the same digital processor as their new 5D Mark II. It boasts great low light potential at 3200ISO (with two very high ISO ratings 6200 and 12800). I suspect that 3200 is probably as noisy as the 800ISO was on my Rebel.
A step up from the Rebel (same processor and ISO levels) is the Canon 50D. A more substantial camera (heavier, more solid looking) than the Rebel with many of the same features.
Most compelling in this camera is the viewfinder optics. It is immediately noticeable when you look through it - bright and clear. You can really see when things are in focus. This higher quality viewfinder had me right from when I put the camera up to my eye and looked through it in the store. Add to that a frame rate of 6.3frames per second. For sports and action photography this is incredible. The camera also doesn't hesitate. I don't know how many frames it will shoot before slowing down (my old rebel could do no more than 3), but I was easily shooting 6 or so frames without a slowdown.
The camera actually came out in Aug 2008 so it isn't new. The autofocus is pretty cool too and I see that the camera has built-in functions for fine tuning focus dependent on the lens attached to the camera. It will be interesting to see how focus performs compared with the Rebel.