I am looking to purchase my first digital slr for outdoor and nature photography. I would like to use longer lenses around the 400mm range. I am comparing the Pentax IST DL; Nikon D70/D50; Canon Rebel XT; Olympus E-Volt 500, & the Nikon D70/D50. All of these are in the price range for me to buy. The Olympus E-Volt 500 seems like a nice piece of kit with two ZUIKOl lenses. Any opinions on my plan, there are alot of digital slr's to choose from but I will use it mainly for birding/wildlife, thanks.
Look at the Oly 50-200mm lens combined with the 1.4 tc. Not inexpensive, but you may need the reach with small birds.
With that sort of focal lenght the new anti shake feature will be a blessing.That and RAW format.
In terms of expandability for the long term, you're better off sticking with either Nikon or Canon. The Oly and Pentax are nice kits and all the cameras in this range are more than capable first cameras, but you are left with very little to choose from when you go with Oly or Pentax in terms of upgrading...both lens wise and cameras.
The Rebel XT and the D70 would be my choices to segway you into a higher level camera later. Both of those cameras are so alike in performance that you should try to figure out what kind of photography you want to do and see which company's lens line-up is more suited to your field and also you will want to go to the stores to pick-up the cameras and see which one feels better in your hands.
Two words: Nikon D200