If I had a dollar for every inquiry I get about my equipment, I could have bought another one of these babies by now. In my former life, shooting film, I used Nikons and Hasselblads but chose Canon when I made the switch to digital 8 years ago. It was not a hard decision, I didn't have a huge investment in equipment, often renting what I needed and Canon seemed to have made the most strides in pro digital gear. I must stress that just buying a better camera will not make you a better photographer, even though many seem to think so.
I am in love with my Canon 5D Mark II which I bought back in February, upgrading from a 5D, which I had simply out-grown. You can now get pretty good deals on both of these excellent SLR's since Canon recently released a Mark III. Unless you are a full time Pro, I highly recommend saving your pennies and buying used or getting a slightly older camera body, or opt for one of the lower level models such as a 7D, Rebel or 60D, all of which perform well. It is the lenses that you want to invest your money in. This is what will really determine the quality of your images, well that and an understanding of light, composition and some innate talent & technical ability.
Canon's best lenses are their "L" series and part of what makes a good lens is the maximum aperture, the lower the number, the better the lens. My favorite, used on both images above is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L the "1.2L" being key in knowing this is a quality lens by the letter L and 1.2 is what allows me to open up the lens and get a beautiful shallow depth of field.
On the top of my wish list is their 85mm 1.2L lens. Fixed lenses (rather than zooms with multiple focal lengths) also tend to produce less distortion and are my personal preference. Though I do have a good 24-70, I often use. It really is all about the "glass".
I am also always on the hunt for a good camera bag that is also, dare I say, stylish! I just discovered some fantastic options by Kelly Moore. I especially love this one called the Libby with a built in memory card wallet and space enough for your gear and a laptop. If you travel a lot with your gear as I do, you might also like this excellent option by Think Tank.
If you're not quite ready for an SLR then I highly recommend Leica's d-Lux 5 a super compact point & shoot with the heart of an SLR. I was able to test one out a while back and just loved this top of the line point & shoot.
all photos & content © Lara Rossignol