Yes, it's Christmas time in the city, but there is no need to break the bank to improve your photography. The truth is, if you already own a DSLR, you have what you need to start taking great pictures right now. Granted, upgrades can offer helpful features and improved specs, but these won't change what's at the heart of a great photo.
Photography is about capturing a moment through the lens in a way that expresses your unique vision. Strip away all of the marketing hype, instant rebates, and sales pitch propaganda, and you are left with a light gathering box. While there are only three ways to get light into this device, mastering the process takes a considerable amount of time and practice.
Ansel Adams was a terrific pianist before taking up photography. He often said it was this discipline that carried over to his camera work. Yet, if you read the camera ads that come in the Sunday paper, or watch another famous actor talk about how easy it is to take great shots if you just buy their must-have device, it's not surprising that so many people are searching for the magic shortcut to creating compelling art. As I've said here before, photographs are not created with mouse clicks, nor is knowledge withdrawn from an ATM machine.
Just because it's more expensive, doesn't mean it is superior. Look at this article which clearly details how a sub $1000 Canon Rebel is outputting better results than the Canon 7D at close to $1500. This is great news for those of us who realize the truth and make our purchases accordingly. You can get much more for your money by doing your research independently, and investing in better lenses, not pointless upgrades. Of course those photographers who always need the latest and greatest will debate this until they're blue in the face, but we know better.
This holiday season, I encourage you to focus your efforts on developing your photographic knowledge, not falling in line at the local Best Buy.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!