You know what, I've thought about this day and night for some time now. I realise you can never have everything. You have to compromise somewhere. The main thing I really want is to take great nighttime landscape shots with amazing image quality. I don't know whether I'll be in Singapore for another year or another 10 years, but I want to take some amazing photos to take home with me.
With that in mind, I'm really leaning towards perhaps a Canon 450D and the EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS USM lens. A couple of reasons for this. First, even though the Canon 450D is a basic camera, I'm just a newbie. I'd rather learn how to use the camera to its full potential first and then upgrade to something better when something better comes along (I'm really not impressed with the Canon 500D or 50D). Another reason is if I want stunning images, I get less noise with a 12MP sensor than I do with a 15MP sensor (at the moment, anyway). Also, the Canon lens I stated has superb image quality. It's L series optics, just not as ruggedly built or weathersealed. A fairly hefty price to pay though. I also feel that Canon's medium quality lenses (translation: in between kit or all-in-one lenses and the top of the line F/2.8 lenses) offer a good range and I'm quite happy with them. I feel that a lot of Nikon lenses I would be looking at (I said *I* would be looking at, this is all subjective and I'm not making any claims) tend to be a bit slow. I tried a kind ClubSNAPper's Nikon D90 and 18-105 lens and I found the autofocus to be a bit slow under indoor lighting. Maybe it was just me, I don't have much experience to compare it to.
When I've played around with the 17-55 lens for a while I will look at adding a EF 24-105L F/4 lens too. I really don't want to start off with a kit lens because I'd rather just buy something great to start off with. I know I run the risk of losing out if I decide its not for me, but I could always purchase second hand I guess. The kit lens has had such bad reviews I just don't want to go near it.
The other advantage is that the 17-55 is a lightweight lens, and because Canon EF/EF-S lenses all have motors built in, the 450D body is motorless and very light (although admittedly terrible ergonomics...one thing I will just put up with until a better model comes along).
Does this sound reasonable? Or am I being foolish? The main disadvantages I see are that I spend a lot of money (a waste if I decide it's not for me), and I have two lenses instead of a great walkaround lens. But I can carry the lenses across to a future camera and they'll still be fantastic lenses.