A fair few of Nikons and Canons are beginner levels then you have your Mark D II and so on which are more professional and cost much more but you'd drool for features they have on your standard camera.
My first DSLR is a Canon 650D, bought online for $850 including the 18-55mm lens kit and the 55-200mm lens kit. Hasn't let me down once, the operator of the camera has a few times
, after a while you learn the camera's focus which helps when it comes to pitch black conditions which I'm still yet to do when it comes to thunderstorms as where we are it has a great 180 degree view at 465ft ASL but can have a lot of light pollution from bolts to the west.
First ligtning bolt captured was very easy and was a nice CG up Gawler way. I read that lightning is the most difficult to get, day time yes, night easy but will have to find it