I think that many have been too harsh about the step up in price . . . If you are the type to be content with lenses that are sub $1000, then you are likely going to be satisfied with your kit lens and comparable zoom lenses, etc.
I agree with Wil. Good glass = good pictures. I would even go so far as to say, that good glass can make up for a lot of the photographer's short-comings.
You don't need a Pro body or even a pro-sumer level body to get tack sharp images. But you DO need good glass, period.
And, while I'm making recommendations the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 for APS-C sensors is one of the best bargains out there. It's wide, wide, wide, and it's got great color and sharpness. If Canon or Nikon produced this lens it would cost upwards of $1500, but it costs a bit more than a third of that . . .
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