We corresponded a couple of years ago about a camera purchase. I ended up buying the Rebel Xt and I really like it. I take a lot of pics of firearms (my primary hobby), and they can be difficult to photograph due to the shiny surfaces. I must also admit I haven't really gotten into making a lot of manual adjustments on the camera. I have noticed that my friends sometimes take pics as good as mine with their little point and shoot models, I think because of the image stabilization technology. So, I was wondering if I get a new lens, something quite good with I.S. technology, what you might recommend? I was thinking about an L series Cannon lens, but I am not sure if the lens would be better than my camera, know what I mean? I am not really sure where to invest my money? Also, is there another brand of lens that is as good as Cannon for less money?
Before you invest in a very pricy IS lens or L lens for that matter, try using a tripod with the flash off on your camera. I never use the flash, instead use fill lighting to try to reduce the reflections, normal lamps should do just fine, no need to buy special camera lighting. Yes, almost all of the point and shoot cameras have that image stability in them, but SLRs do not, only the lenses do, I really think a tripod is your answer. You can buy a good one for less then $100 and they come in handy many times, especially when photographing objects. You can just get your camera all set up with the correct lighting , angle and focus.
As for buying lenses, you can never buy a lens that is "too good". I was using a Canon Rebel (the first one they ever made) and I bought some expensive lenses, ones that were more then the actual camera and they really did a good job, plus you can always use the lenses on other Canon cameras. I've been using a Canon fixed 50mm lens and my standard lens and I absolutely love it. I would highly recommend buying it, it's less then $100 and great for close up, detail shots.
Get a tripod, and I mean a good one, not one of those little gorilla ones, and that 50mm lens and I really think you will be happy. Also you asked about other brands... I like Sigma as a secondary brand. Hope this helps.
Here are some examples shot indoors with the 50mm, flash off.