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Thread: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

  1. #1
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    Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Sorry about the length, please read, I could really use some help here. So here's my situation. I've been working in retail for way too long and I'd like to use my taxes to start a modest photography business. Unfortunately with how far behind I am, I only have $2000 to do this. I am dead set on wanting the Nikon d7000. I might consider a cheaper model but I will not veer away from Nikon. I also think that any lower model doesn't give me as much control as I really want. My aim is to use my adobe programming very minimally. I know I have a lot to learn but I'm told I have a gift in taking pictures. I need to learn much more about flash and lenses. The body of the camera is costing $1100. Here is what I'm also buying please let me know if you think what is on my list is not needed or if I need to add something. Keep in mind I will be taking pictures of events, more of a journalistic type photographer. Yes I will be taking posed shots but I don't have time to set up as much as portrait photographers so I do not plan on buying umbrellas or externally mounting my flash. I know it's needed eventually but I am looking to make some money before I start having to buy everything. Nikon 55-300mm AF-S f/4.5-5.6G DX Nikkor ED VR Telephoto Zoom Lens is the external lens I am buying. I'm getting $150 off of it when I buy the camera but it's costing me $250. Is this a good versatile lens? I've read reviews but I'm still wondering myself if I could get away with something on the $150 range. I could have gotten $100 off another lens that was cheaper but I was not impressed with the pictures it took. That lens was the nikon 55 - 200/mm vr lens. I would like a wide range in aperture, taking a picture in low light is somewhat important considering I could be taking pictures inside a church. Will this do the trick for now? I have another lens I am considering buying along with it that comes as a kit costing $150. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Lens Nikkor. It comes with 3 uv/fld,cpl filters, a lens hood, and a cleaning kit. Will i need both lenses to get the variety of photos I need? Can I get away with only buying one? $400 is the most I want to spend on those but I'd love to spend less. I'm pretty set on the flash even though when I tell some people they look at me funny. The sb400 speedlight flash. It's $130 with rechargeable batteries. I understand that if I have high ceilings to work with it won't bounce off the walls but I'm also buying a soft box diffuser and I hear I can use a piece of paper to fix that. Keep in mind professionals, I have a budget and even though it's not the best, I feel it's a considerable amount better than the on board flash. I'm buying one 16gb sd card, I understand having more than one would be convenient but I can buy another one easily after my first gig. I was going to buy an extra battery but being that I won't be draining the battery with the on board flash I think I will wait for my first gig for that as well. I was told to buy a battery pack but honestly, what's the difference of using two at a time or having two that I use when the other one dies? $45 for an extra battery seems more realistic to me than $150 for a pack. Obviously a camera bag, simple and something I will probably upgrade later. I'm not sure if the filters that come with that lens I might buy go with any lens. I'm a little confused about how they have different sizes. Example...77mm. what if I have a zoom lens? I would like a warming filter to go with the others. A lens hood for each lens. But this is what I have so far, am I missing anything? Is there anything I could go without? Please help I've been reading for about a week and would LOVE some direct answers![/FONT]

  2. #2
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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Wow, that's a lot to digest. While I shoot Canon, I can't comment too much on the specifics of your lenses and other Nikon proprietary gear choices, however, I think you've made a good choice with the D7000.

    I have shot several events including Christmas parties, press releases, and many sporting events. Let me tell you, off board flash is still key. So you may want to consider a bigger speedlite, and some means of firing it.

    I read a true piece of advice earlier this week on this forum, which I'm sure we can all agree with, professional or not, and that was that the camera body amounted to less than 25% of the total cost of all the gear in our kits. So be wary of 'cheaping' out on lenses and strobes, and 'strobe mounted soft boxes', as I can see you selling them on eBay to upgrade quite soon after you've exhausted their usefullness.

    Please take my advice with a grain of salt, I'm not trying to be a downer, I know their are lots of people who make money as photographers, some of them actually even do it well, but if it's something you enjoy as a past time, don't try to make it a source of income. And if you're hell-bent on making a living on it, please consider the fact that you may need to start off with some higher end gear.

    Not sure if you can take anything useful out of my ramblings, but there's my thoughts.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Thank you for the advice. This isn't something that I just enjoy. As much as it may seem like I don't know much it's because when I was in school I learned how to operate my own dark room and take pictures with a manual camera. It's been awhile since I've brushed up on any of this and after I realized that digital is the way to go, many years ago, I have been spending most of my time trying to make ends meet for my family. Just trying to get back into the groove of things. i do understand and this is why i was asking. I wanted to know if what I was considering was a smart move to go forward or if I just don't have the money to do it right now. I will probably still buy the camera body, and the lens. But will hold off on the flash and accessories until I have more money in the bank. So please let me know what you all think about the lens I'm going to buy. Should I get a fixed lens or a zoom lens? How much money should I spend to get a decent one? Because there are tons of price ranges going from $150 to $1200 on the same exact lens on the internet. Unfortunately there is no camera stores around me. What about buying old or refurbished lenses? Since Nikon has interchangeable lenses. That's not about trying to cheap out, that's simply trying to be smart with my money. Some old lenses that weren't made out of plastic hold up very well. Thank you for your advice Andrew, I honestly didn't know anyone would bother replying

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    I am also a Canon guy and I have not kept up regarding the capabilities of Nikon equipment. However, I am not at all sure that drawing a line in the sand and not considering any brand but Nikon is the very best course of action.

    In this posting, I am mentioning specific Canon equipment, but these recommendations would work for equivalent Nikon gear also.

    If I were going to set myself up for event and photojournalistic photography at a relatively low cost, (unfortunately two grand is a low start-up budget for professional quality digital photo equipment) I would seriously consider a used camera, one of the better slightly older models and put whatever I saved into glass. IMO, glass is the most important parameter in image quality. I would also get one excellent lens rather than to split my budget over two or three lesser lenses.

    I would definitely consider a hotshoe flash. As I said, I have not perused the Nikon line of flashes but, I would try to get one that is comparable to the Canon 580EX ii; whatever the Nikon equivalent might be. If money is really tight, the older, but still very capable, Canon 550X or 580 EX (or Nikon equivalent whatever they might be) could be choices. I shoot with a 550EX and would have absolutely no qualms about using it professionally.

    I would add an off-camera cord and a Stroboframe camera Flip Bracket which can be had at a very reasonable price used on eBay ( http://www.ebay.com/itm/STROBOFRAME-...item4aafb9e801 ). I consider the camera flip type of bracket far superior to a flash flip bracket. For the following reason:

    Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Note: I have not included an off-camera cord in these illustrations for simplicity sake.

    A bounced flash on a bracket like this modified with a diffuser reflector ( I use the Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro www.dembflashproducts.com ) provides excellent lighting. The Flash Diffuser Pro also has an articulating reflector which enables you to use it in areas in which there is no ceiling off which to bounce.

    However, if you are in a situation in which you "must" use direct flash (for one reason or another) the bracket places the flash above the camera and the shadow will fall lower behind the subject; resulting in a more pleasing image.

    I would definitely look for a mid-range zoom lens which has a constant f/2.8 aperture and which, in combination with your camera, will provide quick accurate focus in lower light levels. I use the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens. I realize that this lens is very expensive but to be blunt, a professional carpenter doesn't buy his tools at the K-Mart Blue Light Sale counter. The one comment which I see repeated about third party lenses vs. OEM lenses; is the focus capability in lower light levels.

    Again, I would rather shoot with a Canon 40D and the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens (or a Nikon equivalent) rather than get a more expensive body and a lesser lens. And, I would also prefer to have one top-line mid-range zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture and fast and accurate low light autofocus than a pair of lenses with less capability.

    IMO: You really NEED a second camera battery and a second memory card. Murphy's Law Of Photography states, "The chance of a piece of photo gear going down is in a direct relationship to the importance of the shoot and in an inverse relationship to the availability of backup equipment." A second camera battery is not a terribly high price to pay for safety and you can often get two eight gig cards for about the same price as one 16 gig card. Two eight gig cards would provide a safety factor and it is very simple to switch cards if you need to.

    Finally, IMO, you will need a printer capable of printing professional quality prints. These days you can get such a printer at a not too exhorbitant price but, that is still something extra to consider when you are working on a bare bones budget.

    Finally, as you start earning from your photography, please consider obtaining back-ups for all your gear. "My equipment failed!" is not an excuse when you are shooting for pay! The backup equipment doesn't necessarily have to be of the same quality as your mainline equipment but, it needs to be of a quality which can produce professional results.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th February 2012 at 03:59 PM.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    i don't necessarily agree with all Richard wrote, the new Sigma 17-50 f2.8 is meant to be very good and sigma's HSM system is excellent, BUT he is totally right that you need back up. As Richard says if you're shooting professionally you can't say sorry my camera failed. You need redundancy in your system.

    I also think he's right about a good f2.8 mid range zoom. I don't own one but I'm not a pro photographer! the 50 f1.8 ? shortish portrait lenses on a d7000 nought wrong with it.

    If you don't like the 55-200 you probably won't like the 55-300. they perform similarly over their respective ranges. Both have a good reputation however given their relatively cheap price. but bear in mind if you are shooting in low light they are relatively slow. consider sigma 50-150 f2.8 or a second hand Nikon f2.8

    flashes the SB400 is a decent flash - I use one - but professionally you might want to look at an SB700

    if it was me and I was doing this as a business. I'd want two bodies, a good f2.8 zoom (the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 costs $1500 the sigma is considerably cheaper). a couple of flashes, more than one card. I worry a little about your budget. so consider secondhand.

    and as you've been given a few nikon/canon suggestions.

    Pentax k5 , pentax 16-50 f2.8 ($1500 - think the sigma is available in k-mount), pentax 50-150 f2.8 couple of flashes and mebbe the 35 f2.4 and 50f1.8 primes? that lot will exceed your budget.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    thank you very much for all the useful info. I will look further into a more inexpensive body. I've had bad experiences with canon to be honest but maybe it was just the model I was using at the time. I also like that Nikon has interchangeable lenses which as far as I know, Canon does not with their older equipment. But you're right beggars can't be choosers. And I should probably look at spending less on a body if I am so limited. I do know that I will have to replace any cheaper equipment I have and put most of my money I make back into the business for a long time coming. I was going to look into off site printing. I guess I never really thought about on site. Is this something a lot of people look for when looking for photographers? I know that I am just an amateur and I won't be trying to compete with you professionals out there. I just know a lot of people from my previous work who don't have the money to afford a professional. I am just hoping to help some people out and make some money on the side. I hope I'm not being unrealistic.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Canon certainly do have interchangeable lenses and their cameras are good - and I'm Nikon shooter

    If you buy a modern Nikon/Canon/Pentax dSLR then you won't go far wrong!

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    The only thing I'll add is that if you stick with Nikon, some of the cheaper bodies don't have focus motors so be mindful of that as if you purchase any AF lenses you'll have to manually focus (such as the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D). You'd be fine with AF-S lenses but a lot of the AF lenses are cheaper.

    Tamron also make a 17-55mm f/2.8 which I've read has pretty good reports. I've shot an indoor office Christmas part with a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 and 50mm f/1.8 and found the Sigma too slow when speeches were being done. A telezoom in the indoor environment would have been too tight.

    If you do want a telezoom for outdoor events the 55-300mm is fine with enough lighting (my wife has one for her D5100). However ultimately you'd probably want a faster lens (70-200mm f2.8) of which Tamron, Nikon and Sigma have them but they're in the $700-$1000... actually $3000 range depending on features.

    The D7000 is great if your budget can stretch to it. It does have all the manual controls you need to change everything on the fly and more importantly for the indoor scene it has great low light capabilities. You can also use the dual card slots to back up photos as you go which is also a plus for what you're intending.

    Flash wise I'd also suggest the SB700. It's more powerful than the SB400 and will be a lot more flexible for you in the future.

    Had to write this in a rush so hope this helps.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    I found this the other day... http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...6902201P?mv=rr . Now I haven't decided if I am going to get the sb400 yet but let's say I do. Using this since it's not connected to the shoe mount, what all do I need to get it to flash when the camera goes off? Because it doesn't have a wireless TTI like the sb700 does. And can anyone tell me how to shop for filters using a zoom lens? I prefer the ones that screw on but I'm unsure of them since they all have the specific mm size listed.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Goldcoastgolfer.. if you can get back to this thread... How is the d5100? I was considering buying that one but I thought the d7000 was more of a manual camera. Saving $300 is something I would consider though if it's worth saving. Thank you everyone for so much info, I GREATLY appreciate it! I'd make you all brownies if I could. LOL

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by photographymom View Post
    Goldcoastgolfer.. if you can get back to this thread... How is the d5100? I was considering buying that one but I thought the d7000 was more of a manual camera. Saving $300 is something I would consider though if it's worth saving. Thank you everyone for so much info, I GREATLY appreciate it! I'd make you all brownies if I could. LOL
    You won't like it if you're after external controls to change settings. It's capable of capturing a picture as good as the D7000 given they run the same sensor but everything is menu driven via the LCD in the main, other than shutter speed and aperture. There's no focus motor either so you're still stuck with the AF-S lenses or manually focussing the AF lenses.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Couple of things to consider.

    The SB-400 is useless off-camera. There is no way to control the power output. It's iTTL-only. If you use manual triggers, you are stuck blasting at full power. It also does not rotate. And it's underpowered. Trust us when we say, go for at least a used SB-600 or SB-700, or if you must cheap out, consider a Nissin Di-622 (or godhelpusall a Yongnuo YN-565EX). You want swivel. You want manual power control. These two are must-have features you cannot relinquish if you want to use flash for professional lighting both on and off camera. And you are gonna want iTTL if you're planning on using a flash for run'n'gun event shooting. You won't have time to dial in the power level you want manually.

    The D3100 and D5100 are nice entry-level cameras, but they suffer from one shortcoming: they do not have a focus motor. You need at least one focus motor to autofocus a lens. So, the practical upshot is that only AF-S lenses autofocus on those two models. As long as you know you're going to be using AF-S lenses, you're fine. But if you plan on getting fast primes, your choices become a little leaner. Nikon's working at filling in the holes, but particularly for fast long glass, you may not be able to find what you want for less than four figures, because they're filling in the AF-S from the top downwards.

    No other brand of dSLR has this issue. If you go Canon, Pentax, Sony, or Olympus, all the current lenses in the lineups will autofocus on any of the dSLR bodies.

    As for Canon "interchangeable lens" thing--how old did you want to go on your lenses? Canon's EOS mount goes back to 1987. All the EF/EF-S lenses since then are completely usable on any Canon dSLR. It's the pre-1987 FD/FL mount that is incompatible. So, yes, Nikon has more than 25 years of backwards compatibility. So does Pentax. But were you really planning on getting 30+ year old lenses? [Not that there's anything wrong with doing that. See below.]

    AND. There's this thing called 'registration distance.' This is the distance the lens has to be held away from the film/sensor plane in order to achieve focus to infinity. Nikon's F mount has the largest registration distance of any SLR system except for Leica R. Canon's EOS is one of the smaller ones. So, a simple adapter ring can let you put an old manual focus Nikon F-mount lens onto a Canon and use it. And not only can you use Nikon F, but you can also use Olympus OM, M42, Pentax K, Contax/Yashica, and Leica R lenses on a Canon EOS dSLR the exact same way. Yes, you have to buy adapter rings and you can't program the EXIF from the camera, but having the lenses of six mount systems to choose from, rather than just one means a lot more glass. And some of that glass was made by Leica and Zeiss. And you have accurate stop-down metering to go with it. Which a D3100 or D5100 will not have. You have to go up to the D90 tier or above in order to accurately meter with a non-CPU lens on a Nikon body.

    And you can't adapt those other mounts to Nikon without shaving the needed distance off the camera or lens mount, because you can't just jam a lens farther back behind the mount. So, just in my book, Canon beats Nikon hollow when it comes to using old manual focus lenses. But, of course, I am biased, since I am a Canon shooter with a bagful of vintage lenses.

    Just me, but I think the main thing you're not budgeting for yourself is time and experience before you go pro. Being a dSLR owner doesn't instantly make you a pro. It just makes you a dSLR owner. Generally when someone asks the question "what gear should I get to go pro?" it means they're not ready yet. Because a pro has to know their gear inside out, backwards and forwards, and be able to deliver quality consistently and under pressure. That's more than just having a talent. It also means a few thousand hours of practice and expertise behind that talent, developing it, AND the right gear. Anybody can take a few good pictures in a shoot. It's taking only good pictures every shoot, with a client looking over your shoulder that's hard.

    And even photojournalists light. It's how the Strobist blog got started: David Hobby wanted a way to differentiate himself from the pack, so when he was sent on assignment to get portraits for feature articles, he learned to light off-camera with speedlights. This is not a skill you can afford to ditch, especially as mere amateur hobbyists like me, thanks to the Strobist, now know how to put together a four-light setup off-camera for self-portraits.

    Again, not trying to be discouraging, but I think you may want to lower expectations, back up a step, and slow down. But, as I said, I'm just a hobbyist without any professional experience.
    Last edited by inkista; 10th February 2012 at 11:36 PM. Reason: linking up articles

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Quote Originally Posted by photographymom View Post
    I found this the other day... http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...6902201P?mv=rr . Now I haven't decided if I am going to get the sb400 yet but let's say I do. Using this since it's not connected to the shoe mount, what all do I need to get it to flash when the camera goes off? Because it doesn't have a wireless TTI like the sb700 does. And can anyone tell me how to shop for filters using a zoom lens? I prefer the ones that screw on but I'm unsure of them since they all have the specific mm size listed.
    Hi Sarah,
    I'm late coming into this one. Don't worry about the legacy Nikon lenses, they have to be pre-1977 vintage before they'll be a problem on a D7000 (or D5100 for that matter). Some cheap lenses don't have on-board focus motors and need the camera body motor. I don't know if the D7000 has such a motor, but I'm pretty sure it does.
    The lens you're contemplating (55-300mm) is a very slow lens and could be a problem for you in low light conditions. Also, with a DX camera the range of that lens is short-telephoto to super-telephoto. You may find that a bit limiting, especially for weddings and such. You might like to think about something that covers about 25-200mm. The 18-200mm is a fine lens, but might be out of your budget. On the other hand Sigma do one in the same range and the quality is excellent. The other one you mention is the 50mm f1.8, affectionately known as the 'Nifty-Fifty'. This is a fantastic lens for the price. Obviously limited because it is a prime lens, not a zoom. But I love mine and in low light conditions cannot be beaten.
    Finally, filters. Why do you want any? Filtration for colour correction is all done with software in RAW images or in camera if you're shooting JPEGS. There are a number of specialist situations which will benefit from filtration, but these don't seem to fit in with what you have in mind and are probably best dealt with by the square type of filter from Cokin, Lee, Hi-Tech etc. However, if you do want to buy a filter the only criteria is the thread size of the lens, it doesn't vary with the zoom. Having said that I would only recommend you get a UV filter to protect the front element of the lens, but if you do that it's false economy to buy a cheap one so, be prepared to have to pay $100+

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    I can't really add any more to the excellent advice already posted here, except to say I definitely second the view of looking at other makes.

    My personal; bias is towards Pentax, simply because I have one, not because it is better than any other make. The K5 has, I believe, the same sensor as the D7000, all lenses used are stabilised because the image stabilisation is in the camera body, any Pentax K mount lens from about 1975 onwards will fit. Don't know what the relative prices are like in the USA but but in England the K5 is about 20% cheaper than the D7000.

    However there are many very good cameras form every manufacturer.

    Dave

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Thank you everyone for your input. Unfortunately on my way to transfer money between banks yesterday someone stole every cent of my $2000. My only option now is to take out a personal loan and if I'm going to do that I might as well take out a good chunk closer to $4000 to $5000. So I will be buying better equipment. As much as I appreciate your advice about how I am not ready for this. I already knew so. I wasn't going to jump head first into a full time professional career with this. It's not that I've decided to quit my job and just take a swing at it. I am fully aware that I have a lot to learn. I am signed up for classes in March and I intend to spend a TON of time behind this camera before I go shooting for anyone who is giving me the money to do so. I ask what kind of gear I need because true, I need to learn more. But sitting at my computer reading, is not the best process for my way of thinking. I like to have hands on experience. As much as classes don't require you to have a camera, it certainly helps. I have been reading and reading for weeks now and I thought that coming on here and getting some direct answers to some direct questions would save a lot of time. Thanks to all of you for leaving me such detailed direction. I do appreciate your criticism but I am not that naive. Everyone has to start somewhere. This is the best place to start for me. Sorry if I'm possibly taking it a little personal, I know you all mean your best, just having a very very bad day.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    I'm going to take a different approcah to your issue...and sorry about the money, but I think your dream, though a wonderful idea is not being best served by the CiC populace as per what to do, how to, why to...in truth, you shouldn't do any of the above until, with a lesser expensive kit, really learn what it takes to create an attention getting photogrpah.

    I suggest you go to the search bar and type in Jiro and look at his contributions to this site. Willie (Jiro) used a very-very old Nikon model (6.1 MP, I believe), I think a D70 and produced equisitely beautiful imagery. It is not the camera, or other gear you have, it's the vision you can create no matter what you have. Of course, that said, I haven't seen anything you've produced, so I could be talking out of my hat...but I don't think so. Buy a simple kit, Nikon D5100 or the like, a couple of easy to use lenses (I love my 55-300) and go practice for a year and really learn Photoshop because you are going to have to use it effecctively. Good Luck!

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    I'm very sorry to hear about your misfortune.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Sorry to butt in without reading all the minor/quite technical details of the other posts (too long for me)... but are you taking into account other non-photographic extras such as public liability insurance and insurance for your equipment? Those can mount up, and ... well, you really can't skimp on those and cross your fingers for luck.

    I think you'd do well attending some business advice and ... perhaps taking up a temping job to build up some capital you can invest on the never ending bits and pieces, as well as extra training needed for any photography business?

    Boring, but ... good to have a cushion in case life happens.
    ...And lots of guts will help too, good luck with your plans.

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    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Thanks for the advice... when the time comes, about a year from now hopefully when I start to try to make money off of this I do have another job that can support insurance and so forth. On top of putting a lot of the money I make at first back into the business. After losing a lot of money just in the time I was going to take it to switch it into another bank... I realize how life happens. lol It kicked me in the butt. So I will definitely be covered.

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    Real Name
    Mal

    Re: Beginner Photographer needs some advice on equipment

    Really sorry to hear about your misfortune. Hopefully life will make it up to you soon!

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