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  1. #1
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
    I am looking at retiring in approximately 3 years and have gadget money budgeted for building my Photographic Kit. The kids are out of the house and I have a lot more money now than I expect to have following retirement. I also plan on my photograpy hobby being a substantial part of my entertainment and enjoyment in retirement.

    For that reason, now is the time for me to buy any big ticket items I am likely to want, so I am trying to lay out a budget/plan for the next 3 years on what to buy. Any comments or input would be greatly appreciated.


    BACKGROUND:

    My current kit is a Nikon D5000, with that I own the following lenses

    18-55 VR
    55-200 VR
    70-300 VR
    35 AFS 1.8
    Tokina 11-16 ATX DX II (Don't actually own this, but already budgeted to buy when it becomes available


    My accessories include:

    Nikon P7100 Compact Digital Camera
    Nikon IR Remote
    SB 400
    Cheap Tripod
    Asstd Bags, lens cases etc

    My subjects of interest (in approximately this order) are:

    Landscape
    Portraiture and Pets (mostly candid, no studio work)
    Wildlife
    Macro (bugs mostly)

    What I am considering buying:
    1) Nikon 16-85mm to replace my 18-55 (what I hope to gain is sharpness and wider field of view) or possibly Sigma or Tamron 17-50 f2.8
    2) Better Tripod and mounting plates (this is a given, only question is when)
    3) Better Body
    4) Another Flash
    5) A true Macro Lens (currently using the 55-200 for this)

    The biggest gain I am looking for is IQ, I want my photos to really pop! Understand some of that can be gained in post processing (another area I am just getting into) and technique is probably more important than equipment.

    On the other hand (while I am trying to learn) I can buy equipment (and am bugeted for it but want to do it wisely) but I can't buy technique and experience.


    My biggest question I guess is the body. I am considering the D7000 or its replacement, or possibly going with D5200 (when it comes out). But, am wondering if I ought to consider the D800; this is supposed to be the body that I use for approximately forever. On the other hand, I have only one FX Lens and I can buy 2 to 3 D7000 bodies (or the equivalent) for the cost of the D800.

    Anyway, thoughts, comments or additions to my list are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Razormac
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  2. #2
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
    DavidHH's Avatar
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    Hi Razormac,

    I am not a Professional Photographer but just simply a hobbiest so I will give my 2 cents for whatever it is worth.
    Secondly I am going to make some general remarks more about the current market rather that get into model specs specifics.

    The market place is very much in flux right now and it is going to get worse before its better. I think that comment is important as you start to talk about using the D800 forever or even talking about a three year plan.
    The current DSLR Camera technology is very old i.e. image thru the lense, hit a mirror, up to a prism and into your eye piece. Then when you want to take the picture you mechanically move the mirror and let the image expose onto the sensor. When you think about all the different directions your image is being sent to you can imagine that it is not the perfect or best solution. This technology represented the best in its time.
    Coming now and continuing into the future you will see an influx of "mirrorless" camera technology. Much more efficient, less moving pieces, and a way for you to view your image with all you camera settings put into play and shown into your eye piece.
    Another change that is now in the works is a movement to take "bulk and size" out of the camera's. Even Professional Photographers are wanting this change. Most of todays higher end DSLR Camera equipment is too bulky and heavy. With some of the newer technology and formats being introduced like Micro Four Thirds there has been and will continue to be significant gains in this area. Another plus for this format is the "interchangeability" that this standard format offers i.e. you can move a particular lense to any of the Micro Four Thirds Body without any problem.

    Of course the biggest part of your decision making will be in knowing how you are going to use the equipment and for what kind of photography.

    Please give some of these noticeable trends in today's Market Place some consideration as you develop your strategy for purchasing new Camera Equipment.

    Thank You for listening to my two cents.

    DavidH

    PS
    For the record I am currently using Panasonic Micro Four Thirds Equipment (G1 for Heavy Lifting and the LX3 for Travel and I always have it with me photography). I am really enjoying the change in the trends and the introduction of some new ideas by different Manufacturers than the traditional Canon/Nikon Equipment.

  3. #3
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidHH View Post
    Most of todays higher end DSLR Camera equipment is too bulky and heavy.
    See, this is really highly dependent on many things. I find the additional bulk of a motordrive (battery grip, whatever you want to call it) to be very helpful in some handheld shooting situations. Now, if I'm loading my gear into a backpack.. hauling it all out in the middle of nowhere to do some landscape work, this extra bulk is indeed a problem (and the benefit of stability because of extra mass negated by a tripod anyway). So simply stating that mass is bad.. is well.. a misnomer IMO. As always, the tool you use will be necessitated by it's intended use.
    mike
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    Got # ? phear the command line!

  4. #4
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    You are Right
    Quote Originally Posted by Dysfunction View Post
    See, this is really highly dependent on many things. I find the additional bulk of a motordrive (battery grip, whatever you want to call it) to be very helpful in some handheld shooting situations. Now, if I'm loading my gear into a backpack.. hauling it all out in the middle of nowhere to do some landscape work, this extra bulk is indeed a problem (and the benefit of stability because of extra mass negated by a tripod anyway). So simply stating that mass is bad.. is well.. a misnomer IMO. As always, the tool you use will be necessitated by it's intended use.
    Your are correct of course regarding the intended use.
    I definetly was making some generalizations, but my intent was highlight some current trends in the market place.

    DavidH

  5. #5
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    If you plan on shooting wildlife a lot and I mean a lot, then you would be very well served getting a long prime telephoto lens. Zooms are great to cover a lot of different focal lengths, however they will always be softer of focus than a prime lens. The minimum I would recommend for wildlife is a 400mm, but if you have the capital a 500mm would be even better. Do not get a reflective lens. there are a lot of optical physics reasons to why prime lenses are better than zoom and reflective lenses, but I am not a physicist.

    Other than that, a good tripod cannot be beat and should be purchased before a new body or other zoom lenses. You will be amazed at the difference a good tripod can give over any other upgrade.
    MBP 17" 2011, 2.3GHz Intel Quad-Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1GB RAM
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  6. #6
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dysfunction View Post
    See, this is really highly dependent on many things. I find the additional bulk of a motordrive (battery grip, whatever you want to call it) to be very helpful in some handheld shooting situations. Now, if I'm loading my gear into a backpack.. hauling it all out in the middle of nowhere to do some landscape work, this extra bulk is indeed a problem (and the benefit of stability because of extra mass negated by a tripod anyway). So simply stating that mass is bad.. is well.. a misnomer IMO. As always, the tool you use will be necessitated by it's intended use.
    I agree, especially in that specs aren't everything. How I ended up with the D5000 (and P7100 for that matter) was in large part feel and handling. A big factor in my choice is I want my main body to feel solid and like a DSLR (even if the inner workings aren't traditional).

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidHH View Post
    Your are correct of course regarding the intended use.
    I definetly was making some generalizations, but my intent was highlight some current trends in the market place.

    DavidH
    I appreciate your comments; I almost added a mirrorless body to the list but didn't because things haven't settled down enough for me to lay out what I really want, or rather, they don't yet make the mirrorless camera I really want.

    I looked very hard at the Pana G1 before I settled on the Nikon D5000, and came very close to buying a Sony 5N, but chose the Nikon P7100 for the greater depth of field (turned out to be important to the shots I was taking most with my portable camera).

    I eagerly awaited the Nikon One, only to be disappointed. Things that are musts for me (even with a mirrorless body) are:

    1) A real and substantial grip. I don't want a flat metal rectangle camera.
    2) A Viewfinder optical or OLED is fine. I want a rear display, but not only a rear display
    3) Manual controls
    4) Stellar IQ and good ISO performance
    5) Very big plus if I can also use my DSLR lenses
    6) Availability of High quality fast glass

    I have considered and am still toying with switching to Sony for my DSLR if for no other reason than being able to partner it with the 5N. Doubt that I will though. I really like my D5000 and even though my stable of lenses is limited, I am impressed with the quality of them (even the cheap kit lenses).
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  7. #7
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razormac View Post
    I appreciate your comments; I almost added a mirrorless body to the list but didn't because things haven't settled down enough for me to lay out what I really want, or rather, they don't yet make the mirrorless camera I really want.

    I looked very hard at the Pana G1 before I settled on the Nikon D5000, and came very close to buying a Sony 5N, but chose the Nikon P7100 for the greater depth of field (turned out to be important to the shots I was taking most with my portable camera).

    I eagerly awaited the Nikon One, only to be disappointed. Things that are musts for me (even with a mirrorless body) are:

    1) A real and substantial grip. I don't want a flat metal rectangle camera.
    2) A Viewfinder optical or OLED is fine. I want a rear display, but not only a rear display
    3) Manual controls
    4) Stellar IQ and good ISO performance
    5) Very big plus if I can also use my DSLR lenses
    6) Availability of High quality fast glass

    I have considered and am still toying with switching to Sony for my DSLR if for no other reason than being able to partner it with the 5N. Doubt that I will though. I really like my D5000 and even though my stable of lenses is limited, I am impressed with the quality of them (even the cheap kit lenses).
    I recently got a 5N to replace my Rebel XTi. I backpack and hike a lot and was tired of carrying around such a large camera kit. The 5N is so much smaller and still has excellent quality. I still only have the kit lens, but have a few picked out that I want to get, plus there are adapters so you can use legacy glass, modern glass, pretty much any lens made. And focus peaking is freaking awesome!
    Blog and Photo Gallery: http://philolin.me/

    Currently running OS X 10.10

  8. #8
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deckyon View Post
    If you plan on shooting wildlife a lot and I mean a lot, then you would be very well served getting a long prime telephoto lens. Zooms are great to cover a lot of different focal lengths, however they will always be softer of focus than a prime lens. The minimum I would recommend for wildlife is a 400mm, but if you have the capital a 500mm would be even better. Do not get a reflective lens. there are a lot of optical physics reasons to why prime lenses are better than zoom and reflective lenses, but I am not a physicist.

    Other than that, a good tripod cannot be beat and should be purchased before a new body or other zoom lenses. You will be amazed at the difference a good tripod can give over any other upgrade.
    For some reason I missed your post earlier.
    All I can say is, "Owww!"
    Just checked prices on B&H. That would make a sizable hole in my budget.

    Are there any good options for under $2K?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stretch View Post
    I recently got a 5N to replace my Rebel XTi. I backpack and hike a lot and was tired of carrying around such a large camera kit. The 5N is so much smaller and still has excellent quality. I still only have the kit lens, but have a few picked out that I want to get, plus there are adapters so you can use legacy glass, modern glass, pretty much any lens made. And focus peaking is freaking awesome!
    I was very impressed by the 5N when I tried it at the store. Unless Nikon comes out with a serious competitor it will probably end up in my bag eventually.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  9. #9
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razormac View Post
    I was very impressed by the 5N when I tried it at the store. Unless Nikon comes out with a serious competitor it will probably end up in my bag eventually.
    At this point, Nikon's mirrorless offerings are a joke. Some P&S cameras are better than the Nikon 1 series.
    Blog and Photo Gallery: http://philolin.me/

    Currently running OS X 10.10

  10. #10
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stretch View Post
    At this point, Nikon's mirrorless offerings are a joke. Some P&S cameras are better than the Nikon 1 series.
    I agree . . . eagerly awaited the Nikon mirrorless and then was disappointed. And, honestly, it would be relatively easy to satisfy me. All they would have to do is take the P7100 and scale it up slightly for the larger sensor, and allow for replaceable lenses.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  11. #11
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
    Doug b's Avatar
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    It's too bad that the Fuji X Pro 1 has the issues which it does, especially at its price point, because that would be THE one to go to in the mirrorless dept. Unfortunately, I could never love the camera for what it does wrong. Slow AF, No AF in low light. Fly by wire manual focus and other poor choices which affect usability. I'm hoping they'll rectify this in the next hardware version, but who knows what will be released otherwise, by the time that happens.

    The Olympus OMD EM5 looks AMAZING, but it's still M4/3rds which means not as much background isolation/DOF. Though the newer lenses coming out for it might negate that. The 45mm 1.8 is already sweet as heck.

    As for your 3 year plan... go for the gold buddy. This is your retirement gift to yourself, and you should get the best because we only live once. (or at least that's all we can recall)

    Going in the order you listed:

    For a wide angle zoom: The 14-24 Nikon of course. Get it used, save money. But really, there are no substitutions when your enjoyment is at stake.

    Want to save more money? Go manual focus, and maybe get a prime. Such as the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Super Wide angle Lens for Nikon AE SY14MAE-N

    Since you'll be shooting at infinity most of the time, manual focus isn't as scary as it sounds.

    Want a real telephoto lens? I think you've already been given good advice on that one already! It will cost ya!

    Want a great macro? Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Lens (For Nikon) 106306

    Or the Nikon, which honestly isn't necessarily better: Nikon Telephoto AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4.0D ED-IF Autofocus

    As far as a new body goes, the D800E sounds like the one you'd want. Not the D800. For what you shoot, you can ditch the anti aliasing filter and not have to worry about moire patterns. Plus, the D800E's sensor has been optimized so that it's minimal anyway.

    I know that I simply pumped items out at you, and I could of course go into detail, and find alternatives, just a bit busy. And honestly, you really do deserve to have the best at this point in your life. Ok, so if it takes you a bit longer to save for each of these items, so be it! I'd go for the lenses first, then get the body.

    Doug

  12. #12
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
    nickyr's Avatar
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    D800E

    14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200 f2.8 and 35mm f1.4 lenses

    Job done. Enjoy.

    I'm not sure if this is advice or my very own wishlist should my lottery numbers come up!!!
    Johann Gambolputty de Von Ausfern....of Ülm

  13. #13
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
    RavingMac's Avatar
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    Thanks, Doug and everyone.

    Will take another look at the Sigma 150, I spotted it while looking at 400mm primes, and was interested.

    You are right about going for the gold, and I may regret it, but I just ordered a Manfrotto 498RC2 Ballhead.
    Was tempted by the Really Right Stuff head, but just couldn't pop almost $500 for it. I have a few days to change my mind since I ordered it from Amazon.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  14. #14
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    I've had that head. It's ok-ish, but not great. It gets annoying when you think it's locked in place, but when you let go, it tends to creep down because of the weight, so your angle is a bit off. None of the budget heads are that great in the same sense. It's another case of getting what you pay for. RRS makes nice stuff, but there are tons of alternatives out there too.

    Doug

  15. #15
    3 Year Plan to Build My Photography Kit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug b View Post
    I've had that head. It's ok-ish, but not great. It gets annoying when you think it's locked in place, but when you let go, it tends to creep down because of the weight, so your angle is a bit off. None of the budget heads are that great in the same sense. It's another case of getting what you pay for. RRS makes nice stuff, but there are tons of alternatives out there too.

    Doug
    Do you have a recommendation for a good one under $300?
    Or am I going to have to drop $400 to $500 to get a good head with quick release?

    UPDATE:
    I got the head in yesterday, and after playing with it a bit, went ahead and popped for a set of legs.

    Ordered a set of Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro 3 section Aluminum
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

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