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Archive 2011 · Budget dilemma
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Budget dilemma


Please, help me. To say a foreword: your opinions are much appreciated, also, please, sorry my crappy English.

I am ending to pay on loan for my 105 VR. Payment history is positive, so by agreement with bank there's an opportunity to take additional loan on sum of ~6200$. Since midsummer of this year I started to do assignment photography on a regular basis. Most of the jobs are weddings and portraitures. Being a beginner in photobusiness, there's not enough income to purchase needed gear at the very short space of time, so loan is lone solution to take anything needed here and now.

Here comes dilemma: what do I need? Current setup includes Nikon D5000, 18-55 VR kit (has almost dead motor after hard extensive usage) and 105 VR macro. FX body is very welcome addition that's for certain, so ~$2500 for new D700 or upcoming D800 (no idea about price tag) are on hold. I do not care much about feature wise, so if Nikon will show just slight improvement over D700, D800 wouldn't be wanted as hell, old FX body will be the right way to go. Second and third undoubtely chosen pieces of gear are cheap AF-S Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 G and AF-S Micro-Nikkor 40 mm f/2.8 G DX (for old D5000). But what to buy further? Needed/wanted options are:

1. Carl Zeiss Distagon 35 mm f/1.4 ZF.2 outstanding optics, awesome build quality that lasts for a lifetime.
2. Two Speedlights SB900 mobile lighting setup is a matter of life and death. Any cheaper and equal by feature wise suggestions?
3. Nikkor 45 mm f2.8 D ED PC-E no idea why, maybe just little boy-dreamer speaks from within, but I wish this lens to have in my park. Also, one of the very first assignment jobs was architecture shooting task.
4. Nikkor 85 mm f1.4 G as for portrait work, 105 VR works more than fine. This is very universal lens which works great in both macro and portrait. Do I will live freely without special-purpose portrait lens? Don't really need for wide aperture, though, tripod serves at its best, but rendering and sharpness of 85 mm are outstanding. That's very nice addition to lens lineup.
5. If not Nikkor 85, then Zeiss Planar 85 mm 1.4 ZF.2 also good lens.
6. Samyang 85 mm option is also considered.

Yep, tough question to answer, so please tell what do you think. Help to make optimal choice for that budget ($6200). Thanks in advance.
Dmitry.



Sep 04, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Tim Ashton
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Budget dilemma


Hey Dimitry,

As you are budget / $$ constrained the D7000 will work for you. You will lose at most one stop ISO and that beautiful bright DX view finder

Also look at the 85 f/1.8D instead of the 1.4. You can also save money by buying the SB 700 speedlights with only a very small drop off in performance. A Demb diffuser sounds like a must for you (http://www.dembflashproducts.com/diffuser/) and is very cheap

Missing from your suggested lineup is a zoom for wedding coverage and the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 DX would be my first choice here but Tamron make a 17-50 2.8 also.

A slightly different approach for you to think about

Cheers

Tim



Sep 04, 2011 at 11:08 PM
NathanHamler
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Budget dilemma


So you have nothing wide except the kit lens, and nothing longer than 105....buy a d400, a used 17-55, and a 70-200, then get speed lights with what's left....


Sep 04, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Avi B
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Budget dilemma


nikon d7000
nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 (used from b+s here if you can)
nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR-I (used from b+s here if you can)

Then speed lights and umbrellas and so on.



Sep 04, 2011 at 11:35 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Budget dilemma


Tim Ashton wrote:
Hey Dimitry,

As you are budget / $$ constrained the D7000 will work for you. You will lose at most one stop ISO and that beautiful bright DX view finder

Also look at the 85 f/1.8D instead of the 1.4. You can also save money by buying the SB 700 speedlights with only a very small drop off in performance. A Demb diffuser sounds like a must for you (http://www.dembflashproducts.com/diffuser/) and is very cheap

Missing from your suggested lineup is a zoom for wedding coverage and the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 DX would be my first choice here but Tamron make a 17-50
...Show more

Tim, thank you for the input! D7000 is great camera, currently the best one in Nikon system. It is worth considering before the time of purchasing an FX body which, to be frank, I need only because of large viewfinder and getting rid of 1.5x focal length multiplier. But how hard would be manual focusing? Autofocus doesn't get it for variety of shots, so large, clear and accurate viewfinder is a salvation, especially with S-type matte focusing screen. Also, with my 188 cm stature holding small camera is not comfortable, then x00 line would work better. D300s is extremely cheap now in the second-hand market but it has the same sensor of D90 and D5000, so here would be no improvement over current camera. D400 not released yet, Nikon keeps silence about their DSLRs. Where to go? D700 will drop in price soon but it still will cut more than 1/3 of the budget, so maybe I will listen to your advice and buy D7000.

A question about 85 mm is not that relevant. Of course, 85 mm has closest to human eye perspective view but 105 mm isn't much longer. If there's would be inevitable need in 85 mm then Samyang is simple and cheap solution. And yet there is Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8 D, really. Almost the same price as Samylux.

I have never used flashes before. What's the difference between SB900 and SB700?

As for zooms, don't wan't them at all. Very different approach to workflow and it cuts need for thorough composing, at least for me.

NathanHamler wrote:
So you have nothing wide except the kit lens, and nothing longer than 105....buy a d400, a used 17-55, and a 70-200, then get speed lights with what's left....


You're right, wide angle lens is missing. I am lusting for Distagons 18 and 21 mm respectively, but they are way off from budget. Truth is that cheap WA solution doesn't exist. If you need good WA, prepare to pay an arm and a leg. Zoom lenses are not for my workflow, even such awesome as Nikkor 14-24. Long lens isn't needed. Old 1986 M42 Pentacon 200 mm f/4 is still remain in the shelf collecting dust. I use long lens very rarely.

Avi B wrote:
nikon d7000
nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 (used from b+s here if you can)
nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR-I (used from b+s here if you can)

Then speed lights and umbrellas and so on.


As said before, primes the way to go.

Any cheap and easy to carry little softboxes in the market?

Overall: thanks for your help, really.



Sep 05, 2011 at 06:33 AM
Avi B
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Budget dilemma


Well, if you are hellbent on a D700, then you should be able to shoot weddings with a 35/2 and a 85/1.4 both D versions of the lens to make it economical. As you earn more, you can replace the 35/2 with the 35/1.4 or 24/1.4.




Sep 05, 2011 at 05:27 PM
pocketfulladou
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Budget dilemma


Building any business is based on proper judgement of cash out vs. cash in. You can get most jobs done with pretty modest equipment. The person paying you doesn't know what equipment you used - only the end result. Your 105VR can go a long way, just look at the other recent post here with a model shoot using a 105 and it's awesome.

If you buy used, and want to upgrade, you'll probably get most of your investment back selling the used gear. Then, when you're getting enough work to justify a dedicated specialty lens like a 45PC, then go for it. I understand that you dream of these toys. I do too, but there's a hobby and then there's a business and the worst thing you can do is not draw the line between them.



Sep 05, 2011 at 06:36 PM
jeterfan3
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Budget dilemma


If your going to start a business, don't forget a back-up body...even if you have to rent one.

Max



Sep 05, 2011 at 11:34 PM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Budget dilemma


Avi B, I had an opportunity to shoot with 35/2 D coupled to D80 body. Not the best impressions about it.

pocketfulladou, valid points here, thanks for input.

jeterfan3 wrote:
If your going to start a business, don't forget a back-up body...even if you have to rent one.


Absolutely. Second body is important. I won't sell my D5000 after purchasing new camera.

Well, now it's time to show some shots.










Sep 06, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Avi B
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Budget dilemma


Well, my ideas were based on saving as much as possible on the cost outlay side, because as pocketfullofdou points out, remember that this is a business first and foremost. Your primary goal should be to do whatever you want to do, as cheap as possible. If you are absolutely sure you want a D700, then the focal lengths that work well are 35 (for groups) or 28 (24 gets too much geometric distortion for my tastes) and something longer, such as the 85mm. Basically, on film, these are the two focal lengths that I like.

Options at 28 (28/2.8D, AIS 28/2, 28/1.4) are either unexciting or manual focus or expensive. Now, there are three options at 35mm for you, the 35/2D, the 35/1.8G, and the 35/1.4G. The 1.8G is vignettes (because it is DX lens) and the 1.4G is quite expensive. This is my suggestion for the 35/2D, which might work better on a FX camera.

For the 85 FL, you have 85/1.8D 85/1.4D, 85/1.4G, Sigma's offering. I personally like the rendition out of the Nikons 1.4s and the 1.4D is the cheaper of the two. Having said that, you got a 105VR which is close to the 85 FL so that you might forego that lens altogether (again, saving you money!)

I would spend my money on speedlights and lightstands/umbrellas/other light modifiers that I could use at a wedding.

Certainly your work is very good. I love these portraits. My suggestions are based purely on saving as much money as possible initially. Just because you have a huge credit limit doesn't mean that you should use it.



Sep 06, 2011 at 09:38 PM
 

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Rodolfo Paiz
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Budget dilemma


I'm primarily a businessperson and a consultant (but thank God a successful one), and only secondarily a photographer. So I will first hammer in the importance of saving money wisely... don't get inferior stuff that will break or not do the job, but also don't overspend. As you are beginning, buy more modestly than the Zeiss stuff you're contemplating, try not to use all the credit you can get, and then try to pay off that loan as soon as possible.

I would say two D7000 bodies for now, one with the 17-55 and one with the 70-200 VR1. I'd buy all of that used from the B&S forum to save money and reduce my loss from depreciation later. The 105VR is a great lens, but I'd sell it to recover the money invested in it. The 70-200 can do the portraits superbly, and the 40 DX macro can do the macro. Then, add flashes and light modifiers to taste. The SB700 is nice, but I much prefer the additional power of the SB900... and like you, I believe lights are life or death.

I mention all that because I believe it's the best path. However, I see that you prefer primes. Then, I'd perhaps suggest the 35/2, the 50/1.8, and the 85/1.8. Get the more expensive versions later... for now, get the business going and the money flowing. You'll need to spend on other things (business cards, promotion, travel, food, and other expenses) along the way, so pinch every penny you can for now.



Sep 07, 2011 at 02:40 AM
ChipThome
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Budget dilemma


Of the whole pile there is only one thing I know anything about and that is the Samyang 85. I have it with the Rokinon name and in my opinion it is a vastly under-priced lens. I am impressed with its build quality, weight, sharpness and bokeh. Since the 85mm, Samyang has brought out a 35mm at almost twice the price of the 85. They have also announced a 24mm to soon be released and it is anticipated, again, near $500. Looking at the pricing of the 85mm, I would not be at all surprised if it wasn't priced that low, just to get people to sit up and take notice of the company. For Nikons you can get it chipped for exposure, or unchipped and set everything manually. The cost difference is minimal. One is just under $300 and the other is just over $300. I would not at all hesitate to get it again. It will produce images you can be proud of.


Sep 07, 2011 at 06:10 AM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Budget dilemma


You convince me, guys.

It is important not to do non-clever decisions, so by talk I've got alot. First and foremost: I'll pass aside lenses at 85 mm FL and special-purpose tool alike 45 mm PC-E. These are desired things but for the current station on the road of life there are no tasks where cheaper lenses couldn't go. Having said that, I am willing to thank all of you for saving at least $3500.

35 mm question is still on the run. 35 DX works on FF with slight vignetting and this is fine lens for its price. Before sudden release of 50/1.8 G I was contemplating this lens for current body, but there is a non-supported doubt. 35/2 D? Dunno. Not impressed by build quality and IQ. Nikon is still quiet about f/1.8 and f/2-lenses refreshment, what makes me sad. Again, I'm not tempted by 35/1.4 G. Zeiss is by far much desired even though it doesn't feature AF. Even cheaper version of 35 mm Distagon works fine for me. Samyang 35 mm f/1.4? Outstanding lens for 1/4th of Zeiss's price but for the first time, maybe I'll go the cheapest 35 DX-way. I have to think more to make right decision, because 35 mm FL is a must have by all means. Freedom of choice makes me crazy.



Sep 07, 2011 at 09:20 AM
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Budget dilemma


IT HAS BEGUN!

Today I've purchased AF-S Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 G.



Sep 13, 2011 at 12:09 PM
abam
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Budget dilemma


give a few thought processes to lighting:

$45 - 24" softbox with speedlight bracket and double baffles
$21 - 3rd party TTL flash cord
$45 - (the) manfrotto light stand
$70 - [url=http://www.adorama.com]3rd party TTL flash with
bounce head and manual mode[/url]**
$37 - reliable radio triggers
$30 - umbrella bracket
$13 - shoot-through/bounce umbrella

read like the wind:
http://strobist.blogspot.com

cheers

**edit: FM doesn't recognize the coding for that page, for some reason; when you get to adorama, search for "Sunpak PZ40X II". solid, cheap as chips, works in iTTL or manual.



Sep 13, 2011 at 06:02 PM
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Budget dilemma


Thanks, abam! I'll buy cheap lighting tools, unlike SB900's.


Sep 13, 2011 at 06:15 PM
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Budget dilemma


Interesting times I live in...

A loan of 105 VR is paid off completely. A loan of 50/1.8G is almost paid off (1 month remaining). The second bank offered me a credit card with sum of $1365 on it, the first one offering $1435 and I can take $2500 loan any time further for the D700 which is quickly fading away from the shelves of local stores and also getting cheaper.

But the situation turned out to be a disaster: in the October I broke my 105 VR and after three service circles it is still barely operable. Shift at infinity at f/2.8 makes my eyes bleed. I have no choice of really good service centres, since they did repair in Kiev and Moscow (imagine the scale of geographical spread!) with absolutely NO result. Also, my closest people arguing that I have to move to another country to live in and as soon as possible, maybe even in March. Their statements are very solid but I do not feel I am pretty strong enough to raise a living on a whole new level in another country. Costs of the flat renting are going to figure out something between $170-250 per month and this makes me a little bit sad due to absence of the job (guaranteed) and absence of needed tools. My photographic job can't be done in a good way with two cheapo lenses and low-end camera, so I trapped in position between the hammer and the anvil.



Feb 01, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Two23
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Budget dilemma


jeterfan3 wrote:
If your going to start a business, don't forget a back-up body...even if you have to rent one.




+1. Always have a back up when getting paid.


Kent in SD



Feb 01, 2012 at 03:49 PM
jlawrence
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Budget dilemma


two back ups.


you never know about these things.



Feb 02, 2012 at 01:17 AM
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Budget dilemma


Two23, jlawrence, I know that, thanks. I had some issues with camera during paid shooting. Very discouraging feeling.


Feb 02, 2012 at 12:19 PM
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