My grandparents (on my dad's side) bought me a Nikon D40 as my high school graduation present in 2008. Photography is one of my biggest passions. I take pictures of everything: food, people standing in line, random signs, streets, scenery, events...literally everything. Getting a digital SLR was a dream come true for me. After two years of enjoying the basics that come with the camera, I feel that I'm ready to move on to more advanced things. I'm ready for a more advanced lens and flash. I've been researching lenses and flashes for awhile now just trying to find the perfect fit. It has been hard since I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go with my photography. But now that I have more of a clear vision with how I'd like to evolve as a photographer, I've been looking up different types of lenses and flashes and comparing them to my goals as a photographer. I have pages and pages of handwritten and typed up notes on what different lenses are used for and which flashes will enhance what parts of a picture.
I can't say I've found the "perfect" lens or flash, but I've found a few that are what I'm looking for and are in my price range (for what I'm willing to pay in the future). Lenses and flashes aren't cheap, but I knew that when I started looking. I told myself that I was willing to pay between $200-400 per item as long as I was getting what I wanted. I don't need anything professional; I'm not trying to go pro here. I just want something that will take my photography to the next level and allow me to explore more creative outlets with photography.
I found an awesome Nikon Nikkor Telephoto 50-200mm lens for around $250. It comes with vibration reduction and has a pretty great zoom range. Another one I liked is the Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D telephoto lens. This one costs about $500. It's about twice the price and while it's a little better than the cheaper one, the $250 has everything I really need. There are also two flashes that I have my eye on. One is a pretty standard flash and is perfect for beginners. It's a Nikon SB-400 Speedlight Unit and costs about $120. The one I really liked is a Nikon SB-600 AF Speedlight Unit for about $220. It has tons of advanced features and settings. It's seriously amazing.
Sorry for all of the confusing photography jargon. I'm just completely and utterly in love with all of this stuff. I'm a photography geek; I know.
Here's a few pictures:
Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D Telephoto Lens
Nikon Nikkor 50-200mm Telephoto Lens
Nikon SB-400 Speedlight Unit
Nikon SB-600 AF Speedlight Unit