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Would I need an ultra wide angle like the Tokina to take long exposure shots of the stars? I realized there's a dock that goes into the lake and I'm pretty sure the view from there at night is awesome. So yeah, I thought of throwing that into the bag of "things I'd like to do" while I'm here this winter..
The trouble with photography is that when you start out you never know how deeply it's going to get its hooks into you. The thought of buying relatively inexpensive gear to start out is a good one, especially if you think your interest is only going to go so far. However, if it grabs you (and everyone here will bear me out), you're going to end up spending A LOT more money. So yes, I would say, start with a modest budget and see where your interest goes.Just out of curiosity, which resort will you be working at?
My final thought was if you are getting a lens with VR I would really worry less about the tripod now.
Totally agree. I could get 75% of my shots with a D3200 for that matter