Ok, so the studio didn't actually happen.
Trust me, I looked at it very long and very hard - and was almost to the point of signing up for a space to lease. But I did the math several times, and the best case scenario (in the short term at least) was only break-even, for a heck of a lot more work! So I decided - rather wisely I must say in hindsight - to flag the idea for now. Just as well too, because since then my design work has gone crazy and there aren't enough hours in the day just doing that. Starting a photography studio on top of that would have been crazy!
So I've been getting out and taking some landscapes - now that the wedding season is over. And I've got someone joining me on some my excursions now too. My 10yr old daughter, Emily, is still excited about photography, so I decided to encourage her further by taking her out with me a bit more, and getting her a 'real' digital camera, a Canon 10D.
Her 10D came with a Canon 50mm f1.8 prime, which is a great combination. Granted she is a little limited in terms of focal length compared to what a zoom could offer her, but at the moment it's just about getting used to using the camera and all its controls. Eventually I will get her an 18-70mm zoom - probably the Sigma f2.8-4.5. Something light, but still with decent image quality.
For my own gear, I've settled on a middle-of-the-road kit for the time being - although that's been peppered with some very nice primes. I am still using the Nikkor 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 'kit' lens with my D300, and still enjoy using it. It's a light, fast focusing, silent lens which I have no problem using wide open at any focal length. It's on the D300 80% of the time, and I can't really fault the images I create with it.
Recently (like two weeks ago) I added the Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 ED zoom to my arsenal, to give me more telephoto reach in a zoom lens. I haven't used it all that much yet, but I owned this lens a few years ago when I had my D70 kit and found it to be a very good performer - especially up to 250mm. I don't do a heck of a lot of long telephoto stuff - but it's nice to have the option now for when I do. I'll do a lens test and post that soon, giving my impressions and some examples of what it can do etc.
So my zoom range now covers from 18 to 300mm with mid-range glass. I'll find it hard to replace the 18-70mm - for the price it's just a heck of a good lens, but I will eventually replace the 70-300mm with the 'pro' Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. That will probably be my only lens purchase next year from the wedding season takings.
To supplement my zooms, I have a trio of primes: 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8. On my D300 the 24mm becomes a 35mm (still ok for wide-ish landscapes, and a great walk-around street lens), the 50mm becomes a 75mm f1.8 (fantastic for portraits), while the 85mm turns into a 130mm f1.8 (roughly).
I got the 85mm towards the end of the wedding season, so didn't really use it as much as I would have liked, whereas I use the 50mm all the time, and surprisingly have been making good use of the 24mm as well.
I got the 24mm really cheap because it had been banged on the front and a chip taken out of the filter thread. I 'ummed' and 'arred' over getting it, but in the end thought 'what the heck' for the price I was paying for it. Turned out to be a bargain, and a great lens. Because it's a prime, which doesn't use many lens elements, and because it's so small and well-made, it can take the knocks and come out smiling. I even dropped it myself on the first wedding I shot! No problems though. Just put it back on the camera and away it went. Sharp, clear, contrasty images every time.
I'm very happy with the primes I have, matched with the D300 Nikon body - using the 18-70mm as my main zoom lens. The only lens I will 'eventually' replace will be the 70-300mm - with the 70-200mm f2.8 VR. The 'second generation' of this lens was released this year, so a lot of first generation lenses are finding their way to the internet trading sites. Because I shoot with a D300 I don't need the newer lens, so I'll save myself a couple of grand and opt for the first generation model.
And as much as I would like to own a 17-55mm f2.8 Nikkor, i really don't want to pay the $2500.00NZ that it would cost to get one. Are they really $2000 better than my 18-70mm kit lens? Maybe. But somehow, I don't think so.