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If she's just starting out, I'd advise her to get a decent mid-grade camera that's not too expensive yet offers her the options of different lenses for different situations. At this point in her career, though, her focus should be on getting an adequate camera and a couple of good general-purpose lenses and using her spare cash to try to make a name for herself by creating a portfolio of stock images and attracting a clientele. That will cost more money and take more time than you might think, and she'll want to have some cash to live off of while she's still a nobody. Both Nikon and Canon offer some very good digital SLRs with fast shutter speeds and quick hard focus. Lens options for both brands are vast and widely available, with Canon having a slight edge in availability. The Nikon D80, for instance, has a 12.3 megapixel image, a user interface similar to her p80, and MSRP is about $900. The comparable Canon EOS Rebel T1i offers 15.1 megapixel images and carries an MSRP of about $800. Both offer a quality improvement over what she's using now.
If she is thinking of starting a business she should start a business, and not buy more gear. Rent a good camera for an assignment, and make your clients pay for it. The most difficult part about photography is making profit with it, so renting when starting is the proper way of doing it. She would always be able to buy some gear at the moment when she gets booked for a shoot every day. renting: depends on the job, but you can always get the best gear for the given job for only a fraction of the price.
The answer will vary based on where in the world you are obviously. some places will require that you register a business, other won;t. some places will require that you collect taxes, others won't. New Jersey doesn't mean anything to me. Where in the world is that? The problem is that pretty much anywhere in the world, 14 is too young to enter into legally binding contracts. Some places, you're still too young to even work in anything other than a family business and even then the number of hours would be very limited. Enjoy your hobby, when in college, take some business management classes (or accounting or marketing) and you'll have much better grasp of what you need to do. For now, enjoy your hobby, develop your skill and style and have fun. :)
Oh dear, oh dear. Another one. IF and this is a very big IF, she was anywhere near ready to start a proper photography business then the last question she should be asking is what camera and lenses she should be getting. IF (that very big IF again) she was ready to start a proper photography business then she would already have and be familiar with the tools of her trade. What she would be worrying about would be the marketing and business side. Things like premises, taxes, licenses if required, equipment suppliers, profit and loss statements etc etc.
If she doesnt already know what she needs for the business, then she is not ready for a business. its that simple. sounds to me like she is still a beginner even if she has done a lot of shoots over a couple years. its just a couple years of experience. photography is a very tough and competitive field. not to mention all the people out there who think if they have a nice camera they are a professional photographer. i recommend just getting a canon rebel dslr they are affordable. just dont get ahead of yourself with the business.
Definitely a new Canon Rebel. There's a few on the market now, but if you get a Canon Rebel, or any Nikon D something, Like a D90, she will be HAPPY. Those are the best cameras, and from experience, they're amazing. Top of the line DSLR cameras, and, yeah, they're great.
Studio or freelance? Studio has to be a Hasselblad H4D, or if she is going freelance and 'out in the field' so to say, then a Nikon D3x or Canon Eos 1DS mk3. will have to get lenses to suit whatever genre of photography she chooses. So you may be looking at a minimum $10k. Dont waste time getting a D90 or Rebel as she will soon grow out of them and they simply are not good enough to do a full pro job.
Scary... this is the equivalent of wanting to be a brain surgeon, and asking what sort of knife is best... any idiot with a nikon can shoot a few frames, sell them to friends and family... selling yourself, and your bussiness to total strangers is a whole other ballgame. (ive been doing it for 40 years) its not all glitz and glamour, some of us actually work for a living... we make it look easy, but for every shot i take, i will spend 30 minutes doing other things... like photoshopping, accounts, invoices...advertising and meetings with accountants and bank managers. if shes serious, buy a hassleblad and sell your soul to pay for it... to gove you an idea of cost, my bag, with 2 DSLR bodies, 6 lenses and a Metz 45CT4... bowens lighting, and all teh ossicated kit is insured for around 5 thousand pounds.., and because im an old sod, ive had most of it for 20 odd years... my OM4ti cost £499 30 years ago! its a serious investment in kit... the Bowens lights were almost a thousand pounds... and theyve earned me 100k over 20 years... its not a fortune, but its on top of my wages... i teach... because i can... and because unless you work your as off, and prostitute your talent, for in house art, then you need to run two jobs... youv probably seen the film, the money pit... its a fair example of bussiness...and unless your careful, and skilled... youll go bankrupt in the first year... i mean, have you even done a cashflow projection?
Go big or go home.