On a budget of $500 I'd get a.... - refurbished D50 body-only for $399, which has a 90-day Nikon warranty. These are good as new and know of a few people that have gotten them to know that. I didn't see any at B&H or Adorama listed (must have sold out for the Christmas) but keep your eye out. - For $100 new or less than that used or refurbished, get the 18-55 kit lens. It's not a 1:1 micro lens, but at 1:3.2 it's the closest focusing DX lens that Nikon makes and great all around to get you started. It's not a fast lens though, and not very good for portraits either, so eventually you'll want something else. So when you get some more money saved up.... - For $100 new or less used, get the "nifty fifty" 50mm f/1.8D lens. Maximum reproduction ratio on this is 1:6.6 which isn't very close at all, but it's great for portraits, and you can turn it into a micro lens with a close-up adapter or extension tubes for less than $100. I think a Kenko 12mm extension tube is like $45 or something. - If you're really serious about close-up photography, forget the nifty fifty and just save up for a new or used Nikon 55 or 60mm f/2.8 micro lens for $200-300 new/used. These will give you in-lens 1:1 micro capability with no special adapters, tubes, or other BS. If you can find a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens for cheap, get it. It also does 1:1 but gives you a lot more working distance than the 50-60mm micro lenses will. You can also use these lenses as portrait lenses. You'll also eventually want to get a half decent tripod, so budget about $100 for that too. BTW I'm using micro and macro interchangeably. Different manufacturers call them different things and I always get them confused. There's also no such thing as an 18-70mm f/2, but man that would be sweet , but also super heavy and absurdly expensive. Large aperture zoom lenses require A LOT of very expensive glass. For reference the Nikkor 17-55DX f/2.8 is $1200 and weighs 1.6 lbs (755g). The 18-55DX f/3.5-5.6 weighs almost nothing in comparison at 0.45 lbs (205g). Extrapolating, it's easy to see why something with more range than the 17-55 f/2.8 and a faster f/2 aperture would not be a usable lens, at least in terms of economics and weight. It'd be too expensive to buy and too heavy to carry. Fixed focal length lenses are what give you the large apertures and speed at reasonable costs and weight, but you have to forego lens zoom and use "foot" zoom instead.