I'll throw my 2 cents in for some points, while others are pretty much self-explanatory. Sounds like this is an error with the tripod that you're using or methodology and not the camera. If you're just tightening the screw with your fingers and not an actual screwdriver to torque it down tightly, it will obviously come off over time. I've left my tripod base on my camera for the last three years and it hasn't budged at all. No locktite or any other bonding agent used other than a flathead to tighten it in (coins can often do the same job). If you're referring to how some companies seem to have slight saturation differences between each other, that is just natural. This can be all changed in post if you haven't already used a program like Adobe Lightroom. If you don't want to buy a subscription for Adobe CC however (the student discount is a good deal if you're in school), you could easily just buy (or make) a grey card to calibrate the white balance in your scene before taking any shots. I've only ever used it twice however (I made it myself out of paint swatches) and just threw it away the other day simply because I never use it and rely on Lightroom and my editing. Chances are you'll be looking at lenses eventually with optical stabilization later on, so if the body is not exactly what you want there is always the chance that you can add on with different lenses. Not a fan of it personally due to how easy it is for these systems to disrupt a perfectly still shot with artificial vibration. Most Nikons currently have quite the array of AF points to chose from that is within your budget and if they are unable to be selected from the screen, they are visible within the viewfinder. I'd suggest rather than having something hold it's shutter within the camera's equipment to times above 30", that you look into buying a cheap intervalometer. You can have it set delay before the shot, interval between, and duration of the shutter being opened. This is an example of an hour long, single frame shot. While it is quite smooth, there is plenty of noise easily visible within the star trails. Spoiler Results from one of the cheapest kit lenses out there that came with my D3200: Spoiler And my favorite night time shot consisting of over 12 frames stitched together for a panorama (Rokinon 24mm 1.4): Spoiler Anything from 8-30 seconds is all you need when in a dark area to get shots of the stars. Once you go above 30 seconds the stars move fast enough to give them tails or the beginning of star trails. Never heard of this happening. I use my Rokinon lense for the majority of my photography and it weighs even more than the body does. The F-mount is an absolutely solid unit and I've never read anything bad about them. I think your budget for a good APSC sized DSLR is good, but you'll have to look around for some lenses (Good luck finding FX lenses) to squeeze in.