To Buy or Rent? That’s a good question….

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    • #43363

      Whether you’ve been in the biz for a while or just starting up a hobby, the big question is; Should I buy or rent?

      In my experience, I’ve done both and there were pro’s and con’s with either. These days with gear being truly affordable, there is an incentive to purchase equipment and accessories outright. However, there are unseen costs that come with both purchasing and renting gear. Here’s a vid from Caleb Pike that gives a solid analysis of this very important question….

      Owning Gear from Caleb Pike on Vimeo.

    • #181961

      thanx for the video..

      my take is buy what you can afford, rent when what you own isn’t right for the job.

      that way you always got your gear…. even if you wind up using your gear as “Back-up or b roll” on a job… the main problem with rentals is availability, and familiarity…

      I own prosumer gear and rent pro gear as needed.

    • #181962
      Mike Wilhelm

      I am a very big proponent of renting gear, at least to start. It’s very easy to justify equipment cost to your clients when you have an accurate, per-day cost to use it. After working with rental gear for a while, you should have a good idea of the kind of equipment you use all the time, as opposed to equipment that is merelysituational.

    • #181963

      I also own prosumer(xf100, 5d etc.) but rent pro when needed. I tell people starting out to at least own something, even a d3100 or and old hmc40 but have something to learn on and use whenever you want. When you get good and can use any camera sight unseen them you move to renting. Whih is the opposite I hear from other people, but that’s my take.

    • #181964

      In my experience, rent when you have a client willing to pay for gear you don’t have or if your budget supports it. Renting can cut deep into your profits. Now if you’re wanting to work with cinema primes or need a steady rig for a heavier camera, etc. yeah renting is the way to roll. But if the rental percentage cost is greater than your profit percentage, that’s when having your own gear comes in handy.

    • #181965

      Composite1: I’m confused. Why should any cost “cut deep into your profits?” Profits come above costs, not despite costs. All costs should be taken into account when quoting a price for the job to a client, including your salary, equipment rental and amortization costs, transportation, meals, etc. Additionally, added a cushion for unexpected contingencies and percentage above costs for profit.

      A client doesn’t know, or care, whether you own or rent your gear, just how much the job will cost.


    • #181966

       If you rent a piece of equipment more than five times in three years, its then more economical to purchase that equipment, with extended warranty. Other advantages to owning is that you become totally familar with the equipment and there is nothing to stop you invoicing its use out at normal rental card rates. Ideally I try to update cameras between three to four years at which time its second hand price and avoidance of any service costs make the venture economically viable.  

    • #181967

      “A client doesn’t know, or care, whether you own or rent your gear, just how much the job will cost.”


      True, but…. I’ve lost jobs because the cost of renting gear and making a profit was higher than if I had the gear. You’re right, client’s do care about how much the job will cost. I get calls from clients who are hell bent to have their projects shot with RED cameras. That is until I hit them with the rental costs for not just the gear, but all the supporting gear and storage.

      If you’re paying out more money for rental gear than you’re going to get when you don’t have the gear, that’s a ‘cut in your profits’. Now I get your point about clients paying. That works when you have an established outfit and your clients are fully aware and fully capable to pay for what is necessary. When you’re starting out and or a small outfit, those clients are rare. Most times you’ll be doing your best to not freak them out when they see how much it will cost with a big rental package.

      So when you asked ‘how would any cost cut deep into your profits?’ that’s how. Not being able to do a job because renting will drive up the cost of your proposal is a serious ‘profit cutter’ in my opinion.

    • #181968

      my experence is i like to own my equipment. I rented a couple oftime while in film school because the lackeqipmentto students for a project. After my first year i looked at the cost for rental of the camera (xl2) and mics to the price of one and i realized i could have bought a refurbished one for around the same price. now that was for school projects so that cut into my pocket without getting any money out of it. Ever sense then i have been buying equipment. The main reason i buy is becasue its my equipment and i make more money and if i learn something new in camera or in post i can just go out and shoot practice footage eaisly. so bottom line i think you will profit more from owning equipment

    • #210738

      The business model solution is rent. Not just video, but the entire lighting, sound, events, presentation industry. 100% deductable, no messing around with write off periods and then tax on disposals.


      The trouble is, creative people want 100% access. They want to be able to answer the phone, get in the car, and go. Even battery charging delays get in the way. The expensive gizmo, bought for one project ten years ago, still sits on the shelf – just in case. many have so much kit that they could rent it out, but don't because they don't want to take the chance on it getting mistreated. I have a big expensive jib in my store, that constantly gets in the way, yet was used on two projects ten years ago, and never since. I cannot contemplate getting rid of it. I have studio pedestals that have been used 4 times since 2005, and countless other wastes of money. I still have the cameras that needed these damn things, but they've not had power attached for years. I recently opened a flight case and found a Sony camera, with a Hi8 back end on it that I'd forgotten completely about – must have been there since I last used that, and I dumped the hi8 tapes years ago. I've spent thousands this year on LED lighting for a series of projects in the next couple of months, but after that, I wonder when they'll be used again.


      I'm making a serious case for hire here – but despite knowing it's most sensible, and most cost effective – I have a thing about owning gear. I can't justify it at all, but it's how I've always been. 


      You should see my guitar collection too!

    • #213184
      Joel Ekstein

      There are always pros and cons. But If you are serious on your stuff, I would consider buying and of course having all the warranty protection plan just to be safe if my gadget is defective or having some issues.


    • #210733

      That's totaly true !!! And it's getting even worse day by day, now clients want 4K projets for less than 1 000 euros per day, it's insane ! And they find people who are ready to give them that for that amount …


      I take my personnal exemple. I'm a french based Director and DP, I have my own production company . With my rent, food, phone bill, internet bill, my total expend for a year are 36 000 euros. But you have to take into account taxes here in France that are just enormous, so enormous that to get my 36 000 euros, my salary will cost in total to my company 96 000 euros, this is insane ! (and this is why I want to move from France, I'll be glad to ear how much 36 000 euros salary cost in other countries..) 


      So I have to get 96 000 euros just for me. Because there's not a lot of work, I'm guessing I will work 120 days a year, so I have to make 96 000 euros in 120 days, wich means my rate per day is 800 euros. 


      So, for a basic video (1 to 4 minutes) I will have to work 3 days (preparation, shooting and post-production) wich will cost to the client 2 400 euros (wich is already above their budget…) and then I will have to take into account the music (from a licensing from The Music Bed), transportation and food (yeah at least client could pay my food when I work, it's the minimum no) so let's say 150 euros for the music, 200 euros for transportation and 100 euros for 3 days lunchs.


      So it's a total of 2 850 euros VAT  and that's without the gear if you want to rent it, so if you also need to put the cost of renting gear over that, you will never get clients in today's economy, it's impossible, people want less than 3 000 euros budget here for 3 days shooting (oh and of course I'm alone here, don't even think to bring a crew now….)


      This is why owning gear is better than renting, of course you could say that I could work more than 120 days, I wish I could but it's not possible, there's not enough demand, and I'm getting pretty well compared to my fellows collegues that struggles to get 800 to 1200 euros per months….


      Remember, in 2014, people want "Shot on Alexa/Red Epic/Sony F55 projects for less than 3 000 euros and even less" it's today's's sad…but It's what it is, so you are perfectly right when you say that renting cut off on our margin.


      And of course, final piece of cake, when you own your equipment, don't even try to charge it to your client, remember the goal is to get the maximum for your personnal fees.


      If for example you buy an Red Epic or a F55, you won't have to change it for the next decade, let's bet serious here, you really think that in 3 or 4 years people will be able to watch 4K at home ? Let me rephrase it, do you really think that people will be able to watch 16 BITS 4K at home ? All of our monitors can only show 10 bit depth, that's why bit depth is more important than resolution, it's better to work on a HD image with 16 bits depth than 4K with only 8 bits, so if you buy a red epic or a f55, you will have a futurproof camera because they are 4K or above and most of all they give a 16 bit image.

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