It's often a pretty bad investment and you need to find out what your existing clients are looking for-- assuming you have some.
Maybe a set of Atlas Anamorphics, a set of CP3s (when they hit) and 1 or 2 good Cine-Zooms, this way you kinda are catering to a the lower-budget "indie" crowd who need glass (The atlas, though I think would be a good buy as it'll be rare for a bit and in demand).
Else you can get Cooke S7s or some UltraPrimes or Master Anamorphics or Cooke Anamorphics which will cater to "higher end" clients who want the newest and best.
The price difference between those two ends though are astronomical and the clients who will come in looking for a Cooke S7 won't be interested in a CP3, just as those who want Atlas Anamorphics Don't want Master Anamorphics (Flare kit or not!)
I'm kidding, but what I'm getting at is that lenses aren't traditionally as good an investment as more traditional investments, so if you're getting into it, you should have another reason. One cynical thing I've heard suggested is placing ads on craigslist or through local rental venues and seeing what gets the most hits. Every market is so different. One might want the basics (ultra primes, CP2s) another might want S3s and Kowa anamorphic....
I've met people who will wait for one big job that will pay off a big chunk of the investment. I've seen this a lot. With lenses. With a few Alexas. A few F5s. Because that confirms demand and pays off a chunk of the investment.
The other approach I see is just buying what you want for yourself because you love it and then subleasing to a rental company (or better yet, insuring it and renting it yourself) to pay off the cost.
Those options make the most sense to me. But also, LA real estate is a hot market. :/
Apologies. I can't use my full name because it's distinct and my employers would rather I not discuss work publicly. You can feel free to delete my posts if it violates forum rules. My bad on that and my apologies.
Thanks for the input! I'm aware that there might be more lucrative businesses out there than lens rentals, but I do have to invest a certain money into film gear and believe that in that case, lenses are the best. I should have added that I'm planning on consigning them with a local (LA) rental house, which is why I'm trying to gather more information on what they rent out a lot.
I've talked to quite a few people but was just looking for even more personal opinions. Generally I'd like to invest a bigger chunk of money into one good kit, rather than getting several (again, I'm not a DP so it's like I will be using them myself constantly). Thanks for the feedback!
Why do you have to invest that money into film gear? It's almost as bad as buying a project car, often we're just throwing money down the drain. And if you're going to cosign with a rental house; they will generally tell you what they're interested in, if anything at all, and in that case, go with what they want you to buy, else they might not take it in.
Yes definitely worth asking the rental house what they need to fill a gap in their inventory, but lens fads can be fickle. Watch out you don't buy into the latest hyped product only to find a few years later they're shunned, like Red Pro Primes. It might seem wise to invest in full frame coverage lenses now that larger sensors are coming into vogue, but it's hard to predict if some of these interesting newer sets (Celere, Sigma, even S7s) will hold their value down the track, and whether larger sensors are just another fad. I suspect classic, trusted lenses like S4s and UltraPrimes will always maintain a certain resale value, but they are a serious investment.
Vintage lenses like Kowas or K35s can be very risky because of their age, and the demand can fluctuate because they are a very particular look. From a rental perspective, if one lens develops an issue the whole set is unrentable.
As pedestrian as they are, something like Zeiss CP3s might be the best balance in terms of investment and return, simply because they will probably always find a market share without costing a bomb.
But as many have already suggested, you need to know your market, no point buying CP3s if your clients want Master Primes.