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Renting vs Buying


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#1 Jon Amerikaner

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:36 PM

We get a lot of questions on this board about what are the best cameras and equipment to buy. I am of the mind set that there is no "best." Because every project is different I feel one should pick equipment based on the needs of the specific project. Therefore I am an advocate of renting. Why buy a camera that is ideal for one project but inadequate for the next? Why not rent the right gear for each project for a fraction of the purchase cost? This goes for newbies as well as vets.

I'll give you an example from my own experience. I was the DP for a student short. We had six days to cover 15 pages: days, nights, interiors, and exteriors. No problem. My producer/director said we had about 5k for a budget. So he asked what camera could we buy. I responded well for 5k we can buy camera A, B, or C. But we won't have any left for lights, grip, sound, and food. I asked if he would consider renting. I contacted several rental houses, was quoted several camera, light, grip, and sound packages (all discounted), and returned to the director. We found one package with a camera that was superior to A, B, and C, and would have cost twice our budget to buy. In the end we secured the camera, lights, grip, sound, and insurance for six days for $1,200.00. Now that?s a deal!

What are your feelings on this subject? When would you suggest a rental over purchase and vice versa?

Thanks all.
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#2 Nate Downes

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:22 PM

I say every DP should own at least 1 camera, if for nothing else as a practice tool. Beyond that, look at the timescale of the project, how much camera do you need, etc, and work from that. Me, I enjoy owning 5 solid cameras, giving me the freedom to go after personal, art projects, with no worried of the rental clock ticking.
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#3 Rik Andino

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 12:36 AM

What are your feelings on this subject? When would you suggest a rental over purchase and vice versa?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well it depends on who you are and what you're doing...

It's definitely silly to see many new & hobbist directors purchasing film equipment
That they'll probably only use for one maybe two short projects
And then hock on ebay for a very disounted rate...it's not a bright investment plan.

However if someone is a DP or a sound guy or a grip or gaffer...
And one is purchasing equipment to better their career it might help them...
But you must consider purchasing equipment as a LONG TERM comitment.

A DP might get more work with his own camera package...
As well as be able to practice on his craft more and do personal projects.
The same goes for a sound guy and/or grips, production companies, etc...

But one has to be smart when investing on film equipment.
I feel one needs to see major film purchases like investments...
A good investor tries to put their money on something that will make them more $
A bad investor just waste his money on bad ideas and whismy.
If you're investing on a camera you should buy the best one possible...
That will not require excessive maintance and allow for the lastest improvement.

Personally I feel DV cameras are the wrost investment
Because they devalue so quickly it only a matter a months
Before a new camera takes its place and everyone wants to use that one.
While I film cameras can be a better investment cause they hold their value.

If someone however is just doing one project it makes sense to rent...
Don't break the bank just to make a 10 min. short.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 01:52 AM

If you're investing on a camera you should buy the best one possible...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If the point is to get a camera as a learning tool, the one should buy something cheap (but with full manual capabilities) that allows them to afford to shoot as much as possible, as often as possible. It doesn't have to be something to last the ages.

If the point is to buy a camera for professional work, then one should make sure that there will be enough work to pay for the camera within a few years, sooner if it's a video camera. A good camera is important but you have to understand your particular market and what format it requests the most.
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#5 Brian Wells

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 03:23 AM

I personally don't see the business case to own anything besides a beginner camera and light meter unless you can rent your equipment to the productions that hire your services and often enough to pay for your equipment--and hopefully provide a ROI as well.

Alternatively, having equipment could provide access to shooting opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise--as in very low budget pictures where providing equipment can make possible a project which otherwise could not afford a rental. (such as a 48 hour film)

In either scenario you effectively become your own "rental house."
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#6 Nguyen D. Nguyen

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 11:37 PM

I personally don't see the business case to own anything besides a beginner camera and light meter unless you can rent your equipment to the productions that hire your services and often enough to pay for your equipment--and hopefully provide a ROI as well.

Alternatively, having equipment could provide access to shooting opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise--as in very low budget pictures where providing equipment can make possible a project which otherwise could not afford a rental. (such as a 48 hour film)

In either scenario you effectively become your own "rental house."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I tend to agree with renting as well actually, although I own my own arri iic I use for pickup shots, and rent a higher grade arri for sync dialogue shooting. I think it's the smartest purchase I ever made for the price that was offered. It's been a fabulous learning tool as well as a work tool I use. But I can never imagine myself ever owning anything beyond this, not even a lens. But since the camera has a pl mount, the lenses are too expensive for any practical person to own anyways.
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#7 Robert Hughes

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 11:17 AM

According to standard business accounting practices, the rent vrs buy option is decided upon the 2 year payback principal; if you use the equipment enough so that the rental of it over 2 years would be greater than the outright purchase, buy it. The company I work for owns two Sony video cameras and one Betacam deck but rents additional decks and cameras as needed, because we wouldn't use 4 Beta decks in-house enough to make the 2 year break even point.

If you are getting paid for your work, an alternate variation is determining whether your increased income (ROI) over 2 years warrants a camera purchase. If you're an amateur/student/artist you probably aren't making money yet, so use the first method.

Edited by Robert Hughes, 06 July 2005 - 11:25 AM.

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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 12:50 PM

Hi,

I don't think I'll ever buy another camera. The one I have now continues to make money on low to medium-budget corporates, local government and music promos; I feel like I got into DVCAM about as late as would have been financially supportable. I knew at the time it should have been a DSR-570 (or 500 in 2001) but what I got reflected the budget I could raise. If it was a widescreen camera now, it would make about 20% more a day, and that's a shame, but there's no way I'm buying into more DVCAM at this point with HDV snapping at its heels, and things like the DVX-100 doing low end drama and music promos so well with the progressive scan options.

On the other hand, I know a guy who does a lot of jimmy jib and steadicam (he owns about four of each and has a cabal of regular operators) and he has I think a couple of DSR-570s and similar stuff; they work every day of the week. If I bought a camera now I'd be torn between a DSR for OB and ENG style work, widescreen being required in the UK, and HDV for the great morass of lower end stuff.

Frankly, they want me, they can rent the damn camera. The only exception to this is if the upcoming raft of Panasonic HD stuff which is pretty low cost, but it'd have to be considerably less than a DSR-570 package as it wouldn't be much of a moneymaker.

Phil
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