To Rent or Buy Gear For Your Video Productions?

How many times have you been tempted by gear announcement or a freshly released brand new camera? These are the moments when you are ready to spend all your hard-earned cash that you’ve been putting aside for months and even years in a matter of seconds just because you want to have the particular gadget that’s “in vogue” at this very moment no matter what.

Next time when you are in this position, just count to ten and remember all the things that will be discussing in this article. We are at a point where almost every day there is an announcement of new gear that tempts us, and we desperately crave to own it. The truth is that the technology is changing faster than we can catch up with. At the end of the day, what we really should ask ourselves is “Do I need this?”. In most of the cases, the answer would be “No.” And, here is why.

Apart from the fact that this video was created more than two years ago, the main principles that Caleb from DSLR Video Shooter discusses are even more relevant today. In the first place, you should be aware that every new piece of gear you buy has an alternative cost. For example, you can’t buy only a camera body being a GH4, A7s or NX1, additionally, you will need at least a couple of decent lenses, batteries, rigs, accessories and other stuff that could cost even more than the camera itself.

Or, if you want to invest in a camera jib or other expensive equipment, inevitably, there will be even more alternative costs as well such additional physical space to store the gear, you will lose more time for setting it up and balancing on set, you will have travel expenses to transport it, insurance expenses will be involved too and the list goes on. So, before you make the decision whether to buy any piece of equipment or not, first you should take into consideration not only the purchase cost of the product but the additional one as well.


This approach will help you to evaluate whether investing money in this gear will be worth it, or it’s better for you to rent it alternatively. As a rule of thumb, you should buy a new gear you need on a regular basis only if you rented you would lose money on. Everything depends on how many projects you are involved in, what is the gear that you usually take with you, and if there is equipment that you have been repeatedly utilizing, then it’s better for you to buy it. For smaller projects and shooting gigs, renting equipment is often the most economical option.

On the other hand, If you’re working on a longer project, say, a feature film or television or web series, it may make the most sense to purchase the equipment and then sell it upon completion of the project. This is a common practice for many big broadcast and cinema productions, so there is no reason to be afraid to sell your gear once you don’t use it anymore. Depending on the amount of usage you may be even able to sell it for a price that is closer to the one you bought it for.

The most important thing is to be realistic, objective and cautious about how you are going to spend your money. So, before you buy the next piece of fancy gear always ask yourself the above questions. This way it would be considerably easier for you to make the final decision whether to buy or rent the given piece of equipment.

[via Premium Beat and DSLR Video Shooter]

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  • Eno

    Very nice article.

    • Vlady Radev

      Thank you! We are glad thay you’ve enjoyed it. Cheers!

  • The one thing that I would add about buying vs renting has to do with time. Often I go to the same rental house and rent the same lenses and basic lighting setup passing on a small markup to the client. Versus what I profit on the jobs it is much cheaper to rent these thing. However, the time spent going to the rental house for both pickup and return is it’s own sort of penalty. Having to wake up much earlier the day after every shoot for returns, or the physical toll of humping footage on the subway (my dime) vs directly from the office to the location (car, billed to client) is a physical and time tax that I pay on every job. Recently, I have moved to purchase the things that I use most often, even if the financial basis seems thin, because I gain time in the end: time to edit, time to think creatively about the next project.

    • Vlady Radev

      Very good point, indeed! Time is probably one of the most precious and important assets for all of us.

    • noodlenaddle

      which items have you invested in? i am think about docs, but also some b roll kind of stuff (time lapse / landscapes)

      • A set of Leica R prime lenses for smaller cine-style shoots, a Canon L zoom for workaday documentary type stuff, and a Westcott Flex light. can do a lot of shoots with just that and a tripod