Should You Rent or Own Video Equipment?

Should you rent or own your video equipment? What makes the most sense? What factors help you make the choice? Ron Dawson author of the book: Refocus gets into incorporating HDSLRs into your business the smart way.

This gem originally streamed live on May 10, 2010 at but is still filled with relevant, timely concepts and smart information – minus the older equipment references!

Show notes:

Borrow Lenses
Lens pro To Go
Ron Dawson’s website

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  1. I rent items that I don’t need to have a lot of familiarity with: lights, batteries, grip, B cameras, lenses. That stuff adds-up value wise. Cameras you need to train on – I don’t know how one learns how to use a particular type of camera without spending a lot of time with it. I recently rented some additional batteries, a slider, a mic stand, and a hypercardioid mic.

  2. Depends entirely on what you do, but I remember a studio owner once saying to me that it’s pointless building a business on what equipment you have, because there will always be someone richer than you who can provide better facilities. You have to sell yourself on your expertise, so on that basis either hire equipment that you know inside out, or buy your own and learn to use it better than anyone else – even if that means sticking with it for a while, instead of constantly ‘upgrading’!

  3. Depends on how frequently you will shoot and how much you are going to shoot. If you are shooting 10 days in a year, you will break even. Camera tech is changing drastically every 2-3 years. Lights, cstands, car mounts, good mics and sound gear aren’t to going to be obsolete in 10 years. Do the math for your needs and go from there.

  4. Rent everything. Yes, it costs more in the short term, but you don’t have to worry about storage, maintenance, depreciation and new and better tech coming out every day. In the long run, you save money and are always on the cutting edge.

  5. Some equipment such as sound recorders, reflectors, monitors, boom poles, sliders and tripods should be own, Good cameras are expensive so rent till you have enough to buy one.

  6. For what I do, it works. I buy cameras in the $3-5k range and rent glass for bigger projects. You’re right, eventually that camera will get old, but at that price point it’s OK because you’ve already made your money back. Now if you’re buying a $15k-$25k camera that’s a different story – maybe renting it would be better financially. Some of the glass I rent can cost $30k – I don’t want to have to take on that financial burden when I’m only using it for one or two gigs. I have a great set of lenses but still need specialty stuff on certain projects, so I rent. Honestly it depends on what you’re doing, the question was pretty vague. 🙂 I would suggest a “frugal filmmaker” just rent their equipment if this is a hobby or if you’re more serious (going to make many films over the next couple years) buy a decent camera body and rent that beautiful (and very expensive) glass.

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