We all know that offering gear on Craigslist for low rental rates does not pay the bills, and may result in you crossing paths with some pretty shady people. Most rental houses have competitive rates that keep them in business for a reason.
The reality of renting a Red Epic or Red Dragon is that you'll be spending $1,000 minimum for a basic package. Once you have an idea of what camera and grip equipment really cost, start including those costs into your proposals. It doesn't matter if you're buying or renting camera equipment, this will allow you to separate the camera operator time from the equipment cost efficiently and keeps things fair across the board.
The benefit of separating equipment from operator time comes into play when deciding to purchase or rent video camera equipment.
Here are 3 benefits to video camera rentals over purchasing equipment.
#1 - Endless Video Equipment Choices
With the combination of a few strong resources at hand, the amount of equipment you have at your fingertips is endless. Although a lot of independent filmmakers collect gear for their respected craft/trade, it would be very hard for any single person to collect a comparable inventory. Working with any of the video equipment rental houses over time establishes credibility for lower rates. Both video production companies and independent contractors have high rates for newcomers and lower rates for repeat business. Keep in mind, it never hurts to ask if they can work with your budget -- as long as you have a budget!
#2 - Lower Insurance Rates
Any contractor who owns their own gear is responsible for obtaining insurance to protect that gear. To rent video camera equipment, a professional will need a C.O.I. as well. Insurance for owning gear vs. insurance for renting gear are two completely different ball games. But there is no denying that the cost to be insured as an individual camera operator for up to X amount of dollars is far lower then the costs associated with insuring ownership on gear + operating this gear in public. Either way, GET INSURED for your own protection whether it be Independently, Union, or Employee based.
#3 - No Depreciation
Depending on which way you look at it -- the sound of Depreciation can turn anyone away. Although there are plenty of perks for equipment depreciation when it comes to taxes, depreciation ultimately holds someone back when it comes to growth. Depreciation is absolutely horrendous with digital gear. The Red Epic body is now going for as low as 10k on eBay!!! That use to be a $40k + body that several people purchased less than a few years ago! This subject should be discussed with your accountant a bit closer to weigh out the pros and cons for your personal situation.
#1 - Make sure you can afford the gear first!
#2 - Protect your self and your video equipment rental!
#3 - Make money before you loose money!
None of these 3 reasons have kept me from buying new gear constantly. In fact, we have even written it into our business plan so we have a yearly budget devoted to geeking out and buying new gear! It is surely a love/hate relationship at times, but technology and understanding every piece of gear to its fullest potential is very rewarding and will lead you further toward your goals. Even if it means purchasing some gear you can actually afford here and there.
But when someone is first starting out, consider looking into renting the gear you want to buy at least a few times to fully understand the commitment you are making. Because in 2 years when something new and better has come out and you decide to sell your camera for a few hundred (or thousand) dollars less than you paid for it, just understand that it's the name of the game when it comes to real fair market value! Equipment degrades in value the moment you purchase it -- so enjoy it or do not buy it!
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