The eternal dilemma for film crews, production houses, and freelance camera people is whether to rent or buy lighting, grip, and camera equipment. You may purchase the latest and greatest one month only to have it obsolete the next. It’s easier to decide than you may think (as long as you know a little about the business model for rental houses). And we do! We talked to Pierre Habib, of Dunia Rentals, to take some of the mystery out of renting camera equipment.
Last week, Habib shared which equipment depreciates quickly as well as what is most likely to maintain value. Today, he shares some secrets about the business models for traditional rental houses as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using online companies.
1. When to buy:
Habib says in smaller markets, typical rental houses charge a day rate of 5% of the cost to own. So if you’re going to use the gear for 20 days or more, you are better off buying. In major markets (LA, New York, and Chicago), rental houses charge around 9% of the cost to own for a day rental (which makes it worth buying if you’ll use the gear 11 or more times).
2. Renting online:
By skipping brick and mortar, online companies are able to get close to that 5% mark no matter the market. The downside is you don’t get a chance to see or test your equipment. And even with overnight shipping, any malfunction means waiting for replacement gear, which can be very costly when you have other crew members and a tight schedule.
3. When to buy used:
Traditional houses make money two ways. They rent gear until they make a profit and then they sell the used gear. If you don’t need the latest and greatest, you can get something pretty great from their retail side at a much better price. The same applies online at places like lensauthority.com.
It can seem overwhelming, but it is possible to make smart decisions about new technology. Use this guide the next time you’re unsure about where to invest.
Next, we’ll cover the other angle of this question: When to learn a new skill (such as capturing worthwhile drone footage) versus hiring out.
Enjoying our series on how to invest in your freelance company? With almost three decades in the industry, we have a lot of tips—and connections. Sign yourself up on Crew Connection for free and let our international clients come to you. Want to talk to one of our coordinators? Contact Us here or call us anytime at 303-526-4900.
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