Immortal Question: Buy or Rent

It’s the immortal question that all filmmakers must eventually consider when it comes to their equipment:

BUY or RENT

And depending on your budget, it might be a easy choice. But just the same, it could be a difficult one, as well. Let’s look at the concept pros and cons, shall we?

PROS of BUYING:

  • You own it and can use it at any time.
  • You can then decide to rent it out for “payment money”.
  • Insured and cared for properly, it could provide a lifetime of service.
  • No need to pay additional to the person running the device since you’ll provide it.
  • Adds equity to your production company, if you are a business.

CONS of BUYING:

  • The initial cost.
  • If it breaks, you’ll have to either buy another, go through the insurance hassle, or pay to have it repaired.
  • If you rent it out, you’ll need to either make sure it’s insured or that the renter has insurance.
  • You’ll constantly be nagged to let someone “borrow it” for the weekend.

PROS of RENTING:

  • Initial costs are rather low.
  • People won’t usually hassle you to “borrow it”.
  • You could work out a deal to rent it for a time and allow someone else to go “halfers” with you.
  • If it breaks during filming, usually you’re covered… One way, or another.
  • You can also rent “stuff” to go along with it inexpensively, like when you rent a camera and need lenses.

CONS of RENTING:

  • You don’t rightly own it and will need to rent it when you need it, which could add up.
  • Not enough rental houses, especially away from larger cities.
  • Not everything you’ll need comes with the rental package, meaning you’re going to need to buy some items, or you’re going to have to add more to the rental.

The best thing for you to consider is whether or not you’re going to need the item long term. If you don’t, then renting might be the best way to go, since you’ll save yourself money and headaches in the long-term. But, if you need the item a lot, you should consider buying it.

For instance, if you’re going to shoot with a Canon 7D and the only rental house will rent you the “package” for $300 a weekend, you should consider how many weekends you’ll need it for and then DOUBLE IT. So, if you need it for 6 weekends, consider it to be 12 weekends. And, at $300 a weekend, you’re looking at forking out $3600, which is more than enough to buy the camera and a few other add-ons. (It should be noted that a 7D package will not cost this much, usually, so take the money into account for the right package, including all of the add-ons, like cases, lenses, medium, etc.)

One bit to note: I never personally buy used. Reason being is that you never know how the object was treated. Sure, you can see that everything looks good on the outside, but what happens if the mechanisms are all tainted. And asking the seller to allow you to have it looked over by a service professional isn’t prudent. So just consider finding the best deal possible.

Another really GOOD note: If you’re doing this filmmaking thing the right way, you should be finding crew that either has what you need in equipment (paying them, of course), or see if they know where to get the stuff on the cheap (i.e. rental houses).