How Much Is Your Gear Really Costing You in the Long Run?
The true cost of your gear might be more than you think.
Though it's important to look at the price tags on the gear you want to purchase, it's imperative to also consider how much they might end up costing you both out of pocket and on set. In this video from SLR Lounge, photographer Pye Jirsa talks about how to make smart choices when buying gear, as well as how expensive cheap gear can become.
The main point Jirsa's trying to get across is that the cost of a piece of gear isn't simply what you read on a price tag; it actually extends far beyond that. Inexpensive gear might be tempting (and necessary), but you might end up paying for it in the end when a battery loses its charge too quickly, or when a stabilizer doesn't really do its job, or when a light with a low CRI ruins your shot and you end up spending additional hours in post correcting your images.
If you're on a strict budget and can't afford high priced gear, well, cheap gear is better than no gear. Almost every filmmaker started out with stuff they either bought second-hand, pulled out of some dusty attic, or purchased online at a suspiciously low price. However, those same filmmakers probably learned that though you might get lucky and get a good deal on some well-made, dependable gear, a lot of times it ends up falling apart or not working the way you want it to. This is especially frustrating when this is found out on a film set or in the middle of a shoot.
My advice would be to determine what you can and can't afford to splurge on. If you're shooting films, spending a bunch of money on high-end audio is a worthy investment. If you shoot commercials or weddings, getting your hands on a pricey gimbal stabilizer might be where you want to spend the most cash. Finally, find out what you can do without, what you can build yourself, and what you can scrimp on.
In the end, just be aware that though you might be saving some cash at the register, you might end up really paying for it it comes time to replace your gear, spend extra time in post, or when you fail to give a client exactly what you promised them.