February 26, 2015 at 3:43PM

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Owning Your Own Equipment Vs Renting

Is it the norm to own your own equipment as a DP? On most professional sets I've been on, and according to most of my friends who are also DPs, the equipment is usually rented out, but whenever I go on sites like Mandy, people always expect that you own all of your own equipment? To me that seems a bit ridiculous and exploitative to expect someone to throw down $10,000+ on camera, lenses, and lighting. I'm going to be graduating from film school in May and I have no idea supposed to acquire all of this gear. Does anyone else feel this way?

44 Comments

It all depends on the budget. If the budget is tight, then hiring a DOP with his own camera can save a production a lot of money. It usually means that the DOP is serious and experienced if they own a decent camera with a basic lens kit.

You don't have to own a lot of gear, but owning a basic camera that can produce a good image is pretty essential for smaller budget shoots.

I've also heard of DOPs that have no camera, but they own a lot of lighting gear that they use for almost every project they are hired to shoot. ( lighting can cost as much or more than a good camera )

February 26, 2015 at 6:22PM, Edited February 26, 6:22PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30156

I used to own by own camera - back when Betacam was the only game in town. It made sense and allowed a higher profit margin on your day rate. Now? I don't and never will own a camera again. The cameras are evolving so rapidly, and there are so many options out there that the chances of owning a camera that a client needs for that particular shoot are low. I have a good friend that runs a rental company - on average he turns cameras over every 9 months! I own lights and grip equipment. I own audio gear and I own other grip equipment - how often do you get a new and revised C-stand?
Cameras? Never again.

February 28, 2015 at 12:52AM

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Hilarious!! according to Guy McLoughlin, who calls himself a Video Producer, "the DOP is serious and experienced if they own a decent camera with a basic lens kit". What he's actually saying is that a cheap, amateur producer who's not professional neither serious, expects to save money by making the DoP PAY for what the producer can't pay, because he has no clue about how to raise funds and how to fund his own film. On the other hand, DoPs exist from a huge range of different types: they are the DoPs who own all kind of gears, the ones who own only gear they like to experiment with and DoPs who are all the time recycling their gear, so they find themselves with no gear many times at some point. The issue here is, a PROFESSIONAL Cinematographer would recommend what type of camera, lenses, accessories, support, dollies, and workflow are necessary for a certain type of script and production budget. That's what rental houses are for, because each script when paired with each budget and logistics, call for different cameras, lenses, lighting and workflow, so you go to the rental house and GET WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOUR OWN PRODUCTION. Amateurs like Guy McLoughlin want DoPs to have their own gear, no matter which one, whatever, as long as he can use it, so he doesn't have to learn the process of raising funds for his film.

March 4, 2015 at 11:52AM

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ivanguar
154

Sometimes a client will phone you up and say that they've got a limited budget to produce a 10 minute promotional or training video, so you have to find a way to work with this limited budget. There's no budget for rentals, so you work with people that can bring a good basic kit to the job.

On larger jobs it's not an issue, but most of us are not shooting large budget jobs all the time, so you have to be able to produce a good product when the budget is limited, or you will have to pass on these smaller budget jobs.

March 4, 2015 at 12:41PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30156

If they have no money to pay for a camera, just turn them down. A "Producer" who wants to film something without money for a camera is just a plain liability.

March 4, 2015 at 12:50PM

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ivanguar
154

You might be surprised at how many $1,000/day shoots there are. If you have to spend $500/day on camera/lenses/lighting/audio, then another $200 for transportation/food/expendables, you've got $300 left in the budget to pay yourself and anyone else you hire for the shoot. If you can cover the equipment requirements without renting, then you've got $800/day to pay people with.

I don't like working for free, and I don't like turning down jobs if I am not working on something better at the time.

March 4, 2015 at 2:16PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30156

Wow!? Really!? We can't all be Warner Brothers. I own my camera(s) and lenses and a good bit of other gear because I KNOW I can get more work having what I need available the moment I need it. On projects that can afford it I rent my gear to them, on project that can't I'll waive the rental fee. On BIG projects I'll rent nicer gear but if there's one thing I've learned it's that if you want a good product spend your money on PEOPLE not equipment. Owning my own gear means I never have to chose between the two.

May 13, 2015 at 9:26PM

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Gordon Ian Green
Producer, Director, Writer, Editor
79

great lighting no longer cost much, as much as I value Guy's post, have to disagree. Check out the cowboy studio lighting on amazon.com you can get 3 lights with stands and softbox for about $150

April 28, 2015 at 6:33PM

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I am with Guy. You must have essentials, but there is a lot of thinks that you can rent. When something is for a particular shoot, don't need to buy it.

February 27, 2015 at 7:26AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
8010

I own all my own gear but it's all lower budget type gear. DSLRs and a BMPCC. If it came down to a high budget shoot, I'd definitely be renting more professional gear.

February 27, 2015 at 2:34PM

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Brad Tennant
Director / Cinematographer
465

At our company we own Canon DSLR's and basic lens it works flawlessly on lower budget shoots because they can still produce 1080p footage that is in amazing quality and the client is pleased by. But when a higher-budget shoot comes in we rent! I think in this technological revolution age you just can not buy a "proper" camera! So I think DSLRs/Mirrorless or BlackMagics + Renting is ideal!

February 28, 2015 at 5:21AM

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Jonas Zaliunas
Director of Photography/Editor
215

that's actually not correct. You can buy "the proper camera" (and lenses) if you have the money. For instance, the AMiIRA would get you really far, covering a relatively large niche, and same is true for the mini S4s. But again, I'm not going to take my AMIRA and S4s to a production with shity logistics and which can't afford to pay me for it, since I've invested over 85 grand in keeping a tight nice package, not counting what I pay monthly for insurance, storage space and maintenance. So, back to square one, GET PRODUCTION TO RENT THE PROPER GEAR, FOR THE PROPER JOB. THAT WILL ASSURE YOU THEY HAVE INSURANCE AND COMPETENT PEOPLE AT THE HELM.
Now, I would like to move on to another (related) topic. Most (90%) Producer who say they don't have money for the camera (and lenses, and dolly and bartech, and, and, and...) when they are pressed hard to come up with the money, YOU'LL FIND OUT THE MONEY WAS ALWAYS THERE. What actually happens, is that most of these little guys don't really know what they are doing, so after making a deal with the client, they find out the have sold themselves for pennies. So in order to keep any money at all (because they had mistakenly budgeted his own production) they have to nickel and dime you, the camera guy. So they start "do you have your own camera?" or "can you bring your own lighting" and so on. It's not that they are trying to scam you, it's that they have very little idea of what they are doing, and at the end, the one who carries THEIR MISTAKES on his/her shoulders, is the cameraman and the crew. Which brings me to the last part of this subject matter: you can see clearly when a kid is desperately trying to make ends meet, learning on the process, by trying to make his own film. These kids don't have a "client", don't have a "sponsor", they are just plain honest, hard working filmmakers with a dream. For these kids it's absolutely worth it to go under, to bring in your own camera and lighting and even to pay for your own food (I've done it). These kids, the next generation of filmmakers, deserve the support of all of us, and to be allowed to learn by doing. NOT SO PRODUCERS WITH A CLIENT. If you are a producer with a client (or a GRANT, or with a TAX BREAK FROM THE GOVERNMENT) YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR SHIT, no matter how independent-low budget you may be.

March 4, 2015 at 1:14PM

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ivanguar
154

I try to own all my stuff as i find it helps with doing personal projects without having the "i need to rent x + x + x just to do a interior" as well as bringing something to set that others might not have helps everyone without having to go into their pocket. Over the years i've just found it better to have everything i might need in order to produce what i want to, more of a personal goal then a "client" goal to me.

March 1, 2015 at 11:52AM

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Jason Kraynek
Director of Photography, Director, Editor, Colorist, Writer
104

I run a company, I'm not just a freelancer. We are on location shooting something at least once a week, if not a lot more. So, I own a ton of Grip/Lighting/Audio equipment that really won't go bad. I am shooting with GH4's and Metabones Speedboosters right now, with a full set of Rokinon Prime lenses all that I own. When we need nicer stuff that GH4's, I rent.

March 1, 2015 at 12:40PM

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Curious as to what mount speed booster // lenses you went for? (I have one of these rokinon primes that's m 4/3 but i'm looking to get a speed booster just not sure which mount, I'm assuming nikon but just needed to ask)

March 3, 2015 at 8:21AM

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Metabones Nikon G SpeedBooster is the one to get. Nikon lenses will work with almost any camera, and the Metabones adapter enables step-less aperture control.

March 4, 2015 at 12:26PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30156

Well it sounds like I'm in good company :)

You just described my exact package.

May 13, 2015 at 9:33PM, Edited May 13, 9:33PM

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Gordon Ian Green
Producer, Director, Writer, Editor
79

It Depends, im run a small production company and i have Canon and Blackmagic cameras and some canon and sigma glass and some basic lighting gear. I realize that when i have my own stuff that i can make more money from it, Some people (client) prefer that you have your gear because it will work out cheaper as opposed to renting plus paying you to use gear that they pay for. So find a suitable camera package and buy it, it does work out in the end.

March 1, 2015 at 1:00PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2570

I have owned, and sold a couple of cameras, and i'd never be without a camera which belongs to me, simply because you know it in & out. For the run & gun-type work I do, that's incredibly important.

Although it still depends on the type of work & what your client demands of you. I wouldn't invest in an Arri Alexa or a similar 15K+ € camera right now because my clients wouldn't pay for that gear. If a client was to ask for a certain format, or camera for a long-term job, i might reconsider.

The first year you finish school, you're probably mostly shooting music videos, indie shorts, some corporate stuff, maybe. Nobody cares about the camera you use for these jobs, and nobody's going to pay for them. If your clients want a certain format, and you're a starter, chances are they have a camera for you. If you really want: buy yourself a decent DSLR and, even more important: decent lenses. A 35mm f1.4 will suit your needs for most jobs, or if you have the money, the Sigma Art 18-35 f1.8 gives you some more wide and is a mean sharp lens. You can be all set for around 2000€ .

My weapons of choice at the moment are a Panasonic HDX900 (ENG-type shouldercam), the GH4 with prime lenses, and a Canon 650D as backup (to rig in a car, cramped spaces ...)

March 1, 2015 at 1:17PM, Edited March 1, 1:17PM

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Sven
Multicamera-operator & ENG cameraman
1

Its tough starting out, because if you don't have much work to show and no gear, you aren't nearly as likely to be hired by anyone. On a lot of starter type jobs, you'll get hired just because you have the gear, and then you build your reel with that stuff. With that said, however, I don't think buying an Epic Dragon or Alexa is a good idea unless you have tons of extra cash lying around. Looking into the lower priced cameras such as a BMPCC/A7S/GH4 is probably your best bet.

I currently own a Blackmagic Production Camera, and a Canon t3i, so that covers a lot of bases, and I rent for anything beyond what my gear can do. I don't think I could stand not owning a camera.

March 1, 2015 at 1:34PM

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Derek Mindler
Cinematographer
246

I own a DSLR, Blackmagic Pocket, various lenses, interview light kit, basic audio recording gear (Tascam DR60d), lav mic, tripod, slider, boom/shotgun mics and a few other small pieces. Total investment - Probably $3500+ or so. I started with just one camera. This gets me by on a lot of lower budget shoots. Delivers nice 1080p. Interviews can look great etc.

On higher budget shoots, typically a specific camera (or quality level of camera) is requested. I just work the rental price into the quote. If most of my shoots required (and had the budget for) higher priced gear - I would purchase something like an FS7/C300. But right now, where I'm at and where I make my money - it would make no sense.

My advice is just start small and grow as you need to. Here's my essential list for starting out (in no real order of importance)

1. 1080p camera (so many to choose from - I went the GH2 route to start - and clients still love the footage from it!) By the way, some people still request a 720p deliverable. Go figure.
2. Audio recorder
3. Lav mic (giant squid audio makes a decent $40 mic - then get a 20' cable and you're set for interviews)
4. Light kit (fluorescent is great and pretty inexpensive)
5. Fluid head tripod (B&H has pretty good ones for $150 - $180)
6. Vintage lenses. I bought a few Canon FD's. They look really great and are pretty cheap. Even a kit zoom lens can be handy with corporate b-roll stuff.

March 1, 2015 at 1:54PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
512

That's interesting that you recommend Canon FD lenses. When I tried to get some, it seemed like the only EOS adapter had glass in it that reduced light by a stop or so. Wound up getting an old vivitar pk mount instead.

March 4, 2015 at 9:21AM

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Dan Q.
161

Yes... but I use FD glass on micro four thirds mount. (Gh2, BMPCC) I also used to use it on a Sony Nex5n. Since they are all mirrorless the adapters have no glass in them.

March 4, 2015 at 2:20PM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
512

short answer: It depends on the type of shootings and projects you want to work on.
In general, most of professional cinematographers own some personal equipments..
like (light meter, color meter, grip bags ect)..
If you want to be 1st AC its good to buy a professional wireless focus system..
for director of photography you dont need to own everything..its good to invest in cinema lenses because digital cinema cameras are always in change.
However, its good to invest in Light, you keep it personal..
other than that it depends on what kind of projects the clients want you to work on..
most of Steadycam operators own their own steadicam because many producers when they look to hire steadicam they search for someone who already own it (easier to contact one person than two, besides its cheaper to hire someone with his own equipments than to hire him and rent by your own, Think of Assurance responsbility that you will take off your shoulder as producer or cinematographer when you hire someone with his equipments)..
So In general, its not bad to have your own essential equipments (light meter, color meter, slider, essential light equipments, cinema lenses)..
but its not recommended to buy expensive cameras as they are always in change except if your budget allows you getting Alexa..
(for Red and Black magic or anything else its cheaper to rent than to buy, and technically speaking renting goes on the shoulder of producer and the client should pay so it should not be a problem for the cinematgrapher anyway)..
Except if you are thinking of not more than Dslr shooting projects then its good to own the camera too if your work always requires that...

March 1, 2015 at 2:00PM

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Ammar Quteineh
Director|Cinematographer |||France|||
755

It makes a lot of sense to own equipment you regularly need, as you'll be the one making money off it, instead of the rental house. Prices of most rental gear is about 2-3% of its total value, so if you would need it over 30-50 times in say 2-3 year, it would be wiser to own.

Also, it depends on the average budget of your productions. Most of my clients will accept paying 200-300 Euro a day for my camera equipment. (So, that'd be total value of 15k euro max, at 2% 'rental' price and 300 eur a day).

With that budget I can afford to shoot on my Blackmagic cameras. No RED/Alexa however. Those I rent, whenever needed.

March 1, 2015 at 4:55PM

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As someone who has looked for DPs on Mandy, it's always a plus to find someone who has their own equipment and clearly knows how to use it. I expect them to charge a "kit fee" in addition to their rate, which I always assume goes to paying off their debt on the camera and so forth. What sticks out to me most though, is working with someone who knows their equipment well. It's always a big leap to buy a camera and all the needed lenses, accessories, and so forth... but the benefit to always have an opportunity to make your own content too - which can enhance your knowledge, your experience, your reel, and get you more work - seems important to me for a DP in a digital world.

March 1, 2015 at 6:38PM

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Todd Green
Writer, Director
218

Having your own kit is worthwhile, especially if you are new to the industry and likely to be working on more low budget jobs. Knowing your own gear inside and out is also a bonus on a set when things need to move quickly.

Having said that, there is a ceiling in production where owning your own gear is not affordable. DOP's on larger productions tend to have built relationships with rental houses and can obtain good camera package deals for the production. As the DOP, you need to be able to recommend the best camera, lenses and lighting for the job and use a budget given to you by the producer to hire the required gear.

My suggestion is build yourself a kit good for low budget projects, which would include a camera, tripod, lenses, a mic and a basic 3-point lighting kit, and then assume you will hire any gear above and beyond that specific for each job. When the jobs get bigger and the producer has a budget you can hire better cameras, lenses and lighting.

Hope this helps, Ben
Director/Producer, Global Pictures
__________________________________________
Learn the secrets to success in the corporate video industry. Get my course:
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March 1, 2015 at 7:51PM

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Ben Kumanovski
Director | Cinematographer
258

Thanks for all the replies guys. This was very helpful! I'm now starting to looking into equipment, and like some of you have suggested, I'll just rent the more expensive stuff for higher budget jobs. I'm wondering though, has anyone financed their equipment? Adorama has a special deal right now that if you use paypal credit, you can do 0% financing. Has anyone done something like this? Is it reliable? Or would it be better to find a used camera and just pay it all up front? As of right now though, I can't really pay all at once, so I'm a little hesitant.

March 1, 2015 at 9:48PM

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Andrew Abballe
Director of Photography
176

Buying second hand is very cheap. I'd absolutely going that path rather than getting into debt straight out of school!

For instance a Panasonic GH1 for US$150 (is the one I started out with, and still use. Is as good as the 5Dmk2), a decent tripod with a fluid head for US$150ish (I recommend a video monopod too, I got mine for sub $100), a couple hundred more for lights, a few hundred for a couple of mics (shotgun + lav mic) with a recorder, and finally a few hundred more for a small set of vintage lenses (together with a RJ Lens Turbo focal reducer). With care, you might even squeeze this all in under $1k. Which even if you can't buy right now, you could easily save up and buy in a short enough space of time even just working at McD's.

This can easily take care of your needs for the first year out working as you build yourself up, and along the way picking up a few extra bits and pieces such as a few more lenses and another GH1 (as I believe a professional should always have a back up body on a shoot. Plus having a second and third body is very useful for many kinds of shoots, such as interviews or filming live events).

Then in your second year you might pick up a cheap 4K camera such as a Samsung NX1 or Panasonic GH4 and get a few more specialists bits of pieces which are still reasonably affordable to own. Depending on what you're doing, for instance for real estate videos I've got a quadcopter with a GoPro.

Then in your 3rd year pick up Sony FS7 or fully kitted out BMPC4K (or who knows what cameras will be out 3yrs from now....) or similar, depending on your clients' regular needs.

Then from that point onwards you'll keep on owning an entry to mid range level professional camera (such as a Sony FS7 or fully kitted out BMPC4K is today, depending on your needs, and what niche you're working in) which you'll refresh and buy another once every 2 to 4 years. (for instance you could have a few years ago purchased the FS700, then this year be getting the FS7, and then in a few years more be replacing the FS7 with another newer camera. If that is what your clients were needing at the time. The difference between the sale price of the old camera you'd get for it, then the purchase price of the new one, spread out over several years, isn't really that much if you've got the paying clients for it)

Then for anything at a higher level than the camera you own, or has different needs than the camera you own you would rent it and charge the production (for instance if you're a C300 owner and you need high speed, then you rent a FS700 perhaps. Or if you own a BMPC4K and need good low light on a small budget you might rent an A7s),

March 2, 2015 at 6:42AM, Edited March 2, 6:42AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2399

I agree. Don't go into debt on something that you honestly don't need. Let the jobs pay for it. A used Canon/Panasonic/Nikon/Sony DSLR that shoots good 1080p can be found for cheap. Check craigslist even...

At lower budgets it is very rare for a client to request a specific camera. Most producers at that level barely ask what you have. I still use my GH2 on tons of business - corporate type shoots. (I saw one for sale for $350 on dvxuser.com the other day!)

You'll find that you get hired because of your reel, not your gear. After you start earning, then upgrade. This has been my path and I'm glad I didn't bring on debt. It's tempting to have the latest and greatest gear, but that's always changing anyway. And - you would be hard pressed to find clients that can really tell the difference between RED/C300 footage when compared to a DSLR - especially when it's final destination is YouTube. (Obviously there IS a difference, but low budget clients will never want to PAY for the difference!)

Get a camera, get a 3 point light kit, get some audio recording gear and a tripod. But, most importantly - build a reel. In the beginning you may make a little less if you need to rent things (wireless lav, lenses - whatever)... but at least you can grow without being put in a hole to start out with.

Hope that helps.

March 4, 2015 at 9:36AM

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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
512

I bought some various kind of gear, that falls under the category "too expensive for most to buy themselves" and "too little revenue for the big rental houses to want to own and rent out", and now I have my own gear.... that I rent out as much as possible when I don't need it.

You don't need big insurrance, just formulate a hefty contract that forces people not to be careless with the gear, then you'll be fine.
The few times people have lost or broken gear, they have coughed up without issue.

The bonus for those who rent? I'm significantly cheaper than the big rental houses. Half price on some gear.

March 2, 2015 at 8:50AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
726

If you are waiting to buy gear until after you graduate, you may be too late. When I was in film school five years ago and DSLR's started coming out, I saved up and bought a 60D. By the time I graduated I had a 5Dmark3(along with 3 60D's) and all the basic accessories like a 3 light kit, shotgun boom, audio recorders, lavs, slider, jib, glidecam and more.

Sure I didn't spend my money going out to party like all my fellow students, but when I graduated I already had a successful business up and running. Most of the other students I went to school with had to go get their masters, because no one will really pay you anything if you have a bachelors in film and 0 experience/gear.

The sad fact is that we live in an age in filmmaking where gear is most important. If I have a kick ass reel, but you have a red dragon with no reel, you will get the job.

Down here in south Florida several Red operators will go out with a full package for under $350 a day. That is because they own it and can easily pay off the camera in a year with the amount of work they get from people with only a DSLR.

March 2, 2015 at 9:20AM

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Also Full Sail bleeds out aspiring cinematographers down there, so your screwed unless you have a specific leg up from the crowd :)

March 3, 2015 at 1:31AM

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Geoff C. Bassett
Director of Photography
237

Unless you are shooting on a consistent basis, meaning you are earning enough to live comfortably on, I would rent. Because as others have mentioned, anything you buy will become obsolete within a year or two. My rule of thumb, don't buy unless it costs more to rent. Then when you equipment becomes obsolete, at least it will have some trade-in value.

March 3, 2015 at 6:15AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1045

I think it really depends on your market. I work very consistently in the south Florida market (over 150 shoots a year) and not one client has ever been willing to pay extra for me to rent the gear I can't afford to buy. If I don't have my own gear, I don't get the work. DSLR's have changed everything and if you want $2K to rent lights, cameras, sound gear and more you WILL NOT GET THE JOB. No matter what your work looks like, clients don't really know the difference anyway. Renting gear is usually only possible in the high end or on budgeted film sets.

I wish I could go back in time too where clients would freely rent me a kick ass camera, but times have changed and if you don't have your own gear, you will have trouble getting consistent work.

Here's an example, I have a shoot Sunday where I'm making $800 to film all day. This includes my assistants and any gear I may need. If I need to rent gear, I will not make anything. The client doesn't care and if I mention I need more $$ to rent gear I don't have, they may look elsewhere. At the end producers want to save money where they can and if you don't have your own equipment, you will not be competitive.

March 3, 2015 at 8:49AM

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Its good to own gear, DSLR, etc. But you will always want to rent cameras depending on project and aesthetics. Therefore buying anything more than a BMCC or a DSLR is a waste of money, unless you want to get in the renting game, but that seems like a headache. Renting is easier for cameras, let the renter deal with upkeep and maintenance.

March 3, 2015 at 2:21PM

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Alex Gans
Director/Editor
146

Everyone has said so many great things already! For me personally - I have a decent setup, plenty of nice glass, A7s, GH4, Canon 6D, wireless lapel, some simple shoulder rigs and cages etc. If I need lighting or a steadicam or whatever, chances are I know someone that I can borrow it off.
For me it is less about the cost and more about the convenience. At a moments notice I may have to rush somewhere (we're talking getting a call only an hour before they want you), if I didn't have a half decent setup I'd be losing money, unable to take the gig because it may take me an hour or two to rent the gear. Of course when it comes to bigger projects, I turn to a DP that owns plenty of gear. It is just like someone mentioned before, the safety net of knowing your operator knows his or hers setup back the front and blindfolded can save you BIG TIME. It also saves producers on having to worry about more paper work (like they don't have enough paper already) as you get the invoices from the hire companies as well as operators. Take the leap and invest in good gear, it will not only be more convenient but help nurture your own creativity and experience.

March 3, 2015 at 11:51PM

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Suey
Promotions / Production
185

A number of years ago I decided to own, and in the time since the gear as more than paid for itself. But it comes down to the kind of work you're doing. A handful of times a month I'll get a call for a job simply because I have a certain peice (glidecam, slider, hacked 5D, wireless sound etc). My decision came about when I needed something, and even tho I searched for the better part of a week, every rental house was out. And it was for something really simple: matte box and follow focus. It hurt me on a shoot, and I decided to never rely on rentals as the work I do is usually fairly quick turnaround, without the time for prep.

This of course will depend greatly on where you are located and the exact industry you'd be catering towards.

Owning the gear also allows me to know it inside out and stay updated on unique ways people may be using it and so I can try it out myself at no cost and then have an additional "tool/service" with my experience.

Now I own a 5D, a7s, fs700 (which has brought me way more work than when I simply had a 5D), gh4 and gopro 4 for the phantom, among various other support gear. I'm also 4k ready with the odyssey 7Q+ and shogun. It's a bit overkill, but I have the choice to decide the best camera for any shoot now as well as a backup whenever I go out.

All this started long ago with purchasing the hvx200 (very fond memories of that one) and it's easy enough to sell and upgrade gradually.

March 4, 2015 at 3:19AM, Edited March 4, 3:19AM

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Kirill
Filmmaker
134

That's been my thinking on the topic lately. It can really be worth the peace of mind to know that you can take a job whenever because you know you at least have the minimum equipment to do it. If you're needing the same equipment every time you go out then, I say why not buy it if you can afford it. Save the renting for specialty or expensive items.

March 4, 2015 at 9:12AM

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Dan Q.
161

I'm a big fan of owning a core kit. I have a small set of primes, 20, 50, 85. and 2 cameras A7 and A6000. Working to move up to a FS700 shortly. Plus lighting and sound equipment.
I don't do a huge volume of work, but enough that it covers maintaining all that. While still taking home enough to live off of.

Owning at least 1 solid camera and lenses set I think is essential nowadays. Something Versatile, based on focus. FS700, C100m2, Blackmagic

March 6, 2015 at 11:07AM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
362

Unfortunately there does appear to be a trend that a DP is expected to own a bigger looking camera. Usually they include their camera in their day rate and offer to get a bigger camera for an additional cost difference. i.e. We can should on my epic for just my day rate, or for $300~$750 more a day we can rent the "Academy award wining" Arri... (I say this w/ sarcasm through tightly clenched teeth)

Funny enough, I know one guy who started out using a DLSR sandwiched between a big "empty" matte box and a red brick (not connected to anything). He mounted small flags on the sides. His clients (mostly corp video) saw the "big" camera and the "Red" logo on the back and felt secure. Yes it is deceitful and down right comedic, but I have to give the guy credit for being inventive. I suspect you could do a similar thing w/ the BM USRA and maintain more integrity (or a used Red One).

YMMV

March 6, 2015 at 10:23PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1366

I've been doing video production and photography for roughly 3-4 years and to this day i have never owned a camera yet, even when it boils down to still photography.

Recently i've been looking forward to owning a sony pxw-fs7 for sometime now (which is more of a personal goal to be honest) and its of my option that owning it will allow me to grow as an indie filmmaker and aspiring cinematographe. In fact, in my experience i've learned that most clients do not cared whether you shoot shot on an Arri Alexa, RED, s16 or s35 Camera but if you are able to produce an aesthetically pleasing image.

Funny enough , recently i was told that "due to the rapid advances in technology, it makes no sense purchasing a camera when there will be a new toy in a few months down the line which will have better specks and ergonomics which might make me regret my decision......and that is why renting might be the best option"

I am not debating that this is not true.....However, i believe that it is always good to have some personal equipment needed to get get the job done. It will allow you to be more flexible and marketable. (p.s Used gear form a credible sources wouldn't be a bad idea)

Lets just hope these rumors about the c300 mark ii will not make me regret my decision. (if they are true ;)

March 6, 2015 at 11:25PM

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I rather own my own glass. That stuff lasts many many years. Cameras not so much.

March 8, 2015 at 6:53PM

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I didn't read all the responses, but for Andrew the poster, here are a few things to contemplate…

Somewhere I read a quote from a very experienced DP that said something like "early in your career, owning gear will get you started with small and modestly budgeted projects. Then move up out of that as soon as you can."

Your ultimate goal as a DP should be to have producers hiring "you", not simply as the operator/human chaperone that accompanies the camera package.

Do you want to position yourself as a DP for hire, or as a production company? If both, I strongly suggest you present them as separate entities (just basically two websites). Because those are two very different things with very different career trajectories.

-- Oops, I didn't realize this thread was old as shit… popped up near the tops of the board for some reason. --

August 19, 2015 at 4:14PM, Edited August 19, 4:18PM

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Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP
1248

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