rent or buy video cameras

With the constant dizzying introduction of new and better cameras and video gear, owning gear can be a real challenge. The danger is that it can lose its value before you have made the final payments. Or that your income from this gear will not meet your projections. Something new and better is already out there and it is cheaper. So you’ll want to apply your best due diligence to the buying decision. The rent or buy choice is easier when the item is less expensive like a lens that you might only use once in a while.

You’ll also want to consider where is the smartest investment of your hard-earned bread. Would a similar investment in marketing your business produce more profits?

On the other hand there are some real advantages to owning a particular camera or other gear. You can develop a serious expertise in that camera and that’s worth a lot. You can also take advantage of spontaneous shooting opportunities that might not be available with a rental. Back when broadcast cameras cost a fortune I often rented them with an engineer. This made a lot of economic sense and gave me the best of both worlds.

Renting is the only smart way to go when you need a specialty such as extreme slow motion. For instance, the amazing Phantom VEO 710 camera can shoot 1 million frames per second. This makes one second last more than nine hours! But it comes with a price – $40,000. You can rent it for about $2000/day. To buy this camera you would probably need to become a slow motion specialist.

But the price of slow motion is a fraction of what it once was. The GoPro Hero6 shoots 240 fps and costs $259. For about twice that amount you could find a used Sony RX100 IV on eBay. This camera shoots 960 fps.

How Many Rental Days

Another way to look at this issue is how many rental days to buy it. For instance a Canon 5D Mark IV is about $2,800. The rental price is $150/day or 7 Days for $21/day. So if you rented it for 133 days, you have paid the purchase price so you may as well buy it.


If you are thinking about financing a purchase of say an 8K camera, you have to consider the cost of borrowed money and insurance. And when works slows, you will still have those payments.

Camera rental houses offer more than just equipment, they offer expertise. When you need to learn a new camera quickly, the rental house can be a godsend. The choice to rent or buy is an important business decision which affects your profitability. Take a sober look at the mathematics.