The Pros and Cons of 4 Popular Camera Rental Options

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Ok, so you’ve just booked a high-profile gig, and the client wants you to shoot with a high-end camera that you’ve always wanted to use. You’re pumped. But you’ve got to find a camera rental option that works with the production’s budget and schedule.

Fortunately, it’s never been easier to rent a camera. Here are a few popular resources to consider . . .


1. Online Rental Services

Top-down view of camera lenses and tripod
Image via Aleksandr Ivasenko.

Online services like LensProToGo or LensRentals.com make renting a camera a pain-free process. They’ll ship the camera right to your doorstep, return label included. Competitive pricing means you’ll find an option that aligns with your budget, and you can usually find first-time deals and discount codes.

Bonus: Attentive, proactive customer service means you won’t find yourself without a vital accessory or component on the day of your shoot.

On the flip side, it sounds easier than ever to get that super-expensive lens you’ve been dying to use, which almost feels too good to be true—sometimes, having that lingering sense of dread about dropping the lens or not being able to get your hands on it to see the condition before a shoot day can be a bit stressful.

The pros outweigh the cons, and many online rental companies are aware of your concerns and offer extra insurance and quality assurance to make sure the lens arrives in stellar condition.

Pros:

  • Doorstep delivery
  • Easy shipping both ways
  • Competitive pricing
  • Solid customer service

Cons:

  • Shipping lead time
  • No “hands-on” try-before-you-buy option
  • The postal service will treat the package before it arrives at your door

Ryan Michaels shows us how with a video on renting camera gear online and his experiences with using online services.

Video via Ryan Michaels.

Closeup of a video camera with blurred background
Image via Skreidzeleu.

Services like ShareGrid allow owners to rent out their equipment to other local creators. If you live in a large city, this is an excellent option, as you can easily find most camera systems in your area.

There aren’t as many of these share rental sites online (that I know of), which is a shame because they can offer those who can’t afford to buy the latest and greatest equipment a chance to get involved in producing content while learning the basics of a camera system.

Typically, the owners have their packages perfectly outfitted for production, and thoughtful care has been taken. Utilizing these platforms also allows you to meet other creatives within your area, helping you network and find new people to work with! It’s a solid idea, and it’s something I think everyone should give a-go.

Even though this is a fantastic idea, I feel it’s constrained due to the number of cities/locations available.

Pros:

  • Community-based
  • Competitive pricing
  • On-demand insurance
  • Likely local pick-up and drop-off
  • A fantastic way to meet fellow creatives and network

Cons:

  • Must live in or be willing to travel to larger markets
  • Limited customization options
  • Limited Locations

3. Local Rental Houses

A fully built cinema camera rig being tested in a camera prep space at a rental house
Image via 26ShadesOfGreen.

Most larger cities have rental houses that stock cameras, accessories, and other production gear. When you visit, you’ll find experienced, knowledgeable, helpful staff, and you’ll probably bump into a few local creatives (so wear your networking hat.)

You’ll most likely be told to bring identification and residence documentation before renting any gear (which usually requires a deposit). This is to cover both you and the company’s back when it comes to theft, damages, or anything that could happen with the rental gear.

There’s another perk associated with local rental houses—weekend rates. You can pick up a camera on Friday afternoon, return it on Monday morning, and only be charged for one day. Excellent for weekend shoots or if you want to squeeze as much time with the gear you need without breaking the bank.

It’s a solid recommendation if you live locally or if you can pick it up on the way to a shooting location.

Pros:

  • Extensive selection
  • Close to home
  • Plentiful accessory and customization options
  • On-hand customer service
  • Weekend rates

Cons:

  • An insurance certificate is likely required
  • Usually higher-priced

4. Local Owner/Operator

Film crew shooting movie scene on outdoor location
Image via guruXOX.

If you live in a decent-sized market, there’s probably an owner/operator in your area that has the camera you’re looking for. In this scenario, they’ll supply the camera for your production, but they’ll also bring a lot of knowledge about the camera system as its dedicated operator.

It’s not for everyone, but if you’re in desperate need of specific gear and have the budget to pay another member within your creative community, then it’s a viable option.

This method can expand your network and allow you to meet and work with other local creatives, which also gives you extra incentive to push yourself even more to know what other filmmakers are producing in your area.

Pros:

  • Close to home
  • Networking
  • The camera comes with an expert
  • Learn from the owner how to maximize rented items within your project

Cons:

  • Added crew expense
  • The owner will need their own insurance on the gear
  • Trusting they’ll perform to your standards (if renting an operator)

Your dream camera awaits. How you find and rent it depends on your budget, timeline, and your desired level of convenience. Though not everyone can take advantage of every option available here, it’s a great start to renting gear at a rate that you find comfortable, without paying full price and owning it.


Need more filmmaking gear inspo, we’ve got you covered:

Cover image via Lewis McGregor.



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