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The importance of camera maintenance and how to properly care for your rental equipment

Let’s say you get a job filming something that pays well, but you need to bring your own equipment. The problem is that either your equipment might not be up to snuff, or you may not have your own equipment at all. Instead of maxing out your credit cards to get all of the latest and greatest gear, you might want to consider renting instead. Renting equipment can be a somewhat overwhelming process if you haven’t done it before. Today, we’re going to walk you through how to rent equipment for your next shoot, as well as the importance of camera maintenance and how to properly care for your rental equipment.

How to Get Started

If you’re looking for a place to start, look up equipment houses in your area. They normally feature top-notch equipment that you can rent for a daily rate. In a metropolitan area, a lot of these equipment houses are traditional brick-and-mortar stores where you can get hands-on with the equipment and speak to someone in person about the ins and outs of that equipment.

However, if you’re not in a metropolitan area, your options might become a little more limited. This is where online equipment houses come in handy. You simply choose the equipment you want, have it shipped to your house, and send it back once you’re done with using it. These online equipment houses are still run by professionals who can answer any questions you have. You’re only losing the ability to experience everything in person before renting.

When Should You Rent?

There are a couple of factors you should consider when renting. First, what are the needs of the production? Do you already have equipment that will suffice, or will you need something different? One aspect of renting that shouldn’t be overlooked is renting specialized equipment that you would only need for one specific production.

For example, let’s say you get hired for a music video. Sure, you might have most of the equipment you need already and maybe your team is supplying some of their own equipment as well, but you need a few specific pieces of equipment to get certain shots. You might need to rent some pieces of equipment such as:

  • A gimbal
  • Extra batteries with a charger
  • A slider
  • A fresh roll of seamless white paper
  • Two DSLR monitors
  • And two continuous LED lights with softboxes

These are things that you might not own already. Or maybe you rarely have use for them, so you don’t see a need to invest in them. Renting equipment allows you to use equipment like this without investing a ton of money into things you might not use regularly.

Planning Ahead

Before you rent your equipment, you must plan ahead. First, price out the equipment you want. Shop around to figure out what you need and how long you will need it.

Next, you need to have enough time to get the equipment. This means that if you’re renting from an online shop, you need to give them enough leeway to send the equipment out to you in time for your production. If you’re planning on going to a brick-and-mortar store, be sure you’re doing so within the shop’s hours.

Case in point: if you’re in New York, a lot of the shops close early on Fridays. With that being the case, a lot of them also offer discounts for renting over the weekend, especially if you’re picking it up on a Friday.

Depending on the equipment you need, you might even want to consider renting from multiple places. Maybe it makes more sense to rent some of the large items you need from the brick-and-mortar store while renting smaller items online. These are all things you need to consider before you rent.

Renting Gear

Photo by William Thomas on Unsplash

When you go pick up your gear, first make sure that you have a way to bring all of the gear with you. This means having the right vehicle to load everything into, and a means to bring the equipment from the store to your vehicle. While this may require you to carry the equipment in a lot of cases, you might be smart to bring with you something like a hand cart if you have access to one, depending on the size of the equipment you’re using and how heavy it is.

Once you get there, most places will require you to present an ID and a credit card for them to put on file. In that regard, renting equipment is kind of like renting a car. They want to make sure that not only do they have the right person renting the reserved equipment, but they also want to keep your info on file in case anything happens to the equipment, like damage or theft.

One thing you should do when picking up your gear is to take a moment and examine all of the gear before transporting it to your vehicle. Examine it for any notable damage. While equipment does get checked before it’s rented out, mistakes can slip through the cracks. This not only helps to ensure that you’re getting the equipment you need in the shape you need it in, but it also creates a record of the shape the equipment is in when you picked it up so the rental house can’t turn around and charge you for damage you didn’t cause.

Renting online is a little different. You’ll have to sign many waivers before your order gets shipped out. In a lot of cases, extra insurance might be offered as well. Once you put your order in, you just have to wait for confirmation that your order is on its way. You may have a representative from the rental house reach out to you about any questions that may come up with your order.

For example, if you’re renting preview monitors but have no cables, they might reach out to you and ask you if you need them. If you do, they’ll add them to your order when they ship everything out. They might also ask questions about some of the other equipment you’re using to ensure that you have the right equipment for the job and can swap out anything that might not be exactly what you need. With an online house, they’ll be sure to send the equipment in high-quality, sturdy cases to prevent damage during shipping.

Time to Return the Gear

When you’re getting ready to return your gear, first, be sure that you’re not mixing your personal items with the rented equipment. You don’t want to accidentally get rid of a piece you own or mistakenly hold on to something you don’t. A great tip for this is to take a picture of your rental gear as soon as you receive it. This not only helps you establish what equipment you rented, but it also gives you an idea of how to re-pack everything once you’re done with it.

If you run into any problems with the equipment, be sure to make a note of it. When you go to return everything, let the rental house know so they know to examine it and make repairs if necessary.

If you’re renting from a brick-and-mortar store, be sure to drop off your equipment on time. If you’re late, they could charge you for extra time, making your bill higher than you were expecting it to be. If everything works fine, the return process could be as easy as dropping it off and leaving it to be checked in by a staff member.

When it comes to online rental houses, you’ll receive an e-mail reminder that it’s time to return your items. They usually include a return label and tape so you can easily ship the items back without having to spend an arm and a leg extra to do so.

Some online rental places have rent-to-own programs. If you rent a piece of equipment that you love and want to purchase it outright, you can purchase the gear at a certain rate and keep it.

Renting equipment is a great way to get the gear you need without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking to step up from the equipment you own or just need to rent a couple of pieces for a specific shoot, renting is a viable option


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