Top Ten Rented Gear of 2016
It's my favorite time of the year folks. We at ShareGrid have a long 2 year tradition where we review the year's hottest gear on ShareGrid! I decided to do things a little different this year by traveling across town to visit ShareGrid members who own these items so we can better understand why they're popular and what's it like owning and renting them out.
For those of you looking for a last minute tax write-off by investing in gear or just want to nerd out like me, listen up. Here are the top ten rented items of 2016.
Kicking things off, I paid a visit to ShareGrid Elite member, Paulo, of Five Towers. I've always been a big fan of Canon DSLR's. They're a great way for any up-and-coming filmmaker to cut their teeth and learn the basics of cinematography.
With a full-frame CMOS sensor, full HD 1080p at 30 fps and ISO for days investing in one of these bad boys is great for both photographers and filmmakers. Even though, the MKIV is now out for only $1,000 more, you can still find plenty of rentals from the MKIII next year as its sturdy specs still hold up. However, I'm curious if the MKIV will make the list next year...
Once again, the Sony FS7 makes the top ten list for ShareGrid's most rented gear. The trusty FS7 hit the scene hard last year with its amazing price-point and jam-packed specs that will make any indie-filmmaker drool. UHD at 60 fps, HD at 180 fps, Super 35 sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range and a price tag of only $8,500.
This camera has been a work-horse in the mid-level market from music videos to documentaries on ShareGrid. I'm no genie and no one can ever predict what's up Sony's sleeve. But I'd wait and see what they announce at the upcoming NAB this April before you decide to go the Sony-route for your newest toy. Until then, rent it out for only $215 to test out its capabilities.
Back in 2011, Canon decided to take a stab at the cinema market; riding the wave of the 5D MKII. Since then, they haven't looked back.
The C300 MKI was a slow rise to stardom, but eventually took the reality market by storm and became the go-to for both independent cinema and docs due to its amazing C-log dynamic range, dual-recording card slots and favorable Canon skin-tone rendition. Now with the MKII, You have an internal 4K sensor (crop), 120 fps (1080) and a new 10-bit Canon Log 2 Gamma. There's no surprise why Derek invested in this camera. Even with it's big brother around the corner, the C300 MKII is here to stay and owner's like Derek are a perfect example as to why it works.
If you were a Canon gear-head before the C300 series, you've probably invested in Canon still glass (see number 6). Though they are photography lenses, Canon photography glass can still work great for motion picture when you're on a budget. And Derek took advantage of that notion by providing various packages of his C300 with different Canon glass to supplement the order. It's always smart to round out your inventory with reliable glass.
If you own a camera, lenses and lights, its always smart to have an audio kit to round out your inventory. Take notes from Edwin who also owns a Canon C100, DJI Ronin, L-series glass and an Atomos Shogun (our number 1 rental last year.) These bad boys are only $630 and NEVER go out of style.
Unlike camera-technology, audio gear doesn't progress as fast nor does it become as obsolete. Investing in solid audio gear is a smart move for any filmmaker.
I own this lens and I still use it all the time. The 70-200mm is a beautiful still lens that's fast (f2.8), has an amazing image stabilizer and incredibly sharp optics. I still throw it in the mix when I'm shooting doc or low-budget spec work. Both Edwin and I have paid off our investments due to the frequency of renting this lens out and I'm sure we're not alone. As a top ten place-holder in 2015 (#4) and still going strong in 2016.
I'm willing to bet we'll see it in 2017's top ten list. What I love most about it is that I bring it with me wherever I go when I'm shooting stills and yet I love using it for video. Versatility is the name of the game.
I love Dana Dolly's. They're not sexy. Nor do they come with all the bells and whistles of a JL Fisher. But man do they take care of business. From bigger budget to lower budget, I've used Dana Dolly's on just about every type of gig. Simply put, they get the job done. I've noticed that a lot of ShareGrid owners who have a strong inventory also own a Dana Dolly. Depending on what route you go, you're looking at around $1,000 investment on hardware that you can beat up and reuse time and time again.
Devon, an Elite member on ShareGrid, has not only used his Dana Dolly on just about every project, but he can pack it all up and throw in his car for transportation. Between the functionality, price-point and ease-of-use, a Dana Dolly is a must-have for all filmmakers looking to get professional-grade moves on a tiny budget.
The C100 MKII is becoming increasingly popular across all mediums. Especially for web-content. at 1080p, amazing dynamic range and an option to shoot at 60p, the C100 MKII is severely under-priced. For $4,000 you can achieve an amazing image. I traveled the world last year shooting two different shows for the Travel Channel. One of the main reasons why we used the C100 was due to its inconspicuous size.
Documentaries require authenticity and authenticity sometimes requires a low-profile crew. It was perfect. Further, I've been using C100's for most of ShareGrid's recent content and I couldn't be happier. Given that most of my content is doc, its c-log color science is ideal for color correction and its post workflow is painless when using Adobe Premiere. With Canon focusing on the higher-end market (C700), I wouldn't worry too much about the C100 MKII becoming obsolete even if the MKIII is around the corner.
In 2007, RED Cinema hit the scene hard and the indie film industry hasn't been the same. The RED Epic Dragon is hands down the most expensive of this list and yet its one of the most decorated cameras on ShareGrid to date. Certainly not for any beginner, the RED Epic Dragon bolsters a 6K sensor using REDCODE RAW technology and was used in our very own Vintage Cinema Lens Test because of that. John Hafner, a ShareGrid Elite member, bought into the RED system early on with their Scarlet model because of its affordability.
RED, unlike it's competitors, does a GREAT job at reeling in budding cinematographers with their more affordable options FIRST. When you buy a Scarlet or Raven, there's always an upgrade to a better RED camera on the table. And that's precisely what John did. In fact, I know a number of DP's who did the same. It's not a bad idea to ease your way (financially) into the RED system. I would say, if you are looking to jump into the bigger market of professionals, the RED Cinema family requires a learning curve and is not as "friendly" as the other camera's on this list. Not to mention its price-point, across the board, is more.
So if you're looking to invest in RED, I'd make sure you have a number of your own projects in the pipeline and others who you think will rent from you. Plus rounding out your package like John did is a must for getting rentals on ShareGrid. Otherwise, the industry is simply flooded with RED options and your $50,000 baby may only get use from your own projects. So you'll need to be ok it.
Even though the Sony a7S II came in at #2, it's almost tied for first place. Coming in literally only a handful of rentals behind the #1 spot, the a7S II is an amazing camera for filmmaker out there. Technically a still camera, the a7S II has been renting everyday on ShareGrid from both seasoned filmmakers to beginners.
Peter Borrud, another Elite ShareGrid member, has some pretty amazing work under his belt. Yet, he owns a Sony a7S II and often uses it as a secondary camera for some of his projects. The a7S II is most notably known for its unbelievable low-light performance which may have something to do with its popularity on ShareGrid. At $3,000, this little monster is small but delivers a lot. It shoots 4K, offers S-log3 gamma for post-production purposes, and rocks an ISO up to 409600 (what?). Throw one of these on a gimbal (ahem scroll down) or use a lightweight shoulder rig, and you've got yourself an nimble camera package for just about any shooting situation. I would say these are a smart investment given that their rental price is around 10% of its total cost. There's not another camera out there that rents this much and yet can be paid off faster. Peter has paid his off threefold thanks to his ShareGrid rentals just this past year. No-brainer investment.
Boy did the Ronin take the industry by storm this year. From just about every music video to even union reality shows, the Ronin made an appearance. Much like the Dana Dolly is to the traditional dolly, the Ronin is the indie-filmmaker's answer to the Steadicam. The Steadicam was and still is the standard for professional camera stabilization. However, rigs can cost upwards to $60k, and they can require years of proper training. Not to mention a Steadicam operator can cost a pretty penny. I would never say a Ronin or even it's competitor, the MōVI, could replace the art and precision of the Steadicam. But damn is it getting close.
Lance of F22 Studios, who is also one of our most popular owners, says that even the Ronin requires proper training and practice. He invites anyone who wants to rent it, to come to his shop and he and his team will help you balance your camera and show you how it works. At $1,000-$2000 out of the box, the Ronin is incredibly affordable for what it offers. If you're looking for that x-factor on your project with a professional-touch, the Ronin can be that tool. As Lance expresses in the video, they've been renting these to "literally everyone," and I'm confident that next year will be no different. For a rather low-cost, add one of these to your arsenal and practice the hell out of it. Ronin operators with a rig are becoming a normal job and between you and renting the #1 rented item on ShareGrid, the Ronin will be creating pure income for you for quite some time.
Our inventory has exponentially grown since last year's Top Ten article. With close to $140 million in gear across four major cities, our trends have shifted and next year will be no exception. The hope is that by running these numbers, we can accurately capture what the independent market, as a whole, is using. What's trending and what's not. Therefore, you can make a smart decision on your next investment whether it means owning what everyone else owns or going a different route to stand out. There's no right or wrong answer to this madness but damn is it an exciting time to be a filmmaker or photographer.