The decision to buy camera gear or rent for professional shoots depends on several factors, such as the frequency of use, the cost of the equipment, and the type of shoot you are doing. Here are some pros and cons of each option:
Pros of Buying camera gear:
You have the equipment available whenever you need it.
This does not restrict one to undertake any last minute assignments as you already have the equipment in hand. Also allows you to experiment and play around with the equipment, helping you learn faster and being more comfortable with it.
You can customise your gear to your specific needs and preferences.
A lot of equipment does not come the way you want it, you may need to make fine adjustments as per your needs or the way it fits in better in your studio. If you own it, you can easily make these customisations.
You can take the time to learn the equipment and become proficient with it.
No matter how expert you may be in your craft, getting your hands used to any new equipment always takes some time. Having your own equipment allows you to know the exact controls and handling the equipment becomes second nature in a matter of time.
Over time, it may be more cost-effective than renting.
If you use the equipment very often, on almost every day basis, buying certainly is way more cost effective than renting the same equipment provided you have the required capital to invest. You may also choose to to opt for paying in instalments and for many products you do get interest free instalments as well.
Can be expensive upfront, especially for high-end equipment. not everyone has the capital to make this initial investment.
You are responsible for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. For example, cameras do get outdated over a period of time where as lenses don't really come up with newer versions that often.
Technology changes rapidly, so your equipment may become outdated quickly. Even though film processing was quite a norm for a long period,
It can be difficult to recoup your investment if you decide to sell the equipment.
Pros of Renting camera gear:
You can access a wider variety of equipment for specific shoots without the upfront investment.
If you need a fisheye lens for a 360 degree shoot once in a while, you can simply hire it instead of investing heavily in the lens.
You don't have to worry about maintenance or repairs.
While the new equipment is covered by the manufacturer's warranty against any defects which may arise but that is for the first year only. Further to that you need to bear any costs that you may have to incure towards the maintenance of your equipment.
You can try out new equipment before committing to purchasing it.
Even if you decide to opt for buying the equipment, it's always worthwhile trying out that equipment by hiring it first if you are not sure of its worth as yet.
You can write off rental expenses as a business expense.
You may claim the same while filing your income tax return as a part of your expenses, lowering your income tax slab.
Can be expensive if you need to rent frequently or for long periods of time.
You may not be as familiar with the equipment, which can result in a learning curve. This can be a big problem when you hire a new model of camera, which you are not familiar with.
You may not always have access to the exact equipment you want as someone else may have hired the same as the supplier may have only a limited stock available for rent.
It can be a hassle to coordinate rentals and pickups and whatever small it may be, it does add up to the rental cost.
In summary, whether to buy or rent camera gear depends on your specific needs and budget. If you have a regular need for specific equipment and can afford the upfront investment, buying may be a good option. If you have infrequent needs, want to try out new equipment, or can't afford the upfront investment, renting may be a better choice.
On a personal note, I am a strong believer of owning the equipment at least the basic gear which you need in your daily workflow. One cant relate everything to the returns one may get against the investment. It's also a great feeling to own a particular camera or other photography equipment. One does not buy an expensive pair or clothes, a luxury car or diamonds, keeping in mind the returns against the investment, its solely for the sake of satisfaction that one gets for the proud ownership of it. If you feel like shooting for yourself to serve your creative urge, owning the basic Photography gear of your choice, is the way to go.