Rental Rates. Part 3 Of 3 Insurance, Day Rates And Rental Rates.


I started out working at a camera rental house called CSC in New York many years ago. I am a huge believer in renting equipment. I also recommend starting a relationship with your local shop. This could very well save your ass one day. A rental house is also a place to demo new equipment. Most shops are willing to let you demo new gear in house on a slow day. This is a great way to test new cameras and lenses before investing.

There are some major differences between motion picture rental houses and still photography rental shops. For example, Birns and Sawyer typically charges a three day week and one day weekend. (Insider tip: most rental houses will discount up to 30% off of the rental list price. Hence the “Call for price” listing on most websites.) Still rental houses have varying rental periods. Here is a rip from the Calumet catalog.

Internet based rental shops will typically charge less but require a considerable about of planning. Unless you happen to live nearby they will most likely be shipping you the gear and there will be lead time. Check you local shops to see their rate scheme. Borrow Lenses and Lens Rentals are two popular internet only rental shops. Borrow Lenses has three pick up locations in California.
With the advent of so many owner operators the rental house has taken on the role of support system. This is critical when you are supplying the main camera package. I will typically rent sticks or some other support gear to have the rental house on my team during the shoot. If something goes wrong, they are set up to help. If your camera fails, they will have a back up. They will also rent you the little accessories that would otherwise cost you a bundle and may only be specific to that job. Rental houses are also key in setting the rates for which you will charge for your gear. I recommend using a local shops rates as they vary by state. Here are some sample rates from Calumet Los Angeles and Calumet New York.

Calumet Los Angeles Rental Rates

Calumet New York Rental Rates.












A rental house can be a great ally in the world of film production, I highly recommend finding one that works for your specific needs. You can bet they will answer the call at 5am when no one else will.



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Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Jeremy Widen

    Great series of posts Jared. Really helps a lot.

  • Cheesycam

    You might also want to touch on some rental places requiring a deposit on rented items. A $6K Canon lens rents cheap, but you might need a credit card with a large balance to place a hold on it. Of course if you add the rental store to your ‘Business Insurance’, then they may not require a deposit. Calumet has a policy like this.