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Matthew Allard ACS

There has never been a better or worse to to buy gear

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If you have the funds, it makes sense to buy right now, and you aren't relying on work to be able to pay it off then go for it. On the other hand, If you don't have any work on at the moment do you really need to buy it right now?

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I just bought a Zoom F6 field recorder that I've been pondering for a while and got it for around AU$600 less than a Sound Devices MixPre3 II (if you add the extra NP-F battery caddy that is a separate item). Given they both rate about equally when it comes to audio quality, it was a no brainer. Plus, for me, the F6 has a number of better features.

To be honest, a lot of camera gear/accessories have fallen in price considerably over the last few years, making many purchases quite bearable. I'm still frustrated that many products seem to have an exorbitant Australia tax added when compared to say US prices (this is notable when there's only one authorised retailer).

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25 minutes ago, Matthew Allard ACS said:

do you really need to buy it right now?

A good question to ask even in non-pandemic times. For me, the answer is usually no. On the bright side, waiting until answer to that question finally becomes yes, I do need to buy it right now means the gear has probably gotten even cheaper while I was waiting.

Maybe one day the F35 will be cheap enough for me to justify buying one. Alas...

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I've been struggling with this right now. Is saving a few bucks right now worth possibly being short on cash while all of this is still going on? I've had a couple major plans cancelled but I still need to get a few things for my kit. Maybe missing out on deals is not too bad as long as I'm still able to make my mortgage payments.

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Posted (edited)

Buying gear is definitely addictive .. the big items to even that anticipation of the fedex delivery for a small widget ..  especially after a few drinks at home, on the B&H site when its only about 2 clicks yo buy something .. its got to be done .. just smaller items when you don't have a lot of cash hanging around .. the famous George Best quote comes to mind " I spent millions on cars ,girls and drink, but I wasted all the rest "

Edited by Robin Probyn
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3 hours ago, Giuseppe Vitellaro said:

A good question to ask even in non-pandemic times. For me, the answer is usually no. On the bright side, waiting until answer to that question finally becomes yes, I do need to buy it right now means the gear has probably gotten even cheaper while I was waiting.

Maybe one day the F35 will be cheap enough for me to justify buying one. Alas...

They are pretty cheap now if you can find one, but you need to add a lot of accessories to make one work in 2020 and there are a lot of other caveats too.  I still have mine 🙂

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2 hours ago, Robin Probyn said:

Buying gear is definitely addictive .. the big items to even that anticipation of the fedex delivery for a small widget ..  especially after a few drinks at home, on the B&H site when its only about 2 clicks yo buy something .. its got to be done .. just smaller items when you don't have a lot of cash hanging around .. the famous George Best quote comes to mind " I spent millions on cars ,girls and drink, but I wasted all the rest "

Haha! Good old George Best. I'm sure he got his moneys worth too!

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1 hour ago, Matthew Allard ACS said:

Haha! Good old George Best. I'm sure he got his moneys worth too!

Yes Im old enough to remember seeing him play, well on TV.. and was always in the papers .. Jags and dolly birds .. an early role model for us wayward youngsters in England ..

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<AA Voice> Hello, my name's Matt and I have the gear sickness. It's been two weeks since I last purchased a piece of gear (a couple of SmallRig parts if you must know). 

Seriously though, great article. I'm always conflicted on when and what to buy since I'm extremely fortunate not to have to rely on my freelance film work to put food on the table.

What has been helpful for me is to resolve to not buy things until I have X amount in the bank or until such-and-such a date. Obviously if something is needed for a project that wouldn't make sense to rent, then that purchase takes precedence.  

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I was reading the comments in your article and was surprised at some of the thoughts. I have what might be considered non-professional stills camera gear that I used professionally, which are now 16 years old and some younger, that are still working fine if I choose to use them. Modern gear doesn't mean that it's going to suddenly fall apart in two or so years time. It may be superseded by more capable gear, but that applies to any industry.

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Posted (edited)

Great article and very timely. Let's be frank - HD, 2K, 4K, 8K - it is all just noise and marketing from camera companies to sell you another camera every year.

Just create great content with what you have right now. If your main clients won't pay for at least the market rental cost of the latest and greatest you probably have no business buying it. You will only put yourself in more debt than you need, in normal times and especially during a time like this. Use what you have until your client asks for something new - which if everyone is honest, doesn't happen all that much because the client really doesn't care what you use for the job! They hire you for you, not for your Arri, C300 or FX9.

 

Edited by scottyw

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18 hours ago, scottyw said:

Great article and very timely. Let's be frank - HD, 2K, 4K, 8K - it is all just noise and marketing from camera companies to sell you another camera every year.

Just create great content with what you have right now. If your main clients won't pay for at least the market rental cost of the latest and greatest you probably have no business buying it. You will only put yourself in more debt than you need, in normal times and especially during a time like this. Use what you have until your client asks for something new - which if everyone is honest, doesn't happen all that much because the client really doesn't care what you use for the job! They hire you for you, not for your Arri, C300 or FX9.

 

Unfortunately they don’t always hire you if you don’t have a particular camera. I have had numerous instances where I didn’t get hired because I didn’t have a specific camera. A lot of shows want to shoot on a specific camera because the rest of the show has been shot on that camera. Also you will get directors or productions that want to shoot on a specific camera. I have lost quite a few jobs because the director was adamant they wanted to shoot on a RED. So they look for someone who ones a RED rather than go with the best person for the job. 

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45 minutes ago, Matthew Allard ACS said:

Unfortunately they don’t always hire you if you don’t have a particular camera. I have had numerous instances where I didn’t get hired because I didn’t have a specific camera. A lot of shows want to shoot on a specific camera because the rest of the show has been shot on that camera. Also you will get directors or productions that want to shoot on a specific camera. I have lost quite a few jobs because the director was adamant they wanted to shoot on a RED. So they look for someone who ones a RED rather than go with the best person for the job. 

Yes this is right .. the idea that you can use your Sony f900 HD camera because it cost $100,000 and was used for Star Wars .. because you ,as the DP, are what they are hiring ,not your gear.. and the often toted , craftsman doesn't blame their tools, camera forum mantra ..  is just not reality ....apart from the big budget feature film / TV show film DP world , and these guys seldom have any gear but a light meter .. there is a certain level,or commonly used camera for your market as freelancer .. Im sure the pocket BM is a very fine camera ,and I believe I have a decent CV and show reel .. but I would not get a lot of work if I said ,sure I'd love to shoot your project ,here's my rate and I will be using my pocket BM..   Ive had the RED camera thing many times too.. luckily I was already a Sony F5 owner when the fs7 took over my market almost totally . so for example, an fx9 is a very safe bet to buy for my work.. your camera really does matter .. you have to choose the right one .. rushing off to rent different cameras all the time is a pain, you have to learn them all, they have been knocked around ,and its very bad move financially.. 

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1 hour ago, Robin Probyn said:

Yes this is right .. the idea that you can use your Sony f900 HD camera because it cost $100,000 and was used for Star Wars .. because you ,as the DP, are what they are hiring ,not your gear.. and the often toted , craftsman doesn't blame their tools, camera forum mantra ..  is just not reality ....apart from the big budget feature film / TV show film DP world , and these guys seldom have any gear but a light meter .. there is a certain level,or commonly used camera for your market as freelancer .. Im sure the pocket BM is a very fine camera ,and I believe I have a decent CV and show reel .. but I would not get a lot of work if I said ,sure I'd love to shoot your project ,here's my rate and I will be using my pocket BM..   Ive had the RED camera thing many times too.. luckily I was already a Sony F5 owner when the fs7 took over my market almost totally . so for example, an fx9 is a very safe bet to buy for my work.. your camera really does matter .. you have to choose the right one .. rushing off to rent different cameras all the time is a pain, you have to learn them all, they have been knocked around ,and its very bad move financially.. 

I totally agree. 

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I got into a startup with a friend in January, not knowing what was about to hit us.... We bought a C200, a C500MKII, some lenses and preordered the C300mkiii. We got those bodies for a very specific reason, but it's staggering to think that our phones might shoot better video than what SW was shot on. Partially, I am a gear head though and tech specs really turn me on 😕. A good friend of mine who's probably the best photographer I know, shoots with an original 1DX he got when it came out in 2012 if I recall. 8 years on, he had the shutter replaced at 600K images and sees no reason to upgrade. "I just have to learn to take better pictures". Really wish I had his attitude.

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Posted (edited)

This opens up the idea of remote working which I'm thinking of doing anyway. Part of my business unit can be adapted to doing really good work at table top level but can also shoot head to toe. It's a small studio but doable. I also have an access to a drive in studio only one street away at really good prices. It is large enough to shoot and socially distance at the same time.

I've also thought about pushing my edit suite to a better spec, again so that remote working can be achievable. The colour grading screen I can move to the small studio when shooting colour critical work. Thinking of setting up some kind of video access for clients so they can constantly see set ups etc.

What I wanted to ask was if people are thinking the same thing? Will remote shooting be a new thing for quite a while? Is this a good business move?

Edited by Jonathon Sendall
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7 minutes ago, Jonathon Sendall said:

This opens up the idea of remote working which I'm thinking of doing anyway. Part of my business unit can be adapted to doing really good work at table top level but can also shoot head to toe. It's a small studio but doable. I also have an access to a drive in studio only one street away at really good prices. It is large enough to shoot and socially distance at the same time.

I've also thought about pushing my edit suite to a better spec, again so that remote working can be achievable. The colour grading screen I can move to the small studio when shooting colour critical work. Thinking of setting up some kind of video access for clients so they can constantly see set ups etc.

What I wanted to ask was if people are thinking the same thing? Will remote shooting be a new thing for quite a while? Is this a good business move?

Maybe warrants a separate discussion!

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If your business model depends on serving fickle customers and if you live in a metro area with good rental houses, then, it is always best to rent your gear.  If you serve outlier areas as a production company, better get in bed with your clients so that they come to you for your ability and not the name on your construction tools.  If you are a freelancer - you're SOL because you'll need to use the latest and greatest - whatever the latest and greatest happens to be in Melbourne, Honolulu, Cleveland, Hamburg or where the next shoot happens to be located. 

If you decide to chase colored rabbits and get on the geary-go-round, you'll eventually discover that Sony is making more net profit than a lot of their would-be creative clients. So, what is the solution?

#1. Great gear in bad hands does not win awards or repeat business.

#2. Even a JVC camera in good hands can earn profit.

#3. Good stories sell - even if they were recorded on wire.

#4. High-quality has staying power. Buy the most you can afford.

#5. Pick out your horse and ride that sucker until nobody will pay you to do so. Then, get a new horse.

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56 minutes ago, Jim Mitchell said:

FYI, NewsShooter and Mr. Allard are both a refreshing breath of air to the production industry. Where were you in '72?

 

I was 1 year old in 72 🙂

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