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  • Writer's pictureSam Mosco

Why You Should Avoid Renting Cheap Cinema Gear: 5 Hidden Costs Revealed

BTS of a production that wasted time and money by not renting even the most basic grip gear

When you're looking for a particular lighting, grip or camera package for your film or video project, the allure of the cheapest rental option can be tempting.

But is it truly the most cost-effective choice? Let's uncover the hidden expenses that may lurk behind those bargain rates.

5. The Price of Limited Features

Opting for the cheapest gear might seem like a smart move, but it often comes with a hidden price tag. Cheaper equipment may lack the advanced features or capabilities necessary to achieve your desired results. This shortfall can lead to unexpected expenses, as you may need to invest in additional accessories or rent supplementary gear to compensate for the limitations of the cheaper equipment.

Moreover, some rental houses may swap your requested equipment for lower-quality alternatives without informing you, potentially causing compatibility issues and additional expenses to make up for the differences.

4. Quality Issues and Opportunity Losses

While imitation may be flattering, it rarely matches the standards set by industry-leading brands like ARRI and Zeiss. There's always going to be equipment out there that is trying to emulate the best gear at a lower price. Knockoff equipment may lack durability and efficiency that could compromise your project.

With LED lights, copycat brands are going to deliver worse color accuracy, causing skin tones to go magenta or green and making other colors look differently than they should in real life. Even color correction cannot properly fix this. Once that color information is lost, it's lost. They also may not be as bright as what you need and may break or have hidden problems.

Cheaper cameras lack efficiency and may require frequent battery and media swaps, risking lost footage. They may also have limited video outputs, which could prevent transmission to monitors. Moreover, these cameras are prone to overheating, causing downtime on set. Despite boasting resolutions of 4K and higher, their image quality falls short due to reduced dynamic range and color rendition compared to higher-end models. Post-production adjustments for images from these cameras are less forgiving, potentially resulting in costly fixes under tight deadlines.

You don't always have to pick the top-tier of film equipment for your shoot, but you should stray away from the knockoffs on the bottom shelf. Just because it looks similar, it doesn't mean it is the same.

Cheap in, Cheap Out

If you use low quality gear, it is going to show in your final project, and will make your audience or client unhappy, reducing the amount of return you are going to receive. It also makes you look unprofessional on set. You may lose out on opportunities or alienate customers and connections. Using subpar equipment could impact the reception of your project and your potential for success, or lead to costs to rebrand, or to fund additional marketing.

Poor equipment choices can make your crews' jobs more difficult and can damage your reputation with them. They might not want to work with you again, or charge more next time, if they know that the equipment that you rent is going to cause them a headache. It is best to consult with department heads as to which vendors and equipment they prefer before making a final decision.

Renting equipment made by reputable brands minimizes the risk of equipment failure and ensures optimal performance on set. It makes you look good too (think of those BTS photos!).

3. Time is Money

On-set delays caused by technical issues with cheap gear can quickly escalate production costs, especially when crew overtime rates come into play. After 12 hours, crew members are owed twice their hourly rate! It might take more time to set up and be slower to operate. Time-consuming setups, equipment malfunctions, and inadequate preparation can jeopardize the timely completion of your project and lead to costly reshoots or extended rental periods.

2. Losses Due to Lost & Damaged Items (L&D)

Beware of rental houses that entice you with low rates but impose exorbitant fees for lost or damaged items upon return.

They might even make things up and accuse you of missing something, and charge you many times the price of what it actually costs for them to replace it. Choosing trustworthy rental partners mitigates the risk of inflated charges and ensures fair treatment in case of accidents or mishaps. Don't expect companies that are cutthroat with their competition to treat you any better.

1. Safety and Maintenance

Cutting corners on equipment maintenance to offer rock-bottom prices poses significant safety risks on film sets. Outdated or poorly maintained gear can lead to accidents, injuries, and even legal liabilities. Lengthy shoot days caused by equipment malfunctions and delays can accelerate crew fatigue and increase the risk of otherwise avoidable accidents due to the lack of sleep, on and off set. The last thing anyone wants is for someone to get hurt.

Prioritizing safety by renting from reputable providers like Flying Dutchman Cinema Rentals ensures peace of mind and minimizes unforeseen expenses or consequences.


While the allure of cheap rentals may seem appealing, the true costs often outweigh the initial savings. Here at Flying Dutchman Cinema Rentals, we're able to offer you fair competitive pricing on our rentals without compromising quality or cutting corners. We always check and test everything before a rental goes out and after it comes back. We clean and perform regular maintenance and safety checks on our gear and provide support for you during your rental. We care about your success, will answer your questions, and wish for your shoot to go as smoothly as possible. We will guarantee to give you the most value for your money, or your money back. We are here to help!

If you'd like to rent with us, feel free to browse our website and don't hesitate to reach out!


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