To hire or to buy? The decision is different for specialist cameras

Would you hire or buy a camera for a six week shoot?  David Bradley explains why your decision may be different for specialist cameras

The market for broadcast cameras can be complex and incestuous as cameras are sold to end-customers and to the rental market.  At BR Remote, we manufacture cameras for a specialist niche, and our customers also have the choice of hiring or buying their cameras, but the decision to hire or buy is not the same as it is with more ordinary, standard broadcast cameras.

Generally the rent or buy decision will hinge around how long you will need the camera and some simple maths. With a classic shoulder-carried broadcast camera such as a Sony…… or a Panasonic……. there is well-known rule of thumb – the camera is generally available to hire at around 1% of its capital cost per day, with 5days hire for 4days cost and 7 for 5 etc. Considering too, that camera technology changes very fast and that these cameras are updated every year, often the most sensible business decision is to hire cameras on a project by project basis.

However the decision can be very different for specialist cameras. We operate in the niche market of miniature, remote-controlled CamBall cameras and programmable, intelligent camera heads. Our customers still have the same two choices – to rent or buy, but certain aspects of specialist cameras mean that the customer’s decision may be different.

The first difference is that specialist cameras don’t become obsolete as fast as ordinary cameras – upgrades are introduced more gently.  Also, in the case of our own cameras at BR Remote, we ensure that every camera we sell can be upgraded.  We do this for the benefit of our customers, a typical upgrade costs perhaps a third of the price of a replacement camera, so it is in their interests, but now that sustainability has come to matter so much, we are proud to be selling cameras that will last longer and give more service.

However, in business decisions, it is numbers that matter, and the key difference between specialist cameras and the others is the daily rental rate. For speciality cameras, the daily rate tends to be a much higher percentage of the purchase price – it will be 3% – 5% of the original cost of the equipment. This changes the picture completely, and makes the answer to the buy-or-hire question very different.

David says: “If you need a specialist camera for a six week shoot, and you are paying a daily hire rate of say between 3% and 5%, that’s around 20% of the value of the camera each week.”.  So if you rent the camera for six weeks, you would have been better off buying it. In fact, for any project that lasts for more than a month, it is probably worth buying the camera. Then your costs won’t increase if your dates are flexible or shoot is delayed.  On the other hand, one of the advantages of hiring is that hire companies generally supply a whole bunch of cables, accessories and flight cases.  If you purchase the cameras you would need to source these yourself, but at the end you own the camera, and all its accessories and cables.

Of course, many people need cameras for shorter periods and they will hire them, which means that hire companies are very important to us – they look after numerous customers, and provide a great package of advice, equipment and support. For this reason, at BR Remote, we took the decision that we would never rent our cameras directly, we are committed to supporting the hire companies who do offer this service.

As with other broadcast cameras, our equipment is taken from one shoot to the next.  We sell cameras to end customers and hire companies for their rental fleets, and in many cases our equipment is permanently installed in studios or stadiums, even on top of tall buildings for live panoramic view inserts 24/7.

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Introducing CamBall Lite – our most competitive camera yet

Once again, BR Remote responds to customer demand with a brand new camera. CamBall Lite is an indoors-only model in the CamBall PTZ camera range, at a tempting new price.

CamBall ‘Lite’ – Big on features, smaller price

The new CamBall Lite camera offers the feature set of the CamBall4. It uses the same camera, the same electronics and the same software. It provides exactly the same picture quality and smoothness of movement as the latest CamBall camera, CamBall4. The only differences are: this camera is not weatherproof – and the price. This budget-friendly camera is our most competitive model so far. If you like the CamBall camera range, but thought they were a little expensive, please contact us now for a pleasant surprise.

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Proteân Demo

The Proteân XMi is out with David and Nick for a demo in London today. Here are a few snaps from the studio.

If you would like to book in a demo for any of our products, email


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