If you have ever been in the situation where you needed an extra camera for a shoot, but were not in a position to buy one, the chances are you will have thought about hiring one. We have used HireaCamera.com here in the UK on many shoots and thought it would be good to ask them a few questions about the business…

What is the most popular camera you hire out?
At the moment it would probably be the Sony a7 range (the a7sII, a7rII and a7s especially). They have taken not only business on the stills side from the likes of the Canon 5D Mk 3 but also we’re finding they are being used more by previous camcorder users who are now more comfortable for larger sensor recording. Further up the range, the Sony FS7’s are always in demand.

How soon after a product release do you stock that camera?
Thankfully we have very good relationships with all of the manufacturers so tend to supply as soon as the equipment becomes available in the UK (sometimes before!). Case in question last week was the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K camera – I had four people contact me asking to buy it straight off me!

Do you see any trends forming in relation to the popularity of certain types of camera or lens’?
Mirrorless cameras are really starting to forge ahead now with our professional customers. AF and speed was always the real issue (along with not so good lenses). That’s all changed now with on-sensor phase detection. Lens wise, Fuji already offer a more professional range of X series lenses and Sony are catching up with the GM lenses soon to be launched.

We’re also seeing less demand for really big telephotos. With ISO performance getting better, customers are more willing to take a slower lens that is obviously cheaper to hire but crucially also a great deal smaller and lighter. Another added benefit is it tends to be a telephoto rather than a prime – having a variable focal length makes framing so much easier!

What do you see as being the main advantage of hiring a camera from your business over purchasing one for my own production company?
It all really boils down to use. If you’re going to be using the same piece of equipment day in, day out and you can afford to do so, buy it! A lot of our customers do have their own kit and rely on us for that extra demand. That might be additional cameras or it could just be specialised accessories. The other issue nowadays is the short shelf life of equipment. Now we all know that a decent camera from 4 years ago will still be a decent camera today but such is the increase in general knowledge of all things photographic/video (thanks to the like of Youtube), that consumer knowledge has increased to the point where our clients are having to use equipment demanded by their client that you could say in fairness is not particularly justified.

There are other reasons to hire – trying out newly released equipment, replacement equipment for when your kit fails (we’re used the the panic calls by now!) and merely wanting to just try something different!

Are your customers mostly small businesses / individuals or do you ever get big production companies?
We have an incredibly eclectic and wonderful range of clients. We serve customers small and large from many different sectors (clearly including broadcast). One phone call can be dealing with a single man production company shoot, the next can be organising cameras to be shipped abroad for the BBC, the one from a well known internet search company wanting 30 something GoPros for an event. The fact is we treat everyone the same. I am very conscious of margins with small businesses/individuals and we always try to advise them as best we can to ensure they get what they need and nothing more.

How do you decide which cameras to stock?
I wish I had a crystal ball but alas I have yet to find one! Mostly we talk to our customers (a lot!). When new kit is announced, I quite often call a few up to gauge their thoughts. I also use the power of Social Media to understand the opinions of a larger group of people. I am lucky in that I get to play with a lot of pre-production equipment so often have a fair idea long before announcements are made. We actively work with a few manufacturers in designing future equipment – naturally we have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t!

Can you offer same day hire?
We quite often do same day hire. Usually it’s to London but it’s not limited to there. We have vans able to deliver at short notice. Clearly being based in the South East, we are a limited getting kit right up north at short notice (and it can be a little costly) but we have done it before!

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