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Report: the top ten rental cameras in the UK

Blog
18 February 2016

Televisual’s annual top 10 listing of the UK’s most hired cameras is now in its tenth year. Jon Creamer counts down the most rented models of 2015, and reveals the models everyone will be after in the year ahead


It’s the fourth year in a row that the Canon C300 has topped our list of the most hired cameras.

Its staying power is derived from the factual TV market’s desire for a large sensor camera at a price that’s right (an average day rate of £139 according to our survey). But its popularity is under attack from its big rival, Sony’s FS7.

That camera is placed second this time and seems to be the model with the momentum. “At the start of 2015, Canon’s C300 was by far our most popular camera to hire,” says Shift 4’s Alex Trezies. “Sony’s release of the PXW-FS7 saw that change however, with the FS7 taking over a large chunk of C300 work.”

Canon’s update, the C300 Mk2 is building slowly but, say many in the hire business, it’s not eclipsed the Sony FS7 yet. Have C300 users gone over to the FS7 never to return? The C300 Mk2 sits just outside the top ten this year, how far will it rise through 2016?

Arri’s Amira and Alexa Mini have been a big success. The Mini is the camera highest on the shopping list of the hire companies for 2016 with the Amira and C300 Mk2 a close second. The Mini in particular has been a revelation. Arri may have intended it to be a gimble/drone camera, but it’s lightweight nature and image quality are seeing it being used as a cheaper, more flexible Alexa. The Amira too is proving extremely popular, and is also used as another alternative Alexa.


How the survey works
At the beginning of the year, Televisual sent survey forms to a wide range of camera hire companies, both large and small. Each was asked to list their five most rented cameras of 2015, along with the percentage of hires each model received. An overall ranking of the UK’s most rented models was then created by multiplying the average percentage usage of each model by how many hire companies listed it in their top five. Many thanks to the 21 hire companies who took part.




1
CANON C300

Average Day Rate £139
hired from 247 Kit.tv, Alias Hire, Bluefin, HotCam, New Day, Procam, Pro Motion, Run Hire, S+O, Shift 4, Shooting Partners, The Kit Room, Visual Impact, VMI
hired for World’s Weirdest Homes (247kit), Steve Reich, Lucky Man (New Day), The Jump, Disappearing Britain, Classic Car Rescue, Wild Things (Procam), Unreported World, The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door, Walking the Himalayas, Mega Structures (Pro Motion), Pampered Pooches, Nadia, The Day Everest Shook (Run Hire), Off Their Rockers, Marriage at First Sight (S+O), The Voice, Hunted (Shooting Partners), Posh Pawn, Benefits Street, Bake Off Christmas Special (Visual Impact), Jabra Commercial, Secret Lives of Students (VMI)

The large sensor look at a keen price means the C300 still reigns supreme but Sony’s FS7 is taking a large chunk of that market now. “We thought the FS7 was the end of this camera but it’s still going strong,” notes  Visual Impact’s Nick Hill. The C300 Mk2 may win that share back but it’s still early days for the updated model which is just outside the top ten this year.



2
SONY PXW-FS7

Average Day Rate
£156

hired from 247 Kit.tv, Alias Hire, Bluefin, Decode, Direct Photographic, Finepoint, HotCam, New Day, Onsight, Pro Vision, Procam, Pro Motion, Run Hire, S+O, Shift 4, Shooting Partners, The Kit Room, Visual Impact, VMI

hired for Dog Rescue (247kit), London Fashion Week (Finepoint), Okinawa (New Day), Doctor in the House, Meet The Roman Empire, Free Ride, Best Before (Procam), Age of Loneliness, Lord of the Fries, Summertime Ball (Pro Motion), Cameraman to the Queen, Car Wars, Animal Births (Pro Vision), BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words (Run Hire), FIFA 2016 (S+O), Made Over By, Famous, Rich & Homeless (Shooting Partners), Britain’s Wildest Weather, Britain’s Busiest Airport: Heathrow (The Kit Room), River Monsters, Wildest Tribes (Visual Impact)

The ‘C300 killer’ has been a big hit since launch. It has “shaken the camera world and is rapidly becoming the go-to camera,” says Run Hire’s Simon Hotchkin. Pro Vision’s Danny Howarth points to the “flexibility of on board codecs” as a big reason. “With the FS7, Sony managed – finally – to regain its footing in the mainstream, factual market,” says The Kit Room’s Rosemary Hill.


3
ARRI AMIRA

Average Day Rate
£340
hired from Decode, No Drama, Onsight, Procam, Pro Motion. Pro Vision, S+O, Shift 4, Video Europe, Visual Impact, VMI
hired for Legacy: The 2015 Rugby World Cup (Onsight), Strictly Come Dancing Xmas Special, McCafe ads, Shark Week (Procam), Storyville, Horizon, Obsession, Future Sounds (Pro Motion), Hank Zipzer, This is England 90, Alan Carr (Pro Vision), Jamie’s Super Food, A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman, Friday Night Feast, Drunk History (S+O), Travelman, Superdry, Plimsoll Cats (Visual Impact), The Jesus Code, BBC World’s End (VMI)

It’s been a big hit and Procam’s Paul Sargeant says “new kid on the block” the Arri Amira is “taking market share from its big brother the Alexa within the TV market rather than the Sony F55 which people expected.” Which ever camera is losing out to it, the Amira has become the “go to camera for high quality broadcasting,” says S+O’s Olly Wiggins. “The high daily hire rate doesn’t hinder its popularity. This is a clear sign that well shot, well produced television will always stand out, regardless of budgetary constraints.


=4
ARRI ALEXA

Average Day Rate £667
hired from Decode, No Drama, Onsight, Pro Vision, Video Europe, VMI
hired for Sky Creative, Cherry Films, Passion Pictures, Warp Films (No Drama), Toast of London, Professor Branestawm Returns (Onsight), Beowulf, An Inspector Calls, 
Home Fires 2, Cradle to Grave (Pro 
Vision), Midsomer Murders, Friday Night Dinner (VMI)

Still the camera of choice for drama, but there’s a feeling that new additions to the Arri family will dent its popularity. “A lot of shoots suit Alexa Mini (for the versatility) and increasingly XT for the 4:3 sensor for use with anamorphic lenses,” says Onsight’s Sam Higham. Shift 4’s Alex Trezies says: “The versatility and cheaper price tag of the Amira has negatively affected Alexa work.” That’s because, says Pro Vision’s Danny Howarth, “the expansion of the Arri family has made the ‘Alexa look’ available to the wider production community.” And, says Decode’s Tony Shocash “as soon as the Alexa SXT comes out it will be a complete wipe out of any other camera for the high end market.”


=4
SONY PDW-F800

Average Day Rate £235
hired from Finepoint, HotCam, New Day, Pro Motion, Video Europe
hired for FA Cup, Rugby World Cup (Finepoint), Rugby World Cup, CBS 60 Minutes (New Day), Mission Survive S2, MyGration, Running Wild (Pro Motion)

Discontinued a while back now, but the Sony PDW F800 is still considered an industry workhorse and is regularly hired for a variety of uses but particularly for multi-camera series where the workflow and archive-able disc offer financial and time benefits.



6
SONY PMW-F55

Average Day Rate £259
hired from Bluefin, HotCam, New Day, Onsight, Procam, Pro Motion, Pro Vision, S+O, Shift 4, Visual Impact
hired for Team Sky, Sydney Opera House (New Day), Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (Onsight), Surprise, Surprise, Landscape Artist of the Year, Derren Brown, Pushed to the Edge (Procam), Mission Survive, Orca Waves – live music, Jimmy Carr – live show (Pro Motion), Ennio Morricone DVD, Hateful Eight (S+O), Ruby World Cup (The Kit Room), Dance Moms, Mafia with Trevor McDonald, Animal Births (Pro Vision), Big Fish, Gorilla Family and Me (Visual Impact). 


7
RED DRAGON

Average Day Rate £579
hired from Decode, No Drama, Onsight, New Day, Visual Impact
hired for Apple Pay HSBC (New Day), Ink Films, 422.tv, G&B&Co (No Drama), Teletubbies, The Martian (Onsight), Japan, Patagonia, Wild West, Alaska, New Zealand (Visual Impact) 

A favourite among ad directors, it’s “unrivalled for high resolution glossy imagery,” says James Jones at No Drama. “The combination of a Dragon and Master Primes is unbeatable for this sort of work.” It’s a camera that’s in big demand for VR shoots too, says Sam Higham at Onsight.


8
SONY PMW-F5

Average Day Rate £187
hired from Alias Hire, Bluefin, Direct Photographic, S+O, Shooting Partners, The Kit Room, VMI
hired for Great American Railway Journey (Alias Hire), Don’t Tell The Bride, Almost Royal 2, Desi Rascals 2 (S+O), The Voice (Shooting Partners)

“The Sony F5 has become the popular multi camera system,” says S+O’s Olly Wiggins.Because of its “small file sizes,great recording options, it is lightweight and it fits all budgets without any visual trade offs.” The danger for the camera is that with so many of its features now also catered for with the FS7,  will demand for the F5 be hit?


9
CANON XF-305

Average Day Rate £101
hired from Finepoint, Hotcam, Run Hire, The Kit Room
hired for Horror Homes, ITV’s Trawlermen Tales

“The XF-305 is still a dominant workhorse, and the C300 isn’t far behind,” says Simon Hotchkin of Run Hire. “Both are still proving to be the favourites for many productions.” The XF-305 has been around for quite while now having been introduced by Canon in 2010. Its popularity is dropping but it’s still a firm favourite. Not all that surprising when budgets are getting squeezed. It remains a low cost option for the self shooter.


10
ARRI ALEXA MINI

Average Day Rate £475
hired from No Drama, Pro Vision, Video Europe
hired for Jellylegs, Sky Creative, Swallows & Amazons, ITV Creative, Joyrider Films (No Drama), Home Fires, Beowulf (Pro Vision)

Launched by Arri as an “Alexa for gimbles”, it’s being used much more widely and “rapidly became more than a gimbal camera, used across a variety of productions for its lightweight nature and image quality,” says Pro Motion’s Duncan Martin. “DoP’s are very impressed and not just because it’s a winner with gimbles, drones and Steadicam,” says Procam’s Paul Sargeant.




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