So, how did I pick what range of rig to buy? It’s a long story, but it boils down to a simple point - I never wanted to turn down a job because my rig couldn’t do it.
I had owned a lightweight rig for a few years, and not only was I not taken terribly seriously by anyone who knew their equipment, but I also had to be very careful before applying for jobs. I never knew when a DP would ask me to put an extra accessory on the rig that would take me over my meager weight capacity. It’s not a good situation to be in!
Additionally, I found a big bonus to buying bigger, and it’s something I never would have believed until I got the rig. The bigger a rig is, the more stable it is. It’s a simple point of inertia – the formula for the inertia of an object is its mass times the velocity it is traveling at – thus a heavier rig has more inertia than a lighter one, assuming both are doing the same shot. More inertia means that the rig requires much less “babysitting” from the operator, allowing more focus on fine control. It’s a big, big improvement.
Finally, I had to work out what age of gear I was comfortable with. In my situation, it made much more sense to buy a bit older, and get a rig that could actually do everything I wanted. After looking at it, and realizing that I had a lot left to spend outside of the rig, I decided to go for the rig I have now, a PRO I, which allowed me to focus more budget on accessories. Even something as small as cables can add up quickly, when for every cable, you need a spare. On a set, I know I’d rather have a whole bag of spare cables (like when a PA dropped the monitor off my rig a few weeks ago and tore a cable in half) than a flasher, newer rig.
Finally, the dilemma is solved – big rig it is. Now to get back to practicing for the next shoot!