I am a firm believer that you need to ask yourself the question "why?" about a thousand times a day. (To yourself anyway. If you do it out loud people will treat you like you need medication.) Because "why" is often as important as "what" or "how". Sometimes mores so.
I am sometimes asked "What camera should I get?" My response is usually, "Why do you need a camera?"
Then they look at me like I am crazy, because how on earth can you shoot a movie without a camera?
So let's clear this up. There are only a few reasons why I think that buying a camera (or most other gear) is a good idea.
1) You want to pursue the tech side of things as a profession. You want to either work for hire on other people's shoots (commercials, films, etc) in a specific field like audio, or you want be a for-hire production company. Being a freelancer doesn't necessarily mean you have to buy gear either, because on some shoots, they rent gear and hire separately. Even if you own some, they may have different requirements anyway. Although, packaging yourself with your gear can help you land jobs. If you plan to do your own commercial-style shoots, the same applies. It's nice to have some of your own stuff because you are familiar with it and have access to it.
2) You Don't Have Access To It Any Other Way. This can be true of some gear. When I bought my first camera, I didn't know anyone else who had one, and it was what I needed. I could have rented, but, taking all of my plans into consideration, buying one was the best choice.
3) You Have Money To Burn. If this is the case, call me. We have a lot to talk about.
From where I sit, that's it. I know that some of you may be thinking that you don't want to have to rely on other people to get a project done. You want control over all the pieces. Trust me, I know how you feel. But, one of the most effective tools you can develop as a filmmaker is the ability to assemble and schedule an effective team. The sooner you can master that, the better off you will be.
There is another factor that is arguably even more important. Owning gear and knowing how to use it effectively are two very different things. If you can find someone who owns and operates their own gear, odds are you will get a better final product. Which is what you really want anyway, isn't it?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should never buy gear. It is nice to have some, and know how to use it in a pinch. But there are more important things to focus on.