Renting Camera Lenses Online

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For my recent photography workshop with Bryan Peterson, I needed a few extra pieces of equipment.  Renting photography equipment is something that professional photographers are pretty used to based on the little research I have done.  Many professional sports photographers and wedding photographers rent extra gear when they have a big event.  Chris Hurtt and I were discussing this, and he mentioned that during the Beijing Olympics every rental place was out of stock of just about everything.

Creative Commons Licensecredit: joeltelling ##How it works## Each site works slightly differently, but basically you have several choices for how long you want to rent the lens (this applies to camera bodies also).  You usually have the option to rent the equipment for 3 days, 1-3 weeks or a month.  For most amateur photographers I think would fall more into the one week category.   Most sites provide the ability to add insurance for each item you rent.  Be sure to read the clauses before you decide to rent from a specific site.  From the agreements I have read, they usually cover the cost of repairing the lens due to damage.  They do not cover in the event of a complete loss, either due to theft, or because the items is damage beyond repair.

I do suggest getting the insurance specifically for some of the more expensive pieces of equipment, but you should talk to your credit card company, some have the coverage automatically if you rent the lens using their credit card.  The additional cost, may be worth if for the piece of mind. ##What to Rent## This is your chance to rent the lenses that you have been drooling over for years.  Just to pick an example, the Canon 300mm IS 2.8L, a $3700 lens, is $191 for a week on one rental site.  That may be an extreme lens for most applications, but just imagine the shots you will be able to get at your kids sporting event.

70-200 f/2.8 IS TopMore reasonably, the Canon 70-200mm f2/8L IS, a great lens is ~$1600 lens and costs $64 for a 7 day rental.  This is an example of a lens I rented.  I had always heard good things about this lens, but before I was going to drop $1600 on a lens, being able to try it for a week was really worth it.  For example, one thing I learned was that my first reaction to this lens was that is was very heavy, but after using it for several days I got used to it and think it would be a fine lens for me to own.

Creative Commons Licensecredit: delta407 ##Renting Online vs. Local Camera Shop## If you have a local camera shop, it is likely that they also rent lenses. Many good shops such as my local shop, Glazer’s in Seattle publish their supply on their web site.  It is always good to support your local camera store, so if you have a good shop this might also be an option for you.  A benefit to using a local shop is that you don’t have to pay for shipping charges.

If you have can plan ahead I found that it is cheaper to rent online.  The reason I decided using LensRentals.com it was one of the only online stores that allowed you to reserve a piece of equipment for specific dates.  Most other sites allow you to reserve a lens only if it is currently available in their stock. ##My Experience## After I placed my order on LensRentals.com for the dates I requested.  I received an email confirming my order, and alerting me that I would be receiving my order via 2 day Fed-Ex, and that it would show up a day or two early but this would not change my rental dates.  I received my order on the day they provided, in a well packaged box, with plenty of foam packing.  Each lens was packed in their own lens case, along with bubble wrap.  The included directions reminded me to keep all the packing, since when I was done with my rental I would repack everything and use the provided prepaid FedEx label to return the lenses.

It was pretty nice, I was able to use some great lenses for several days for very little outlay.  It gave me a chance to try before I buy.  So if you have a outing and feel that you are lacking a piece of equipment, or if you want to try a piece of gear before you buy, consider renting, it was a very painless experience.

Additional Resources

PHOTODOTO: 8 Online Lens Rental Stores Compared

DPS: Where To Rent A Lens Online