Photography is an expensive profession, or hobby, with new technologies and equipment constantly being released. It is very easy to get caught up in Gear Lust and spend money you don’t need to on gear that you hardly need. Ill admit to being in this situation many times, wanting a piece of gear that I only need for specific situations or on a limited basis.
If you have the disposable income for splurge purchases like this then you have a better argument to purchase, but if you are like me and disposable income is limited then renting is a much better option. If you rent a lens when you need a specific lens for a shoot then that saves you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over purchasing the lens, and frees up your money later for things you really do need.
For example, the Nikon 300mm 2.8G VRII is a 6,000$ lens that I would have no business purchasing. I only need it for night sports, meaning once or twice a week during Football and Soccer season. I am able to rent this lens at the local camera shop for $30 per day, so lets just say $60 per week (2 games in a week). It would take me over 200 times to rent the lens enough to have paid for it, much less than the amount of times that I will need it.
You see, that is the key to whether or not you should rent a lens – how much are you going to need it. In my opinion if you are going to need to use it often enough that you could pay for the lens itself within a Calendar year then you would be better off purchasing the lens than renting it. So for that Nikon 300mm 2.8, it would take me 200 “rents” in order to have purchased the lens which is a lot more than I would ever need the lens in a given year. Therefor it is a much better option for me to rent than buy.
(Shot with the 300 2.8 I rented – 1/2500 sec, 2.8, ISO 2000 on D300s)
Where do I rent?
So if you are going to rent where should you do it? That is more of a matter for your personal preference more than anything. I personally prefer to rent from my local camera shop, Focal Point Photography, than online rental outfits. I can go in and walk out with the lens, it is a little cheaper (in my case) and I know and have a good relationship with the owner.
You may not be so lucky though, maybe there is not a local shop in your area that does rentals. In that case you have several great online rental outfits to choose from. I will list and talk about a few of them below.
- BorrowLenses.com – Borrow Lenses is one of the most popular online rental outfits right now. A big reason for this is that they not only offer Lens Rentals, but also almost every kind of camera equipment you could need from bodies to lighting. They offer rental terms of 3 days, 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, and 4 weeks.
- LensProToGo.com – Lens Pro to Go is another big online rental outfit, they also offer lens and equipment rentals at affordable rates, though they are more expensive than other options. They also have a neat mobile app that makes it even easier than ever to rent and manage your rentals. They offer rental terms of 4 days, 1 week, and 10 days.
- LensRentals.com – Lens Rentals is another great option for online lens and equipment rentals. They have a really nice website that makes it easy to not just rent certain lenses, but also learn a bit more about them (what they would be good for, what they work well with, etc). They also have a very attractive rental term system where you can rent from 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, 21, 30, 45, 60, or 90 Days.
Next time you find yourself wanting a lens really think about it and how much you are going to be using it. Maybe rent it and test it out to see if you even like the feel of it. In the end renting can safe you a ton of money and leave your disposable income available for other things like marketing your business or investing in a newer camera body when it is released.