What Lensrentals' 2017 Equipment Rental Trends Tell Us About the Photography Industry

What Lensrentals' 2017 Equipment Rental Trends Tell Us About the Photography Industry

If you want to get a good feel for the pulse of the photography industry, looking at the camera equipment photographers are renting is a good place to gain some insight. Lensrentals has released their data on the most popular camera equipment of 2017, and it has some interesting facets.

Lensrentals is one of the industry's largest photographic equipment rental agencies, and they also do some great scientific work and data analysis on their blog. They've kept tabs on their rental data in 2017, and it offers some unique insights into the overall direction of the industry:

  • Canon lenses were far and away the most popular, taking up 9 of the top 10 spots, with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM coming in at 5th and the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II being the most popular overall, while the Canon 50mm f/1.2L was the most popular prime and 6th most popular overall. The first Nikon entry on the list was the 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II at 11th. 
  • Sony is now a more popular rental brand than Nikon.
  • Sigma continues to gain ground, having become 20 percent more popular than in 2016. Fuji lenses skyrocketed, showing 96 percent more rentals. Sony lenses also increased 22 percent, while Canon and Nikon decreased 8 and 10 percent, respectively. 
  • Nonetheless, Canon remains the most popular system at 37 percent, with the Sony E mount coming in second at 13 percent.
  • 35mm and 50mm prime lenses have seen a resurgence in popularity. For example, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L moved up 3 spots this year and the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II moved up 8 spots. On the other hand, the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II lost 2 spots and the Canon 135mm f/2L lost 6 spots. 
  • The Canon 5D Mark III and Mark IV were the 1st and 3rd most popular cameras, with the Sony a7S II coming in 2nd and the Nikon D750 in 6th. 
  • Micro four-thirds rentals, though not highly popular, are up due in part to the DJI Osmo with Zenmuse.
  • Drones, though relatively new, have proven highly popular. 

Do these trends match with some of your equipment decisions in 2017? Let us know in the comments! 

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15 Comments

Pat Black's picture

for the Sony does lensrentals or the author mean the FE mount for sony is the 2nd most poplular with 13 percent right now its listed as the E mount, which if i remember correctly is different and would not include lens like the gmaster 24-70

David Bengtsson's picture

Sony E mount and FE mount is the same. The FE just stands for ”fullframe” or that it cover the full frame sensors. It’s basically like Canon EF where they can mount on both APS-C bodies and Full frame ones but if you try to mount a APS-C lens you get tons of vignetting. (I known there isnt possible to do this with ef-s because they has a ”tab” stopping it but it would have the same effect.)

Peter Nord's picture

When I look at the data I see a list of equipment that people don't own. Other similar equipment not on the list, is that owned, or just unloved. Many businesses will lease expensive equipment that has a short life, for tax reasons, and for ease of replacement when new stuff comes out. I wonder what a list from a photo leasing company would look like? Do or should the lens rental companies also have a leasing business.

Felix Wu's picture

So true...You may argue that people only rent equipments they don't own...hence, to some extend less popular? Rental market couldn't represent gear ownership therefore I don't see a direct correlation here.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

I'm running a rental business in China and HK.
People tend to rent what they want to buy. It's the best way to see if your investment worth it.
What people don't rent is the "cheap" part of the market cause they can buy them easly.

Also people rent what their client ask for.

the last list of item is the niche lenses such as tilt shift; people will over think 10 time before buying such lens.

Also, with Sony releasing a new body every 6 months, I can see a lot of rent on the body where I have no such trend with other brand.

Nicholas Chopp's picture

I wonder if the increase in wide and normal angle lenses and decrease in portrait lenses is due to rising megapixel count - making it easier to crop in and still maintain high resolution.

John Dunkelberg's picture

Consider hobbyists like myself who own crop-sensor cameras and haven't grown into expensive glass (yet). With the 1.6x factor thrown in, lenses like the 24-70mm are really appealing and reach into the portrait lens range that you describe.

Elan Govan's picture

Most of the lens I own out right are between 18 mm and 135 mm, including a 35mm 1.4 and a 50mm 1.4. If I was in a position to visit a wild life statuary, I would consider renting a 400 or 500 mm as a one off.

Josh Leavitt's picture

It makes sense that the 85mm F/1.2L II and 135mm F/2L both lost positions. One word - Sigma. The new ART series is quite remarkable; the 85mm F/1.4 and 135mm F/1.8 have added some refreshing competition into that prized focal length for portrait and fashion photographers. I imagine the Canon 85mm F/1.2L II will drop even more spots next year when the new 85mm F/1.4L IS has spent a few months in the wild. And the Canon Rumors website has reported that Canon engineers are supposedly testing the 135mm F/2L II which includes (drum roll please...) image stabilization. Let's hope they can price that lens as aggressively as they did the 85/1.4 IS.

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

Where is the article? It's not on their blog anymore?

Alex Cooke's picture

They sent out the data from the their press contact.

Joseph Anthony's picture

Where is the data? Is there a link to the list in the article that I am missing? Thanks

Alex Cooke's picture

They sent out the data from the their press contact.

While m4/3 is not the biggest selling format, the lenses tend to be cheaper as opposed to FF and I think more of those users (me included) buy as opposed to rent. With this theory in mind, Sony isn't a surprise at #2 as their lenses are pretty expensive and often more so than the big two. Plus they are newer and cannot be purchased on the used market as readily like Canon and Nikon. I'm just glad that Lens Rentals carries such a wide variety as I shoot two different systems and I readily use them when needed. The service there is always great!

Is fair to point out that Nikon's F mount has been around for decades and are still compatible with modern cameras vs. the two relatively new mounts of Sony and Canon. More inexpensive used options could mean less demand for rentals.