[Editorial] If You Don't Own It, Why Not Rent It?

[Editorial] If You Don't Own It, Why Not Rent It?

As a photographer just starting my own wedding photography business, I quickly realized how much pro gear really costs. I don't shoot often enough to afford all of the gear that I need but when I do have a shoot, I like to use professional gear and I like to have backups in case something breaks (especially for weddings). For those of you who are just getting started like me, or those of you who need specialty equipment, you may want to consider renting gear.

Why is renting a good idea? For starters, you may simply want to try before you buy. A new wide angle lens may get great reviews but you may find after you use it that you simply hate using a wide angle lens. If you are a casual diver you may want to to try out a professional underwater housing before spending thousands to buy it. It may also be worth renting specialty gear that you don't shoot very often. I shoot weddings occasionally but the money I make from these weddings does not warrant going out and buying 3 camera bodies, a range of 2.8 lenses, and 5 speedlights. In the future it may, but for most of my shoots, a single body and a standard zoom lens will suit me. Let's say you randomly book a sporting event to shoot. Are you going to run out and buy a 400mm 2.8 lens for $8,000? Of course not. As with any business, we need to decide when renting is a better decision over buying.

If you do decide to rent I would highly suggest checking out LensProToGo. I'll preface this story by saying that they are not an advertiser with Fstoppers and this is not a sponsored post. Back before I ever started working with Fstoppers, I saw a video that stillmotion had created where they featured LensProToGo. The first time I called, I got a real person on the other end; not some computerized voice asking me to punch 1,2,3, or 4 to get to a department. Right off the bat I could tell this guy knew what he was talking about and based on my questions, he was able to get me exactly what I needed. He said he would write up my order for me and told me the lens would be at my door step in 2 days.

When my Nikon 24-70 lens arrived it came in a small pelican case that was fit to size just for that lens. It also included a tootsie pop, a prepaid return shipping sticker, and a nice note thanking me for renting from them - pretty cool in my book. It was that easy.

In February at WPPI, I was lucky enough to meet the crew and quickly understood why customer service was their main focus. It turned out that every employee is either a professional photographer or videographer. While I haven't rented from any of the other companies out there, I know that every time I call Lensprotogo I will always get great customer service and gear that has been inspected and very well taken care of.

So if you're ever in need of a crazy lens or just want to experiment with a brand new camera, I highly recommend renting it from them.

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Adam Cross's picture

I made my first jump into lens renting just a week ago, I rented from a UK company called LensPimp. I couldn't afford the £600 for the Canon 10-22mm so I rented it for £60 (+£10 for postage). they have a decent service and even sent the lens out 3 days early so I had £40 worth of rental for free. I'll be in Iceland for a week and this lens  is probably not going to leave my 7D for the majority of that time

Mike Thacker's picture

This is indeed a great way to augment your pro kit or try before you buy. I've had great success with TheLensDepot http://thelensdepot.com/ out of central Florida. 

haha yes... i rented from TheLensDepot when I was out in Orlando last year!!! AWESOME Prices for one week rentals... great guys too

I have been using Aperturent.com for a few years now.. They are also excellent in customer service and one of the EASIEST companies to work with! They are awesome.

David New's picture

x2 - Aperturent is the easiest place to get equipment from. They are about 10 mins away from me, which makes it even easier. No deposit, just pay and pickup

David Lara's picture

I've been renting much more over the last 6-9 months, rented whole sets as backup for wedding gigs...great option versus spending 2-3K on a backup gear. I use the rental as my main gear and have my gear as the 2nd body. I've been using 
http://www.csirentals.com in NYC..they are amazing, super friendly and prices are great.

Hey Lauren, your link for LensProToGo links to 'http://fstoppers.com/www.lensprotogo.com'.

Thanks for the recommendation on the company. The tootsie pop is such a cute addition!

Lauren Jonas's picture

Thanks Chris! Fixed it!

As a professional, I have to justify every one of my purchases.  Any purchase MUST contribute directly to my ability to make money. Most pieces of equipment just sits on the shelf.  It looks pretty but it isn't making money.

That's why renting make sense.  I have access to the equipment without the acquisition cost. I do miss out on depreciation.  But it makes pricing easier since I know exactly how much the costs are.

More importantly, the money I would have spent buying can be spent on something much much much more important.....Marketing.

I've discovered one added benefit.

I don't need to worry about the airlines and TSA loosing or stealing my equipment.  If I'm traveling to an assignment, I just have the rental company drop ship the equipment to the hotel.

I recommend the guys at http://www.borrowlenses.com/

LensProToGo is the best! They are always able to get me out of last minute jams.

Wayne Denny's picture

I'll echo the above for Lens Depot. Best part is that since I live in town, I can pick it up at their place and don't have to pay shipping. I rented a 24-70 2.8 Nikon for a wedding last March, and ended up buying it in September. Really great way to try stuff out...

Renting is definitely a good option if cash flow is a problem, but lenses have an amazing resale value. I owned a Canon 100-400mm L for about a decade. Sold it on ebay, and got back almost the full price of a new lens--only lost what it would have cost me to rent it a couple of times. Overall I get about 85% of the price of a new lens back when I sell it, and I use those lenses hard.

Just saying, look up used prices on ebay, and if they're close to new prices, compare rental costs to the total cost of ownership for just buying new and selling used. Also consider buying used and then selling--which might cost you zero (and some people turn a profit this way).

I agree, renting seems silly to me when you could use the money towards purchasing a lens, and then sell the lens when you find yourself not needing it anymore... Although I understand that in a time crunch and if you dont have the money up front, renting makes sense.

I love Lensprotogo.com, 

I might have inadvertently started a small fad over there though. It was the first time renting from them, and my boyfriend and I in the past have had so much rotten luck with other rental companies that we wanted to test them to see if they paid attention to their orders. Well, in the shipping directions we asked them to draw a one-eared bunny playing the banjo on the side of the shipping box. A few days later in came our lens and our drawn bunny from Meg. Now, I'm afraid they get requests like mine quite often now. Sorry Meg. (>.<)

True story... scout's honor. Now, that's customer service. :)