I don’t remember where I first heard of this (I think it was on MostlyLisa), but I do remember thinking it was odd. The idea that you can rent a lens for a few days, a few weeks, months, or more was interesting, but I didn’t see a practical use for me.
Fast forward to months later. I was preparing for a trip to Eleuthera and I really wanted to take a super-wide lens that didn’t have the fisheye look. For the D700, there’s pretty much one solution – Nikon’s 14-24mm 2.8. It’s a super wide, super sharp, all-around super lens. It’s also about $2,000.00. I was pretty sure I’d love the lens, but since I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually use it after the trip I had trouble convincing myself to buy one. All of a sudden, renting a lens made perfect sense!
I hopped over to LensRentals.com to see what they had and was surprised to find a very complete selection including the 14-24 I was after. (BTW, they also rent camera bodies, lighting, and accessories!) I read the terms and fine print and found that if you plan to take a lens out of the country, you need to get special permission from them. All that took was a quick email. No sweat.
After some consideration I decided to get the lens for 3 weeks so I’d have some time to practice with it before I went and plenty of time to get it shipped back when I got home. I still had some time before my trip so I didn’t need the lens immediately. One of the nice services they have is a reservation setup and I was able to lock in my rental for the dates I wanted it. When the time came, they charged my credit card and shipped the lens which arrived a couple of days early. Sweet.
After the trip was over and things had settled down I put the lens back in the box (after a sad farewell) they shipped it in, attached the return shipping label they sent with it, and dropped it off at a FedEx pickup. Done.
I was really pleased with the whole experience. I got to try out at length a lens I am considering buying, I was able to take the pictures I had wanted, and the rental experience was so easy it’s hard to believe. All that for about $200 (which includes a 3 week rental, shipping, and insurance) is a steal. So, scratch your head and come up with a reason to rent a lens. I’m already working on my next one!