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[DISCUSS] Is Renting Better than Buying?

Are you looking for your next camera? Are you trying to pick between lenses? Do you need something specific for a vacation or event that you don’t currently own?

While buying new gear is a lot of fun it does come at a huge investment. Renting can be a much more affordable option for those times when you’re looking to get something for a specific event or maybe just wanting to test something out in the field before dropping the big investment.

I thought I’d talk a bit about what BorrowLenses does for those that might not know and how my experience as a first time lens renter went and then of course open it up for discussion. So let’s get started!

What is Borrowlenses?

I suppose the first thing I should do is introduce to you what this company does and why they’re so popular.

As you can see from the image above they are in the business of renting camera lenses and other assorted camera equipment including professional level DSLR bodies like the Nikon D4 which retails for over 5,000 dollars and that’s just for the body, yet you can rent this for a weekend for under 300!

What Makes Borrowlenses Awesome?

There are two main reasons why I’d recommend renting over buying and while they can seem to be common sense to some others might not see it as such.

Additional Event Gear

Of course, you could just take out a small business loan and buy the Nikon D4 from amazon right now and Nikon’s flagship 24-70 f/2.8 lens, but that’s probably not the best scenario if you’re just starting to line up clients.

Be it weddings, concerts  or senior portraits renting gear on a client to client basis is a great way to keep from having to pay that one lump sum upfront and the cost of the rental can easily be factored into your charges to the clients. For example the two items linked above would cost upwards of $7500 on Amazon, but if you rented them for an event the total cost to you would be less than $400!

The Test Drive

This is basically the method I used for my rental and I’m happy I did it.

I was really interested in both the Tokina 12-24mm and the Tokina 11-16mm lenses for my pending ultra wide angle purchase. For under 200 dollars, I was able to test both of these lenses out for an extended period of time and made sure I got the one that worked best for me. Which ended up being the 11-16mm option.

Ultimately, it’s really up to you what you want to rent from them, but odds are they’ll have something that will fit your needs.

My Own Experience

Now that you know what Borrowlenses does and why you might want to rent instead of buy let’s talk about my rental experience through them.

I knew I wanted to add another lens to my collection and I knew I wanted it to be a wide angle lens after seeing some awesome shots from Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs done using wider angle perspectives I thought hell, “I wanna learn how to do that!”.

For 67 dollars + Shipping, taxes and the optional peace-of-mind-insurance I was able to rent the lens for two full weeks! A fraction of what it would have cost me to buy it on Amazon!

Overall, the company was outstanding. They answered the questions I had, shipped everything on time and as they advertised, and the return shipment went off without a hitch. They send you the return label in the box and all you have to do is stick it on over the old one and drop it off at  your local FedEX shipping center. Very painless.

The lens came packaged tightly in a cardboard box insulated with foam packing material inside a plastic bag for extra waterproof protection. There really is no way this lens could be damaged during shipping so you shouldn’t have to worry about that.

All in all I’d highly recommend them for your gear rental needs.

Your Turn: Have You Rented Gear How Do you Feel about It?

Have you rented from Borrowlenses.com? Tell me how it went for you? Would you rent from them again or recommend them to a friend? I know I sure would!

Give them a try and rent your next lens from them today!

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9 Responses to “[DISCUSS] Is Renting Better than Buying?”

  1. You overlooked an important point for me. From borrowlenses.com, “Do you charge a deposit?
    More than 99% of the orders we process do not require a deposit. Some very expensive equipment will require insurance (see next question). When insurance isn’t available, a deposit can go in its place.”

    I wasn’t aware of this. We have a good local shop that does rentals, and at lower prices than borrowlenses. I can get a D4 for a weekend for $200, or a 2X teleconverter for $11. HOWEVER, their terms: “A deposit equal to the estimated replacement cost of the Equipment is required for customers without an established credit account.” Translation: “To rent a D4, give us a $6000 deposit”, and who has that kind of cash sittting around. Frown

    I’ll have to give borrowlenes more thought. Thanks.

  2. Several months ago I rented a D800 body from a similar company. They had similar policies and i really liked the service I got from them. What I really liked the most was the ability to try an expensive full frame body for a few days for a small fee. I think when I’m in the market for purchasing a full frame, and I’m not really sure which one to get, I will probably rent first to help make the decision.

    I’m really happy that I had the experience of renting a full frame body because I had some questions about using DX lenes on an FX body and with renting, I was able to see how it actually worked.

    I have the Tokina 12-24 f4 and it’s my go to lens for landscapes now. Love the extra wide. Not too fond of the autofocus, doesn’t always seem to realize that it’s in focus and if it thinks it’s not in focus, I can’t shoot. But other than that I love it.

    • Oh nice I wanted to rent the D800 for a wedding that I’m photographing, but I went with the D600 instead. The main reasoning (other than it being cheaper) was that it’s more like the D7000 in build so it should be easier for me to pick up quickly. It’s files will be smaller allowing for more photos which will be important, and it’s still full frame so I’ll be able to experiment with an FX body. I’m also renting the 24-70mm f/2.8 for the wedding and can’t wait to test this flagship lens out – it’s so good that I’ve even heard of Canon users complimenting it.

      To you point about the 12-24 f/4. That focusing issue was one of the reasons I went with the 11-16mm f/2.8. The other reason was the faster aperture (which for the most part I haven’t needed, but it does help with night photographs). Other than that though the 12-24 was an awesome lens and I got a few good photos out of it in my tests.

      • I would really love to hear what you think about the D600. Since you’re going from a DX to an FX you’ll have the same (or similar) cropping issues I had outside of disabling DX mode, so I will be curious to hear your point of view on that. But since the D600 is cheaper than the D800 I was thinking about possibly upgrading to that instead of the 800. Just not sure if the difference in price justifies the cheaper body. But then again this decision to upgrade depends on the money on hand, and right now, I’m hearing from the wife that the bank is dry.

        • Yeah I’m really excited to play with the full frame body I am also renting the very highly regarded 24-70 f/2.8 and can’t wait to test that out not only on the full frame, but on my D7000 as well.

          I think my upgrade path will be to buy good FX glass for my current DX camera and then when the time is right upgrade to FX. I just can’t justify buying the body when all I have are DX lenses.

  3. oddjobber said

    You overlooked an important point for me. From borrowlenses.com, “Do you charge a deposit?
    More than 99% of the orders we process do not require a deposit. Some very expensive equipment will require insurance (see next question). When insurance isn’t available, a deposit can go in its place.”

    I wasn’t aware of this. We have a good local shop that does rentals, and at lower prices than borrowlenses. I can get a D4 for a weekend for $200, or a 2X teleconverter for $11. HOWEVER, their terms: “A deposit equal to the estimated replacement cost of the Equipment is required for customers without an established credit account.” Translation: “To rent a D4, give us a $6000 deposit”, and who has that kind of cash sittting around. Frown

    I’ll have to give borrowlenes more thought. Thanks.

    That’s true – I completely forgot about the ‘deposit’ fee option. I think borrowlenses gets around this by claiming that if you don’t return the camera or if you return it broken you a responsible for repair or replacement costs. Like you said though – if you’re going to be renting thousands upon thousands of dollars of equipment they might want to insure that they have the safety net of a deposit as well. Good point and thanks for the comment!

  4. Like many of us, I have suffered from “camera lust” over the years. But when it strikes, I take a couple of aspirins and wait for the “headache” to pass. 8-) I’d appreciate hearing from any of you who are looking to move to a full frame camera as to what is driving your move. For me, most of my work results in the shots being used on the web or in the church newspaper or bulletin. I can’t remember when I made a print larger than 11×14. The only other consideration I often think about is the nicer “bokeh” one gets when shooting at a large aperture on a full frame body.

    I started my dSLR adventure with the Nikon D80 many years and over 40,000 shutter clicks ago. Friends loaned me the two standard kit lenses until I could invest in the DX 17-55mm, f/2.8 since I do so much available light photography for my church. Over the years added the DX 12-24mm f/4, FX 80-200mm f/2.8 ( both in used condition) and the 50mm f/1.8 . If I were to move to full frame then I would also need to invest in more FX lenses in the wide angle and 24-70mm range. As much as my heart would like to go full-frame, I think my next move will be to upgrade to a better DX body such as the D7100.

    Thanks for your time in wading through this. 8-)

  5. I was looking at the D600 as an option for my upgrade path, but the thing that scares me about it (aside from having to buy all new glass) is the widespread issue with the mirror lubricant spraying all over the sensor for many thousands of exposures. For now, I’m thinking my best bet is to migrate from the D80 to the D7100. The big selling point for the D7100 is that it’s one of the first Nikons to actually do 5 bracketed exposures! Considering the amount of HDR I do, this is huge! Plus I wouldn’t have to get new glass. But I’ll have to see just how much of a bonus I get next March. Wink

  6. Dan Villeneuve said

    I was looking at the D600 as an option for my upgrade path, but the thing that scares me about it (aside from having to buy all new glass) is the widespread issue with the mirror lubricant spraying all over the sensor for many thousands of exposures. For now, I’m thinking my best bet is to migrate from the D80 to the D7100. The big selling point for the D7100 is that it’s one of the first Nikons to actually do 5 bracketed exposures! Considering the amount of HDR I do, this is huge! Plus I wouldn’t have to get new glass. But I’ll have to see just how much of a bonus I get next March. Wink

    I so wish my D7000 did 5 bracketed exposures it’s sad that it doesn’t.

    I’d appreciate hearing from any of you who are looking to move to a full frame camera as to what is driving your move.

    I think ultimately I’ll probably stick with a DX camera for a long time. There are two things that would drive my move and you mentioned the one being nicer bokeh. This would be if I do move more towards wedding photography (something I’m dabbling with this summer). Then the other would be noise – while the DX cameras are still great at high ISO FX sensors are just so much better. Now is this a reason to justify the added expense of FX body and FX lenses I don’t know and that’s my main reason for renting a FX body for a weekend as opposed to renting the D7100 as a second body for the wedding.

    I’ll definitely report back with my thoughts on it after I’ve had the time to play with it :)

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