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Expensive camera lenses do not always = Love.
These chunks of glass don’t always come cheap.
Before buying, I almost always rent or try out a camera lens first. And so many times, I rent a lens, and I do not buy it. Why? It doesn’t fit with my style, or it isn’t really a lens I’m going to use often. If it’s expensive, and I’m not going to get the value out of it, renting once in a blue moon for a specific project makes way more sense. There’s another option I’ll talk about in the next section as well.
1. Rent before you buy.
Fortunately, there are some great places to rent lenses to play with before you buy.
Also, if you’re not sure how much you’ll use the lens, but you can find a great deal, buy it used! The majority of pre-owned lenses that I’ve bought have barely been used and are a fraction of the price of a new camera lens. Buying a lens used is sometimes more cost effective than even renting.
Not all lenses are created equal, and not all lenses work well with your style or for your purposes. I’ve often gone to try out a lens and, instead of using it for what the lens was made for, found success using it creatively.
2. Rent For a Creative Challenge.
I know some people would say that working with limitations creates a challenge, and while that’s true, sometimes I need to just try something totally different for a creative charge. Renting a unique-to-you camera lens can be great for a staycation or finding a photography challenge on Pinterest to boost your creative vision.
Warning: You may fall in love with the lens you’ve rented and have to buy it. This happens. If you’re concerned about that, my suggestion would be not renting the most brand new lens so that if you must have it, you have better luck finding a used version.
This actually happened when I rented the Sigma 35mm, it was so sharp and I loved it so much for landscapes that I added it to my collection within 6 months.
3. Rent While You Travel.
Going someplace really cool, and need a lens you wouldn’t normally use? This is a great time to rent. Personally, I’d make sure you check the insurance policy from the rental company though, especially if you travel internationally.
I traveled to Alaska last year, and I wish I had rented a different telephoto lens than the ones I own. I didn’t even bring my 100-600mm (which I barely even use anyway – it’s just so heavy and I’m not as into nature photography as I used to be). Also, I brought a 70-200mm, but I wish I had rented the 70-300 f/4 for the trip. That’s ok, now I just have to go back to Alaska and explore more!
[On a personal note: While I was so excited to visit Alaska, I was seriously underprepared for that trip. I was less than 12 weeks post op from a major surgery, and I must say, I rocked that trip and did several 5+ mile hikes even though I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked…but I’ve had to refocus a bit and sometimes choose being in the moment with just my iPhone camera instead of hauling my favorite lenses. And that’s okay, because it’s taught me how to add phone photography tips to this blog.]
Where to rent lenses?
Here’s a list of places I have rented from and had great experiences with:
- Borrow from a friend or local photography shop!
- Sony Professional Imaging – Evaluation Loans
- Lens Rentals
- Borrow Lenses
- Canon Professional Services – Evaluation Loans
It’s important to understand which type of lens will fit on your camera. If you already feel confident about knowing what fits what then skip to see my favorite lenses (including the images I’ve taken with them!)