Howdy folks! So, to cut right to the chase, you’ve probably looked at Lensrentals.com before and thought to yourself, “Is this even legit?”.
Spoiler alert: yes, it is legit. As the sole owner and writer for this website, I have rented a LOT of gear, and I mean a seriously crazy amount. My personal Sony a7iii has seen a plethora of different lenses.
When I first started, I decided to give Lensrentals a shot and it was a great experience. Many years later, I’m still using them with no hiccups! (by the way, this article is -not- sponsored)
In this article, I’ll break down their ordering process, and insurance/shipping, along with discussing my personal opinions on when it makes sense to rent vs. buy.
Let’s dive in!
What can you rent with Lensrentals?
First off: what exactly can you rent with Lensrentals? You may expect cameras and lenses, but you’d be surprised to learn that you can get all sorts of weird and crazy stuff.
All Brands (Bodies/Lenses)
Obviously, as I stated, you can get your hands on pretty much any body or lens made in the last few years. Recently, I wanted to review a couple more APS-C bodies, so I scouted through the site.
Sadly, they didn’t have the a6100 available (I wanted to create a “sequel” of sorts to my high-performing a6000 review) but they did have the a6400, which I settled on in the end.
Besides that little slip-up, I haven’t had any issues finding whatever body or lens I needed. To just name a few, I’ve rented: the Viltrox 85mm F1.8, Sigma 16mm F1.4, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 and the Sony a6400 plus many more.
Accessories (Flash, etc.)
But what if you need something more specific? Well, you can get ALL SORTS of weird and niche accessories. Need a high-end flash unit? Lensrentals has got you.
Don’t need a new tripod but just need a new head instead? Need to rent a 4k projector for some reason? Lensrentals has also, surprisingly, got you.
Weirdly enough, you can even rent a Chromecast! I’m not sure why you would, but that’s an option. Heck, you can even rent out DJI’s Inspire 2 (the Hollywood-level drone) if you’re feeling so inclined.
Lensrentals Buying Process
This plethora of gear and gadgets sound great, but let’s talk about the ordering process. Is it easy and seamless?
Ordering your Rental
Ordering is actually pretty easy, but there are of course a few more steps than if you were just buying new. I’ll lay them out here really quickly.
- Find what you want to rent (you can choose multiple items)
- Choose your rental dates (can be anywhere from 1-90 days)
- Choose insurance/shipping (more on this in a second)
- Sign for and receive items when they arrive
Pretty easy, but there are some nuances to discuss, mostly when it comes to shipping and insurance.
Is the insurance (lenscap+) worth it?
When you’re choosing your rental, you’ll notice there’s a section to choose insurance. They have two tiers: lenscap & lenscap+. Unsurprisingly, the “plus” version gives you more thorough coverage (including theft protection).
Some other photographers I know will swear by never getting insurance. It’s all personal preference, but I think that’s a bit foolish. You never know what’ll happen to the gear, and you DO NOT want to be on the hook for a $1500 lens.
I personally choose lenscap+ every time. I’m covered for pretty much anything, but the most important in my opinion is theft. I tend to shoot a good bit in a major US city that is known for having fairly high crime. That theft protection gives me peace of mind.
Shipping costs are where Lensrentals starts to hurt your wallet. If you live near Memphis, you’re able to go to their actual physical location and pick up stuff for free.
Unfortunately, for the rest of us, we have to get it shipped. If you’re only renting for a short amount of time or the gear you’re getting is cheap, shipping hurts. It’s typically around $25.
However, there is also the option of signing up for their “membership”, also known as Lensrentals HD.
Lensrentals HD (free shipping)
The company offers a program called Lensrentals HD which is more or less just a shipping discount program. You pay a flat $99/year (as of time of writing), and from then on all of your shipping is completely free (to the contiguous US, at least).
If you only plan on renting one or two things per year, this doesn’t make any financial sense. However, if you’re planning to do a lot of small rentals, this shipping program is absolutely worth it.
As you’d probably expect, I signed up for it. For the site, I’m typically running about two rental batches a month (cameras/lenses mostly), so the free shipping for me was an absolute no-brainer. Your mileage may vary.
Receiving Your Rental
Within a few days of purchasing, you’ll receive your rental. Quick note: you will have to sign with the carrier.
For that reason, I typically have it sent to a local package handling company (a FedEx partner) to sign for me and hold.
The first thing you’ll notice upon receiving your first rental is that they SERIOUSLY pack their gear. In every rental I’ve done, my lenses have been in: bubble wrap in a soft case which is in a hard case which is in a heavy-duty cardboard box.
Your stuff ain’t going to break, trust me.
Typically, you can expect everything you’ve rented to be in their own small cases/bags. Heck, the last time I rented a camera body, they even included an entire padded carrying bag!
Typically Excellent Condition
On that subject, I’ve never gotten a rental that was in poor condition. In fact, for rental gear, I’ve been consistently shocked that they’re in such great shape.
The absolute worst thing I’ve gotten was a lens with a couple of small visual scuffs on the focusing ring. Yep, that’s literally it, not a big deal at all.
Otherwise, everything I’ve gotten has been: free of dust, no scratches, no fungus, etc. Every camera body has had smoothly turning dials and updated firmware. It seriously feels like their rentals are all brand new.
Returning Your Stuff
So buying stuff and receiving it is a smooth, buttery process, but what about when it’s time to (sadly) send back your awesome rented gear?
It’s also smooth and easy (are you seeing a trend here?).
You just put all of your stuff back to how it was when you received it. Lenses in their respective cases, accessories where they should go, etc.
Lensrentals even provides a nice little “shipping manifest” type sheet that shows every little thing that needs to go back, including cases, caps, and filters.
Tape, Label & Go
After that, you use their included tape (very convenient) to reseal the box.
Toss the (adhesive) label on there and you’re good to go! Bring it into any FedEx partner and send it home!
But wait! What if you absolutely loved your rental and don’t want to send it back? Lensrentals does actually offer a “keeper” program, where you can flat-out buy your rental.
I personally purchase most of my gear used (eBay mostly), so I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
When to rent vs buy?
Alright, so the whole process is seamless and awesome, but when does it make sense for you to rent vs buy? That’s more or less personal preference.
For most people, I’d highly recommend renting before you buy ANY high-value gear. If you’re looking to buy a $2000 lens, spend $100 to rent it for a week instead. That way, you can make sure you absolutely love it before dropping a boatload of money into it.
Besides “trying before you buy”, I think Lensrentals also fills the needs of professionals as well. Shooting an event and your lenses aren’t quite cutting it? Rent some more appropriate glass and bill your clients the difference!
I love Lensrentals!
So yeah, if it’s not obvious by now, I really love Lensrentals. Their (somewhat) affordable and streamlined rental system has allowed me to rapidly grow this site without having to invest thousands to flat-out purchase lenses.
If you decide you’re looking to rent with them, feel free to use my refer-a-friend link here. This will get us -both- $25 off our next rentals.
Thanks a ton for reading, I hope you end up enjoying your rental experience! 🙂