Renting Lenses

Hiring a lens is a great alternative to purchasing an expensive optic

While we’d all like to have a collection of top-class professional lenses nestling in our camera bag, the high prices of these high-quality optics puts them out of reach for most of us. But if you could get your hands on, say, a Nikon 7O-2O0mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II for as little as £40, or a Canon EF 85mm f/.2 II L for only £30, you might be very tempted.

While the price of these lenses may suggest they’re being sold off a back of a lorry, they’re actually daily rental prices. Take a flick through the advertising pages at the back of the magazine and you’ll notice a growing number of photography rental companies out there offering you the chance to hire and shoot with the latest high-end glass for a very minimal outlay and risk. Over these pages we’ll explain the reasons why you may want to consider renting your lenses from now on.

The reasons for renting

Let’s say for example you have a lucky opportunity to shoot a top-flight football match. While your standard 70-300mm lens will do a pretty decent job of getting you close to the action, you might want to use a pro-spec 400mm f/2.8 to get even closer and record the best images possible with your dream lens attached to your DSLR.

As photographers, we often find ourselves working in different environments. Landscape photographers will generally own wideangle lenses while portrait photographers will have a selection of primes in their bag, but that’s no reason to say you shouldn’t experiment with other lenses to see what effects can be achieved. Many people who hire lenses use rental services as a way of trying a lens to find out if it’s as good as one had hoped before committing to buying it. In many ways, buying a lens is no different from buying a car. When there’s big money at stake it would be rude not to take it for a test drive first, especially if it helps you make your final decision.

How to hire a lens

The common way of hiring photographic equipment is online. With some companies you’ll also be requested to put down a deposit.


Once you’ve decided on the lens you’d like to hire and how long you want to hire it for (most companies allow hire from one day up to three weeks), a payment will need to be made before the order is processed. The lens will be suitably packaged at the company’s depot before being dispatched via a courier to your address for the specified time and date. When you’re finished with the lens, it’s usually up to you to arrange postage back, but some hire companies might suggest collecting the lens using their courier, which is often the best and most convenient option available.


Hire companies should include insurance into the cost of the hire of the lens, but this is worth checking because the last thing you want is to land up with a huge settlement fee to pay for damage to an item that isn’t yours. General wear and tear is expected, but if you mark the front element or damage something as important, you may find yourself having to pay an excess of around £150-£200. You’ll also want to guard any hired lenses with your life. Negligence isn’t covered, so if any lenses were to go missing or get stolen, you will be held responsible to foot the bill, however much the cost.

Insurance and damage policies do vary from company to company so we’d always advise reading the terms and conditions in depth before committing to an order.

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