DON'T HAVE IT? CAN'T BUY IT? BORROW IT!
We thought long about this type of transaction, and with the realization that for many photographers it's the only way to truly test a product, learn about a product, and use a product without thousands of dollars in investments. What are we talking about? There are a handful of sites on the internet where you can rent a quality product for a reasonable amount of money.
Here's an example of it working for you: You book a wedding and need an extra body to either attach your prime lens to, or have as a back up in case something happens. Bodies are damaged, bodies get lost, bodies can stop working for dozens of reasons. While normally on an editorial shoot, you can improvise and take a minute to figure out your next step...at a wedding, it's not possible. People hope to walk down the aisle once (notice that we said HOPE? Yikes!) and once you miss the moment, it's gone forever. For this reason having a second camera body to have a secondary lens on, or just as an emergency back up is HIGHLY recommended. Having the "why you missed that important shot" conversation with the bride is NOT a pleasant moment. In fact, it usually haunts the photographer for years.
Here's another situation: You book a commercial client and they want 4K video in between the photo shots. Wait a minute, your 5D only goes to 1080 and 720 on 60 FPS! Why do they even want 4K, when it's going to the internet!? You scratch your head and try to change the client's mind, they don't budge. At this point you can either 1) Hire an outside contractor to help you. The good new is, they'll likely do a great job. The bad news is, they'll likely be the go-to person for the client with future video projects, taking YOU out of their market instantly.
Solution? Sure, you can rent from one of the many online stores that cater to this type of a problem. There's borrow lenses, lens rentals, Glass and Gear, Rent Glass, and a few others. With these sort of websites you can rent for 3 days, 5 days, 7 days and sometimes longer. It's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS better to rent a couple extra days, in case something happens to the package. Give yourself that cushion at the very least on the front end, so you can have the product earlier and learn to play with it.
Our experience mainly consists with Borrow Lenses. Like all of them, Borrow Lenses will ship the package to where you are. Recently, we traveled to Austin Texas for SXSW for a job. The photography backdrop stand for the muslin, the tripod, and C stand all came from Borrow Lenses. You pay for shipping to and from the destination. But there's a great convenience when your items arrive carefully packaged to your shoot and when done, you place everything back in the box and ship back to them. Because we didn't want to pay for airline fees for the extra items, it made sense to have have Borrow Lenses ship directly to the hotel.
How to make renting lenses worth it: Some might say that it costs too much to rent, and you should just buy it. We more or less disagree with this initially. At some point if you're going to rent a particular lens 5x a year, you should just buy it! If you need it a couple of times, and you need a particular body a couple of times...rent it. If you are searching for a new body and technology moves too fast, that by the time you purchase a camera it's already out of date and you don't want to invest that kind of money upfront...then rent it! Rent it until you find something you want to buy. There's a balance, each person will find their own.
In a later post we'll address the topic of when you need to stop renting and actually consider purchasing, in greater detail.