For our last big adventure to Namibia I had the chance to rent and test a larger lens which was not part of my camera essentials. I rented the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary from Miet das Ding in Austria, which was my first attempt on renting equipment specifically for a trip. Hence I decided that it is a good idea to share my thoughts on the pros and cons of renting instead of buying photographic gear.
Written by Anskar
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There are two possible scenarios for which renting photographic gear comes into question. Either it could be used for equipment you do not personally own but which would enhance a planned photographic experience/trip. Or you could rent it to test whether or not a certain camera or lens fulfills your ideas. The latter is especially useful if you plan to purchase a more expensive piece of gear or when you do a complete change of brands.
For me it was a mix of both possibilities. I did not really need this lens at the time being but it would have made our scheduled trip substantially better. But I also wanted to try it in the field before deciding to ever make it part of my camera essentials.
These two reasons are also the biggest advantages of renting gear instead of buying it. You don’t have to spend hundreds of Euro and you can put it through their paces. Either way, renting camera gear is definitely a wise choice in certain situations!
The overall service of my supplier was great. The whole procedure of receiving and sending back the lens was working perfectly smooth. Of course, I can only judge on the experience with Miet das Ding. But I have heard only good things concerning this part of the trade when it comes to bigger brands too.
Yet another advantage was, that the new lens gave me extraordinary possibilities. Eventually, it led to images that I could not have captured without it. It might not have been essential for this specific trip but it just added this extra value that enhanced the results in a satisfacting way.
Even though the price is fair and the option is a lot cheaper than buying new equipment it still is a costly decision you have to make. You will always end up asking yourself whether you really should spend this money on renting the gear or just put it directly into buying it. On the other hand, many renting facilities offer the option to see the rent as a deposit in case you decide to buy the lens afterwards!
Also, if you rent new equipment which you never handled before it can be a good idea to plan ample time ahead of a big trip to get used to it. This again means the rental price will increase! One big disadvantage is the insurance part. In some cases you are not insured for everything (especially theft or loss). Always carefully check about insurance and other policies and see if there is an available option to book it. Especially in foreign countries it is worth the extra bucks!
Renting gear instead of buying it directly can be very advantageous in some cases. But not always should it be your first choice! Sometimes it also works great if you just buy a used camera or lens. And if you then decide that it does not suit you for whatever reason you can still resell it for roughly the same money. But for testing out new and expensive gear or purchasing gear that you do not have in your essentials, renting equipment is definitely a choice worth considering!
Did you ever rent something and how have your experiences been regarding it?