As a photographer I am always eager to check out different lenses. I have a core set of 'go-to' lenses that I own and typically carry including my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 on two different Canon 5D Mark iii bodies. These two lenses are my workhorses and can get me through the majority of my work. But for certain events I may need a lens that's not in my arsenal.
Recently I got a press pass to cover the AT&T Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Pebble Beach. I really wanted to get my hands on a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L lens to capture those distance shots when I was behind the rope but not close enough to the action. Fortunately I learned about lenslends.com, a camera rental company that has every Canon lens you could drool over. For under $50 I would be able to rent that lens at a fraction of what it would cost to own.
Lenslends.com makes sense for any photographer who needs a particular lens for a short term. With rental times ranging from a few days to several months you can get the gear you need without the heavy investment it would cost to own. This makes sense for both the serious hobbyist as well as the professional photographer who knows they only need certain lenses on occasion.
Unfortunately for me, the day I was set to cover the golf tournament the games were halted due to extreme weather. But with the 100-400mm lens in hand I took full advantage testing it out on a nature walk. This gave me the chance to check out some extreme zooms and distances and that lens did not disappoint, it met all my expectations. Even though it was an amazing lens I realize I do not have to make such a pricey investment and I'll rely on renting it the next time I need it. You can check out some of the photos I took with that lens in the attached slideshow.
The process to rent is super simple. Start by going to lenslends.com and figure out what equipment you need to rent. Currently they have Canon gear but expect to have Nikon equipment by late spring-early summer of 2014. Pick out the camera body, lens or accessory you need and see if it is available for the timeframe you require it. Once you place your order it will be shipped out to you based on urgency. It comes secure to you in a crash absorbent case (check out the slideshow).
Be sure to keep the packing box and materials in order to ship it back when your rental period is over. The shipping label will be included in your box along with a couple of lenslends.com business cards because you know you'll be handing out a few to your photography friends. Lenslends.com also offers a purchase option in case you like what you see SO much you don't want to give the gear up.
I highly recommend checking them out next time you're waffling whether you should purchase an expensive lens. This will give you the opportunity to play with the lens, determine if it suits your needs and then make a decision. Or if you are in the same situation I was in where I required a specific lens for a special assignment that wasn't already in my arsenal of equipment.
Lenslends.com is definitely worth checking out if you are a photography enthusiast or professional photographer. It's a great alternative to making a huge investment for those special assignments that require a piece of glass you don't own. I would consider renting a lens for travel assignments or vacation to capture some epic shots.
Tina Case is a photographer and writer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes reviews, tips and tricks about photography gear and other consumer technology products.
Full disclosure, I was provided with a free rental which allowed me to check out their process. All opinions are 100% my own. I would highly recommend this company based on first hand experience and outstanding service.