7 Reasons to Rent Photography Equipment Instead of Buying

7 Reasons to Rent Photography Equipment


Considering investing in a new camera, lens or photography equipment, but the steep price is holding you back? I don’t blame you since anything photography related doesn’t come cheap!

Before you shell out the big bucks, there is another option you should consider– renting the gear before you buy.  It’s the best way to make sure the gear you’re considering actually fits your needs, and your budget. 

The following are seven reasons why renting photography equipment often makes more sense than purchasing it outright.

Reason #1: ‘Date’ Equipment Before You Commit

Most of us wouldn’t marry someone we just met, so why would you purchase a new camera or lens without trying it out first? Renting allows you to try out  gear without making a big financial commitment you regret later.

Since camera bodies and lenses often run into several thousand dollars, by renting first, you can make sure that the gear fits your needs and shooting style before you lay down that credit card. 

Nothing says buyer’s remorse like a lens or camera body that never or rarely makes it out of your gear bag. So it makes perfect sense to try out the gear you’re thinking of purchasing before you take the plunge.

Reason #2: Rent for Specific Purposes

Some photographers prefer to invest in lenses, not camera bodies, since quality lenses can be used for years…but camera bodies become outdated in just a few short years. 

I remember reading about a wedding photographer who did this very thing. He rented his camera bodies, and passed on the cost to his clients. That way, he always had the latest bodies with the most advanced features to shoot weddings. Pretty ingenious, I’d say! 

Speaking of wedding photographers, it’s a must to have a backup camera on hand. If anything goes wrong with your camera during the wedding, you’ll have to deal with angry clients if you miss any key happenings during the event! If you’re new to wedding photography, it just makes sense to rent your backup instead of purchasing it outright. You can pass on the cost, and at the same time, save up for your ideal backup body.

Another time it makes more sense to rent equipment than buy it, is in the rare occasions you need specialty lenses.

A prime example is our own Brandon Chesbro, who rented a Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens worth $12,000 to shoot our Wildlife 201 course. He only paid $500 to rent this ultra-expensive lens for an entire week! This lens was perfect to allow Brandon to photograph unpredictable wildlife, without putting himself in harm's way.  However, it would be crazy to purchase a lens this expensive, if you aren't going to use it on a regular basis. 

Renting lenses makes sense if you want to experiment with unusual lenses like fisheyes, tilt-shift (used in real estate and architectural photography) or an extreme telephoto, like the one Brandon used in Yellowstone.

Reason#3: You Won’t Use the Camera/Equipment Often Enough to Pay for Itself

If you’re thinking about picking up a camera that you won’t use often (say a fun, and lightweight Fuji X-T3 to take on your vacation) then consider renting it instead. Especially if you’re considering financing your purchase, renting the equipment can be far more cost effective. 

A general rule of thumb is if you use a camera more than 20 days out of the year, then it makes more sense to purchase it outright. If not, then renting is the way to go!

Reason #4: You Don’t Want to Travel with Your Own Equipment

If you fly on a regular basis, you’ll know what a hassle it is to bring a bag full of gear along. There’s no way you want to check it, because who knows if you’ll ever see it again. 

If you do decide to pay to check your gear bag after all, you may end up getting slapped with overweight baggage fees too (because camera bodies and lenses aren't lightweight!) 

A better solution?  Rent the equipment you need and have it delivered to the hotel you’ll be staying at. 

Just make sure to reserve your equipment in advance. This ensures your rental company actually has the gear you need on hand, and allows for enough shipping time for the gear to arrive at your hotel when you do.  

Reason #5: Your Gear is Out for Repair, But Needed for a Shoot

As a business owner, you need to hustle up business. It would be a shame to turn down a last-minute opportunity just because your camera and/or lens is out for repair. Don’t run out and buy another camera–just rent one until your baby is back from the repair shop.

Reason#6: You’re Just Getting Started in Photography

It’s hard to know what camera brand you’ll like best without trying one out. You can read all kinds of reviews, but until you actually have the cameras in hand, it’s tough to know which one fits you best. 

Renting gives you the opportunity to try out a variety of bodies and lenses to see which one you love most. 

The same goes if you’re considering switching camera brands. Make sure the camera you’re thinking of switching to actually lives up to all the hype. This is especially important because if you switch brands, you’ll also have to switch lenses too, which adds up to a sizable investment.

Reason #7: You Need Specialized Lighting Gear for a Shoot (or Just Want to Try Some Out!)

It can be difficult to decide on exactly what you need for lighting gear without trying it out first. This is another prime example of when renting before you buy makes more sense. There are few things more frustrating than realizing that the lighting gear you purchased isn’t adequate for what you need it for. 

Consider renting a few lighting setups at the same time. This way you can try them out separately and compare them head-to-head. 

If you’re interested in off-camera flash, it's crucial to make sure that your flashes trigger without any glitches. There’s few things more annoying than flashes that refuse to fire at a critical moment! So testing a few brands for dependability is critical before you pull out your wallet.

Want to try out studio strobes? They are another expensive piece of equipment. It makes sense to rent them if you’re not yet using them for everyday shoots. 

Plus, by renting your lighting gear,  you can try out fun lighting equipment such as continuous LED lights, ring lights, beauty dishes and a whole lot of other specialty lighting gear.

Now that I’ve shared my reasons why it makes sense to rent sometimes, let’s look at the actual rental process.

How to Rent Cameras, Lenses and Other Equipment

For all my rental needs, I trust my friends at Borrow Lenses

They have a simple process to book the gear you need.

  1. Search in real-time for the gear you’re interested in renting (you’ll see pricing displayed at the same time.) 
  2. Decide on the length of time you need to rent. You can rent anywhere from 3-90 days. 
  3. Return your rental in the same box it arrived in, with the included shipping label. Drop it off at your nearest UPS Store. 

In terms of rental deposits, most equipment only requires a minimal deposit, if any. 

If you need to make changes or cancel your rental, you can do this risk-free until the day before your gear is scheduled to ship. 

And if you need expert guidance in determining your rental needs, Borrow Lenses have experts on hand to advise you. 

Borrow Lenses often run rental specials that can save you even more just by entering a coupon code. 

As one of our readers, they’ve extended a special coupon code just for you!

LINK: https://davidmolnar.com/borrow-lenses

Enter “15OR30” at checkout to save $30 or 15% on your next rental. 

Have you considered renting photography equipment before, or have you already taken the plunge? Let me know how it went in the comments! 

If you’re ready to start pursuing YOUR photography dreams today, check out my FREE training “Show Your Camera Who’s Boss.” You'll walk away a more confident camera user and better photographer in just one hour.  Click the image below to register!

3 thoughts on “7 Reasons to Rent Photography Equipment Instead of Buying”

  1. Hi I’m entering school for photography and will need certain gear. I did not see where I can rent it.. I’m in Oklahoma outside Tulsa. Thank you for your time,

  2. I rented a Nikkor 70-200 lens and tried it out for a high school soccer match and LOVED IT! Then after studying some reviews from reputable (non-compensated) reviewers that are real photographers (Jared Polin and Tony (& Chelsea) Northrup)…I decided that at the level I was at it didn’t warrant spending the extra money for only a slight difference with the newest, latest model. I purchased the most up to date that had already been out through one of David Molnar’s recommended places Adorama! They have an excellent “grading system” for used gear!! I found a “used” lens for a price I was okay with paying and got exactly what I wanted with NO remorse!! Plus, I could NOT find ANY sign that the lens wasn’t brand new and unused! It looked perfect! The lens, being the size that it is, came with it’s own caring bag, which is awesome! The “one” tiny thing that was missing was the attachable carry strap. That’s it, the ONE thing I found as the only issue! I found a strong, NEW carry strap on Amazon for $8.99! (A universal strap for laptop cases, duffel bags,, etc. ) I picked one with “metal” clips since it’s an expensive and fragile camera lens it would have to hold. Thanks to David and his wonderful crew for the ideas and alternatives that can help a person tremendously when they are just starting out!! ❤️ You are the best!!

  3. That was done back in 2018. Flash forward to February 2020, and I’m going to visit family and taking my Canon EOS 6D MII that I WON from David Molnar’s 12 Days of Christmas Give Away!! I purchased the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Prime lens for $1,599.00. at my local highly reputable camera shop. I picked a lens that was not what I already had in my Nikon gear. I asked the group “what should I do,” looked at the list of David Molnar’s recommended lenses and now I’ve been shopping, and shopping, not ready to spend the cash yet I guess for the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II that “I think I want.” Then I went back to the idea of the Awesome Nifty-Fifty for only $349 right now. In my dilemma, I read a “perfectly timed post” from David and our Photo Mentorship Group about RENTING equipment!! So I posted my previous experience of renting and now I’m going to look into “renting” the Canon 24-70 mm lens to take with me on my travels, so I have something a little more wide angled for “family” shots!! Thank you!!!

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