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The Best Place to Rent a Camera Lens

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There are several online camera rental companies to choose from. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on BorrowLenses, since that’s the one I like the most. We’ll also include some other alternatives that you can check out.

In the local store review I mentioned my experience regarding cost. To continue that experience, I later rented similar gear from an online rental company. The price was less than my weekend rental and I got it for way longer!

I didn’t get the nice bag with my rental, so I had to use one of my other camera bags. I also opted for just buying a new memory card rather paying extra to rent one.

Renting a storage card was almost more than half of just buying my own. Even though that required me to order one separately I would rather have the memory card to keep.

If you aren’t sure what memory card to get we have a guide to help you figure that out. 

BorrowLenses, and I would guess most other online options, professionally clean and inspect their gear after each rental. So you can be confident that you’ll get anything you order in good working condition.

As with any online option you have to consider shipping. This can be both a convenience and a drawback.

Convenient when you are traveling somewhere and want the gear sent directly there so you don’t have to pack it yourself. This also saves you trips to-and-from a local store or the hassle of trying to meet up with someone to get and return something you borrowed.

The drawback with shipping can be the added time and expense of shipping.

One of the great things about BorrowLenses is that most of the time you get free 2-Day shipping on rentals over $149. So if you’re planning to get enough gear you don’t have to worry about any added cost, and unless you need it next day the time frame isn’t a big problem.

On-line rental companies carry a large collection of gear, so you’ll have a good selection to choose from. Often, they will also have the latest cameras and lenses in stock if you’re interested in trying those out.

Just be aware that you’ll have to be quick with renting brand new gear. Companies generally will carry a limited amount and there might be a lot of demand from other photographers trying to rent the same stuff.

As I mentioned, BorrowLenses is our favorite, for online rentals. A couple reasons for this are:

  • Real-Time Rental search so you know what’s actually available
  • Rental options from 3 to 90 days
  • Return shipping label included
  • Fair and low-cost pricing
  • Easy rental process
  • Free Cancellations up to the day before it ships

Once you are ready to return the gear you will need to pack up and drop off the box at a UPS store. Although, there are more locations for these then any of the other rental options we reviewed.

Alternative Online Rental Companies:

If are wondering what alternative options you have or if the lens you want isn’t available on your dates you can try these companies:

These are all solid options. Pricing is pretty comparable, although sometimes a bit more than one another. You do need to watch for shipping or added insurance costs since that might make the total price more.

Best Photography Gear’s Conclusion

Online rental companies, like BorrowLenses, offers the best renting option for most people. Price is often less and you get the rental for longer!

If you need something by tomorrow this won’t work. However, if you can plan ahead a little bit, you can go ahead and reserve something and then just cancel it if you discover you won’t end up needing it.

The pricing and convenience options it does offer generally outweighs any cons. For me it’s more about a question of whether you rent or buy, but if you are going to rent, I would highly recommend BorrowLenses.

Pricing Exercise

How much does it cost to rent a camera lens from an online rental company? We compared pricing from the three different rental options to show you a real-world example of costs.

For our example we took the popular Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and looked at the pricing for a week long rental.

Here’s the cost breakdown for the renting from BorrowLenses:

Standard Per Rate: $76.00 for 3 Days [this is the minimum rental period] = $25.33 per day

Cost of a Weeklong Rental: $109.00

Discounted Per Day Cost: $15.57

In this example this was clearly the least expensive option. There was just over 22% savings compared to the next lowest option, for the same lens! You do need to account for any insurance protection you might want to add, although that would be common among the local retailer too. Shipping costs is also something to watch out for. In this example we wouldn’t hit the free 2 Day shipping threshold but even with shipping costs this was still the lowest price option.

If you only need the lens for a day then this would be the most expensive option. But anything over two days and this was still at the low end of the price options.

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