The Advantages of Renting Photographic Gear Before you Buy


We have all heard the expression “The gear does not make the photo. The photographer makes the photo.” That being said, the gear does certainly help in perfecting the art of photography.

If you are a professional photographer or even a serious amateur, you know that photography is quite an expensive profession/hobby. Good equipment can be expensive and by the time you build your day-to-day gear bag, it can set you back several thousands of dollars. Just when you think you have the perfect setup,  you hear about the latest camera or a faster lens than what you have just being released for pre-order. Gear lust is very real among photographers!

Kenichi Nobusue

By kenichi nobusue

This is where renting gear or even borrowing becomes a viable option for many professional as well as serious amateurs.

Benefits of renting photo gear

There are several advantages to renting photographic equipment.

  • The cost of renting is typically much lower than cost of buying the gear. This becomes more relevant if it is not something you are going to use too often (like a mega telephoto lens, fish-eye, or tilt-shift lens).

    Jon Fingas

    By Jon Fingas

  • Ability to try out the equipment and see if it suits your style of photography. Once you know you like a piece of gear, you can make the investment and know you’re making the right choice.
  • Using a rental as a backup system for assignments especially events like weddings or concerts.
  • Traveling light and having gear shipped directly to your hotel is an option many photographers mention as a plus for renting. This also eliminates travel-related anxiety around lost luggage and excess baggage charges.
  • Using a rental when your main gear is out for repair. This let’s you keep working while you wait for repairs to be completed.
  • Eliminating buyer’s remorse. It is true that not every piece of gear works for everyone. Often times we buy gear because a certain photographer that we admire has the same equipment, only to be disappointed that our pictures are no where like theirs.

Renting – online versus local stores

Richard Fisher

By Richard Fisher

There are many different options for renting photographic gear. You can do so from local stores in your area or online vendors. In the US, big camera chain stores like CalumetPhotographic and AdoramaRentals sell as well as rent photo gear. CalumetPhoto, one of the local camera retailers in my area, also has local stores where you can go to pick up and drop off rental equipment. They tend to have a wide variety of equipment but definitely recommend reserving gear, especially if you want it for a specific event like weddings, to ensure you get what you want.

There are online stores like Borrowlens and Lensprotogo that also offer a wide variety of lens, cameras and other equipment for rent. You order online and have the gear shipped to your home or location of your choice. Once you are done, you ship it back to them. There is definitely more flexibility in renting gear online but there is the added cost of shipping and insurance, as well as a slight risk that the gear might not arrive in time (any unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather).

Benefits of borrowing photo gear

Giyu (Velvia)

By Giyu (Velvia)

Sometimes you get lucky and have other photographer friends who let you borrow their equipment for a photoshoot, or just to test out – definitely one of the more cost effective ways of trying out photographic gear. However, for those of us who don’t have such awesome friends, there is another method of renting temporary gear that is starting to become popular.

Online companies like CameraLends provide access to a lending community where you can rent cameras directly from local photographers and film makers. On the CameraLends website, they offer a peer-to-peer lending community for photographers and videographers. Owners post unused gear to rent out to other photographers and you can rent gear directly from local photographers, faster and cheaper than traditional means. But this service is somewhat dependent on the market you are in. Not every market will have every piece of equipment available for rent.

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Regardless of what method you choose to borrow or rent camera equipment, definitely try out gear before you make the investment to purchase it. The last thing you want to happen is buying equipment you think you want or need, only to find that it is really not benefiting your particular style of photography.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Karthika Gupta is a lifestyle, wedding, and travel photographer based in the Chicago area. Her images are fun, fresh and natural and her love for nature makes it way into most of her images. She also has a Free Travel Photography Demystified E-Course a 5-Day video series to help you improve your travel photography.


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  • smat

    Thank you Karthika. I found the on-line lens rentals to be cheaper than I expected. So, I see your a wedding photographer. I have been asked to shoot my sons wedding and I one of my go-to lenses is my 50mm prime. I was considering also renting an 80mm prime as well. Can I get your thoughts?

  • Hello – sorry for the delay, the 80mm prime is a good choice. I have the L version and love the images from this lens but the focusing is a tad slow. In a wedding situation where things move quite fast, you might be better off with the 70-200mm – a superb lens worth its weight in gold. Plus it gives you the flexibility of a zoom especially if you don’t have much place to move around! – good luck with the wedding and congratulations!

  • smat

    Hey Thank you! and thank you for responding. Have a great photo day. Steve

  • smat: may I give you some personal advice? I’d recommend not shooting your own son’s wedding – for a couple reasons.

    #1 – enjoy the day and be present to do so. You can’t do that and worry about photographing it as well.

    #2 – what if something were to happen? What if you don’t get the photos they want? Don’t risk a relationship over such a thing – I’ve seen it happen, trust me. Hire a professional you trust and sit back and enjoy the day!

    If you want to do weddings professionally start with someone else’s and practice. Unless of course you have done many of them and feel confident doing weddings – then, it’s your call.

  • Theresa634563
  • Tammy
  • Mukul Mudgal

    Hi @karthika_gupta:disqus thank you for the great article. however, what are the websites/options to hire lenses and equipments in Delhi/NCR?

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  • smat

    Thanks Darlene…..I ‘kinda’ followed your advice (which was very appreciated by the way). I recommended (and they did), that they hire a professional of their choosing. I only asked that I be able to do a smaller ‘shoot’ at a secluded location (it was on an island) for practice – which they allowed. I learned ALOT – they still got pics of their wedding from a professional and I was able to enjoy it. Its amazing what you learn when you are doing it ‘for real’. Again, thank you for the advice. I learned a lot.

  • I’m so glad it turned out well. I’m always leery of giving “advice” but I really wanted you to enjoy the wedding.

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