A photographer’s best friend: lensrentals.com

This a thank you, better yet, a love note to my new favorite service: Lensrentals.com.

lens love
[ photo by Jeremy Johnson ]

When I bought my Canon 40D last year, I opted not to get the kit lens and went straight for the Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM. While I really, really love this lens, in some situations it can be pretty limiting. If try to shoot a group of a few friends, you’ll need some room to backup (especially if your using a crop-sensor camera like mine).

A few friends of mine recommended renting a lens for a week or so to thoroughly try it out. Lenses, especially Canon’s professional grade “L” series can be $1000+ dollars. I’m not willing to put down that kind of cash on a whim.

Talk to any seasoned photographer in the Dallas area about renting gear and you’re bound to hear about Competitive Cameras. They’ve got a very nice selection of photography goodies, the stuff that dreams are made of! The first lens I wanted to try out was a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM so I called ahead to make sure one was available. The nice gentlemen on the phone confirmed it, and told me to “come on by.”

Awesome. I hopped in the car and drove over.

Boy, was I in for a shock. I went up to the counter and ask to rent the 24 – 105. The man at the counter asked me, “have you ever rented here before?”


Where have you rented from?” He asked.

Um, nowhere. This is my first time renting.”

$1,000 deposit, credit card, and driver’s license.”

$1,000 deposit for a $1200 lens. Really? Moreover, I got the impression that if I had rented before there would be no deposit.

I thanked him and left. Defeated.

I can’t rent a lens unless I’m a trusted customer, but I’m not going to become a customer unless I try out the lens (no to mention treated a little better).

My experience with Lensrentals.com:

A few days later after hearing about Lensrentals.com I clicked over and rented the 24-105mm.

It’s obvious that the site is run by people who are truly passionate about photography. This is apparent in every part of their service, starting with helping you choose the right lens:

“If you’ll be shooting stopped down past f2.8 you may be better served by the Canon 50mm f1.4. But for wide aperture shots, this lens is the choice.”

Most places would do whatever it takes to get you to spend the most money, in this case, they suggest a less expensive option that might be better.

[ A lucky find while driving through an Austin neighborhood ]

All throughout the checkout process I kept looking for the “gotcha” thinking that there had to be some sort of deposit or hidden fee.


After placing my order I promptly received a email confirmation from a nice woman named Debbie. I scoured over the email, again looking for the gotcha. No crazy rental agreement. No “you’d better not break this.” Just a courteous confirmation email.

The lens arrived just 2 days later in a well packed and padded box. The lens even came with a bag and lens hood. The best part was the return shipping label which means I can just drop it off at Kinkos when I am finished.

I rented again in March. This time I chose the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM to tote around in Austin during SXSW. You can reserve equipment up to a month in advance so I schedule delivery for the Wednesday before SXSW weekend. I was surprised when I showed up on Monday. I emailed Debbie letting her know that it had arrived early and she assured me that it was no problem to keep it a few extra days.

[ Deep in Legos at the Austin Convention Center ]

Their attention to customer service is really refreshing. Every email correspondence I have had has either been with Debbie or Roger (their CEO), not a generic form message or call center. I was trusted to rent very expensive gear without feeling like I was on probation.


  1. Photos from SXSW 2008 — Hand Coding said:

    [...] To go along with that, I rented Canon’s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens from lensrentals.com (an awesome online lens rental shop, if you ever need that kind of [...]

  2. SceneDFW » Photos from SXSW 2008 said:

    [...] February. To go along with that, I rented Canon’s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens from lensrentals.com (an awesome online lens rental shop, if you ever need that kind of [...]

  3. Todd said:

    Your Canadian readers may be interested in Lens Lenders for camera lens rentals.


  4. Travis said:

    Great tip Todd, and welcome!

  5. Jared said:

    Lensrentals.com really is a first class outfit. They are super friendly and accommodating.
    If your readers (American or Canadian) are looking for Olympus equipment in addition to (or instead of) Canon & Nikon, check out

  6. Travis said:

    Thanks for stopping by Jared. Prophotorental.com looks first class as well. The rental calendar is a really nice detail.

  7. www.TryAndBuyLens.com said:

    Just visit our online camera lens rental store. We are located in CT. You will find best service and prices here. Rent Nikon, rent Canon, rent Sigma lenses at

    Thank you and good luck. :)

  8. Photos from Erica and Chris’ Wedding Reception — Hand Coding said:

    [...] rather than simply stuffing the pockets of the lens-rental companies ;). (All kidding aside, lensrentals.com came through for me yet again and their service has been great.) This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is [...]

  9. Amy said:

    I have used http://www.cameralensrentals.com
    Their customer service is second to noone. The 3 lenses I have rented were like brand new. Cant wait to get my 4th one free!

  10. C said:

    I have used LensRentals like you mention with wonderful results as well. Lately, I have been also renting with http://www.Borrowlenses.com since they are so much closer to me and have very similar type of customer service and selection.