Why Rent Cameras, Lenses and Other Photography Equipment?


If you’ve spent much time around other professional photographers, you’ll likely have noticed that some don’t own the photography gear that they shoot with on a regular basis, but instead hire it for each job. This may seem odd at first. Why rent camera lenses and other photography gear rather than buying outright? Surely in the long term that’s just a waste of money?

Well, you may be surprised, but renting camera gear actually offers the professional or semi-professional photographer a number of distinct advantages over owning equipment. Here are five of the most important ones. And yes, saving money is one of them. Read on to find out why.

5 Reasons Why It’s Better to Rent Camera, Lenses, and Other Photography Gear

1 - Peace of Mind

If your own camera gear develops a technical issue while on a shoot, it’s nobody’s problem but your own. And it can potentially be a very big and expensive problem indeed; especially if it’s a big production that would cost a small fortune to reshoot. 

Conversely, if you’ve rented a camera lens or other item of photographic gear from a reputable rental company, it will be their responsibility to courier you a replacement right away. At least assuming you aren’t on the other side of the world when it happens. This makes camera and lens rental very appealing for professionals who need to be certain that their gear will never let them down.

2 - Specialized Equipment

Different jobs require different gear. Although you might prefer to own any core equipment that you use every day - such as the camera body itself and one or two workhorse lenses - it makes a lot more sense to rent any camera lenses that you use less often. This leaves you free to choose exactly the gear you need for that particular job, rather than having to make do with what you’ve already got.

For example, purchasing long telephotos or extreme wide angle lenses - especially those with a fast maximum aperture - can be prohibitively expensive. And if we’re talking about equipment that you only use every once in a while, such as a macro or tilt-shift lens for example, it makes little sense to spend all that money and then leave the gear sitting on the shelf for much of the year. 

3 - Traveling Light

If you are a photographer who travels frequently on assignment, hiring all your cameras and lenses when you get to the other end will almost certainly work out much more convenient than dragging them around everywhere with you. Traveling across the country (or around the world) with heavy camera bags or flight cases has always been a bit of a chore. But with the rise in threat of terrorism, and the increased security checks at airports and borders that this has brought about, carrying large amounts of electronic equipment through security controls has become a downright drag in many parts of the world these days. Renting solves this problem from the outset.

4 - Try Before You Buy

Even if you ultimately prefer to own all the equipment you use, it undoubtedly makes sense to try costly gear out before committing your money. And while most good camera retailers will be happy for you to handle their products in store, this is really no substitute for putting a piece of kit through its paces out “in the field”. This is particularly true of lenses, where in order to tell if they are worth the investment, you really need to see how they behave in different lighting conditions first. 

5 - It’s Actually Cheaper

Although this may seem counterintuitive, if you are a busy working photographer it’s actually cheaper to rent a camera, lenses, and other photographic equipment than it is to purchase them. 

How so? 

Well, when you own all the gear you use, this initial investment comes out of your future profits. Sure, at least a portion of any purchases you make of lenses, camera bodies, and other photographic items will generally be tax-deductible; but when you rent it will likely all be deductible. 

More importantly though, in most cases you’ll be able to pass the cost of rental directly on to the client. Although it might seem tempting to present a client with a bill for the wear and tear of your own camera gear after each job, this is unlikely to go down too well with any client; they’ll just see owning your equipment as part of the responsibility of being a professional photographer. However, if when quoting for a job you explain to the client that you will need to hire some specialized equipment in order to meet their particular brief, they are unlikely to make a fuss.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the value of most cameras and lenses will depreciate over time. Not only this, but after many years of use, equipment becomes faulty and the technology becomes old. Conversely, if you rent, you will always have access to the latest models in perfect condition.

Final Thoughts

To those who believe that photographers are only as good as their gear, it will likely come as a surprise to learn that many very successful and high-profile photographers don’t own their lenses or even a camera at all. Instead they prefer the convenience of renting exactly the right equipment for whatever job they’ve been hired to do at the time. 

And as we’ve just seen, there are several other reasons why you might find it more convenient to rent camera, lens, or other photography gear rather than (or even before) purchasing. If you would like to rent gear, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at The Lens Loft to discuss your needs.


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  • Sounds sensible…

    George Sabol

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