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LensRentals.com – A Review

October 10, 2012

You know how they say you should take a car for a test drive before buying it? Well, the same applies for lenses, even if they aren’t quite as expensive. The problem is that many of the brick and mortar camera businesses are no longer around and it can be scary to rent a very expensive item from perfect strangers you’ll never meet in person. I mean… what if they get it back, but are unscrupulous and tell you it’s broken when it’s not and you have to pay hundreds to fix it, etc? What if UPS or the Post Office loses/steals the lens? What if I really do break it on accident? It’s a bit daunting.

I decided to take the plunge and rent a lens for Yosemite. I thought that I wanted my next lens to be a wide-angle and I knew I wanted to do some amateur astro-photography, which you need a wide-angle for most of the time.  I did quite a bit of research, and narrowed it down to two companies. I went with LensRentals.com in the end because, to be perfectly honest, I liked their website best. Especially the Meet the Team section, which I found cute and light-hearted. They even have bio’s for past employees which tells me they care about people, not just what those people can do for them. It’s my opinion that if a company treats its employees well (or appears to, at least) they are usually a good company to do business with.

I rented a Canon 10-22mm. Since this was my first order, there was some initial back and forth while they took the time to verify I wasn’t a thief and a liar. They were courteous and helpful during this phase and it was all wrapped up in about three e-mails.

Then I had to wait for the trip. Oh agony! Torture!

But time heals all wounds, especially if it causes them. When they shipped my lens I received an e-mail immediately with a tracking number and it arrived on the exact day that I had asked for it to. It arrived in a box that was perfectly fitted for the lens, with lots of padding. Inside the box is a foam square that has a cut out in the middle for the lens. It was well-packaged and there’s no need to fear that the lens might get damaged. It’s also easy to get in and out of the box. (And equally easy to repackage for return.) You need to save this box and the padding, because that’s how you return it. Also, nothing on the box says “lens” or implies that it’s an expensive item. They use their logo and the initials “L.R.”, which I think is great – another way to keep us safe from sticky fingers. The lens itself was in perfect condition and I was so excited I took it out for some shooting that night.

When it was time to return the lens, it took me two minutes to repackage it and most of that time was spent wrangling with a pesky tape dispenser. The label is in the box when it arrives, so I didn’t need to print out anything. I slapped that puppy on over the old label and voila – done. The trip was pretty dusty on the second and third day of hiking and I was very concerned about the super fine dust. I did my best to keep the camera in the bag and away from the dust, but I ended up calling them once I had it shipped to let them know that I was aware there might be dust on/in it. I asked them to please let me know if there was a problem. The woman on the line didn’t seem too concerned and I never heard from them on the subject, so I’m assuming they are used to this kind of thing.

LensRentals.com advises that you take it to FedEx and not just drop it in a drop-box. I didn’t think it would be a problem, but FedEx didn’t scan it in right away when I dropped it off. Now I know I’ll definitely follow their advice for my next rental… … … which arrived today actually!

Yeah, I had such a great experience that I immediately booked my next rental. It turns out that the 10-22mm will not be my next purchase. It was a great lens and perfect for the trip to Yosemite, but I realized that it’s not the lens I wanted to buy next. I really need an upgraded walk-around lens for my next lens, so I’m testing out a few of those. It’s worth the money to rent these first and try them out, in my opinion. The rental prices are very reasonable and the whole experience is so hassle-free that I know I’ll be renting when I can from them.

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