One frequently-cited advantage to using either Canon or Nikon SLR cameras is that they are so common that you can easily rent whatever you need that you don’t own. I’ve never been able to enjoy that alleged truth locally, as I’m not aware of any shop that rents camera equipment within a reasonable driving distance from home. But over the past few years, renting camera equipment online has taken off in popularity, with LensRentals being one of the more well-known providers.
I created my LensRentals.com account on a Wednesday afternoon and placed the order to receive the lens on the following Monday and to return it the Monday after that. In filling out the shipment form I asked them to send the lens to my customary third-party shipment service provider, who is authorized to sign to receive packages on my behalf. LensRentals contacted me and asked if they could instead ship directly to a FedEx location, with the reason being that once the package leaves the hands of FedEx, regardless of who signed for it, I become personally liable for whatever happens to the package. So they prefer if it goes directly from FedEx to me.
The package was delivered on schedule to a nearby FedEx location. The lens came lightly wrapped in bubble-wrap, placed inside its standard-issue Canon carrying case, with that placed inside a close-fitting block of foam rubber. The lens was very clean; not mint and pristine, but showing only very light signs of use. I would have been thrilled to buy a used lens in such good condition.
Over the next several days I completed my event photography assignment, which concluded on a Friday evening. Per the LensRentals web page, the next day that I could ship the lens back was Monday (no weekend shipments), so over the weekend I enjoyed taking some personal pictures of Samantha the border collie and a full moon.
Monday morning I packed the lens back up the way it came, slapped the prepaid FedEx return postage onto the box, and dropped it off at the same FedEx location that I picked it up at. The entire LensRentals experience went smoothly flawless, and I look forward to using their services again when I have a short-term need for camera equipment.
Oh, and the lens itself? I don’t have much to add to the scores of reviews online already, but in short, it’s a great lens. My main usage was a moderately well-lit indoor environment. The f4 aperture was plenty to sufficiently freeze motion at a shutter speed around 1/160s, and the image stabilization made that slow of a shutter speed quite usable hand-held. Outside, at 300mm I was able to stay far enough away from Samantha that she usually didn’t find the camera objectionable.
The resulting images were clear and as richly contrasty as I have come to expect from Canon prime lenses. If the focal length and aperture match what you need, and you have an extra $1500, buy one today. If you’d rather spend $1400 less than that, and don’t need 300mm all the time, then rent one for a week from LensRentals.