A Closer Look – The Pros and Cons of Renting Gear

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VanessaSimpson2016 (3 of 4) Have you ever rented camera gear? Over the summer I decided to give it a try, twice. I wanted to test out a few new lenses, and it has been a fun way to play with the way I frame and see the world around me. Included in the mix was the  Sigma 35mm Art lens. Alison talked a little bit about this lens in a previous post and it got me curious to try it for myself. I agree with what she has to say about the lens really capturing more of what I had seen in my minds eye. I also realized I have a real heart for my prime lenses! I confirmed this suspicion while giving the 70-200mm a whirl- man that lens is heavy. But what it also is? Picky! And while I like having the ability to get up close to my subjects without having to actually be “close”, I think I might love my 80mm to do this job. That said, it is a great tool for weddings – and I should probably take the plunge to purchase one for next season…
VanessaSimpson2016 (6 of 7)What else did I learn while renting?

I discovered hat the 100mm fixed is pretty awesome. I mean look at the creamy bokeh that I got in each of these images here in this post! I also found that if I am going to use this lens for things like ring shots, I should probably set my camera in live view mode. Doing so would allow me to zoom in to about 100% on my screen and get that SUPER fine focus, which this lens is known for. Yes, you can do this through the little eye viewfinder, but is much easier to actually see what you are dialing in on with the screen on the back of the camera!  Details aside, I am pretty in love with the abstractness of these hydrangea images. I took some time in my backyard before heading out to work with my clients (another important lesson with renting gear, give yourself a week or so to figure out the gear!) The play of the light in these shots when I am zoomed in so close to the flowers made me really happy.

The final and biggest lesson though? And this is HUGE (enough to have almost made me cry, kinda huge), don’t rent a camera body that you aren’t familiar with as your second camera for the day at a wedding. Your gonna get frustrated with the knobs and wheels and the slight but very important placement changes for things like your ISO and auto focus. Trust me on this one… ahem.
VanessaSimpson2016 (3 of 7)So how about you, have you rented gear? Was it a great learning experience, or a huge flop? Who is your favorite company to rent through and why? I would love to hear from you all out there and for you to share any lessons you have learned along the way!

Keep chasing that light,



  1. I took a trip this past winter, rented a mirrorless and left my “real camera” at home. I started to get a little used to it by the end of the trip, but I don’t even know how many shots I missed because I didn’t really have a feel for the thing. That said, I did learn that I’d love to have a mirrorless, just probably not the one I had rented. It was a fun little experiment for sure! (I’ve done a ton of lens renting and have always had great experiences with that too ?). I have used borrowlenses.

    • And that is the beauty (and a little bit of the heartbreak) of renting that I have really loved. Testing things out is always really great for the creative process, I think!

  2. I have always rented before buying, and it has always been a great experience. I use borrowlenses.com (they are amazing!). However, like you, I learned VERY early on, to learn how to use the camera (if that’s what you’re renting) a bit, well before it arrives, otherwise you spend the first few (or more!) days of your rental, just trying to figure things out.

    • yes! I think the lens rental is such a great “try before you buy” deal. I have found that I immediately know if I love the lens or am “meh” over it.
      And, the camera body thing… oye. I was heartbroken over a couple of miss shots, but lessons learned!

  3. I’ve rented extra bodies a couple of times for shoots. I got them a couple of days ahead of time in order to get used to them — definitely a good plan. I once rented a lens just for fun. I like the idea of renting a mirrorless to give it a try. One of these days maybe I’ll rent a tilt shift lens just because.

  4. I rented a 35mm 1.4 lens. And when I returned it, I bought the real thing. It was THAT good!
    Also Primes FTW!

    • YES! I am learning how much I truly love a prime lens. I just feel more in control, and half the time with a zoom, I forget I can move the darn thing around- hahaha.

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