Renting a Camera Lens

24-70mm f2.8L USM on my Camera with Lens Hood
The lens is so heavy it tips my camera forward a bit.

For my cousin’s wedding I wanted to have a f/2.8 lens.  I had had bad luck with my current lenses at Richard’s wedding because I couldn’t get good enough low light performance.  So I decided to rent a Canon EF 24-70mm L f/2.8 lens.  So not only will it be an f/2.8, but it will also be an L lens so this should be the best quality photos I have ever taken.  After a lot of looking around, I ended up choosing Pro Photo Rental.

28 Sept

I went to the website and ordered the lens.  It was as easy as finding the lens and then picking the dates on the calendar.  I chose to go with the insurance because I’m traveling with the lens so I’m scared something could happen on the plane.  (Not that I’d check it, but something could happen to it even if it is with me in the plane)  I can’t wait until it arrives in November.

30 Oct

Received email from Pro Photo Rental saying that my item had shipped.  They also reminded me of when the item was due back, UPS tracking number, return receipt instructions, and how to avoid late fees.  Although all this information was available on the web (and I read it before ordering) it was great customer service to include it here.  I did order this a while back, so I am surprised to see they now use UPS.  This sucks a bit because FedEx is right by my work and I was planning to return it on my lunch half hour.  Oh well.  I’ll have to see if there’s a closer UPS to me here than the one I know about right outside Baltimore.  Strangely, I got two UPS tracking numbers.  Not sure whether to expect two packages or one.  Each of these was in its own email.  A fourth email told me that a return receipt was on its way.  I wonder if one tracking number is for the receipt and one is for the lens itself.  Yes, comparing tracking numbers seems to confirm that one of the tracking numbers is for the return receipt.  A bit confusing, but that’s UPS’ fault, not Pro Photo Rental.  Still, I subtract a quarter of a point unit in customer service for the bit of confusion this caused.  UPS claims I’ll get it 4 Nov which is when I expected it.  All’s well for now.

4 Nov

The Shipping Case
The box the lens was shipped in

The lens arrived today.  The box is way smaller than I thought it would be.  It was closed with zip ties.  I lifted the lens out of the box, it was a lot heavier than I expected.  Also inside were zip ties to close the box and the return shipping label.  Now it was time to test the lens to make sure it was working OK before it was too late to get a replacement in time for the wedding.

The Inside of the Shipping Case
VERY well padded case

I took a quick couple of photos of my camera with the lens on.  It is HUGE on my 400D!  Also, interestingly, it extends when it’s zoomed in.

24-70mm f2.8L USM-2 - web
Fully extended at 24mm

I took the following photo as a test shot.  It came out perfectly fine and I was ready to use the lens on the wedding.

One of the First Photos with the 24-70mm f2.8L USM
A test shot

9 Nov

Now, unfortunately, it was time to part with the lens.  I put it back in the case, zip-tied it, and put the return label.  I got a shipping receipt with a tracking number on it.  I never got any email from the company when they got the lens back.  This is not ideal.  I did check the tracking number and saw it was delivered.


OK, the experience was overall great.  I setup a lens rental, got a heads up email, the lens arrived.  It was in great condition, I used it and sent it back.  However, it was a little confusing this first time around to get so many confirmation number emails and no confirmation email when they got the lens back.  If they had a nice automated email before the lens came to me, it’d be nice to get an email when they get it back.  I know it has a tracking number – am I being unreasonable?  So my final score is 4.5/5.  I will definitely use them again in the future and I wholly recommend them to anyone looking to use a lens they want to test or cannot afford to buy right now.

2 responses to “Renting a Camera Lens”

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.