8 Online Lens Rental Stores Compared


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Rentglass packageWhile big chains like Calumet have a great selection including lighting, bodies, and accessories, they don’t deliver and their rates are high. If you just want to try a lens out before you buy a copy, if you are looking for a bargain rental and don’t mind waiting a little while to get it, or if you just can’t rent anywhere locally, then one of these online lens rental shops could be the perfect fit.

Each of these services have their differences but they all basically operate the same way. You order your lens online and pre-pay for the rental as well as both shipping and return shipping. The rental period (usually 1-3 weeks) begins when you receive the lens. Send it back the day after the rental period ends in the provided return shipping materials. In addition, none of the services reviewed below requires a deposit.

It’s important to note that while shipping is usually insured and normal wear and tear is acceptable, damage and/or loss are not automatically covered. You can purchase rental insurance with some of the services. But you may already be covered under your home owner’s insurance, credit card agreement, or photographer’s insurance.

No matter where you rent, read the rental agreements and damage/insurance policies carefully.

RentGlass.com

RentGlass.com

  • Good selection of Canon and Nikon lenses
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • First come, first served. No reservations. But they do have a feature to email you when a lens becomes available.
  • Rental period: 1, 2, or 3 full weeks.
  • Optional rental insurance.
  • USPS 2-3 day shipping.
  • Local pickup in Celebration, Florida.
  • Rental agreement
  • Sigma 10-20
    • 1 week: $29 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $49 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $63 + shipping
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $54 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $95 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $120 + shipping

RentGlass.com is a great service that I’ve used in the past. Click here to read my original review of the service. The biggest problem with Rentglass.com is that they are so popular. That means that the lens you want is usually out of stock. You can sign up for an email alert when the lens returns to stock. But you have to be quick to be the first to claim it. I’ve been away from the computer when the email came in on more than one occasion and clicked through to find the lens had already been rented to someone else. It can be frustrating.

But once you order a lens the process works beautifully. I’ve never had any issues renting from this shop and I can recommend them without hesitation.

ZipLens.com

ZipLens.com

  • Good selection of Canon and Nikon lenses.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. Can pre-order lenses that haven’t been returned. An estimated ship date is provided for all lenses that are not immediately available.
  • Rental period: 1, 2, or 3 full weeks.
  • USPS 1-2 and 2-4 day shipping options.
  • Rental agreement
  • Sigma 10-20
    • 1 week: $25 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $47.50 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $65 + shipping
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $55 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $90 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $120 + shipping

I’ve personally used both Rentglass.com and Ziplens.com and I like them both. Read my detailed ZipLens review here. Their policies, procedures and prices are virtually identical. However, I give ZipLens the edge because they allow you to pre-order out-of-stock lenses. This is a big improvement over RentGlass.com’s system which requires you to be the fastest one to respond to an in-stock email notification.

BorrowLenses.com

BorrowLenses.com

  • Good selection of Canon lenses. Just 8 Nikon lenses.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. Can pre-order lenses that haven’t been returned. An estimated ship date is provided for all lenses that are not immediately available.
  • Rental period: 1 or 3 day (local only); 1, 2, 3 full weeks; custom.
  • USPS 2-3 day, FedEx 2 day, and FedEx overnight shipping options.
  • Local pickup in San Francisco, California.
  • Rental agreement
  • Sigma 10-20
    • 1 week: $25 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $45 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $60 + shipping
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $58 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $98 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $135 + shipping

Just launched this Summer, BorrowLenses.com looks like a solid offering with the only apparent negative that they do not have a very good selection of Nikon lenses. Prices are competitive and they are on the west coast so shipments to this side of the country may arrive a little faster. They also offer overnight shipping if you absolutely need a lens tomorrow and will rent locally (San Francisco) for one or three days.

LensProToGo.com

LensProToGo.com

  • Good selection of Canon lenses. OK selection of Nikon lenses.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. Must call to make reservations.
  • Rental period: 1, 2, or 34 full weeks.
  • Optional rental insurance.
  • USPS 2-3 day, FedEx overnight shipping options.
  • Rental agreement
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $95, shipping included
    • 2 weeks: $150, shipping included
    • 34 weeks: $240, shipping included

LensProToGo.com’s website isn’t the easiest to use and you have to pick up a telephone if you want to reserve a lens or get prices on certain lenses. Another thing I didn’t like about LensProToGo is that they’ve bundled the shipping cost with the price of the rental. I’m certain they’re making a nice profit on shipping as a result. For comparison, 1 week rental plus shipping of the Canon 70-200 from ZipLens costs me $90. LensProToGo charges $95. It gets much worse for 3 weeks: ZipLens is $155 vs. LensProToGo’s $240. (Also, at the time of this writing, their SSL certificate had expired. Most likely a temporary problem but it expired a week ago.)

Update: This article has been corrected from its original version. The $240 price is for 4 weeks, not 3 as originally stated.

LensRentals.com

LensRentals.com

  • Good selection of Canon lenses. OK selection of Nikon lenses.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. Can pre-order lenses that haven’t been returned. An estimated ship date is provided for all lenses that are not immediately available.
  • Optional rental insurance.
  • Rental period: 3 day, 1, 2, 3 full weeks; 1, 3, 6 months.
  • USPS 1-2 and FedEx 2 day and overnight shipping options.
  • Local pickup in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Rental agreement
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $59 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $103 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $139 + shipping

Also rents some bodies and accessories.

LensLenders.com

LensLenders.com

  • Poor selection of Canon and Nikon lenses.
  • Canada only.
  • First come, first served. Can pre-order lenses that haven’t been returned. Choose your rental period during checkout.
  • Optional rental insurance.
  • Rental period: 1 week from Friday to Friday, 3 day weekend.
  • Shipping is free to anywhere in Canada.
  • Canada Post shipping.
  • Rental agreement
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $149, shipping included
    • 2 weels: $248, shipping included
    • 3 weeks: $347, shipping included

LensLenders ships exclusively to Canada. This is the only non-US service reviewed. Unfortunately for Canadians, the service has a poor lens selection, only offers payment via PayPal, and the prices (even with “free” shipping) are ridiculously high ($149 CAN is about $141 US right now).

PhotoLensRental.com

PhotoLensRentals.com

  • Fair selection of Canon lenses. No Nikon.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. No reservations. But they do have a feature to email you when a lens becomes available.
  • Rental period: 1, 2, or 3 full weeks.
  • USPS 2-3 day shipping.
  • Gift certificates available
  • Rental agreement
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $59 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $116 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: $171 + shipping

Limit of one lens per order and a limited selection of lenses. This is the only shop offering gift certificates. They’re also the only shop with the dubious distinction of attempting to prevent you from using your right mouse button. I right click to bookmark, email web pages, copy and paste, and add to my Google notebook. It’s just stupid and annoying to try and break all that.

Rent Camera Gear

RentCameraGear.com

  • Fair selection of Canon lenses. No Nikon.
  • US only including Alaska and Hawaii
  • First come, first served. Reservations for a fee.
  • Rental period: 1 or 2 full weeks.
  • USPS 2-3 day shipping.
  • Rental agreement: Could not find on site
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS
    • 1 week: $51 + shipping
    • 2 weeks: $89.25 + shipping
    • 3 weeks: not available

Fairly standard with competitive pricing. However, the site is very slow and I keep getting an SSL encryption warning. Those could be temporary problems. Then again, I couldn’t find a rental agreement anywhere either. Caveat renter.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.
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    • David Benkendorf

      I like LensRentals.com because from what I’ve seen, they’re the only one that carries Zuiko lenses for Olympus bodies. I intend to rent a lens from them for my trip up to Yellowstone in the next few months.

  • http://www.randomn3ss.com/ Mike Panic

    I’m pretty sure that Rent Camera Gear is owned by someone from the Canon Digital Photography Forums. If not, they have received nothing but praise about them in their forums although I have never used them.

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  • http://www.borrowlenses.com Max

    Hi Guys,

    I wanted to write and introduce myself. My name is Max and I am the co-founder of BorrowLenses.com.

    John, thanks for the mention. You are right about the light Nikon selection. That should hopefully be fixed within the next month (we have another buying round coming up).

    Mike, I think 3 or 4 owners of the various websites listed here are frequent contributors to POTN (Canon Digital Photography Forums). I know Roger from LensRentals.com is definitely. We contribute as well, although that is handled by my partner Mark (posts under markol).

    In any case, please let me know if you have any questions about our service or anything else.

    Thanks, Max

  • Paul

    Speaking on behalf of Canadian photographers, I was very happy to see a lens rental business which caters to Canada (we often get left out).

    I have dealt with LensLenders.com and have been very happy with their selection and service. I would recommend.

  • http://www.lenslenders.com Todd Dailey

    I am the owner of Lens Lenders in Canada.

    I enjoyed reading this comparison of lens rental services. It is an excellent summary of the services available and will hopefully bring more awareness to the option of renting lenses. I am pleased that Lens Lenders was included in the comparison.

    John Watson invited me to write my comments here.

    In his article, John suggested some faults with Lens Lenders that I think deserve rebuttal. I’ll address each of John’s criticisms below.

    “… the service has a poor lens selection …”
    We stock a breadth of popular Nikon and Canon lenses. Not every lens in the catalogue – we focus on the lenses our customers are interested in renting. When we receive a request for a lens we don’t have, we do our best to add it to our inventory if we think it will also be popular with other customers. Like other rental companies, we stock multiple copies of our most popular lenses. The only requested lenses that we currently don’t stock are the richly expensive, 400mm+ f/2.8 primes.

    “…only offers payment via PayPal …”
    We chose PayPal to process our credit card transactions because they are the largest and most trusted online payment organization in the world. I’m unsure why John considers this a fault.

    “…the prices … are ridiculously high.”
    Considering that Lens Lenders is Canadian and all the other rental sites in the comparison are based in the USA, this isn’t a fair criticism. There is much more to evaluating prices than simply doing some exchange rate math. We think Lens Lenders rental prices are fantastically competitive and offer a service unmatched in Canada. Below is a more accurate comparison using rental prices from three well-known, large retail stores in Canada.

    Vistek
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
    $160 / week + shipping

    HeadShotsRentals
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
    $160 / week, pick-up in Toronto or Ottawa only

    Henry’s
    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO (The Canon isn’t offered.)
    $179.97 / week, pick-up in Toronto only

  • Ontario Shooter

    Agreed with the poster above about Len Lenders, it’s nice to have rentals available in Canada. I’ve done several rentals with them found them very good.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/graeme_smith/ Graeme Smith

    What about Europe? These are all US or Canada…

  • http://photodoto.com/ John Watson

    That’s a good question. Know of any? I couldn’t find one.

  • http://www.lensprotogo.com Paul Friedman (owner, LensProToGo)

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your review. I want to point out an important error as well as a couple of omissions.

    First, you point out that the price of the 70-200 f/2.8L IS is $240 for three weeks. That’s incorrect – it’s $240 for four weeks as it clearly states on our website. I wish you had been more careful in your research as our prices are not at all out of line.

    Second, our aim is not to make a “nice profit on shipping” as you note above. Our goal is to break even on the whole on shipping while providing the same first class service to photographers from all corners of the country.

    Another omission is that we ship all of lenses in Pelican cases. Yes, this does add to the cost of shipping to a small degree. However, we feel this measure of security while the lens is in transit as well as providing a handy case and top notch experience for our customers is worth it.

    I would also encourage you make a reservation and rent a lens from each of the services you reviewed as one can not possibly gain the full experience by visiting the websites alone.

    We take customer service very seriously. When the phone rings, we answer it. When we receive emails, we reply. We bend over backwards to help our customers. If you have any questions, please pick up the phone and give me a ring.

    Thanks,
    Paul Friedman
    Owner – LensProToGo
    508-243-2956

  • http://photodoto.com/ John Watson

    Thanks, I’ve updated the article with the correction.

  • Rich

    I’ve personally rented from rentglass.com and lensrentals.com. Both sites have great service, and at rentglass you can pick up the lens if you live in the central florida area (his location is near orlando).

    I have rented more from Roger @ Lensrentals.com(great guy btw…) because they have a greater selection of gear, and I can reserve the lens I need. Rentglass is too difficult to get an out of stock lens…

  • http://www.glassandgear.com Jason Paradis (owner glassandgear.com)

    Hi Guys,

    We’re the new rental guy in the neighborhood, Glass and Gear, thought I’d stop by and make a quick introduction. We just opened on September 13 with a decent selection of lenses and equipment but we do plan on growing quickly this fall.

    Any questions about us drop me a line.

    Thanks,
    Jason

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  • http://ohboycreative.com Ellis

    After reading your article a few months ago about the right click BS that photolensrental.com had on their site, I wrote them an email letting them know it didn’t prevent people from doing any of the things that the script was trying to prevent. Using firefox, when I right clicked, it told me right click was disabled, I clicked ok, then the normal menu popped up and I was able to bookmark, copy, paste, etc.. I’m glad to see they have seen the light and removed the offensive script.

    Well, either they removed it, or the latest build of firefox ignores the crippling bit of decade-old “technology”

    Booya.

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  • http://www.cameralensrentals.com Barry

    We just opened our doors this month. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We look forward to helping you out with your lens needs.

  • http://www.cameralensrentals.com Barry

    Sorry forgot to put the name of the site. Camera Lens Rentals

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  • http://linnecards.com/photogrpahy sharon

    It’s too bad most only cater to canon and nikon. :(

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  • http://techmalaya.com Syahid A.

    Wow. I hope next time some kind of this shop will exist in Malaysia.

  • http://www.BorrowLenses.com BorrowLenses.com

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to give you a quick status update about the business. Since this article has been written we have invested heavily into expanding both our Nikon and Canon selection. The Nikon shortage that John mentioned has been fixed. We have also switched to shipping everything FedEx 2nd day as a standard. They have been other various improvements made to the service.

    Please come take a look at BorrowLenses.com.

    Thanks,
    Max

  • Minh Nguyen

    I’d like to say that I’ve used LensProToGo and his prices are actually pretty reasonable. This site says that he includes shipping into his lens rentals to make a profit. But I’ve compared the same lenses at his shop versus other rental places and yes INITIALLY the other places look cheaper. But, after shipping fees you’ll find other places to be at around the same price or more. And a lot of places won’t even offer insurance.

    I rent from LPTG because of the insurance and the fact that I have someone to talk to on the phone if I need to. I mean who wants to rent a lens from a place that doesn’t offer any coverage on damage or theft. Most people rent because they can’t afford to buy, if there’s no insurance and something happens you’re screwed. But, with that said LensProToGo isn’t the only place that offers insurance on their rentals so look around. Somehow I always come back to LPTG though.

    – Minh

  • http://www.velocity.tv Larry Gebhardt

    Hello…I have only one experience to share, and it was a good one. I shoot primarily motion pictures, but once in a while, stills for time lapse sequences…I rented a Canon 40D body from Lens pro to Go, a company that my Daughter uses and swears by, and I had an absolute great experience…the body arrived early, came in a Pelican case inside of a shipping box, was beautifully clean, etc. And the price when everything was considered, was very competetive. I highly recommend Paul.

  • http://www.tryandbuylens.com/index.php www.TryAndBuyLens.com

    Simply the best New England’s camera lens rental company.
    http://www.TryAndBuyLens.com
    Visit us and rent Canon, rent Nikon, rent Sigma lenses and enjoy photography.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/billifino Billy Halsey

    Thanks for the great comparison. This also helps those of us who do have local rental options available to ensure that those options are, in fact, reasonably priced and in-line with options available elsewhere. The comparison of the sites you presented was great; you’ve saved me several hours of future research time. :-)

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  • Stanley

    While searching one day recently, I happened to come across this page. This has become quite a nice resource, but I’d like to recommend The Lens Depot at http://www.thelendsdepot.com. Oscar, who runs the site, is very quick to respond to emails and is very communicative. They carry both Canon and Nikon equipment, although, their collection is not as extensive as some of the bigger ones. However, I’ve found their prices be lower than most of these posted here.

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  • Jerry Ranch

    I’ve rented numerous times from LensProToGo. Paul has always had the lens I need, or he’ll find it for me. I like the shipping in a Pelican case. It adds shipping cost, but it gives me the security when I’m travelling with a “borrowed” lens
    Jerry

  • Greg

    I have rented from BorrowLenses several times and could not have been happier with any aspect of their service. I live in the Bay Area so I picked the lenses up each time and therefore cannot comment on delivery but because they have gone out of their way to meet every need that I have had I have no doubt that shipping is also extremely satisfactory. The service I was given has been fantastic…they have taken the time to chat with me about the lens and worked with me to meet the exact amount of time that I needed the lenses. You will not be disappointed if you choose to rest from Borrowlenses, especially if you live in the Bay Area and can swing by to meet the operators.
    Greg

  • Landa

    I can definitely recommend cameralensrentals.com – good prices, great service from nice people.

  • http://www.rentalens.ca Zeeshan Hamid

    Canadians can also rent from http://www.rentalens.ca. I run it, so obviously it’s good :). Check us out.

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