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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