To hire or not to hire?

For the last few holidays we’ve been on we’ve taken to hiring lenses. At first we were reticent, calculating the cost of repeat hire and fearing that by the time we realised that we liked the lens(es) we could have put that money toward a possible purchase or even bought the lens outright. We soon changed our mind after renting the Canon L, 70 to 300mm for our Kenyan trip. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great lens and we got some cracking images with it, but we didn’t like the way it felt on the camera and struggled with its usability in comparison to our favoured 100-400mm Canon L lens.

For our Arctic trip to Greenland we hired the Canon L 28-300mm with IS and could not fault it for the image quality and the memories it allowed us to capture. I loved the range of the lens, it allowed you to move swiftly from landscape to wildlife shots. It was a perfect lens for the Arctic – allowing you to react to the unknown as and when animals surprised you, or when a stunning iceberg floated into view. It was a heavy lens – my neck muscles had a good workout for three weeks, but it’s surprising how quickly you get used to the weight and size of the lens.  What’s more, the IS (image stabilisation) in the lens helped to steady any shots – very useful when getting used to the weight and weighting on the lens on the camera.

For our recent trip to Boston we hired two wide angle lenses – allowing us to try before a possible ‘buy’ in the new year. We hired the Canon L 10-22mm and 17-40mm. By trialling such wide angle lenses for the first time, we were forced to reconsider shot composition and experiment with new styles of photography – a great way to extend our skills and learn more about different photography styles.

What we have found, is that if you are hiring to supplement your existing lens collection, it’s been useful to have multiple camera bodies with a lens on each – especially for wildlife photography – as it prevents you from needing to change lenses at a vital moment and possibly miss a shot.

If you shop around you can get some great deals on lens hire, including next day services, and two for the price of one / twice the duration for one fee. It might seem odd receiving professional lenses in the post for hire, but it seems to work well – and we’ve always managed to get the lens we want when we’ve needed it most. Whenever stock levels have not permitted us to hire our preferred lens, the company has always been great in suggesting alternatives – even offering a money back guarantee/ free hire should we not like their recommendations. It’s not only lenses that are available for hire, you can also hire cameras, video cameras .etc. – ideal for specific products where a purchase might be out of reach or you require access for a specific time only. We currently use www.lensesforhire.co.uk

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