This is a review of my two purchase experiences with lensrentals.com.
I am an “advanced hobbyist”-level amateur photographer. I LOVE taking pictures, but, don’t make nearly enough time to do so. Click around this site and you will see in the website header aviation-related pictures I have taken (there are about 60 that rotate).
One of my favorite things to photograph is jet aircraft. Airshows, airports, my backyard – count me in. And my favorite place to photograph jet aircraft? Maho Beach at Princess Juliana airport (SXM) in St. Martin. Here is one of my Maho Beach pictures of the KLM Boeing 747 landing:
Having been to Maho Beach twice with my Canon EOS 5D MK III and my two “go to” Canon lenses (70-200mm and 24-70mm), I had a vision for a cool wide-angle shot of landing aircraft coming over the beach. But, my “wide” lens only went down to 24mm. So, after considerable research online, I found the lens that seemed to be the best bet, the Canon 11-24mm f/4L. Buying this lens for an attempt at a dreamed-up shot did not make sense, so, after looking around online, I decided to rent it from lensrentals.com.
Pre-trip, everything was great with lensrentals.com. Good website, easy ordering process, fair price, great packaging and shipping, and a clean lens.
The short version: the lens worked well (as designed), but, the experiment failed. Here is an example of my wide-angle shot (December 2016):
Either I am not advanced enough with camera settings (unlikely but possible) or my vision for a mega-wide angle shot in that setting was flawed (quite likely.) Either way, I left disappointed – but not in the camera or lens.
I baby my photo equipment and did so with the rented lens. So, after carefully packing and shipping the lens back to lensrentals.com, it was with great surprise that I received the following note from them:
Thank you for your patience! It looks like the Canon 11-24 came back from repair. According to the repair quote, the overall cost to have the equipment repaired was $144.63. As your deductible was $289.00 we will just need to bill the $144.63 for the repair.
Would you like me to bill the total to the card listed with your order?
Lensrentals.com was kind enough to send a photo of the damage to the lens (a bent mount). I had a series of back-and-forths with them via email, including my “I am flummoxed by this and 99.999999% certain that nothing physical happened to the lens while in my possession that would have bent anything.” The picture they sent showed a bent mount that was so bent that there is no way it would mount on a camera – or even take a lens cap. This made me completely confident that I did not cause the damage. What happened to cause that damage (assuming it was the same lens I sent to them) remains a mystery.
I received this message from lensrentals.com, “If you are certain this damage did not happen in your possession then we can waive the charge this time.” Issue solved. Throughout the process, their customer service rep, Zach Jones, was phenomenal. The whole episode was stressful, but, their professionalism and non-aggression made it much less stressful than it could have been.
Eighteen months later, the July 2017 airshow at Stewart Air National Guard Base / Stewart Airport (New York) was approaching and had me eyeing a longer lens to shoot the US Navy Blue Angels. Given my positive experience with lensrentals.com, I rented a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens from them. Repeat the great online, ordering, shipping, and packaging experience. This time, the pictures came out wonderfully with the rented lens. Here are shots taken with it:
And, this time, the return and confirmation process with lensrentals.com went off without a hitch.
Lensrentals.com could have easily lost me as a customer after my first purchase, but, they handled an unexpected situation with great care and to my total satisfaction. That earned my second purchase, future ones, admiration, and this review.
+1 for lensrentals.com
Andrew Dennis, @andrew_dennis