For my trip to the Washington D.C. area last week, I decided to try renting a lens to give me some different perspective. I'd never rented glass before, so this was all trial and error for me. There are several businesses that serve the rental market and I wanted a way to narrow the field. My first inclination was to check the NAPP Member page for a discount. No sense in spending extra money and I've typically been happy with the companies that NAPP includes on its discount list.
LensProToGo.com was the rental business on the page. I checked to see if they had the lens I wanted (Nikon 14-24 f/2.8) on the dates I needed. Sure enough, it was available for a week's rental at about $100. Having never rented, I wanted to compare prices to see if I was getting a deal or not. I checked another site and found the same lens for $59/week. Wow, that seemed like a substantial difference. Why?
The difference, it turned out, was that shipping both ways was included in the LensProToGo price, but not with the other vendor. After working up the total cost at that second site, it was a bit more than LensProToGo. Enough to make me realize my first choice was not only a better value, but also more convenient. I checked a third site and came to the same conclusion.
Looking on the website at the rental periods, I was concerned about timing. My flight left Monday morning and returned on Friday afternoon. I'd have to reserve the lens to arrive on the previous Friday to make sure I had it for the trip, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to ship it back out on time when I returned. That's when I placed a call and described my concern. No problem. For a few dollars more, I was told they could make it a ten day rental to give me plenty of time to use it and return the lens.
The package arrived Friday. The glass looked very good, it was secured in a Pelican case inside the shipping box with a couple of extra pieces of foam to keep the case from rattling around. The return shipping label was right at the bottom. When it came time to send it back, all I had to do was tape up the box and slap on the label.
Suffice it to say that I love the 14-24 lens. It may have been a mistake to rent it, because now I lust for one of my own. That's another $1800+tax out of my pocket, but the heart wants what the heart wants. I got home Friday, kept the lens over the weekend and shipped it back on Monday. Not ten minutes after I shipped it, I received a reminder e-mail from LensProToGo to let me know it was due to ship back the next day. The e-mail also included an offer to extend my rental, if needed.
Overall, I'm very pleased with my transaction. Everything went as expected. Customer service was outstanding and friendly. The lens was in great condition. I also know now that they sell off their inventory after about 20 rental, though I'm not yet convinced I want a used lens. I like the idea of having Nikon's Five Year warranty and the smell of new glass.
I can't tell you anything about the competitors, but I have no problem recommending LensProToGo.com. If you're a NAPP member, you can save a few bucks with your discount, too.