Rent, love, keep: LensRentals launches try-before-you-buy program


posted Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 5:01 PM EDT


Regular readers will know that we've long recommended the fine folks at LensRentals as a great way to decide whether a lens is right for you before you put down your hard-earned cash. With the launch of a new program called "LensRentals Keeper" today, it's become an even better idea.

In the past, what you'd do is rent a lens, give it a try for a little while, and then if it matched your shooting style and you were happy with the image quality, you'd go elsewhere to buy it. Chances are the experience would at least be fairly similar, but the issue of sample variation -- plus the fact that LensRentals go to quite some lengths to test lenses, and either have subpar optics serviced or repair them in-house -- means that sometimes you'll find the lens you bought at retail simply isn't as good as the one you rented.


Now, there's a solution to that problem -- and it even saves you money. Starting immediately, most of the lenses that LensRentals provides can be purchased outright if you decide you like them. (Only hard-to-source optics which the company couldn't easily replace in time for delivery to subsequent renters are excluded.) and better still, the rental fee you paid to try the lens in the first place can be put towards the cost of the lens, which will vary depending on the age of the individual item.

And it's not just lenses that this applies to, either. You can also buy certain camera bodies, flash strobes, battery grips, and all manner of other accessories. To find out if the product you want to buy is available as a LensRentals Keeper, just browse the company's site and look for the heart icon, alongside the text "This can be a Keeper". If you see the icon, hit the "Get Estimate" button for an idea of the price range you'll see, depending on the age of the item you receive.

It's quick and easy to see if a lens, camera, or other accessory can be bought prior to renting it.

A few things worth noting: Up to seven days of rental charges will be refunded when you buy, and only fees for the specific sample you rented will count towards the purchase cost. (So for example, if you rent a lens, return it, then change your mind and decide to buy it, you'll need to rent again and can only credit the second rental towards the purchase price.) Rental protection plan costs don't count towards the purchase price. All of this strikes us as perfectly reasonable.

What this means is that you can be sure you're happy with the individual sample of the lens you're buying before you decide to keep it, and you likely save money compared to the cost of buying the same lens at retail plus renting a copy for a few days or weeks prior to purchase. It's one of those ideas that makes you wonder why nobody thought of it sooner! Visit LensRentals now to learn more...