This Company Lets You Borrow Expensive Photography Equipment for a Fraction of the Cost

Test equipment you're wanting to buy or borrow something you'll only need for a day with BorrowLenses.

A group of three multi-ethnic senior women in their 60s taking photos together of the beautiful flowers in a garden.
Photo: Getty Images

If making the leap from passive photographer to expert shooter is on your 2021 resolution list, know this: It takes a lot of patience, effort, and a whole lot of practice. One thing it used to take was a whole lot of money too, but companies like BorrowLenses are here to change all that.

In the before-COVID-19 era, as a professional travel writer and photographer, I had the immense fortune of getting to travel around the globe to share stories and photos of some of the world’s most beautiful places. For most of those trips, I had my trusty Fuji XT-2 camera by my side. Sometimes, my equipment was enough, but for others — like trips on safaris or travels through tropical places that required an underwater housing — my stuff just wouldn’t do.

But, here’s the truth: Being a writer just doesn’t pay what it used to, and purchasing an $800 underwater housing unit or a $1,000+ lens for a once-a-year trip simply doesn’t make financial sense.

So, upon doing a bit of googling, I stumbled across BorrowLenses, a company that allows everyone from the novice to the pro to rent the equipment they need for only the days they need it.

“The most expensive item one could rent from BorrowLenses is the ARRI Alexa Mini, which rents for over $3,000 for seven days ($3,213 to be exact),” Thomas Anello, a social media specialist at BorrowLenses, says. “However, when it comes to the BorrowLenses experience, what’s more telling is that we rent gear from something as small as a spare battery all the way up to professional-grade lenses and cameras for photographer and videographers covering projects of all types, from food photography, vlogging, and even commercial and film production.”

For the newbies out there, Anello suggests practicing first with whatever equipment they have on hand — be it their phone, a point and shoot camera, or DSLR camerav— making sure to stay consistent with their practice before leveling up and renting more complicated equipment.

“But, when you’re ready to experiment, trying out focal lengths is a great way to discover how different tools can affect your output and your shots,” he says. “For example, if you have your camera’s kit lens, the one that comes in the box, try out a 50mm instead. Locking yourself into a fixed focal length simplifies things for you and gets you moving around and leveraging your feet as the ‘zoom’ vs. relying on the camera.”

Anello adds, a person will likely learn a lot more by using a prime lens, which means it comes with a fixed focal length. Sorry, no zooming allowed.

“Newcomers, don’t forget about lighting either. Experimenting with lighting options, such as flashes, both on and off the camera, as well as constant lighting will keep you learning and help you develop that sense of ‘good lighting’ in your brain,” he says. “These tips are great tools that will allow you to shape the images you create with even more precision when you’ve locked them down.”

For my own adventures, I first used BorrowLenses for a trip to Kenya. I borrowed a Fuji XF 100-400mm lens to ensure I could capture images of the animals along my safari route. With the service, I paid $184 for an 11-day rental. If I purchased the lens new, it would have cost me close to $1,900.

The lens worked so well I borrowed it again a few weeks later to capture the scene at South Dakota’s buffalo roundup.

Then, a few months later for a video assignment, I decided to test out the Sony a6600 camera, a camera that would run me $1,300 new, but only set me back $90 to rent for the one week I needed it.

And, I worked with the company once more just a few months ago to borrow an underwater housing unit for a trip to Turks and Caicos. At the time, I borrowed the AquaTech Fuji housing, a product I’ve long lusted after but felt out of reach at $795. So, I borrowed it instead for less than half that price.

It’s a service that’s proven itself invaluable to me, and one I know others who are looking to learn more about photography before jumping head first into the money pit that is this hobby too. Beyond renting, the company also supports several organizations, including Peak Design’s campaign to offer gear grants to Black creators. The company also wants to assist others and encourages anyone working with local non-profits and related organizations in education, social activism, and public health, and climate change to directly reach out to its marketing team for assistance on grants, rental credits, and more. Because everyone deserves the chance to snap a photo worth 1,000 words.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips, share your favorite photos, and follow her on Instagram now.

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