For my December lens tests with Veydras and Rokinons (among others), I needed some Rokinons, otherwise it wouldn’t really be a test with Veydras and Rokinons (among others). I also needed a PL-to-MFT mount adapter, and a Nikon-F-to-Canon-EF adapter. None of these were items stocked by our local cine rental houses, so I tried LensRentals.com. They had what I required, at a good price, so I placed an order. I received an “Order Accepted” email with an expected ship date, and on that date, I received an “Order Shipped” email with the expected date of delivery.
I had ordered the lenses well in advance of my tests, with a day or so of padding. Good thing, too; tracking showed the package, shipped from Tennessee, inexplicably parked in Sacramento for a couple of days. A couple of hours after I noticed that, LensRentals gave me a call, warning me that the package would be a day late, expressing condolences, and offering to extend the rental an extra day in compensation. I was pleased to see that they were checking the package’s progress every bit as neurotically as I was.
Two days later, this is what I got: a brown cardboard box stuffed with white foam. Also an email from LensRentals, confirming the delivery.
I peeled back the top layer of foam, and three pouches were revealed.
I removed them and found this folder at the bottom of the box.
I opened it up: it contained a return-shipping label, an itemized list of the rental items, and a card for their “keeper” service (“Try It, Then Buy It with Keeper”). It was also emblazoned with all sorts of helpful notes and messages in large friendly letters, just like the words “Don’t Panic” on the cover of the HHGTTG.
Here at a glance were the answers to my return-shipping questions (which I could also have found on the LensRentals website, of course), so I could stop being a worry-wart and focus on my tests.
All told, here’s what there was:
The two lenses were bubble-wrapped and ensconced in third-party lens pouches, along with their lens hoods. The two mount adapters came in the blue pouch, and the F-to-EF adapter was also poly-bagged to keep it from grinding against the PL adapter. Everything fit in the shipping box perfectly, with no excess room for things to bounce around in, and everything was well-protected from the bumps and jostles of shipping.
(Added bonus: the Wooden Camera PL-to-MFT adapter came with an ARRI body cap, so I could put it on my GH4 and pretend that it was an Alexa.)
A day or two before the rental period expired, LensRentals sent me an email reminding me of the date it needed to be shipped by. I received another email when they received the package:
We received your return shipment today. We still have to clean, inspect, and test the equipment inside. That’s an all-day process; we’ll contact you within 24 hours if there are any problems, or if we find something extra (memory card, tripod plate, etc.) that we need to send back to you.
And that was it: no hassles, no problems. Overall, it was an entirely painless and pleasant experience, and it gave me a chance to play with lenses not readily available locally. So if you’ve been wondering about renting lenses by mail, wonder no more: it works.
(While my experience was with LensRentals.com, I also considered BorrowLenses.com, a similar operation with an office only a few miles away. I went with LensRentals since they had F-mount Rokinons; BorrowLenses only had EF-mount Rokis available.)
Disclosure: There is no material connection between me and LensRentals.com, other than the usual customer/supplier relationship. Neither LensRentals not BorrowLenses offered me any compensation or other consideration for a mention or a review.