I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while I was planning, I was thinking about the camera gear I wanted to bring with me. My typical bag for a trip consists of: 5DM2 body, 50mm f/1.4, and 17-40 f/4.
After hearing about BorrowLenses.com from some friends, I thought it would be worth a shot to rent a lens (35mm f/1.4) I’ve been wanting to use for years, but have never committed to saving up the funds to buy. I’ve seen great pictures come out of this lens from other owners and I had really wanted to take advantage of it for my trip to such a scenic destination. I went to the site, looked up the lens, added it to my cart, and quickly realized that I might want to take underwater photos too. So I added a small Canon PowerShot underwater camera as well.
A package arrived at my house with the lens and camera, individually bagged, securely encapsulated by packing sponge. This is the same box you would ship the contents back in for return. When I got back from the trip, I repackaged it, stuck on the pre-paid shipping label, and dropped it off at a local FedEx Kinkos.
The entire process from ordering to returning was extremely seamless. I was able to use a lens that I have been considering purchasing, for only ~$10/day, and an underwater camera for ~$5/day. It definitely helped me decide whether or not to go through with purchasing the lens, but also showed that if I ever needed a lens or other gear for a short period of time, I could just rent it and save myself a ton of money. These would be things I would consider using for rare shots, like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or supertelephoto.
The marketplace for peer-to-peer borrowing/renting items will become a booming area of commerce. Startups like Getable and Borrow will cover a wide variety of stuff. More niche companies like AirBnB and Getaround focus on specific verticals. In any case, the future looks bright for the try-before-you-buy-it type of consumer. If only the mobile app marketplace could do the same…