Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lens Rental Series: Introduction (1 of 7)


The photography club I co-lead has grown to over 2000 members worldwide, so it is quite common to hear the same questions repeated over and over. One that comes up about once a month is about renting lenses, so after seeing this topic for the 1000th time, I finally decided I’d do a series on some of the key players in this industry.

Wow, what a treat this series turned out to be!

Never in my life have I found so many helpful business owners who genuinely care about their products, listen to customer feedback and most shockingly – help each other out! Yes, you read that right – these guys are even cooperating with each other when necessary to make sure that their customers get first class service. As a result, it was a real pleasure to talk with all of the company owners of this series and see how their services differed.

When I started this series I began to worry that the companies might be so similar that there would be little point in doing a comparison. However, when I actually rented the products (anonymously - which I’ll discuss later), I found that there were definitely different experiences for the customer of each service. None of the services was horrible, and all delivered lenses on time and in working order, but little details definitely made it easy to favor one more than the other. What was even more surprising was that the little guys didn’t get blown away by the bigger players, so in the end it all was about the quality of service. Prices were fairly comparable so I didn’t use that as a guiding factor, but I will do some head-to-head comparisons in the end.

The Players

Since this blog is read globally, but mostly in North America, my emphasis was on mail order services rather than local services. At some point in the future I may consider giving a local service a try, but that isn’t a priority for me at this time. The services who chose to participate in this series were:, which I understand was one of the inventors of this online industry, was scheduled to participate but had to withdraw due to a cross-country office move. They may participate at a future date, so if you are using this service currently please feel free to comment to this series conclusion about your thoughts on their service.

Anonymous Participation (Disclosure)

For the conspiracy theorists out there, you’ll notice I used the term participate which in this case meant the following:

  1. An exhaustive questionnaire was completed by the business owner as part of the interview section that appears in each article.
  2. Each participant agreed to reimburse the rental and shipping expenses of my anonymous “mystery shopper” (who turned out to be my wife who has a different last name) AFTER the lens rental was completed. Each company was allowed to set a budget for the rental reimbursement expenses. Great care was taken to avoid exposing the mystery shopper to the participants, so all initial contact (via her email only), online accounts, credit cards, etc… were done in her name only (usually with me at the keyboard).
  3. Each were requested to provide a special offer to my blog readers, but this wasn’t required. In addition, I asked for a referral commission as compensation for the estimated 100 hours of my free time (remember, I have a day job) I spent on this entire series. Details of the special offer and commission participation will be disclosed in the individual articles.

NOTE: No sites were allowed to preview my reviews or purchase any advertising space on my blog. The winner receives a free banner on this blog, and others may get posts in the future.

    Stay Tuned

    Just like in my popular Noise Reduction Roundup and Photo Web Hosting Series, I’ve put a ton of energy in each article and worked to get a discount for my readers. If you are considering renting lenses anytime soon, stay tuned for some information that will help you to decide which service is right for you. In addition, you can save some money so even if you’ve never rented before, now is your chance to get your hands on your dream lens and give it a spin in those great fall colors near you.

    Conclusion & Discounts

    This series has now completed. Please review the individual articles, and read the conclusion here (which also contains discount coupon codes).

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

    The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

    No comments: