Let’s be real for a second. Photography gear is not cheap. Photography gear with the name Leica on the side is even less cheap. These are big purchases that people are looking to make and if you are smart and want to make the most of your buying power than you’ll probably want to avoid what the vast majority of people do.
The 21st Century Gear Buying Process
The typical buying procedure goes as follows:
Company A releases a new product and sprays marketing blitz to all the major news outlets and industry bloggers.
People climb over themselves to get the first copy of the gear and immediately set out doing reviews. These are reviews typically done on the day they receive the gear before they have had a chance to really understand what the tool can and can’t do.
Fans online search out these reviews and without ever testing the gear for themselves and coming to their on conclusions they head to B&H or Amazon and plop down their hard earned money in the hopes that this piece of gear is going to take their work to the next level.
The sad truth is that new gear almost never takes your work to the next level. Only you can do that. What new gear does do is provides us with a little enthusiasm to get out and create new projects and try new things.
Imagine if you could get new gear all the time. Think about the possibilities and all the amazing work you could get done. Your creativity would be limitless as you would be able to have any tool necessary for the job.
Well, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility. In fact, in the cinematography world it has been the standard mode of practice for 100 years. It is called: Renting.
Rewind 5 years pre-DSLR/RED revolution and gear was crazy expensive in the cinema camera world. So expensive that people never entertained the possibility of being an owner operator. They rented. Renting allowed them to get the right tools for the right job. They tested all the gear before each job and determined what the best tools for that particular job were.
Learn from the Pros
So how can that help you become a smarter gear shopper? Well, here’s a little list to explain the logic.
1. Renting is cheaper than buying.
You need a fast wide angle lens for a single job. You can either A. not take the job because you don’t have the proper equipment or B. sell your car to buy a Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 or C. go to a lens rental site online and for a moderate price have the lens at your doorstep the next day.
2. Determine if the gear fits your style.
Not everyone is a jack of all trades. That is a good thing. If everyone could do everything the world would be a pretty boring place. Some gear works for some and not for others and vice versa. It is cheaper and quicker to rent the gear, test it out, realize it isn’t for you and then send it back than to buy it and try and sell it two weeks later.
3. Develop your own style
How do you know what kind of photographer or image capture specilaist you are if you don’t know whats out there? Experimentation is a good thing. It pushes us out of our comfort zone. New gear can help us see the world in a different way. When you rent gear you cna see what fits your style and what doesn’t. You may develop a liking for something you never would have been exposed to otherwise.
All in all there are not a lot of negatives to trying before you buy. Judging gear based off of third party reviews can lead you down a trouble path. Why not do your own research and develop your own opinions?
The Smart Way to Rent Leica Gear
We are all busy. No one wants to waste time trying to track down gear, arrange for a pick up, and then have to drop the equipment back off. Thankfully a couple of vary clever and dedicated companies have come to the rescue and offer rental delivery service across the globe.
The BIG 1:
Lens Rentals has a large variety of Leica M gear available. They offer pretty competitive rates and ship across the country. At the time of this article being written they offered the largest selection of M gear.
& The Others:
Borrow Lenses doesn’t have the most up to date Leica gear but they do offer a limited selection for rent. Check them out if you can’t find the gear elsewhere and maybe drop them an email that you’d rent more if they had more. If we put enough pressure on them they may add to their selection.
Lens Pro to Go hasn’t started doing any Leica M gear bu they are expanding and they do provide great service. If you contact them I am sure they will get around to Leica stuff and the more desire the more likelihood it will happen sooner rather than later.
Where Do You Rent Your Gear?
Have you taken advantage of more and more companies offering online rentals? Where do you go to get your new gear fix?
If you have a site that isn’t listed above I would love to hear about it.