So I was now full on obsessed with photography. I was trying to figure out how to capture every target and make it into a beautiful shot. After coming to the realization that my living room with no one in it can only look so many ways (none of which I’ve made beautiful, yet), I decided to start reading about photography. Anyone that has gone down this path quickly sees a pattern of two types of articles on photography: Shooting Technique & GEAR Reviews. So let’s get a confession out of the way: I’m a bit of a gearhead. Like any nerd, I love checking out the latest and greatest that technology has on offer.
You quickly realize there’s tons of these articles all telling you with no hesitation why camera X is the best system out there. On top of there being no clear winner, you realize the amount of options there are and variance is incredible: Crop sensor versus Full Frame, Mirrorless, Medium Format, Micro 4/3, and the brands (Nikon - Canon - Fuji - Sony - Pentax - Olympus - Panasonic, etc.). Then there’s this German company, Leica, that everyone raves over but costs you your first born child to own. Then the question in the back of your mind shouts at you - uhh hello, so which camera system should I sink a couple grand into again?
This is where I began the conversation with my brother, Rob Rhyne, expecting him like any older brother to give me a definitive answer. His answer was: You should rent for a while. Like any good younger brother who happens to be an attorney, I argued the point with him. Why spend money renting when I could use that money to buy the camera and own it forever? And I continued explaining why it made perfect sense for me to buy the FujiFilm x100T ($1,299.99 on Amazon). I was looking for a compact camera that I would more likely carry with me and take more pictures with that had aperture, shutter speed and ISO control. This would replace my iPhone as my carry camera, I told him. I’ve read millions of articles and people all agree this is one of the best compact carry cameras on the market. He even agreed it was one of the best on the market. He told me he had just purchased this exact camera a couple months back. Yet, he continued to insist to me that I should rent instead of buy.
OK! I’ll rent this once though I know I’m going to want to buy it, I told myself. I asked him where he rents from and he suggested http://LensRentals.com. I rented the FujiFilm x100T for a month and while I did love shooting with it, I quickly realized it was not going to replace my iPhone. The iPhone is a beautiful camera because of its quality in relation to its convenience. While the x100T definitely takes better pictures than my iPhone, it does not fit in my pocket. I came away from the rental experience, ecstatic that I had not spent 3x the cost of the rental to buy the x100T. I would of had instant buyer’s remorse if I had bought the x100T. Not because it’s a bad camera, quite the opposite in fact, but because it would not of fit the expectations I had of it prior to using it.
So why should you spend money renting a camera before buying a camera? You should rent before buying because there’s no way to have your expectations of a camera equal the actual experience of using it until you use it. Reading a review, looking at pictures, seeing other people’s shots just don’t do it justice. If it’s not a compact camera with a fixed lens then even more the reason to rent. A choice of a camera system is not just the body, but ultimately the lenses as you build that system. It can be a significant long term investment. You can get a feel of a car in one test drive but the equivalent on a camera body is probably 2 weeks, at least, shooting with it. You have to get used to the settings, the feel of the camera in your hands, and use it in varying shooting conditions to get a true feel for it.
I’m on my third rental currently - checking out the Sony A7r II ($3,198.99 on Amazon). After renting the FujiFilm x100T and realizing it would not replace my iPhone, I decided to look at DSLR systems again. I loved the feel of the x100T so I decided to rent the FujiFilm X-Pro2 ($1699.99 on Amazon), which had recently been released. I absolutely loved the X-Pro2 but am curious to see if I feel the same way after renting the A7r II. Next on the list is the Leica Q to see if I can really get all I want in a compact. If I feel the same about the X-Pro2 afterwards then I’ll likely try and rent the X-T2 if its been released by then. If not, I’ll buy the X-Pro2 with complete confidence that it is the system for me.
There’s a few other camera rental sites you can check out. See the links here and look for a review of them all in a later post.