Is it better to rent equipment than to buy it?
If you’re a hobbyist or a startup professional photographer and want to improve or take your work to the next level you need adequate tools to achieve it. Yes we all agree with the fact that gear doesn’t make you a better photographer, but you’ll agree that if you don’t have the right for the job your work will be hampered. It goes for photography too, without better tools you wont be able to achieve the results you expect/want.
But there is one huge problem if you want to have all those good stuffs, guess what it is? Yeah you guessed right! It’s the PRICE!! Not everyone is born with a silver spoon and like most of other photographers we start with basic tools and gradually (slowly) build up our collection which maybe considered either good or bad.
Why is it good? Because “Necessity is the mother of Invention” and it “forces” you to be more creative, versatile and helps you grow your creativity and makes you more nimble. The biggest con of this process is that your growth will be very slow and maybe excruciating but you’ll learn a lot from the experience and knowledge you gain.
So the biggest question is should you wait till you save enough the expensive lens you were craving for? Or should you rent it? If you were in US or in Europe where renting camera gear isn’t a big issue and where equipment’s of rental company are totally insure against theft and damage which directly brings down the rental cost, sure why not? But in India situation is different no insurance company provides any policy against theft or damage and because of this rental companies either send a “caretaker” with equipment or ask you for a deposit which is more or less equivalent to the cost of the equipment, which is really weird and from my past experience their terms and conditions are really complicated and strange. For e.g. I once booked a full-frame camera and lens for a wedding which was 4 months ahead and while booking I asked of there was any terms and conditions regarding cancellation and they said “ its not a big deal, you can cancel without any hassles” so I paid an advance against the total of around Rs 15000. The next day my client cancelled her booking so I called up the rental company to cancel the booking, they said I have to half of the total amount (i.e. Rs 7500) as I cancelled. It was really weird and frustrating at the same time and after this incident I stopped renting equipment’s, I took out a loan and bought the same equipment which I was renting and it was more peaceful and you had the assurance that you’re equipment wont die on you (multiple users handle rental equipment, so!). I hope someone comes up with the similar business plan/strategy of lens rental companies across US and Europe.
Till then I would prefer to rent out equipment’s that you’re planning to buy, so to get accustomed with gear in which you’re planning to invest on(for 1-2 days). But for paid work I would suggest against going this whole concept of “ hassle rental business” cause in short term it may sound tempting but in long run it will be more expensive and “risky” as rental costs are a lot higher as compared to US and Europe. If you must rent equipment, I would suggest you to lookout for a friend who can lend you his/her equipment.
I hope sharing my knowledge and experience will help you make the right choice. We would love to know about your experience with rental companies in India.