As many of you probably know … I’m a shutterbug … I put myself in the ‘serious amateur’ category.
My camera of choice is a Canon 7D … and I have two lenses currently. A Canon 70-300 zoom and the lens that came with the camera and a Canon 28-135 “kit” lens. Both have in lens image stabilization and are quite adequate for my uses.
That said … I’ve heard great things about Canon’s “L” line of lenses. These are higher end lenses that have better quality optics.
For my current trip to Hawaii, I planned on taking a lot of pictures of surfers and whales (it is whale season in Maui). In the past, I’ve had reasonably good results with my current lenses, but wanted to try out some a higher end lens.
A bit of digging around on the internet and I found LensRentals.com … they had a wide range of lenses available and, as an added bonus, they would ship the lens you rented direct to your destination.
I decided to rent a Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L lens with a circular polarizer (which helps cut glare from the water).
Our trip to Hawaii was going to be from February 11th through the 26th. Since they ship via Fedex or UPS, the lens wouldn’t actually arrive until the 13th. All I had to do is drive in to Kahului (near the airport) to pick up the lens at the local Fedex office. They ship the lens well packed and included a return shipping label. To return the lens, all I had to do is repack it, slap the label on the box, and drop it off at another Fedex office.
The lens performed perfectly … I was super pleased with the results. The higher quality optics let more light into the camera and I was able to shoot at a faster shutter speed, which allowed me to capture more action on the really interesting subjects.
Even though the lens had image stabilization … it was a bit hard to control when I was on a boat … but, since this is digital photography, I just kept shooting. I got a bunch of really good shots.
As for LensRentals.com … even though they are the first lens rental outfit I’ve dealt with, I will certainly use them again. Their website is easy to navigate, their customer service is top notch, and their rates are quite reasonable. One feature I liked a lot was their ability to send messages via twitter regarding rental status. They sent me a direct message when my lens was shipped, when it was picked up (just in case I wasn’t the one who picked it up), and a reminder with my return date.
OK, truth be told … renting a “L” lens was more a pretext to see what kind of image quality I could get out of a higher end lens. If I could get noticeably better images, I would consider buying one (they ain’t cheap). After renting the 100-400 lens, I don’t think I would actually buy it. While a quite good lens, it was a bit bulky and something I don’t necessarily need on an ongoing basis. I will rent it again, however, on a future vacation.
I think I will rent a few more higher lenses as opportunities present themselves to see what kind of images I can get.