My First Experience with

I finally had the opportunity to rent some gear this past weekend for a wedding I was capturing.  I must say, renting gear is a lot of fun.  Renting really gives anyone plenty of  opportunity to try out new stuff without breaking the bank.  If you are local (in the San Francisco Bay Area), for just $50, you can rent the $1,800 Canon 70 – 200mm L f/2.8 with IS (image stabilization).  Of coarse, I would suggest getting the insurance for an extra $14 if you don’t already have insurance that covers the rental.  Still, at $64 for 3 days, that’s a great deal!


I did some shopping around a few months ago and continuously came out on top.  I compared 6 different places, only one of which is a local camera store with walk-in rentals (no mail orders).  All of the online rental places blew the local store out of the water in the price category.  The only reason I would ever consider using the local store would be for a last second rental, but as you’ll see later on in this  post, can even fill that void sometimes.

In general, I compared each of these stores based on the following criteria: price, convenience, quantity of gear available to rent, and customer satisfaction.

Price: was actually not the cheapest of the stores I looked at.  Matter-of-fact, for the Canon 70-200 mentioned above, they are the most expensive (other than the local walk-in store).   For a one week rental, including shipping and insurance, the price comes to $122.  The other stores ranged from $102 – $110.  You’ll see later, that price is not the most important factor in my book.

Convenience: offers several different options for receiving your rental.  The obvious, they will ship it to you via 1 day for $68 or 2 day for $36.  However, if you are in the Bay Area, you can pickup your rental for much cheaper.  You have three options: 1) Pick up in San Francisco for $15, 2) pick up in San Jose for $15, or 3) pick up in San Mateo, directly from the office for no extra charge.  Living in San Francisco, that gives me quite a few options.

Quality of Gear Available: certainly does not fall short here.  For Canon alone (they also carry Nikon gear), they provide 89 different lenses in 6 different categories (Wide, Standard, Telephoto, Super Telephoto, Fisheye, and Macro & TS-E), as well as lens extenders, cameras, flashes, batteries, lighting gear, camera bags and other accessories.  If you looking for something, there is a good chance has it.

Customer Satisfaction: Searching around the web and reading other people’s stories, you’ll find nothing but positive reviews and feedback for  They are a solid company with friendly employees willing to help out however they can (continue reading for my experience).

Bonus: It was really important to me that I was able to reserve the gear I wanted to rent in advanced.  Surprisingly, this was not a common feature across the board.  Sure enough, provides this key feature.

My Experience…

So, like I said, after doing my due diligence, I took the plunge and decided to rent with  I placed my order on May 7 for a 3 day rental starting Thursday, May 28.  I ended up renting the 24-70mm L f/2.8, 70-200 L f/2.8 IS, an extra 580EX II flash, the Quantum battery pack and a TTL cable to go with it.  I also opted to pick-up the gear in San Francisco at Action Camera rather then have them ship the gear to me.  Placing the order was straight forward and easy.

On May 27, I recieved a call from telling me there was an issue with my order because some of the gear I was renting was not returned on-time by the person renting it before me. informed me that the gear would be at Action Camera by 11am the next day, May 29.  Originally, when I placed the order, I had indicated in the notes that I could pick up the gear on May 29 if there was an issue with the 28th, however, between the time I placed the order and then, I had picked up another event for May 29 and no longer had time to go pickup the gear then.  After explaining this and a few phone calls back and forth, we finally agreed I would meet someone in Daly City the evening of May 28 to pickup the gear.  It was not the most convenient thing, but they went out of their way to ensure I was able to get my rental in time.

After bringing the gear home, I further examined the gear and realized I made the mistake of ordering the 70-200 L f/2.8 without IS.  I was pretty confident I would not be able to hold this large lens steady enough at 200mm and would certainly need the IS.  So, after emailing with, it was settled that if I could swing by the office on Saturday, May 30, and swap the non-IS lens with the IS lens without an issue.  I was cutting my time short since I had to get all the way out to Davis for the wedding, but I did what I had to do and was grateful, once again, that I had chosen a company that was a) quick to respond and great with communicating and helping their customers and b) local to where I am.

The exchange was simple and it was great to see the office and meet a few of the staff in person.  They kept apologizing for the slight mess since they were in the process of moving offices, but had they not said anything, I would not have even noticed.

Finally, when it came time to returning my rental, I took it to Action Camera, dropped it off and was done with my obligations. emailed me the following day confirming they received the return and that everything was in proper order.

I do have one outstanding issue that I am waiting to hear back from about.  When I attempted to use the Quantum battery pack, I could not seem to get it working with my personal 580EX II flash or the one they provided me.   I’ll update this post if/when I hear back from

[UPDATE:] I heard back from and as I suspected, the customer service was awesome once again.  I received a call from the receiving team to figure out what went wrong.  Apparently, batteries are required in the flash even when using a battery pack in order to close the circuit in the flash.  Understandably, does not send out manuals with all of their equipment, but I suggested this small requirement should have been noted on the website, particularly since it was apparent that other customers have had the same issue.

Despite these few snags, the customer service provided by the staff of made everything worth while.  I would not hesitate to recommend them to someone else and will certainly be using their services again soon.

Check out for your next rental and follow them on Twitter for their latest news and possibly some discounts.

Till next time…

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Categorized: Gear