Okay, I am trying to edit this question.

I am going to New York very soon. I have never been in the US, so I have no clue how lens rental work. There are many sites offering lenses for rental, some offer damage waivers, some do not. Some offers a pick-up point, some offers Fedex shipping back and forth.


  • does someone have experience with online lens rental? (I see very positive and very negative reviews)
  • do they charge you the full amount? (E.g. Adorama seems to.)
  • What if the lens I receive with Fedex is already damaged? What if it gets damaged? What if it gets damaged on the way back?
  • how does the insurance work with non-US citizens? I would need a fill-this-go-there-do-that procedure, otherwise by the time I figure this out, probably I miss the opportunity.

I am thankful for US-specific data, and especially for NY-specific data.

I am planning to rent a wide angle (~10-20mm) Nikon DX (or equivalent) lens for 3-5 days for about 100 $ that includes damage insurance.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a little too opinion oriented right now. What's reliable and cheap? What's cheap for me may not be for you or vice versa. I think rephrasing this would be a good idea. It's also quite localized and we've historically shut those down. Having said that, following the advice of SE community managers on other sites, I'm reluctant to just close on that basis. Still, this question needs some work to be a good fit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ For me, this is a) too localised, b) too subjective and c) tantamount to asking for a shopping recommendation. I've flagged this for a close. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChinmayKanchi - See the comments in this meta answer (on another site) by Robert Cartaino: meta.pets.stackexchange.com/questions/598/… in that he notes that asking about something in LA would be desirable on the site. Interesting take and Robert is a very senior SE employee. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 19:50
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not worried about "too localized" — millions of people in the city, plus millions more visiting every year. But it's also unlikely to have a "correct" answer and is likely to end up an unmaintained list. It'd be better to look on Yelp. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, that's why I think he should rework this question a bit. However, the general feeling I get is that it's okay if the answer becomes invalid after some time, presuming that we're talking years and not days. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


Okay, so let me answer my own question. Remember the constraints: EU citizen customer, company shipping to a drop point, lens has insurance or damage waiver.

First of all, I have reviewed several online companies, but only LensRentals (lensrentals.com) accepted me as a customer from the EU. (Quick side note about BorrowLenses.com: they do not accept orders placed with foreign credit cards without a US billing address, so if you have one with a US billing address, you should be fine.)

Back to LensRentals.

I ordered a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX for Nikon DX. They required some data to verify my identity, these were:

  1. Work or school email address;
  2. Employment information including the name of my employer, job title, and a work number I was reachable at;
  3. Personal or business website;
  4. A scan of my passport (must be included).

I provided these, and they accepted my order. (The scan of passport does not show up in the initial questionnaire, so I got an email from them asking for that).

In fact, I could not provide a business website, so I provided a personal website, my photo.stackexchange.com user profile page! ;-)).

They offer a damage waiver, which is not a full insurance, but it limits your costs to 10% of replacement or repair (NOTE: read their fine print so that you understand what is being covered and what is not. It is not too defensive, but you do not get full insurance! I am very nice with lenses, I do not even use front element protection, yet all my lenses are flawless, and people trust me with even the most expensive lenses of theirs).

They charged the full amount on the day the lens was shipped. They offer extension if possible, and you can also send back earlier if needed - there is a fee for that though.

You have 24 hours after reception to report if your lens is damaged, and they will try to replace it ASAP.

My lens was in a very good condition, no scratches, completely clean and working fine. The protection is about 1.5 cm foam poured into the box, and the lens is also in the original cover AND bubble wrap. You have to keep these and use them when you are shipping back. You are provided with a shipment label, so I just glued that over the old one, removed the other labels (important!), packed the lens carefully and took it to a FedEx point.

Now, I was careful to choose a FedEx drop point (checked many on Yelp) that seems to be very reliable, because they do not ship to a hotel address. I used the same FedEx shop to ship back the lens to them.

They ask for a full day after the lens arriving back, so that they could inspect, clean, and see if something is missing, or something is extra (e.g. a memory card).

I am perfectly happy with this service, I made great photos, and the only thing that is missing is a confirmation at the end that the lens has been received back in good condition and the transaction is complete. Otherwise you can track your lenses online, change order before and during the rental, etc. Chat/support is great, too.

I will put up some pictures of the packing quality and the lens condition, if anyone is interested.


The only time I rented a lens, I did so from a local camera store (Berger Bros on Long Island, NY). I had the opportunity to inspect the lens in person, and was present when they inspected it on return. I see that Adorama (adorama.com) offers rentals and they're located in New York City. I've bought from them, but never rented. Perhaps give them a call ahead of time and see if they have what you need for pick up/drop off in person. 212-627-8487 [email protected]

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your info! I arrived back on the 12th of March, so I could not try out your recommendation though. Maybe others will find this useful. :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – TFuto
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 10:26

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