Renting lenses in Ottawa


in Economics, Geek stuff, Ottawa, Photography

Photographic lenses are expensive things, especially professional grade ones. For example, Canon’s 24-70 f/2.8L costs $1600. Their 70-200 f/4L costs $1480, with image stabilization.

And yet, the 24-70 can be rented for a weekend for just $25, and the 70-200 is $30. Renting makes even more sense with esoteric lenses which are useful for certain projects or for producing a novel effect, but which it doesn’t make that much sense to buy. A good example is the 14 f/2.8L, which costs $50 to rent for a weekend but $2790 to buy. There aren’t a lot of people out there who will shoot more than 56 weekends worth of fisheye shots.

Located at 499 Bank Street, Vistek rents all of these lenses, as well as lighting equipment and other photo gear. My experiences with them have been very good, and they charge the same amount for a long weekend lens rental as for an ordinary weekend. They also have stores in Toronto, Mississauga, Calgary, and Edmonton.

I have already tried renting the 10-22 3.5-4.5 for some day and night photos of Montreal. Some other lenses I want to rent are the 50 1.2L, the 24 3.5L tilt-shift, the 100 2.8L macro, the 100-400 4.5-5.6L, and maybe the 14 2.8L.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. July 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

A good example is the 14 f/2.8L, which costs $50 to rent for a weekend but $2790 to buy. There aren’t a lot of people out there who will shoot more than 56 weekends worth of fisheye shots.

This is not such a fair comparison.

If you bought the lens and used it for 56 weekends, you would still have the lens afterward to keep or sell. You could probably sell it for a good portion of the original purchase price.

Of course, if you just want to try the lens for a weekend or two, renting seems more sensible.

Lauren July 28, 2010 at 11:43 am

Rosa is absolutely adorable! It’s just a lovely photo.

Tristan July 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Do you know of firms that rent Nikon gear?

Milan July 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Vistek rents 54 Nikon lenses.

Tristan July 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

RK has a point, especially considering the amount of exotic lenses that actually go up in price.

Pro zooms, however, never go up in price, because there is enough demand to produce a newer, better model. Expensive lenses go up in price when a lens making firm overshoots the market – produces a lens better and more expensive than people are willing to buy. That lens is inevitably discontinued, but then collectors can push up the price. This happened with the Nikon 28mm F1.4 AF (although the new 24mm F1.4 AFG should dampen the pricing a little). It may happen with the Nikkor 14-24 FX F2.8 zoom if demand remains weak.

Milan July 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

If you are going to make a lot of use of a lens, by all means buy it.

That said, renting is an affordable way to try a wide variety of lenses. It can help you decide which ones are worth buying, while also letting you use some more unusual ones upon occassion. Renting the 100 2.8L macro should help me to decide whether I should be having up for it, as my next lens.

Milan July 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Vistek rents 54 Nikon lenses.

Actually, they sell 54 Nikon lenses. They seem to rent about 40.

They have a four lens kit that costs $65 for a weekend:

  • AF 24mm f2.8 D lens
  • AF 35mm f2 lens
  • AF 50mm f1.4 lens
  • AF 85mm f1.4 D lens
Milan July 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I just noticed, they also rent the Canon EF1.4x II teleconverter for $18 a weekend.

It would reduce the effective maximum aperture of my 70-200 to f/5.6, but it basically restore it to the (rather pleasant) range of perspectives it produced on my Rebel XS body.

Tristan July 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

They sure rent some choice glass. It would be neat to rent the Nikon AF80-400/4.5-5.6 VR ED Lens and take it on some kind of nature bike exploration. On a crop camera with solid looking 800 iso, 400mm at F5.6 with VR would be epic.

BuddyRich July 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

What is the lead time to rent and reserve?

Do they keep them in store in Ottawa or ship them to Ottawa from Toronto as Henry’s does for its lens renting? Since they list store availability and not all stores have all lenses I assume these are all on site already.

Of the one you’ve rented, what was its condition?

For Nikon that 4 lens kit is nice (though I own the 35mm already and the F1.8 versions of the 50mm and 85mm which are still quite nice) – but I would rather rent the 2 lens zoom kit ( Pro AFS 24-70 F2.8 and AFS 70-200 F2.8 VR) Nikon’s L grade glass equivalent. A great, though perhaps heavy 1-2 combo or try the 14-24 out…

Granted they are suited for different purposes but switching in and out of primes is a pain in anything but a studio (or stationary) setting.

Milan July 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I reserved the 10-22 a couple of days before I needed it, and picked it up and dropped it off directly at Vistek, on Bank.

It was in like-new condition.

If you do rent from them, please consider posting about the experience here, for the benefit of those who will find this via Google.

Yun Ma November 26, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Vistek is great because of their large selection but it’s still quite expensive to rent anything and sometimes I need to book way in advance. I started using since I can rent from other people for much less and there is way more availability.

Milan November 26, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Yun Ma,

Thanks for your post and email. I no longer live in Ottawa and I normally automatically delete advertising posted in comments here.

Since your comment and company are relevant to the content of the post I will leave them up.

Best wishes,


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: