Camera Lens Rental From Borrow Lenses

Camera Lens Rental From Borrow Lenses

Photographic equipment can be expensive, especially lenses. Have you ever wanted to try out a lens or two but couldn’t afford to buy it? There are several companies that rent photo equipment so you can try it before you buy it or just use it for a special event. Renting photo equipment from Borrow Lenses is easy and cost-effective.

Borrow Lenses has an extensive variety of photo and video equipment available: cameras, lenses, lighting, audio, tripods, and accessories galore. Cameras and lenses include models by/for Canon, Nikon, and Sony, as well as some for Fuji X mount, Pentax K mount, and Leica M mount. I have only used them for lenses and filters but their inventory of lighting and video equipment looks pretty impressive. If you need that kind of equipment periodically, renting is a good option.

Most recently I used them in late March/early April for a trip to Beaufort, North Carolina to photograph the Outer Banks ponies nearby. Personally, I can’t yet justify spending over $1,000 for a lens, but I don’t mind paying to rent one. The lens I tried was a 70-200 mm f/2.8 by Nikon (retails for about $2,100) with a 1.7x teleconverter. For good measure, I also included a circular polarizer that would fit the lens. For a 1-week rental, the lens was $107, the teleconverter was $39, and the polarizer was $11. There’s also a damage waiver fee (insurance; but you could opt out if your own policy covers it) and shipping. Even with the extra costs, it’s a pretty good deal. I also had a coupon, so I saved 20%. You can rent for shorter or longer periods, too; but 7 days was perfect for this trip.

They ship the equipment via UPS in a sturdy box and you’ll need to sign for it. If you won’t be home and can’t ship it to work, you can choose to ship it to a local UPS Store.

Packaging/Equipment

Renting photo equipment from Borrow Lenses, the shipping box

Here’s the box after I opened it. Everything is packed in sturdy foam sized to the box. Removing the top insert reveals the equipment, placed into cut outs and bagged. When you’re done, you’ll ship it back just like this. The return shipping is prepaid and they include a label in the box (not shown).

Renting photo equipment from Borrow Lenses, the shipping box

Here’s everything I rented for the week, out of the box and bags. I left the circular polarizer in its case to avoid dust accumulation on the glass.

Renting photo equipment from Borrow Lenses

It’s a heavier lens than what I’m used to toting around because it’s made with a decent amount of metal rather than plastic and about 10 inches long. The tripod collar is built-in, although you could remove the mounting foot, if needed. Here’s what it all looked like in the field:

Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8 on tripod

Images Taken:

Here are some of the results from that trip. All photos were taken with a Nikon D3200, the 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens with 1.7x teleconverter attached, effectively making the lens 119-340 mm. However, since the camera I used has a 1.5x sensor, the lens became 178-510 mm and the maximum aperture was more like f/4.8 (the teleconverter reduces the aperture by 1.5 stops).

Outer Banks ponies  

Outer Banks ponies

Outer Banks pony  

Outer Banks pony

Outer Banks pony  

Outer Banks pony

I LOVED the lens! It really allowed in a lot of light, even with the teleconverter, so I could use shutter speeds that were in the 1/400-1/1000 sec. range. With a tripod collar, you can rotate the camera to vertical without re-orienting the camera on the tripod. There are times I wanted a wider angle, but I didn’t always have an opportunity to swap out lenses. After the first few exposures, I attached the teleconverter and left it on for the rest of the trip. It really made a difference in bringing the horses closer and filling more of the frame.

Overall, this is an excellent, affordable way to try different equipment. Give Borrow Lenses a try, the next time you need some gear.

What is a Circular Polarizer Filter? Why Do I Need One?

What is a Circular Polarizer Filter? Why Do I Need One?

What is a circular polarizer?

A circular polarizer helps to reduce glare and reflections. As a result, it diminishes hazy summer skies, increases the contrast between blue sky and white clouds, and can reduce reflections in water and glass.

When to Use a Circular Polarizer

Blue sky: Depending on the time of day, the polarizer will deepen the blue sky, making the white clouds “pop.” Less effective at midday.

What is a circular polarizer?

Without a circular polarizer.

What is a circular polarizer?

With a circular polarizer.

 

Reduce reflection: Water and glass both cause reflections that the polarizer can reduce or eliminate entirely.

What is a circular polarizer?

Reflections in water, without a circular polarizer.

What is a circular polarizer?

Water, with a circular polarizer. Notice how the reflections have almost disappeared.

 

Improve the appearance of vegetation: Using a polarizer can impact the green of vegetation, making it look greener and more lush, in addition to reducing the glare if the leaves are wet.

Photo of leaves, without a circular polarizer

Without a circular polarizer, the wet leaf is noticeably shiny.

Photo of leaves, taken with a polarizer

The same leaves, with a polarizer have significantly reduced the glare and improved the greens.

How to Use a Circular Polarizer

The filter screws into the front of your lens. (If you have a point-and-shoot camera, check if your lens has threads on the front to be able to attach a filter. Most do not.) Once attached, you can rotate it to vary the direction of light it filters. Note: rotating it clockwise will help to prevent you from loosening it inadvertently while using it. Keep in mind that you will lose 1-2 stops of exposure when using a circular polarizer. That means you’ll need longer shutter speeds, a wider aperture, or increase your ISO when using one. Remove the filter when shooting at night.

Purchasing

You’ll need to know the diameter of your lens so that you buy the correct size. If you have more than one lens and they are different sizes, you may want to purchase a filter for each one. Alternatively, you could purchase one polarizer for the largest diameter lens and various step-down rings to use on the smaller lenses. More expensive (and better) filters are generally made of glass, rather than plastic.

A Neutral Density Filter Guide For Creative Photography

A Neutral Density Filter Guide For Creative Photography

What is a Neutral Density filter and why do you need one? In this Neutral Density Filter Guide we will explore several uses for a Neutral Density filter so you can fix common problems with exposure and take better creative photographs. Neutral Density filters are more commonly referred to as ND filters for short.

An ND filter reduces the amount of light coming through your camera lens without affecting the colors of the scene. They come in different strengths (+1, +2, +5  Neutral Density stops) and can be stacked on top of each other to reduce the light further.

Variable Neutral Density filter, light

A variable ND filter, set to a relatively light setting.

Variable Neutral Density filter, dark

A variable ND filter rotated to its darkest setting.

These filters are really handy to have in your camera bag when you need/want to use slower shutter speeds. When it’s a bright day, it can be difficult, or impossible, to get a slow enough shutter speed, even after reducing your aperture and ISO, and still get the look you want.

The aperture can’t be closed down far enough to use a shutter speed of 1 second or longer. When you hear somebody say “closed down,” what they are referring to is making the aperture smaller and the f/stop number larger. For example, if the aperture on the camera is set to f/11 and I tell you to stop the lens down 1 stop, you would then set the aperture to f/16, which is a smaller aperture and is half as much light as f/11. On the flip side if I tell you to “open up” the lens 1 stop, you would then go from f/11 to f/8 which is now letting in twice as much light. 

Below are some examples of Niagara Falls. The first image is without a Neutral Density filter. It’s a bright day and the falls are in the sun. If you’re looking to freeze the action of the water over the falls, that’s fine – fast shutter speed does the trick. But if you want to soften the water, blurring it into something that’s silky smooth, it’s just too bright. Pull out the ND filter and attach it to the front of your lens. I used a variable ND filter which gets stronger then fainter as you rotate it once attached. Now I can use a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds.

You will want to make sure you have your camera mounted on a tripod when using shutter speeds slower than than 1/30 of a second so that you do not have any blur from hand holding the camera.

My #1 use is to slow water flow into something smooth, but it’s certainly worth experimenting on other subjects.

 

Niagara Falls without a neutral density (ND) filter

Niagara Falls without ND filter: shutter priority, spot metering, 1/1000 sec, f/8, ISO 100, -0.7 EV

 

Niagara Falls with a neutral density (ND) filter

Niagara Falls with ND filter: shutter priority, center-weighted average metering, 1/2 sec, f/36, ISO 100, -0.3 EV

 

Glass is Better than Plastic

Plastic or resin filters can scratch. Avoid these filters and buy ones made of glass, instead. Tiffen and Schneider are made of glass. B+W, Cokin, and Hoya are all plastic. You may want to give one of the less expensive brands a try to see if they come in handy but it’s worth the money to buy filters made of glass for long-term use.

 

A second use for ND filters is to even out the exposure in a scene that has a bright sky and a dark foreground. Unfortunately, a camera cannot capture the entire range of light values in a scene with just one exposure. That is when you’ll want to use a Graduated ND filter.

The Graduated ND filters go from dark to clear and therefore only affect a portion of the image. These help to reduce wide contrasts in the scene such as evening out the exposure between the foreground and the sky as in the example below.

Without Graduated ND Filter

Shot without using a Graduated ND Filter

 

With Graduated ND Filter

Shot with a Graduated ND Filter

The kit below is the one used to take the two pictures above. It is inexpensive and will get the job done on a budget. One of the downsides to this kit is that the top area of the image starts to get a pinkish color cast the higher you go in numbers with the ND filters. For the price, though, you cannot beat it.

A third use for an ND filter is if you want to shoot with lower f/stops in bright light. Let’s suppose that you want to shoot your 50mm f/1.8 lens wide open at f/1.8 on a bright sunny day. Even if you set your ISO low to 100, you may still have too much light coming into the camera and you will not have a shutter speed fast enough to get correct exposure for the shot. By using an ND filter you can block enough light in order to use the lower aperture and not overexpose the shot.  

If you want to try this yourself use any lens that you have. Set your camera to the A or Av (Aperture Priority) position on the Mode Dial and the ISO to 100. Now, set your aperture to the lowest number you can (this opens up the lens to its maximum). Go outside during the day and take a picture of something. Odds are that the shutter speed setting will be very fast and may even be blinking. If this is the case, the shutter speed cannot go any faster and the picture will be overexposed or too bright. To fix this problem, attach an ND filter to block some of that light. You will know that you have the correct ND filter attached once the shutter speed setting stops blinking in the viewfinder.

How to Use

You’ll need to know the filter size of your lens(es): look on the inside of your lens cap or on the lens itself. There will be a symbol before the number that looks like a 0 (zero) with a slash through it. You can either buy multiple filters in different sizes (one for each lens) or buy the largest filter you need and use step-up rings to use with your smaller lenses.

I like the filters that screw into the front of the lens. There are other filters that are square or rectangular and require a holder (either you or a piece that screws into the front of the lens and you slide the filter into the holder). When using a holder, the filter should be very close to the lens. If it’s not, light can be reflected between the lens and the filter, ruining your image instead of improving it.

When purchasing a graduated filter, I recommend using ones with a soft edge, rather than a hard edge. The change from clear to dark is more gradual and less likely to distract the viewer if it’s not set in the perfect spot.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how and when to use an ND filter in your photography. ND filters allow us to be creative and also fix exposure problems that we encounter.

You will find that a good tripod and set of ND filters are essential to taking great landscape photos.