Best way to try a new camera? Rent one! LensProToGo has a great deal going

Recently I got the hankering to try out a camera. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy it or not, and there aren’t any camera stores near me to just pop in and take a look. Even if there was, I don’t feel like I can really put a camera through its paces, take test shots, evaluate them, and spend time poking through every possible menu and option (yes, I geekily do that), while sitting in front of an impatient camera salesman. What to do, what to do...

So, at a recent trade show, I met the nice people over at LensProToGo and it dawned on me to borrow a camera before buying it…or a lens…or lens cap. Whatever! So I decided to give them a try and ordered up a FujiFilm X-Pro 1, an 18mm f/2.0 lens, and a 35mm f/1.4 lens for it. Since I was in the trying mood, I also requested the latest Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens for my Nikon DSLRs. I have the older model and wanted to see how much better the new one was before deciding to spring for it, or not.

On a recent podcast interview I did, the hosts really raved about their MILCs (Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera), and by golly I hadn’t even tried one yet - being fully content with my lightweight DSLRs. Alas, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and LensProToGo recommended the Sony X-Pro 1 as a popular model. Fortunately, all the folks that work there are actual photographers and know the cameras well - which made their suggestions all the more valuable to this mirrorless newbie.

The rental experience was a complete joy. They have great customer service, fast delivery, and shipping is included in the rental prices so you know exactly what you are paying. I think their prices are competitive with most other reputable rental houses, but their knowledge and helpfulness really give them the edge. Renting equipment really makes sense, especially if you are starting out and need good gear for a wedding or two a month but don’t have the capital to invest in your own stuff just yet. You want to work with a company you can build a relationship with and wallow in the goodness of personal service. That’s what I’m talking about.

Well, aren’t you dying to know how I liked the camera and lenses? I loved the image quality from the X-Pro 1, but wasn’t really impressed by the usability (or lack thereof) of the optical viewfinder. I was completely surprised to find that it is all but useless for getting critical focus right at anything closer than 15 ft. or so. The digitally enhanced optical viewfinder doesn’t accurately correct for parallax at closer distances, and the focus point indicator is miles off from where it actually focuses. Using the LCD back, like a typical point-n-shoot, provided accurate results –although defeating the purpose of having an eye point viewfinder. The image quality was beautiful though, and the lenses were fast and fun to use. If I’m going to spend $2000+ on a camera system, however, I want to love almost everything about it, so this was a good way for me to save my money until something more suitable for me comes along.

I did love the Nikon 70-200mm lens and am seriously considering upgrading now that I’ve verified that it is significantly better than my previous model 70-200mm.

Before I forget, LensProToGo has a deal running right now where you can get 7 days of FREE rental when you rent for 7 days – a great way to really spend time with a camera before taking the plunge - or take it with you on a safari and only pay for half the trip! Which, by the way, is the subject of an upcoming post I’ll make on preparing for a photo adventure abroad!