Rental tool contest winner

If you’re a hobbyist photographer you know that you can never have enough camera lenses. Advanced amateurs can often justify the purchase of some of the more expensive, but very versatile, lenses such as the many variations of Canon’s 70-200 lens. The tricky part comes when you want to play with some of the more esoteric and special-purpose lenses, such as extreme wide angles or super long telephotos. If you only use the lens once a year it’s really hard to justify the many thousands of dollars the lenses can often run.

In my case, my favorite specialized tool that I don’t own for my camera is a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L. The magic is its ability to tilt and shift, so that it moves in relation to the sensor plane, similar to the movements you’d get with a large format camera. These lens movements can allow a photographer to control focus and perspective–for instance, keeping vertical lines from converging when photographing a tall building. For this reason a tilt/shift lens is often used when shooting interior and exterior architecture shots, but in my case I find it highly entertaining to use when photographing landscapes. Whether it’s the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park or the Virgin Narrows in Zion National Park, the lens is a ton of fun for me to use. Using the lens’ movements, it’s possible for me to achieve perfect sharpness from the nearest object in the frame all the way out to infinity.


When I need a TS-E 17mm, which would cost about $2,500 to purchase, I rent it from There are several lens rental companies with a web presence, but I’ve always had excellent results with Lensrentals. They have reasonable prices (far cheaper than renting from my local pro camera shop), offer insurance, don’t require a deposit, and don’t place a hold on my credit card. They always make sure the lens arrives a day or so earlier than you actually need it.

Their service is also incredible. A friend of mine once rented two lenses for a trip, and UPS lost them. He called Lensrentals and they immediately shipped out two new lenses via overnight delivery for no charge. They even offered to drop ship to my friend’s vacation destination to ensure he didn’t miss the delivery.

If you want to play with a fun lens to expand your photographic options, the TS-E 17mm from is hard to beat.

-- Neil Enns 04/19/10