May 20, 2015

CameraLends Goes Nationwide: Cheaply Rent the Latest Gear from Local Owners

Brick and mortar rental houses are becoming a thing of the past, and peer-to-peer online marketplaces are shaping the future.

In January, I wrote an in-depth piece about a startup called ShareGrid that is solving many of the inherent pains of renting equipment to and from strangers. And there are certainly many pains, ranging from insurance woes to the psychologically traumatic experience of renting your precious gear to random internet dwellers. Well-received though it was, ShareGrid is still in its private beta in Los Angeles, which means that if you're looking to leverage an online peer-to-peer marketplace, you'll have to look for another option.

As of today, CameraLends is that option, as they just opened up their massive online marketplace to the entirety of the United States. Here are a few quick videos that detail what CameraLends is, how it works, and why it matters.

It works like this: just type in the gear that you're looking for, type in your location and the date that you want to pick up the gear, and CameraLends will show you everything matching that description in your area. It looks like this:

CameraLends Search Results Screen

You can then send a request to the owner of your desired rental gear. If they approve your request, you're off to the races and you can then coordinate your pickup, return, and payment options. Once the rental equipment is returned, each party can review and rate their experience, and these reviews and ratings show up on each user's public profile, which helps other users navigate the process of deciding who they should rent to or from.

Speaking of security, here's a brief rundown of how CameraLends tackles the issues of payment processing and ensuring that those who rent out their gear don't get screwed by careless or shady renters:

  • Is the community safe? Definitely. The community is made of pre-screened professionals and hobbyists who understand the value of the gear they hold. We verify the identity of every new member before their first rental is approved, requiring mailing address, phone number, and record of professional history to ensure trust and safety for all. After each successful rental, members are peer-reviewed which appear on their public profiles.
  • How are payments handled? All payments and transfers to owners are made securely on CameraLends through Stripe, our payment processor. Stripe is certified to PCI Service Provider Level 1, the most stringent level of certification. We hold onto the Renter’s payment and disburse the majority to Owners once the rental is returned and marked complete.
  • What happens if my gear is damaged or lost? We understand accidents happen, and we know how much your gear means to you. That’s why we guarantee your gear will be fully replaced and fixed in the case of damage or loss. We offer a damage waiver to Renters’ that reduces their responsibility, but we’ll step in regardless and next-day ship to make things right as soon as possible.
  • What prevents the Renter from just keeping the gear? Video and photo equipment is expensive, so the risk of theft is naturally there. That’s why we do our best to ensure our community is peer-reviewed and pre-screened before any rental is accepted and in their hands. In the event of theft, we have the Renter’s credit card information, mailing address, phone number and verified identity to follow-up with the local authorities. Either way, the Owner’s gear will be fully replaced and taken care of.
cameralends

There are loads of advantages to working within a system like this. First and foremost, it's an inexpensive way to work with gear that you might not otherwise be able to afford, thus providing people with a simple, safe way to "try before you buy." Depending on the density and variety of gear available in your area, it could also become a truly economical alternative to traditional rental houses for larger orders.

On the other hand, it's also a great way for gear owners to make some extra money while their gear isn't in use. We all know that filmmaking can be an unstable way to make a living, and renting out gear can help provide a little bit more income stability.

You can learn more about and sign up for CameraLends right here, and you can start renting gear immediately.      

Your Comment

18 Comments

Lack of true rental insurance makes me a little weary. Unless these people have credit cards with insane credit limits I could see this being a problem. I can see it working for smaller items though. The required insurance from ShareGrid is what makes me trust it.

I disagree with the brick and mortar rental houses being a thing of the past. Rental houses are usually way easier to deal with and will sub-rent items they don't have in stock for you so you don't have to run all over town to prep for a shoot. Not only that but they have the inventory and contacts to be able to get you new equipment incase something breaks down ASAP which is worth the premium if its a big shoot.

May 20, 2015 at 5:23PM

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Exactly. Robert Hardy doesn't do himself any favours (comes across as clueless, actually) when he makes these inflated statements. Clearly he has not worked at a very high level in the industry, as these things are obvious to anyone who has.

May 21, 2015 at 5:53AM

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I signed up for this two weeks ago and rented out my DSLR for a 2 day rental. Then a co-worker of the renter stole the camera and switched it with her old one. Of course I figured it out right away when I got the body back due to it being banged up and the serial number being different.

CameraLends is a great idea, but at the end of the day there are so many flaky and unreliable people out there, do you really want strangers handling your precious gear just for a few extra bucks? Or on the opposite end, is it worth it paying a bit less for a rental at the expense of gear potentially not working properly?

I did get my camera back in the end and was compensated with a few extra rental days, but the renter was almost not able to pay for it since he said he barely has any money. More importantly, by a hair it jeopardized a week-long out of state video shoot for which I had to use my DSLR. I ended up using the banged up DSLR body I received for the time being, but it was a very stressful situation nonetheless.

I had to learn the hard way that CameraLends is not for me, definitely not for renting out my own gear. As soon as I'll receive the money for the initial 2-day rental, I'll be deleting my account ASAP.

May 21, 2015 at 2:11PM, Edited May 21, 2:22PM

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Imka
159

We're really sorry that this happened with your rental. If we had been notified of the situation as soon as you discovered the returned camera was someone else's, we would have given you a replacement ASAP and follow-up with the renter for payment and recovery. Unfortunately, we weren't notified until a week after.

Our service is here to protect owners when incidents like these occur. It's our responsibility to coordinate damage claims and directly handle payments with Renters. Even if a renter is unable to pay, we'll cover the immediate costs and invoice them directly for the damages or loss after.

We make sure that no rental is approved unless we can cover the out-of-pocket costs ourselves. We know liability is a huge concern, and we want everyone who lends through the platform to know we're on their side and their gear is safe.

While this incident is unfortunate for everyone, we've only had a handful of damage/loss cases out of the thousands of successful ones. With proactive communication and help from the community, we can ensure that every rental goes as smooth as possible.

Sorry again for the incident. Thanks for sharing.

May 21, 2015 at 5:16PM

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James Rogers
Community Support Lead, CameraLends
74

In hindsight I agree I should have contacted CameraLends right away. While being on a week long every-day-a-different-city shoot my mind was pre-occupied enough with the shoot's responsibilities, but as stated before in emails between you and me, I mainly wanted to give the renter the benefit of the doubt and not ruin his reputation prematurely… that was until he took advantage of my trust and patience and further delayed the return of my gear once I was back in town.

Prior to this incident, Adam (founder of CameraLends) contacted me asking how my experience with CameraLends had been so far and we had a few short emails back and forth. After the incident I shared the whole stolen rental story with him, but he never cared to respond which in itself is disappointing.

I'm sure many rental transactions do go smoothly, but my bad experience goes to show you just never know who you are renting your gear to even if the renter has positive reviews because you don't know if the renter let's the gear be handled by other people who are not on the rental agreement. (Maybe that's something CameraLends could address to make its service safer?)

May 21, 2015 at 9:05PM, Edited May 21, 9:14PM

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Imka
159

I like the idea - some of the prices are outrageous tho. $100 for a 2 day rental of a GoPro?!

May 20, 2015 at 6:08PM

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Ouch! Yes, $100 is a lot for a 2-day rental. Sorry about that.

The prices are set by the owner, but if you send us a link to support@cameralends.com, we're happy to reach out to them and ask that they reduce their rates :)

May 20, 2015 at 6:40PM

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James Rogers
Community Support Lead, CameraLends
74

This could be a good thing for folks who aren't near a real rental house. I'm about 3 hours round trip from the closest one, not exactly handy for a smallish item. That said, personally, I'd never rent my own mission-critical stuff. I have in the past then found it broken when I went to use it next (and it had looked ok. on inspection when I got it back.) D'Oh!

May 20, 2015 at 6:59PM

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Erik Stenbakken
Videographer & Photographer
264

This is great! I've been waiting for something like this. In Fresno, there are no rental houses so I have to drive far or do online rentals but with this another added benefit is meeting local filmmakers and networking -that's something you can't get from an online rental. It's great to be able to rent out gear rather than having it sit around when I'm not using it. I'm not that worried about insurance if the company is willing to cover the few mishaps that might come up. Excited to set up an account! :)

May 20, 2015 at 7:16PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1394

Anyone with experience using this service?

May 21, 2015 at 12:39AM

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Please see my post further up, unfortunately I had a rather bad experience with CameraLends.

May 21, 2015 at 3:53PM

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Imka
159

Yes, I have. A lot of positive experiences so far. If you have gears lying around, consider putting them up on CameraLends to earn some extra cash. My H4n and GoPro always get some hits!

May 22, 2015 at 3:05AM

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These ads are BS

May 21, 2015 at 10:59AM

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matt
743

I don't know if bullshit is the word, but they're full of exaggerated claims for sure... You can't possibly say that renting from local photographers is the fastest way to get photography gear; if you live right across from a rental house, renting from there would be the fastest way to get gear... and with a guarantee for both parties.

May 22, 2015 at 10:22AM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
291

"That’s why we guarantee your gear will be fully replaced and fixed in the case of damage or loss. We offer a damage waiver to Renters’ that reduces their responsibility, but we’ll step in regardless and next-day ship to make things right as soon as possible."

CameraLends is definitely not being clear about how liability works here. Their protection plan only covers up to $2500, with a 25% deductible, and they rely on the renter paying that and paying for damage over $2500. There is no protection against fraud and a renter not paying, and an owner's equipment is NOT protected or fully insured for damage and loss. Opening up nationally without necessary protections and insurance is reckless and exposes members to a lot of risk. I would never list my equipment when I know the renter is not insured, that's just crazy.

From CameraLends' terms:

"Renters warrant that they will accept responsible for any damage that occurs to the product. Renters warrant that they will return the product or accept liability for loss or theft of the product. Renters agree to submit payment to CameraLends.

CameraLends will waive up to $2,500 worth of damage or loss for those who have purchased the protection plan. Renters will be liable for damage beyond the $2,500 amount. If theft, loss or damage occurs and Renter purchased the Protection Plan, the Renter is obligated to pay a 25% deductible on the total replacement or repair cost. If the renter did not purchase the Protection Plan they will be obligated to pay 100% of the replacement or repair cost."

May 21, 2015 at 2:41PM, Edited May 21, 2:41PM

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Awesome to see CameraLends featured on NoFilmSchool! I've been a long time lender on the site and have been having great experiences on the site since November last year. Adam and James have been amazing at customer support. They've been consistently reaching out to me since the beginning and do a great job resolving any questions or issues I've had. They even went above and beyond to make sure I was safe and not lending to people that seemed shady. They truly care about their users.

As for the lending aspects, I personally have saved many last minute productions. I am very quick with my response time and take care of any inquiries within the hour. I have lent close to 100 times with 100% positive feedback and each rental allowed me to meet someone who's as passionate as I am about film and photography. Not only is it fun, but earning money on the side helps further my hobby as well. I was able to upgrade from my Canon T3i to a Panasonic GH4 and even had the money to build a new computer to handle the new 4K workflow.

I saw there are a lot of worries about lost or damaged gear. I have experienced this myself twice and CameraLends quickly replaced my missing SD Card and missing battery charger without hesitation or hassle. Knowing my gears are insured gives me a peace of mind. If you have any questions, just reach out to them via the support e-mail and they will take care of it right away! :)

May 22, 2015 at 3:02AM

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Dude, you think you're sly?

It's obvious you either work for/on behalf of CameraLends, or you've been asked by a friend to write a positive review. That would explain the formal English and a comment that looks a lot like the kind of bullshit you see on the corporate websites of companies who hide their flaws behind political correctness.

I'm against rental houses. But CameraLends is not a sustainable business model unless renters provide a deposit to the amount of the value of the equipment rented to CameraLends, held back by CameraLends until the equipment is returned, and utilised in the event of damage, loss or theft.

That's the only way this is going to work. If the company can implement that, I'll be the first in line to lend my equipment for cheap.

May 22, 2015 at 10:17AM, Edited May 22, 10:17AM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
291

I am a LA lender on the site, no bs at all. I do not represent CameraLends other than just being a lender/renter. My comment is based on my lending experience with the site. It may not be for every filmmaker out there, but if you're willing to, I encourage you to try the service. A lot of my business come from freelance videographers, indie filmmakers, and outdoor excursionists. Small things like my H4n, soft boxes, and my GoPro often gets rented out. So I would suggest this: Don't lend out your top gear right off the bat, just the ones you got lying around that you don't often use.

May 22, 2015 at 11:28AM

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The usefulness of this when gear is abundant is incredible. I'm in San Diego and either have to drive pretty far to a rental house or get it shipped. Time savings alone is worth it, plus better networking with local community, too.

June 2, 2015 at 1:39PM

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Tim Ryan
Filmmaker
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