Plenty of gear passes through the hands of LensRentals on a daily basis and with that perch, the company has a pretty good handle on industry trends and gear reliability. We sat down with Drew Cicala and Chase Reynolds at PhotoPlus Expo to pick their brains about the market.
Here’s a bit of what we learned:
Mirrorless, Still Growing; Sony, Still Super Hot
Sony rentals are up 150 percent from last year–on top of already strong growth rates the prior year. In a survey of their audience, LensRentals found that 50 percent of photographers looking to change brands planned to shift to Sony. The migration isn’t uniform, though. Landscape and fine art photographers renting through LensRentals have adopted Sony gear faster than wedding and event photographers.
While Sony had struggled with lens variance in years past, Cicala says the new G Master series shows much less variance and newer models of older lenses appear more consistent as well.
The overall mirrorless category continues to grow and Fuji bodies and lenses are running to second Sony in terms of mirrorless rental demand. “We can’t keep the X T2 in stock,” Cicala says.
Nikon Shooters Are Renting the Flagship
LensRentals has seen a stronger embrace of the D5 among Nikon shooters relative to the Canon 1D X Mark IIs among the Canon faithful, possibly because Nikon users see more value in trading up than 1D X owners.
Mirrorless Medium Format Is Exciting
LensRental had rented some medium format bodies in the past but their delicate nature and high price tag made shipping daunting and so the company dropped the backs (the Pentax 645z is the exception). However the company plans to stock Hasselblad’s X1D and the forthcoming Fujifilm G45 since those bodies appear more robust.
Third Party Lenses Grow Up
Third party lenses have made great strides in both reliability and quality, particularly Sigma’s Art line, Cicala says. All-in-one zoom lenses are getting sharper too.
The one lens category that appears to be a step behind, Cicala says, is professionally-oriented Micro Four Thirds lenses.
Up Next: Virtual Reality (But Not Drones)
The next category that has the team excited is virtual reality. The company plans to stock up on VR gear in 2017 that will be easier to use than multiple GoPros housed in an array. “We’ll start slow with VR, but we do see demand for it growing,” Cicala says.
What the company won’t offer are drones. While they offer drone accessories, the flying cameras themselves are “too much of a liability risk,” Reynolds says.