Coronavirus Update - 26th March 2021

We've made some temporary changes to the way we operate so that we can keep safe and keep you safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

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.1 How do I calculate my hire period?

Simple. You count the number of days when you need the lens in your possession (because you’ll be using it, or travelling with it) and that’s your hire period. You don’t pay for the time the lens is in transit from us to you or back. For example, suppose you’re going away for a long weekend from Thursday to Monday. Your hire period is Thursday to Monday, which is 5 days; we’ll get the lens to you on Wednesday and you need to send or bring it back on Tuesday.

.2 Can I extend my hire period?

Maybe. If you want to extend your hire period before it ends, please contact us ASAP and we'll see what we can do. If there isn't another customer waiting with a reservation for the lens, then we'll quite happily extend your hire. You just pay the difference between the advertised prices for the original and extended hire periods. But if there is another customer with a reservation, then we're afraid you're going to have to return it on the originally scheduled date.

.3 What if I return the lens late?

Unfortunately, you're going to have to pay a late return fee. This is 20% of the advertised weekly hire fee, for every day late, as determined by when you post the lens back to us. (If the post is delayed, that's not your fault.) Note that you can easily avoid late return fees by extending your hire period.

.4 Can I return the lens early?

Yes, of course. However, you’ll appreciate that we might have turned away other customers because you had the lens booked, so we can’t offer a refund or credit for the unused portion of your hire period unless the circumstances are exceptional.

.5 Can I hire a lens for a period not listed on the web site?

Yes, with some restrictions. Firstly we don't hire lenses for periods shorter than 3 days - the cost and hassle of postage means it just isn't worthwhile. (But please tell us if you disagree!) And secondly, consumer credit regulations dictate that the maximum hire period we can offer is 3 months. If you want to hire a lens for a period that isn’t listed on the web site, please contact us and we'll work out the price and add it onto the web site for you.

.6 Can I reserve a lens?

Yes you can. You can place an order up to 999 days before your hire starts.

.7 What is the availability calendar telling me?

For each type of lens we publish a calendar showing its future availability. Green boxes show dates when we have plenty of this type of lens available. Yellow boxes show when we have some available, but not many. Red boxes show when we don't have any available. The availability calendar updates automatically every time we accept an order.

Please remember to allow for transit time when reading the availability calendars. You need to sure the lens you want is available, not just on the days when you want to be using it, but also on the days at either end of your hire when it’s on its way to you or back to us.

.8 I'm going on holiday outside the UK. Can I take a hired lens with me?

Generally, yes. Our insurers need to know where you're taking it, so please use the 'Any other information' box on the order form to tell us. If you plan to take advantage of our insurance, it's good for up to 60 days worldwide. But it probably wouldn't cover you if you were planning to visit a war zone. (There's a clause in the insurance about taking 'reasonable precautions' to avoid loss or damage...)

.9 Can I cancel an order?

Yes you can, so long as we haven't already posted the lens out to you. If you cancel an order within 14 days of placing it, there's no cancellation fee. (This is mandated by consumer regulations.) If you cancel an order more than 28 days before your hire period is due to start, then again there's no cancellation fee. (That's just us being kind.) But if you want to cancel an order more than 14 days after placing it, and less than 28 days before your hire is due to start, there's a cancellation fee of 25% of the hire charge, rising to 50% of the hire charge if you cancel less than 14 days before your hire is due to start.

.10 Can I hire more than one lens at a time?


.11 Do I get a discount if I hire more than one lens at a time?

A customer asked us about this. At the time the answer was no. We think our prices are pretty good to start with, and multiple-lens orders don’t actually save us much work compared to single-lens orders, so we didn’t see much justification for a discount. But he must have caught us at a weak moment, because we thought, what the heck, why not? So we now offer 5% off the listed prices when you hire 3 or more lenses in one order. This discount is applied automatically on the basket page.

.12 I’m under 18. Can I hire a lens from you?

No. Sorry. Our lawyers advise us that contracts are generally unenforceable if one party is under 18. This means that if you forget to return the lens, there’s not a lot we can do about it. If you’re under 18, it might be best to persuade a parent to hire the lens on your behalf.


.1 Do you charge a deposit?

Generally no. We trust you to look after our gear. Please help us to maintain this policy by repaying our trust. If we can't satisfy ourselves that a customer is genuine, or if the transaction looks unusually risky for other reasons, then we may ask for a deposit. (That's why we ask so many questions.) There are a number of situations in which we will routinely ask for a deposit though:

  • If you live outside the UK.
  • If you’re a foreign visitor to the UK.
  • If you want us to deliver a lens outside the UK.
  • If you want us to deliver the lens to an insecure location such as a hotel where you’re staying.
.2 What methods of payment do you accept?

We accept credit and debit cards – MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, Solo, Visa Debit, Electron, and American Express. But NOT Diners Club.

.3 When is my credit/debit card charged?

When you place the order, we'll validate your credit/debit card and place an authorisation for the total amount of the charge (including a deposit, if applicable). This doesn't actually withdraw funds from your card, but merely holds them for us. We'll usually charge the card on the day we send the lens out to you. And when we confirm that the lens has been returned safely, we'll refund the deposit, if you left a deposit, which you probably didn’t.

.4 What currencies do you accept?

Pounds Sterling only. If your credit card account works in a different currency, the amount you pay will be converted from Pounds Sterling into your currency by your card provider. (OK, we know, that seems to be a rather strange question. But we're required by law to tell you.)

.5 Do you charge VAT? Do your prices include VAT?

Yes, and yes. All our prices include VAT, though when you get to the checkout you'll also be shown the VAT component separately. If you're a professional photographer or a business customer, you may be able to claim back the VAT from HMRC.

.6 Do you have a complete price list available?

Yes. Here is the list for Canon equipment and here is the list for Nikon equipment.

Delivery and Return

.1 How does delivery work?

Most of our deliveries go out with overnight couriers. We use JCA Couriers, a local firm who deliver locally and subcontract long-haul deliveries to an overnight network such as UK Mail or City Link. We also use DPD.

The “standard” courier service is next-day delivery guaranteed before 12:00, but they also offer a “premium” option (delivery by 09:00 in most of the country) which is more expensive and a “budget” option (delivery by 17:30) which is a little bit cheaper. Not all services are available to all parts of the UK, but our system will only offer you the services that are relevant to your location. In remote areas the best service might be operated by Royal Mail Special Delivery (RMSD), and if that’s the case our system will offer that too.

For Saturday deliveries we use RMSD. The standard service RMSD is next-day delivery guaranteed before 13:00, and for items weighing less than 2kg there is also an option for delivery before 09:00 (considerably more expensive).

Note that both of these services require you to sign for the lens when it’s delivered. If you're not in when delivery is attempted, Royal Mail will take the parcel to the local depot and you have to collect it from there; JCA (or their subcontractors) or DPD will do the same, but they’ll also try again to deliver it the next day.

.2 How much does delivery cost?

Our standard pre-12:00 courier delivery is £12 for any number of items. The “premium” (early morning) service is bit more; the “budget” service is a bit less. Deliveries to remote and off-shore locations cost more, and RMSD has a completely separate per-item tariff.

The easiest way to find out, really, is to put one or more items of equipment in your shopping basket and take a look at what delivery options you’re offered. That’s much easier than trying to wade through a complicated explanation here.

.3 How quickly can I get a lens?

Ordinarily, you need to be planning a couple of days ahead. Say you want your hire to start on Friday; we’ll aim to deliver it on Thursday, so we’ll need to dispatch it on Wednesday, so we’ll need your order by 3pm on Wednesday. If you want a local pickup, we can save a bit of time: if you want to collect the lens on Thursday, you can order on Wednesday evening or even (at a pinch) Thursday morning. And if you’ve left it a bit late so that it’s only possible to deliver the lens on day 1 of your hire period instead of the day before, the system will still let you do that. If you need a lens more quickly than that, please contact us and we'll see what we can do. It is possible to send lenses by same-day delivery, though those services tend to be pretty expensive - very expensive indeed if you're not within say 100 miles of Maidenhead. But we'll do it if you really need it.

.4 Do you deliver lenses outside the UK?

Yes, we can. However, there are three important considerations. The first is that international courier rates are an impenetrable mystery, and we will generally need to get a quote for a specific parcel. So if you're thinking of doing this, get in touch and we'll get a quote for you. Needless to say, it would be a good idea not to try to do this at the last minute. The second issue is that our lawyers have advised us to take a deposit, equal to the replacement value of the lens, for all hires outside the UK. The third is that customs procedures and duties are a real barrier if we're trying to send something outside the EU. We sent a lens to Norway once (yes, we'd forgotten Norway isn't in the EU!) and we got stung for nearly £300 in customs duties. Never again! So it's EU-only from now on

.5 Do you deliver to Northern Ireland? To the Isle Of Man? To the Channel Islands?

Yes, yes, and yes. If you enter a BT, IM, JE or GY postcode the system will automatically work out what delivery options are available to you.

.6 Do you deliver to British Forces Post Office (BFPO) addresses overseas?

Yes, for BFPO locations within Europe at least, but there are some limitations and the whole issue is very messy. Give us a call or drop us an email and we can help work it out for you.

.7 Can you deliver to my workplace?

Yes. We generally prefer to deliver to the address at which your credit card is registered. That’s much safer all round. However, bearing in mind that lenses have to be signed for on delivery, we appreciate that this isn’t always the most convenient option for everyone. So we can deliver to your regular permanent workplace if you specify it on the order form. Always bear in mind that you are responsible for the lens from the moment it’s signed for, even if it’s someone else doing the signing. So you need to be confident that you know what will happen to the lens after it’s signed for, and that the process is adequately safe and secure. Please use the ‘Any other information’ box on the order form to confirm this. If we’re not convinced, we reserve the right to charge you a deposit equal to the value of the lens.

.8 I'm visiting the UK. Can you deliver to my hotel?

Well, we can, but we’re not convinced it’s a good idea. When our lens is delivered it has to be signed for, and once it’s been signed for it becomes your responsibility. The trouble is, at a hotel you don’t necessarily know who’s going to be signing for the parcel when it arrives, and if it goes astray then you’ve got a problem. This feels pretty risky to us, so if you really want us to deliver to your hotel then we’re going to have to take a deposit equal to the value of the lens. Sorry about that.

.9 What if a lens that I’ve ordered arrives late?

No delivery service is perfect, and late deliveries can happen. If it’s really really important to you to have the lens on a particular date, then we’d suggest hiring it a day earlier than you need it; that way you’ve got a built-in safety margin at little extra cost. But if a lens does arrive late, you have several options. The first is to go ahead with the hire and return it as scheduled. That means you’ll have had it for a day less than planned, but we’ll make it up to you by refunding some of your hire charges. Another option is to cancel the hire contract; return the lens directly to us and we’ll refund all your charges. Or, if there isn’t another customer waiting for the lens, you can extend the return date so that you end up with the same period of hire that you’d originally planned. Basically, if a lens is late in being delivered to you, let us know immediately. The sooner we know about it, the sooner we can try to work out a solution for you. (Incidentally, none of this applies if the reason a lens is delivered late is that you weren’t there to receive it on the scheduled day. We have to judge late deliveries according to the day the postman or courier first attempted to deliver the lens at the correct address.)

.10 How do I return a lens to you?

You’ll get full instructions in the box with the lens. But, basically, first of all:

  • pack up all the bits (lens, hood, case, etc.) in the box, re-using the original packaging materials;
  • tape the box securely closed and put it in the mailing bag provided;
  • stick the pre-printed return address label on the bag.

Then, once the box is packed and ready to go, you have several options. If you've pre-paid for return delivery, then we will send you a link to an online booking form where you can book the collection with JCA Couriers. Otherwise, you need to take it to the Post Office and send it back to us via Special Delivery, making sure that you get a tracking number. Or if you want to save on postage, you could take it to one of our drop-off locations in Maidenhead.

.11 How much does it cost to return a lens to you?

For most of the UK our courier collections cost £19, regardless of the quantity or weight of the parcels. Royal Mail Special Delivery costs about £11 per parcel for items weighing under 2kg (e.g. small/medium lenses such as the Canon or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8), and about £26 per parcel for items weighing over 2kg. (All the packed weights of lenses are listed on our web site.) So if you have one small/medium lens RMSD is cheaper; if you have two, there’s not much difference in cost; but if you have more than two, and/or a large lens, then the courier will be cheaper. However we always offer you both options, because convenience might be more important to you than price.

Lenses and Other Equipment

.1 What comes with each lens?

It varies, but generally quite a lot. We send each lens out with all the accessories it came with when it was brand new, and some other bits and pieces too. Every lens will arrive with front and rear caps. Every lens will come in either a suede/leather drawstring pouch or some sort of soft or hard padded case; if they don’t come with either a pouch or a case when they’re new then we always buy one for protection. Most lenses come with lens hoods from the factory, but again we systematically buy hoods for those which don’t. The bigger lenses will come with a tripod collar. And we fit UV/protective filters to all our lenses which accept them. When you hire a lens, there will be a checklist in the box setting out exactly what is included. Everything you receive must be returned at the end of your hire period.

.2 I've never used a sophisticated lens like this before. Can you help me?

Yes. In the box with the lens you'll receive a copy of the instruction manual for the lens.

.3 Do you have plans to offer lenses for Sony / Olympus / Pentax ?

Well, we prefer never to say never, but we don’t have any immediate plans. The trouble is, according to the figures we’ve seen Canon and Nikon have over 80% of the DSLR market between them (and virtually 100% of the pro market), and that remaining 20% is split between Pentax, Olympus, Sony and others. For the foreseeable future we’re likely to get far better returns from the Canon and Nikon ranges, and we have to worry about that because this business has a phenomenal appetite for cash. But we’re keeping the DSLR sales trends under review, and we would hope to be able to diversify further at some point in the future.

.4 What if I want to hire a lens that you don't currently offer?

Let us know which lens you want and we'll see if we can justify getting hold of one. If other people have asked for the same lens then that's a good sign there will be demand for it, and we'll find it easier to justify. But we won't know if you don't tell us! If you're really serious about it, we'll buy a lens specifically for you to hire.

.5 What if the lens I want to hire is always out of stock?

First of all, please let us know. We aim to have the lenses you want, when you want them. If there's more demand for a particular lens than we're meeting, we'll get more copies. But we won't know about it if you don't tell us! If you're really serious about it, we'll buy a lens specifically for you to hire.

.6 Do you hire things other than lenses?

We hire out flash units and some lens supports. We're always thinking about whether we should stock any other items. Please feel free to make suggestions.

.7 Will you buy a lens specifically for me to hire?

Yes, if you're serious. If the lens you want to hire is one that we don't carry or is out of stock, and if you're willing to commit to hiring it for 2 weeks or more, and if you give us at least 2 weeks’ notice, then we'll buy a lens specifically for you to hire. However, we don't have a bottomless wallet, so unfortunately for the time being we have to restrict this offer to lenses which cost less than £2,000.

Loss and Damage

.1 What happens if I damage a lens?

Ooh, bad news. The first thing to do is to let us know immediately. If we have another lens of the same type in stock, and if you want it, and if you're willing to pay the postage, then we can send you a replacement for the remainder of your hire period. The next thing to do is to send the damaged lens back to us. We'll take it or send it off to an authorised service centre for repair. When we get it back, we'll invoice you for the cost of the repair.

We buy insurance to cover the equipment we hire to you, and part of our hiring conditions reflect the terms and conditions of our insurance policy. If any loss or damage to the equipment is accidental, and we are able to recover our losses from our insurers, then your liability to us is capped at the value of our insurance excess.

.2 What happens if I lose a lens, or if it's stolen, whilst I've got it on hire?

Ooh, even worse news. Again, the first thing to do is to let us know immediately. If we have another lens of the same type in stock, and if you want it, and if you're willing to pay the postage, then we can send you a replacement for the remainder of your hire period. We'll then buy a lens to replace the one you've lost, and we'll invoice you for the cost of the replacement.

We buy insurance to cover the equipment we hire to you, and part of our hiring conditions reflect the terms and conditions of our insurance policy. If any loss or damage to the equipment is accidental, and we are able to recover our losses from our insurers, then your liability to us is capped at the value of our insurance excess.

.3 What do you consider to count as damage, as opposed to normal wear and tear?

Whilst we expect you to look after our gear as if it were your own, we expect you to actually use it rather than just keep it wrapped in cotton wool the whole time. So we will treat minor scratches or marks on the lens barrel and/or hood as the results of ordinary wear and tear. However scratches on the glass, or damage to the mounting or any other part that affects the lens's performance, will be considered damage.

.4 Is the equipment insured?

Yes! We buy specific insurance with a specialist insurer – Imaging Insurance. Our insurance policy can be extended to cover our equipment whilst it is hired out to you. This insurance covers all the major risks which you might run whilst a lens or other item is on hire - accidental damage, loss or theft. Obviously there are terms and conditions that apply. There's the usual stuff about not being negligent, having good physical security in your house, being very careful about leaving gear in cars, etc., etc. And negligence isn't covered – so if you say you left it on the bus, that’s going to be your problem rather than ours or the insurers. Please note that this arrangement does NOT form a contract of insurance between you and Imaging Insurance. What’s happening is that we are extending our insurance to cover the equipment while it is in your possession, and we’re paying an extra premium to enable that. So if there is an incident, we have to submit a claim, not you (though obviously we'll need your help).

.5 Do I have to pay extra for your insurance?

No. We extend our insurance to cover loss or damage to the equipment while it’s on hire to you. We make no additional charge for this over and above the prices you can see on the web site.

.6 Does your insurance have an excess?

Yes. Our insurers will not pay the first £150 of any claim so, in the event of loss or damage which requires an insurance claim, we will charge you £150 + VAT to cover our loss.

.7 Can I arrange my own insurance to cover the equipment I hire from you?

Yes, of course, but you’ll have to make the arrangements yourself. The recommended insurance value of each type of equipment is on its particular page on the web site. And we can let you know the serial number(s) of the equipment you’ll be hiring, if your insurer needs it. Please remember you will be asking your insurer to cover equipment you do not own. Please bear in mind you are responsible for returning the equipment in good order and we will charge you for any missing or damaged items. If you want to be sure your insurer will reimburse you please check the small print, and the maximum value of any one insured item that your insurance covers.

Personal Data and Small Print

.1 Why do you ask so many questions at the checkout stage?

Three reasons. Firstly, it gives us an opportunity to help you avoid choosing an inappropriate lens. Have you heard the one about the man who hired a Canon lens for his Nikon camera? (It didn’t fit.) Have you heard the one about the guy who hired a fisheye lens to take some photos at a family reunion? (They all came out ... distorted.) We want you to be happy with the lens you hire from us. Secondly, it helps us learn a bit about who our customers are and what they want. We want to grow the business – and that’s good for you too, because a growing business means a wider selection of lenses, more lenses in stock, and lower prices. Understanding our customers is clearly part of that. And finally, the way we can manage to offer lenses for hire without a deposit is by being quite careful about who we hire them to. We want to know a bit about you because we want to hire out our lenses to photographers who’ll look after them.

.2 What will you do with all the personal data you collect from me?

We’ll use it to decide whether or not we’re happy to hire a lens out to you. We’ll use it for the administration of the hire contract. And we’ll use it (aggregated with other customers’ data) to help build up a profile of our customer base. We won’t sell or give your data to any third party, except in situations where we are legally obliged to or where it’s necessary for the operation of our business (e.g. if you don’t return a lens and we have to set our solicitors onto you). We won’t use your personal data to send you newsletters, birthday cards, special offers or anything like that. Unless you really really want us to, in which case please do let us know.

.3 Can I get a printed copy of your complete Terms and Conditions?

Yes, of course. Here is a PDF version which you

can download and print. The terms and conditions of our insurance are available on request. If you hire a lens from us there will always be a printed copy of the Ts & Cs in the box.