by Mike McNamee Published 01/10/2011
Heroes for hire
Of course, rather than buying lighting, or specific cameras or lenses to help achieve your photographic aim, as we pointed out at the outset of this feature, hiring can also make a lot of sense. Mark Witney flags up several hire specialists in the UK which stock Broncolour lighting, such as the Pro Centre, Direct Photographic, Peartree, Film Plus, PKE and Holburn Studios. "As the Pro Centre is owned by Hasselblad, they are the only rental outlet I can talk about in terms of 'try before you buy' deals, and the Pro Centre will refund a day's rental charge if someone hires Broncolour lighting and then buys the product within a one-month period."
The Flash Centre, with outlets in London, Leeds and Birmingham, by its very name is probably one of the first places many of us will think of when it comes to getting in extra lights. It also offers an extensive try before you buy/rental service that not only packs in most gear you could think of when it comes to lights - including stands, power packs, meters, reflectors and the ilk - but also offers some serious camera kit for hire too. This includes the likes of the Canon 5D Mark II, 1DS Mark III, 1D Mark IV, with affordable day rates of between £95 and £125 plus deposit - easily recoupable if you can fold the hire charge into that of a commission - along with Phase One bodies and backs for those seeking a high pixel count. There are also special weekend rates, useful perhaps to any semi pro shooting a wedding, with 9am Friday to 9.30am Monday counted as one day. Or 3pm Thursday to the same time on Monday counted as a day and a half. And should you want to book out gear for a whole week, the rate charged is just 3.5 days.
Another bonus of hiring is that you have someone on the end of the phone and a possibility of replacement in the rare event that everything might not be 100%. The Flash Centre claims all its gear is thoroughly checked when it comes in and goes out, and every rental is delivered with a checklist of the included kit. Furthermore 'bonus vouchers' are presented with kit hire to ensure on-going customer loyalty, with 15% off for lighting and 5% off for digital hire. And any photographer who subsequently buys the kit they've tried out is refunded a very fair 50% of the previous three months' rental charged, up to the full purchase price.
When asked which of The Flash Centre's rental items prove the most popular, its spokesman Chris Whittle replies "Everything, otherwise we would have taken it out of rental and sold it," although he does suggest that High Definition video accessories for DSLRs are generating interest. "The new Canon pro video products that are coming into the market are changing the workflow of photographers everywhere," recommends Chris. "Video is becoming more and more a musthave in conjunction with the stills." Plus, it's undoubtedly a subject worthy of a whole article in itself.
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