Camera Lens Co-Op

Interesting idea via Sarah Pullman and her friend Dan.

Someone should start a lens co-op. There are, blessedly, so many kids getting back into real photography now that DSLRs are inexpensive, but few of them want to drop $3,000 on a nice bag of lenses. Just like a car co-op, a lens co-op could pool lenses (likely Canon and Nikon only, or maybe only one brand if it was tied to one of these brand-loyal communities) and grant access for a small fee. It would work well especially with semi-serious photogs, because we tend to own specialized lenses that we don’t use all that often.

When I had my D1H, I also had a 24/2.8 (the normal lens, even though I didn’t like it that much), an 85/1.8 (far and away my favourite, although useless for anything but portraiture, basketball and concerts) and a 300/4 (even less useful most of the time, but matchless once a month when I felt like shooting a football game or stalking rabbits in the river valley).

The point is that I wouldn’t have minded the 300/4 being out with the co-op most of the time, because I needed it only very rarely, but I still couldn’t do without it. You can’t shoot a football game with an 85/1.8. It’s a waste for that lens to sit around the rest of the time, though — and man but I would have loved to borrow someone else’s 14/2.8 on occasions. This would work better with lenses like the 14/2.8 and 300/4, because you can get working-but-ugly copies of them for $400. Something like an 80-200/2.8, however, is both so expensive and so universally useful that no one’s going to want to let go of it, which is why you restrict yourself to the toy lenses.

I’d be all for something like this, especially considering that I’d consider myself on the higher-end of the amateur photographer spectrum (not a professional, but occasionally shooting paid gigs and certainly shooting A LOT) but not being able to justify dropping the cash on lenses I won’t use on a consistent basis. 

Hypothetically speaking, the buy in for everyone wouldn’t be conceivably expensive, but the community and professional benefit would be amazing.