I've gone to rental stores quite a bit. It's usually the same story: book job, call to make sure the gear is available and ready, then TRY to find time in my crazy week to get over to Columbus to get the gear all the while knowing I have to try and plan for when I'm actually going to return it as well. I've been able to get decent costs with rentals from our local supplier, but the aspect of spending a total of 4-5 hours with traffic going to get it and returning it is always such a hassle! Enter Lumoid!
LET'S GET MIRRORLESS:
With our upcoming wedding season, we wanted desperately to try out the newer mirrorless systems. I had toyed with the idea of getting rid of the DSLR camera's at the end of last season, but never really felt confident to just "jump in" so to speak. So, in a collaborative effort with Lumoid to have people see what they have to offer, and for me to get a first hand experience with their process, we ordered up some gear. We had the gear set to arrive on a Monday, and by 2pm that Monday, we had a pretty little box all ready to play!!
For this round, we opted to try out the Fuji XT1 and the Sony a7s. We also had them throw in an apple watch, but we want to save that review for later so we can talk about the process where you can try 5 different watches and decide which you like the best for onlly $30. I know right? KILLER IDEA! Anyways, back to the camera's for a few.
I didn't want to write as much of a technical review of these camera's because there are more than enough of those on the interwebs to be able to be able to figure out what the dynamic range of each is as well as the functions and setup of each (Ken Rockwell has an undeniably extensive set of technical and comprehensive reviews on virtually every camera out there if you're looking for a good source). I want to just quickly bounce over a few of the highlights and camera setups features that I loved and didn't love so much and close with a quick overview of Lumiod's process as well as a drawing entry for a $200 gift card to "try amazing gear" out for yourself!
The XT1 - I had shot around with this little gem one other time during a workshop and let me say, I was impressed! From the customizable buttons on front and back, to the SOOC (straight out of camera) color and film adjustments, it was a killer little workhorse. I keep saying little, because in my meaty "farmer hands," this thing looks TINY!
I had only seen other friends using the newer Sony line of camera's, but everything I had seen and heard made me a bit predisposed to loving this camera and seeing myself using it long term!
There are three functions I absolutely loved about these cameras and that made me happy to put down a definitive "maybe" on the list for making the mirrorless switch:
1. Wifi trigger and send
Being able to control the shutter or video of the XT1 from my mobile phone is a HUGE plus that is built right in to the body and requires nothing other than a cell phone or tablet, the free FujiFilm app, and a few seconds. You can do light color and exposure corrections right in camera and then shoot it right over to your mobile to share to the world! I found this very appealing as a wedding day feature for sharing professional shots on Instagram or Facebook. Another unique application would be to use this functionality in place of a Cam Ranger or similar products when doing architectural work. You can trigger the camera remotely while freeing yourself up to "flash paint" walls (here is an AMAZING course specifically showing how to use this technique!) or shoot around corners etc while on a shoot by yourself. It's a KILLER function and has a ton of ways it could be used and it's BUILT IN which makes it an added value.
2. They're so tiny and cute!
Seriously though, these bodies are so small and lightweight that it makes you feel like you're not really holding a "real" camera! Then when you start snapping photos and realize you are shooting with a top-of-the-line piece of technology that not only rivals your full-sized DSLR, but outperforms it in many ways, it feels a bit like cheating. I don't have gigantic hands, but the ability to hold the camera easily as well as reach all the buttons without too much strain made using them for long periods of time a breeze. The articulating screen makes it incredibly easy to hold the camera above your head or below your knees and still have full view-ability of your subject and all your framing/focus control. They really area wonder in size and ease of use departments and since I LOVE paring down gear and being a bit "minimalist" in what I take with me and use, these are VERY ENTICING in the "going small" movement!! I can definitely see adding in a thumb grip like this on the XT1 or a stunning wooden bottom grip on the a7s to make it easier to hold on to and more streamlined, but my HoldFast MoneyMaker does an excellent job at making sure I never lose any gear due to slippery hands!
3. However you like
I LOVE being able to customize things. Since my first computer allowed me to add a custom floating message to my screensaver to now being able to put in my own logo in my editing software home page, customization is key for usability of an item for me. One thing I loved about these cameras was the ability to change almost ALL of the functions of the buttons on the bodies. From setting an auto focus lock button on the XT1 so I had "back button focus" like my DSLR, to setting the scroll wheel on the a7s to be my ISO setting, I LOVED being able to do what I wanted with the buttons and wheels on the camera bodies. It made making my normal adjustments (and even some I didn't previously have like film emulations right in camera on the XT1) possible and quick. For a wedding photographer, these quick and simple adjustments can mean getting a CRUCIAL shot and missing a moment that will never exist again! I can't speak highly enough about the customizable options and how they make these little machines even more powerful!
THE WRAP UP
Lumoid.com was gracious enough to let us try these cameras out for a few weeks and get a little more aquainted with how they do things over there. Here's a few thing I've learned and come to love about using their service!
Cheap and Easy - This isn't usually a term you want to use when you talk about gear. However, when you're talking about the process of using gear that you don't have to pay for in full, it's the BEST term! You can easily rent gear for less than you can find even in your local market and have it DELIVERED to your door! I love the gear and selection I have available locally, but just taking the extra 3-5 hours over the course of 2 days to pick it up and return it is a MAJOR hinderance in my work week! being able to quickly and easily log on to my phone or desktop and find gear individually or cleverly packaged together for me in terns of my project and check out knowing that gear is going to be coming to ME make the "cheap and easy" become PRICELESS!
20% kickbacks - When you plunk down money for a rental, usually that is it. you rent it, you pay for it, you return it, done. With Lumoid.com, however, you get 20% of that cost back in the way of credits! You can use your credits to rent new gear, or let them build up and actually BUY GEAR WITH YOUR POINTS. I can't tell you how much that makes renting for jobs from them make more sense than renting ANYWHERE else! Pay yourself to rent and SAVE money on the fees with lower cost renting!!
Rent to own/ Try before you buy - I'm an avid Amazon review reader. I also by from Amazon knowing that if I don't like something, I'll just return it. The one downside is that you have to PAY for it up front. With Lumoid, you can pick out items in a few of the categories to TRY in groups of 3 or 5 for two weeks for only $30 up front and then apply $25 of that to the purchase of the one you want! (you can read all about how it works here). I was floored to find out that you could check out 5 of the top wearable tech watches or 3 of the best headphones available for 2 weeks to see how you liked them for only $30!! What a killer way to MAKE SURE you like something before you put down your moolah! That alone is worth checking out! (more to come on this later!!) Lumoid also offers a "rent to own" option with financing available for 3-6-12 month terms on VERY competitively priced gear! Whether you're in the market to test some new stuff out, or ready to "bring it on home," they've got you covered!
We had a great time with these camera's and, after being able to use them for a little while and shoot some ACTUAL SESSIONS with them, I am confident in saying I can see them coming on board in our gear bag as soon as we unload some old stuff (ps, anyone looking for a gently used 5d Mark2??) ;) Don't forget to link thru and enter the drawing to try out $200 worth of gear from LUMOID.COM which will end next Wednesday, March 9th! Now, stop reading and GO REGISTER!! :)