Update: Four users have been selected for the beta round.

I have emailed everyone who filled out the Google form expressing interest in the beta program. If you filled out the form and did not receive an email from me a) check your spam folder :) or b) let me know here or via email.

Thanks to everyone for your interest, and check back on meta in a few weeks for more information on upcoming rounds!


For background on this program, please see the initial meta thread.

The purpose of this program is to generate content about photography gear that is either very common or very new and exciting - basically, to help ensure that if people are searching for answers to their questions about photographic gear, that Photography Stack Exchange shows up with relevant information. We want to make it easier for people to find answers to the questions they are interested in.

I'm currently looking for participants to beta test this photography gear rental reimbursement program.

The basics:

  • For this round, I am looking for 3-4 users. Depending on the gear people choose, I may choose additional participants.
  • General budget per person is a maximum of $400 (USD: rental + shipping, if necessary.)
  • You're responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of the standard rental agreement of whatever retailer you choose to rent from.
  • For this beta round, there are no reputation requirements or geographic limitations; as long as you agree to everything listed below and have access to either a physical store or an online retailer local to you, you can enter.

The details:

  • Each user selected will rent equipment using his or her own credit card and shipping address. All equipment rentals must be pre-approved by Stack Exchange (via the form you use to enter into this program and the email you will receive from Stack Exchange confirming your participation if you are selected).

  • Each user will choose a product(s) from a physical store or online retailer of his or her choice, for a period up to three weeks, budget permitting. Stack Exchange will cover the cost of the rental, any applicable taxes, and the cost of shipping between you and the retailer (if you are renting online). We will not cover any additional insurance purchased, any damage fees or late return fees. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with and abide by the terms and conditions of the company your rent from.

  • Every rental will require a minimum amount of activity in exchange for reimbursement of rental costs. This will vary depending on the complexity of the gear and duration of the rental; for example, renting a Nikon D3 kit for a week will require a greater amount of site participation (questions asked or blog posts written) than renting a ring flash for two days will. The minimum will be asking three questions or writing one blog post, but I reserve the right to adjust these amounts. Either way, if you are selected for participation, you'll receive an email from me telling you what your minimum site requirements will be.

  • Reimbursement will be done by PayPal; you must scan and email your rental receipts to me (laura@stackexchange.com), and you will be reimbursed after the return of the rental equipment and after you have completed posting your questions and/or blog articles. (You'll need to contact rfusca for access to the Photo.SE blog.)

To sign up:

  • Fill out this form. (And make sure your email address is accurate!)

  • All users who are selected to participate in this beta round will be contacted via email by Monday, March 5, 2012. I'll update this post to let everyone know that the users have been selected.

This is a brand new program and is much more complex than other grant-type programs we've run on our sites. I would love to hear any feedback all of you have - both on the guidelines here, and on the experiences the selected users have throughout the process. (This is everything from the fairness of activity expectations to clarity of the guidelines and smoothness of the process to your experiences with the rental companies.) I'm sure I haven't thought of everything despite my best efforts, so let me know where there's room for improvement.

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Great job putting this all together, this must have been quite an effort! –  dpollitt Mar 1 '12 at 16:50
    
@dpollitt Thanks! I'm excited to see how this goes. I think it could be a great way to give a nice little perk to users while helping generate a steady stream of interesting content. We'll see how it turns out. :) –  Laura Mar 1 '12 at 18:30
    
@Laura: I guess I should ask this. I really would love to participate, however the kind of gear I'd like to try is probably the most expensive kind...such as the Canon EF 600mm f/4 L series lens. There are two things holding me back from actually going for it right now: One, its a pretty big lens, and I'm not sure I'm really skilled enough to make using it now worth while. Two, I'd rather use it when there is more light over a longer day (summer), than now, when I only really have time on the weekends (for a couple hours a day, and even then, bird populations are sparse.) –  jrista Mar 8 '12 at 1:58
    
I'd love to give a Canon 5D III (and maybe even a 1D X) a try as well (I want to buy one myself, but its $3500, and I'd like to give it a try before I spend that kind of money), however it was just announced, and probably won't be available for rent right away...probably soonest would be few months after it hits the streets. I'm not sure that would be a viable option for beta testing the 'lending library' either. So...I really do want to participate...I just don't know if I really could. As for activity, I'd happily write blog posts on anything I borrow, no problem there. –  jrista Mar 8 '12 at 2:01
    
@jrista My plan right now is to start a new round at the beginning of every month (plan subject to change, of course). So if you want to wait until the days are longer, do so. Regarding expensive gear: I'm not opposed to people renting expensive gear, but keep in mind that I'm typically going to adjust requirements for questions/blog posts based partly on cost & duration of rental. So the more expensive the gear, the more content you'd likely be expected to generate. –  Laura Mar 8 '12 at 16:51
    
Also, I'll probably be doing some puzzling to figure out what people can rent. It depends on interest; if someone wants to rent a $40 filter the same month you want to rent a lens that costs $500 to rent, both of you will probably be able to do that. But if 5 people want to rent the same $500 lens in the same month...probably not. I hope that helps - this program has to be somewhat fluid by design, but I will be doing my best to accommodate everyone's gear requests. –  Laura Mar 8 '12 at 16:53
    
@Laura: Yup, totally understand all points. No big deal if things have to change each month...and I can wait for a while, let others get their borrows in ahead of me. –  jrista Mar 8 '12 at 18:27

2 Answers 2

While I was investigating how I might design this program, I started putting together a list of online photo gear rental sites. It's by no means complete, and I can't vouch for the customer experience at any of these except lensrentals.com, but I figured I would share in case people need help finding a place to rent from.

In no particular order:

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We have a community wiki question on this on on the main site: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/12953/…. –  mattdm Mar 2 '12 at 0:36
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The fact that your list is already better is, um, part of this dead horse I keep beating on about how community wiki rarely works. :) –  mattdm Mar 2 '12 at 0:37
    
@mattdm Ha. It didn't occur to me that there would already be a question about this on the main site... –  Laura Mar 2 '12 at 23:04
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@Laura You should update that answer, prove mattdm wrong lol –  MikeW Mar 6 '12 at 2:18
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The beta round is wrapping up. We've gotten some great content from this first group of participants - including these two awesome blog posts - and I look forward to seeing what future participants will create!

Each new round will have a new meta thread; please see the April post if you'd like to participate.

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