Chicago is a creative person’s wonderland: a breathtaking skyline, a beautiful lake and pier, crowds of laughing people, sun in the summer, snow in the winter, and all the drama that comes with being one of the largest cities in the world. Therefore, it’s no wonder it has such a lively art scene. However, if you’re a local photographer or filmmaker, you may not be totally sure about who to trust for camera equipment rentals in Chicago. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some of the best gear rental spots in the city. Whether you’re shooting for a magazine, a commercial, or shooting a music video in a penthouse overlooking the city, we’ve got you covered.
2844 W. Armitage Ave. Chicago, IL 60647
Dodd’s is a Midwest chain with three locations in Ohio, and one here in Chicago. They have an awesome selection of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras as well as multiple medium format offerings. Their video equipment options are a bit more limited — topping out at Sony and Canon shoulder-mount models. Still, Dodd has a good variety of camera equipment overall and also has all the accessories you could possibly need to pull off your project: monitors, lenses, rigging, supports, audio equipment, and more. Dodd’s rental terms are pretty flexible, in that they make it easy to rent your equipment day-by-day. Note: like some other rental outfits, Dodd will hold a deposit on your credit card equal to the full value of your rental equipment, which they will reimburse to you after you return it in good condition.
1932 S Halsted St. STE. 413 Chicago, IL 60608
Eleven04 is a great resource for video camera equipment rentals in Chicago. Before we move on to what makes them so great, let us quickly note that their equipment is solely focused on video production, and as such, you’ll have to look to one of the other companies on this list for photography equipment. However, Eleven04’s specialization is a strength, not a weakness. They are really good at what they do. They offer a perfect blend of quality and affordability, tailored for the indie filmmaker. Their cinema-quality cameras — popular offerings from RED, Sony, Canon, and Panasonic — are fairly priced, as are their lenses, sound equipment, lighting, support, and so on. If you’re looking to work with an exciting upstart (a company you can grow right along with), look no further than Eleven04. Note: it should go without saying, but you will either need insurance, or will need to qualify for insurance-exempt status to rent equipment.
600 W. Cermak Rd Chicago, IL 60616
Magnanimous Rentals offers a balanced collection of both video and photography gear at fair prices. Their video and still cameras are all of the highest professional quality, as is the rest of their gear — the monitors, lenses, sound gear, and so forth. Magnanimous Rentals also regular runs short-term discounts on certain products. They call these short-term offers “flash discounts,” and you will notice quite a few of them if you peruse through their rental catalogue. To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an online account with them. From there, they make it simple to rent your equipment and arrange to pick it up. Magnanimous can also ship your rental — but if you’re in Chicago there’s a local pickup option.
2425 W 14th St Chicago, IL
Camera Ambassador is another really knowledgeable outfit with a nice cross-section of cameras. Their upper-end video cameras are a little more expensive than some of the others on this list, but you can offset that difference by bundling your gear together for discounts. Like others on this list, Camera Ambassador has everything (and then some) you could need to shoot a daring music video or short film. One extremely interesting offering that sets Camera Ambassador apart is their crew option. For $250 per 12-hour day, you can bring a Camera Ambassador crew member on set and put them to work doing something useful — and just by doing so, Camera Ambassador will consider your gear to be entirely insured, meaning you don’t have to purchase additional insurance or put up your credit card as collateral.
2602 West 16th St 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60608
Keslow Camera’s offerings are intended for more of an industry crowd than some of the others on this list. They offer numerous top-of-the-line video cameras, both digital and film camera, and staff a number of highly-skilled technicians who keep the equipment clean and functioning like new. You’ll need to call or email to inquire about the gear you want, as the prices are not listed online. This means there’s no simple-to-use web marketplace with Keslow, as with most of the other companies here. That’s OK, though. Keslow’s quality is top-notch. For the very best camera equipment rentals in Chicago, they’re worth the call.
1740 W. Carroll Ave. Chicago, IL 60612
Pro Gear Rentals offers an excellent mix of camera equipment, something for just about every budget and project. Like some of the other names on this list, Pro Gear focuses more on being a generalist than trying to offer the $70,000 pieces of equipment — and that’s just fine! Planning a photoshoot? They’ve got the Canon, Nikon, and Phase One cameras you already know you love to shoot on. Shooting a web series, music video, or the like? They have cinema cameras from Canon and Sony that will do the job, and do it beautifully. If you absolutely need 6k or 8k, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But don’t sleep on the Canon C300 Mark II 4K camera. It is an exquisite tool, and it can get the job done.
100 N. Walnut St Itasca, IL 60143
Helix Camera & Video’s rental offerings are mostly geared toward digital photography, not so much video — and that’s OK. You don’t necessarily need to rent a camera that’s worth more than some folks’ yearly salaries. Maybe you just want to take beautiful pictures at your friend’s wedding, or your kid’s birthday party. Check out Helix’s rental offerings, as they’re right within your wheelhouse: Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras, a smart assortment of lenses, support equipment, lighting, and more, all at very competitive prices. To sweeten the deal, you can rent equipment for a week for the cost of 3 days, and a month goes for the cost of 9 days — which is one of the best time discounts we’ve seen anywhere. If you’ve got a shoot lined up and need affordable photography equipment, Helix can more than satisfy your needs.
Need equipment? Peerspace can help with that too! You may not know this, but many of our hosts actually rent gear directly from their location. This is convenient for many reasons. First, the hosts know the space better than anyone, meaning they’ll have gear tailored to the space (and may even have ideas for setup). Second, renting gear directly from a Peerspace host is often cheaper than renting the gear and space separately. Finally, when you rent gear from your Peerspace host, you don’t need to spend time picking up or dropping off your gear. Once you’re done with the location, you’re done with the gear: simple as that. So next time you search Peerspace for a space for a photo or video shoot, make sure to look for hosts who can provide gear as well.
Renting equipment is a great way to experiment without the need for purchasing new and expensive pieces of gear. Experienced photographers and filmmakers can add new and striking work to their portfolios without the top-of-the-line cameras. Newbies and hobbyists can take shots that thrill them (and maybe even catch the photography bug themselves). And professionals can try before they buy. With the freedom to rent any gear you want, and to book a variety of unique locations through Peerspace, there should be fewer obstacles standing between you and your work.