San Francisco’s creative energy is out of this world, making it one of the coolest cities in America to find a unique space for an event or photoshoot. It also happens to be the city we call home, so it’s got a special place in our hearts. But renting a Peerspace is only half of the process: you also need the right gear. Adolph Gasser Photography may be gone, but there are still plenty of places providing camera equipment rentals in San Francisco and the Bay Area at large. With so many options, choosing the best company for your work can feel overwhelming. However, we’ve put together a useful list of reliable and comprehensive vendors who will have the gear you need. Whether you’re shooting fashion stills or need equipment to produce a music video, these rental companies have you covered.
1090 Bryant St. San Francisco, CA 94103
In addition to the gear they sell, Samy’s Camera offers an incredible array of rental equipment—they have anything you might need to complete a shoot from start to finish, from the latest DSLRs to studio lighting and computers to edit your work with. Gimbals, tripods, mics—Samy’s has everything anyone could need. In addition to their rental offerings, Samy’s also has a service to deliver and pickup equipment seven days a week. Their rental rates are reasonable, but you need to understand their rental schedule to get the best value for your money. If you schedule a pick up for after 3 p.m., the rental begins the next day. As long as you have the equipment back before 11 a.m. the following day, you’re only charged for a one-day rental. If you pick up before 3 p.m., you’re charged for one day as long as the gear is returned within 24 hours. You can also rent for the weekend at the single day rate, so long as you pick up after 3 p.m. Friday and return before 11 a.m. Monday. Samy’s also offers package discounts for long-term rentals, so plan your shoot accordingly. Ask a bunch of local photographers where to go to rent gear, and you’ll hear Samy’s mentioned again and again.
1045 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley CA
Looking Glass Photo & Camera is a one-stop photography supply shop with a generous rental catalog. After forty years in the business, Looking Glass knows their stuff. Their camera and lens offerings are most attractive in their Canon and Nikon collections, but they also offer some Fujifilm medium format gear, in addition to a variety of lights, tripods, and backdrops. Looking Glass offers a weekend deal, where your weekend rental only costs the single day rate so long as it’s picked up after 3 p.m. on Friday and returned by noon on Monday. Looking Glass also has a helpful service where they’ll provide a loaner camera if you bring your gear to them for repair.
2121 Bonar St, Berkeley, CA 94702
Studio B Camera Rentals offers a variety of production gear available for rent. The company is focused on video production and, overall, has a more limited offering than other rental companies. However, their catalog offers most everything you’ll need for a shoot. They have a selection of digital cinema cameras, compact HD cameras, and DSLRs with good video capabilities. They also offer any other equipment that may come in handy, like monitors, tripods, microphones, and lighting. Studio B’s rental rates are competitive for the area. In addition to equipment, Studio B also has their own scalable production crews available for hire, so you can bring in some extra hired guns to round out your team if necessary. They’ll put together a team that fits the size of your production, and handle all equipment delivery logistics.
7 Strawberry Landing, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Mike’s Camera in Mill Valley is a smaller rental operation. While they don’t offer as wide a selection of bodies as other companies do, the core of their selection is solid. Mike’s also has a good range of lenses, suitable for the most photo shoots. While the equipment list isn’t extensive, the rental rates are the best around. They have separate daily, weekend, one-week, and two-week rates, so plan accordingly. If you decide to buy from them, Mike’s will apply a portion of the rental fee to the purchase of new equipment, which is a great bonus if you try something out and end up loving it.
2117 Chestnut St. San Francisco, CA 94123
Fireside Camera is the oldest independently owned and operated camera store in San Francisco. Despite being a small operation, they have a good selection of new and used equipment. Plus, you’ll get the benefit of their highly experienced and knowledgeable staff, which has a positive reputation in the community. Since they’ve been in business for years, they’ve got plenty of used equipment for sale. They’re known to occasionally rent this used equipment too if you see something you just have to have, so stop in and check them out. Additionally, they offer a variety of Fujifilm cameras and lenses for rent. If you’re interested in patronizing an indie shop with a long history, make Fireside your first stop.
529 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Borrow Lenses is an online service that will ship rental equipment all over the United States. However, they also have a local pick-up spot at Peak Design here in San Francisco. Just rent online and schedule a local pickup, and you’ll be good to go. They have an extensive gear selection for still photography: DSLRs, Mirrorless, Medium Format bodes, lenses, lighting, and support equipment. They’ve also got all of the best video gear around, and any lighting or audio equipment you’d ever want. Their rates are competitive as well—the only downside is that your shortest available rental is three days. If you’re interested in delivery, they’ll ship to your home or place of business. But, it might be easier to go the local pick-up and drop-off route.
1336 Ninth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
Chater Camera is another rental company focused primarily on video needs. They’ve got a catalog full of premium cameras and lenses, plus a solid array of lighting and audio accessories. Rental pricing is on the higher end here, but their staff is knowledgeable and supportive, and they’ve got the newest equipment on the market. If you need a piece of equipment that they don’t happen to have, Chater will find it for you and sub-rent it, but they’ll need 24 hours notice. They also know tons of people in the business, so if you need someone for your production, they’ll be able to recommend reliable talent.
If you’re already booking a space, why not book the gear at the same time? Peerspace is the world’s largest online marketplace for short-term venue rentals and helps connect its creative community with awesome production spaces and studios. However, in addition to providing spaces for photo and video shoots, many of Peerspace’s hosts also offer gear rentals. So as you’re planning your shooting locations, you might also consider renting gear directly from a host on Peerspace. Keep your eyes peeled for hosts that offer that service.
Renting equipment is a great way to tap into your creative energy or to be sure that an expensive piece of gear is really what you need without making a substantial investment. This, combined with shooting in one of the great locations you can book through Peerspace, is sure to result in some magic. On the flip-side, consider being in a beautiful space, but with the wrong equipment for the job — your shoot can quick turn into a missed opportunity. Plan your shoot, know your location, and show up with the best equipment you can get your hands on to bring your ideas to life.