A few weeks ago I rented a Canon 580 EX flash unit out from my school’s photo lab to shoot a gallery opening on campus. In this particular case I would have normally used my own flash unit but I was not able to get home the weekend before the opening to grab one. I was not too worried as the school has a ton of flashes students can rent out, I hadn’t done it personally, but I had bet it would be fine in a pinch like this.
Thankfully, Canon makes great equipment that can stand up to the abuse that an entire department of students can put on the gear they rent out. The flash I rented worked fine except the rechargeable batteries I received were basically dead. In turn I was unable to use a flash during the gallery opening I said I would photograph. No big deal, but if the same situation happened off-campus on a shoot then that would have been a complete and total nightmare.
I half expected the gear I rented to crap out on me but it’s very annoying when it actually does. The moral of the story is to buy and use your own gear whenever possible. Rented gear gets used and more often abused by inexperienced people. That’s fine though, you’re at school to learn, but still the learning curves of a class full of kids is bound to get a bit rough on equipment. Batteries wear out, screws become loose, shutters jam, metering systems stop working. It’s a completely normal thing for gear to have wear and tear but if you can avoid it by using your own equipment and taking good care of it then DO IT.
I’ll give you another example, I’ve bought many used videogames from Amazon and years ago, GameStop. A lot of the games I’ve purchased over the years have had discs that are smudged, cracked and scratched to oblivion. My question is what do people even do to their discs that they get so utterly destroyed? Do they take DVDs out of the Blu-Ray player and then rub steel wool on them or something? Nothing I’ve ever bought brand new has ever gotten as used as the things I’ve rented and the things I’ve bought from previous owners.
Take good care of your things and they will last for a very long time.