Special Feature – Camera Rental Centre (CRC)
– by Melody TAN & AL LEE
Image: The Bright and Welcoming Rental Counters at Camera Rental Centre
29th November 2019, Singapore – Renting Photography & Videography gear had been a norm since the early 2000s. There are countless reasons why people rent equipment rather than buying their own. From what we had gathered, the main reasons why many chose to rent range from pre-purchase trial to special assignment requirements and from cost effective reasons to convenience. While there are several rental companies in Singapore, one had stood out for the last decade and became a trusted ‘household’ name in the world of photography gear rental – Camera Rental Centre.
Image: The Founders (L-R) Kenny, Jason & Chan.
Founded by Jason, Kenny & Chan in 2008 with 0 employees, all 03 founders were the “staff”. Prior to starting CRC, each of them was running their respective rental companies when they decided that unity is strength and pooled their resources to form Camera Rental Centre or fondly known to the photography communities as CRC. Like many businesses, CRC had their shares of ups & downs which we will be taking an in-depth look at this successful company in this special feature – milestone by milestone.
Image: Renting equipment at CRC is renting with a peace of mind.
CRC was built on passion and lives by relevance. The founders each shared the same beliefs that everyone should have access to equipment that are either too expensive to purchase or simply not cost effective to purchase – just imagine you have to buy a fisheye for an assignment and the lens is left to hibernate in your dry cabinet forever – ok you get the drift. Now that is a market that is fairly untouched 10 years ago indeed. And the founders each has an unique difference when it comes to system, for example Jason is using Canon system which Chan uses Nikon while Kenny is more of a videographer than a photographer. It all started when they took equipment from each other to service their own customers and found friendship & synergy through working together. So when the 3 founders decided to come together, the rest is history.
– CRC started from its early days of meeting people at MRT stations and operating from a small storeroom in a Cafe. It has since expanded to a bigger rental centre at Clarke Quay, a special videography office over at CT Hub 2, a shared studio space at Lavender; and a lot more employees to an extensive (and impressive) inventory! With that, it had also attracted more & more new customers joining their customer base. While CRC informed us that many of their customers had became personal friends, the company culture which is all transparent had also attracted some customers to join CRC as employees! And to add, many employees had become long service staff, this further shows CRC’s company cultures are not just attracting customers, it also became a choice employer too! And the friendship part even extends to CRC’s vendors, suppliers, in short, CRC is friends with almost everyone! Now that’s a feat!
Some notable mentions by CRC are;
– 2011 Nominated for Spirit of Enterprise Award by SGSME.
– 2014 CRC Sponsored Singapore Short Films Awards
– 2015 Organized an island wide Sports Exhibition in Partnership with Sports Singapore.
When we asked CRC about what keeps them going, the founders shared that they are very grateful for the great team that works hand-in-hand with each others and the willingness to lend a hand whenever require – even helping to shift premises and down to hard work like painting the new office. (We secretly hope to have a team like theirs too!)
The Extra Mile
– And so we heard about business going all out to help their customers and CRC is no stranger to this too. One of the Founders – Jason – shared an incident that happened a few years ago. He was doing his own shoot when a customer called him with a faulty camera, he packed up and ran all the way from Singapore Conference Hall to Old Parliament House to pass his own camera to the affected customer. This level of professionalism is seldom seen in Photography and it takes real dedication to do this for the business.
In another separate incident, a customer dropped a lens while touring in Japan, CRC did an overnight shipping via FedEx for a replacement lens to the customer. Now how many rental companies will go that far to help a customer? And CRC did it!
At service level, all the customer service managers are highly trained and gives advice to customers during collection. This is a value-added gesture as the customer might be renting a wrong gear or a gear that might not be able to achieve the intended results. This really puts CRC at a different level among the competition.
One of the Founders – Jason – added that CRC wants every customer to enjoy the equipment they rented and they are very happy when the customer had achieved what they set out to shoot and they (customers) are happy. As of press time, we noted that more than 20,000 customers had rented from CRC – that is a lot of customers!
Image: CRC has the most comprehensive inventory among all the photography rental business in Singapore. The bright Orange logo – signifies the dynamic & youthful team and sunny culture of the company who was designed by one of the founder Chan.
– running a business is never easy. From dealing with rising costs to theft of equipment, there’s never been a bed of roses. We will skip the rising business costs since most of us knows how it is in Singapore, instead we shall take a look at the “other” costs.
Maintenance cost is what CRC describe as “mandatory” – we were told that a big part of their costs goes to maintenance for the simple reason that all the equipment are rented by different people every week and due to the high usage, CRC wants to ensure that all equipment is in good working condition for the next person who rents it. Unlike other rental companies that tries to reduce costs by doing periodic checks, CRC checks & maintain every single equipment when the gear is returned at the end of the rental.
Theft is something very real in the photography rental business. There has been numerous theft scams that rocked the photography industry & communities in the last few years with the most recent case reported only just 2 months ago in September 2019. CRC had been a victim of such scams where a person rents the equipment and disappeared without returning. A big part of their costs goes to such stolen equipment which is written off as losses.
New gear is another heavy investment, to keep up with usage trends and photography/videography needs, CRC always ensures that their inventory is always current. that is, if a new camera or lens is released, you can be sure that it will be available at CRC faster than you can imagined.
The Downs – continues
Apart from the dollars & cents, there’s been many setbacks too. In 2012, CRC created a photo gallery and sponsored photo exhibitions to promote local talented photographers – ended up failing due to marketing challenges. Their attempt to engage photographers with an “APAW” (A Photo A Week) programme were also shelved after 2 years citing a lack of manpower to manage the project.
Rubbing more salt to CRC’s history, CRC’s studio and office building were sold off concurrently by landlords in 2018 forcing CRC to make 2 massive moves within a year in 2018. Ouch.
From these setbacks, CRC found strength and learn precious lessons. Instead of giving up, they continue to push for what they believes in – taking each setback as a learning curve and decided to do more and do better each time!
Image: Customers enjoys the friendship & professionalism that CRC unconditionally offers.
The Fun Bits (Some are Weird)
– While running a business is not all tough and gloom, there are many light-hearted moments too, CRC shared some memorable incidents with us and we think these are the beautiful ones.
Locked by Backdrop Roll
– A delivery colleague left some backdrop rolls outside CRC’s main door and left. Then the rolls decided to slipped and jammed the door taking everyone hostage for an hour until a customer came to rescue the CRC team that was blocked from outside. (We would have fired the backdrop rolls if this happens at our editorial office!)
How to get 1200mm Lens
CRC got experimental at times. One of the honourable mention has to be their attempt to get a focal range of 1200mm by stacking multiple teleconvertors and adaptors. We were not sure if that works but certainly sounds like a lot of fun!
The Fun Bits (Some are Weird) – Continues
Valentines’ Day Promo
CRC did a Valentines’ Day promo – customers will be given 50% OFF if they came with their wife/spouse – only to have a customer who brought his camera and proclaimed the camera was his love – CRC gave the 50% Discount to this customer amidst the mass laughter at the centre.
CRC did a “Drone Fly Day” where the participants came donning Spiderman outfits. We cannot image the laughter that followed. We are pretty sure Peter Parker loves drones.
Once CRC had to help a studio client change their backdrop. When CRC shows up at the studio, a visibly shocked model greeted them. The model as a male. We can imagine the poor dude is gonna have recurring nightmares of CRC’s team showing up in his dreams!
We hope everyone had a good laugh over the above true incidents that happened & encountered by CRC. When we asked if CRC has anything meaningful to share with our readers, this was what Jason told us:
“We have 20 employees. And we had paired off 05 couples.” – Jason, CRC Co-Founder
We were certainly amazed & full of envy!! (especially when our editorial office are mainly females and the only male is our Chief Editor! Chey!)
– we fondly remembered our first rental from CRC more than 10 years ago. Our Editor AL had an assignment for an architectural shoot, since the shoot requires many hours under the sun and requires a specific lens, not wanting to risk our own equipment, he rented a Canon EOS 5D MarkII & a Canon TSE 24mm (Tilt Shift) lens from CRC. The equipment was of high quality and can easily passed off as new. The whole process was seamless and hassle-free which left behind a really good impression & experience. As we progressed & launched our accredited merchant network, CRC was one of the pioneering merchant that came on board with us many years ago. Recently, they had been upgraded to Premium Merchant status and we are proud to announce that CRC will now undertake all the Rental Requirements from our Members with special discounts given to our registered Card Members.
We caught up with a few CRC’s customers as we wanted to hear from the ground about why they chose Camera Rental Centre.
George Leung, Commercial Photographer
“I had rented equipment from CRC for close to 12 years. I chose renting over buying as I am someone who emphasize a lot on the camera body rather than lenses. There are many times which I needed a specific lens or equipment and CRC always has the lens for me. Over the years, CRC has become a rather personal “friend” more than a rental centre. The relationship & trust built up over the years had proven to be very meaningful, it feels great when CRC staff know me by name and my requirements. The renting process is smooth and hassle-free which is well loved by most customers including me. Equipment is also very well-maintained. What surprised me at times is – CRC always has the latest camera & lenses that are probably just launched! Overall, I never had any bad experience with CRC through the years and I will highly recommend to all my friends who are photographers & videographers! I would also like to take this chance to thank Camera Rental Centre’s staff for the relentless service, quality of service & allowing me to rent with a peace of mind, Thank You CRC! ” – George Leung
Ashok Kumar, Commercial Photographer
“I’ve came to know Camera Rental Centre about 8 years ago. I was initially sceptical about renting gear but went ahead with CRC and discovered a whole new experience. I am the type of person who will rent to try out a particular lens or camera to use, to see if I love it enough to buy one for myself. It’s like a pre-purchase trial of some sort. As client’s requirements are getting more demanding these days, sometimes I just have to rent other gear to produce the images or results that my client desires. CRC is my go-to place for friendly advice and a fuss-free rental environment. The equipment are clean and well-maintained – sometimes so new that it feels like the gear had just left the retail box. Such level of equipment really gives photographers an added assurance that the gear will not malfunction halfway through a shoot. As a regular, I like the personal touch of CRC’s staff as they really go all the way for their customers to ensure a positive experience from the point of booking to collecting, to returning at the end of the rental. Needless to say, I am sold to CRC and will support them all the way. I’ve lost count of how many friends I had pointed them to CRC, I will continue to do so. Thank you CRC & keep up the great work! You guys rock!” – Ashok Kumar
Fajrina Rohmat, Wedding Photographer
“I started my journey with Camera Rental Centre since 2011 when I rented my first lens! And I never looked back since. I still vividly remember at CRC’s old office which is incredibly small and yet still able to pack so many people during collection hours. I can still remember the queue; it was probably one of the most orderly queue that I had experienced (laughs!). Looking at the current office/ centre, I am so happy that CRC had come this far, they had expanded so much since I knew them. Staff at CRC are a different breed too – they are always cheerful, smiling and through their friendly approach, I had became friends with all the staff today! I know all their names and they know mine – it’s feels like a family to me which I dearly hold to my heart for their friendship. There was once I dropped a lens damaging it in the process, CRC handled the case professionally which I am impressed. It is as if they already anticipated that such incidents may occur and they are ready for it – i am so impressed. When I encounter any hiccups during a shoot, be it gear operations or shooting in difficult situations or environment – I know I can call CRC anytime and they are able to advise me. At other times when I was trying to rent an equipment, CRC will advise me on my selection of gear with many times hitting the jackpot that I was almost going to rent the wrong gear! I will definitely recommend CRC to friends & anyone who wish to rent gear with a peace of mind. I would also like to take this opportunity to Thank CRC for the years of excellent service! – Fajrina Rohmat
That was quite a journey isn’t it? Camera Rental Centre has came a long way while maintaining their high integrity, high level of service and quality of gear, and today, it’s the “household” brand for photography/videography rental, definitely a market leader!
Reasons to Rent
So there you have it people! There are so many reasons to why people rent equipment – we had sum it up below:
– Pre-purchase Trial or comparative uses
– Special requirements for specific shoot
– Not wanting to buy a lens that user seldom use.
– Expensive gear like Studio set is cost effective to rent.
– No need to hog gears
and many more reasons to!
Should you have any feedback or suggestions for Camera Rental Centre, do drop us a note below in the comment section! Happy Renting, Happy Shooting!
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Camera Rental Centre is Conveniently Located at:
50 South Bridge Road, CMO Building, (very near to Clarke Quay MRT)
#02-18. Singapore 058682
Editor: AL Lee
Chief Editor / Visionary & Brand Ambassador for Olympus Imaging Singapore
Contributing Editor – Melody Tan
Loves quiet walks along beaches, has a mind of her own and decides everything in life in either black or white with nothing in between. Her priority these days revolves around her 2 lovely kids & teaching them music or photography. A lover of yoga and an avid traveler, Melody aims to visit at least 30 countries before she reach 40 years old – from what we know, she had completed 27 as of 2018.
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