Paruchut is a newly launched camera equipment service that promises to provide all the gear you could want, for as long as you want, by paying a monthly subscription.
The startup went into beta on Friday and is comparable in practice to the DVD rental schemes of Lovefilm or early Netflix, and to a degree Lootcrate. Instead of picking and choosing a specific list of gear to rent, users will be sent a “chute” of equipment based on an online wish list. You’ll get one of the items you want (delivery order of each likely based on availability and the queue for it), plus a mixed bag of kit to play with alongside it.
“Few of us have thousands of dollars to constantly drop on new gear. That’s crazy talk.”
A major selling point for Parachut is that rather than being stuck with the usual frantic situation of trying to get a shoot finished in time to hand back equipment without incurring a late fee, you have all the time in the world. Parachut claims that you can hold onto everything they send you for as long as you want while you’re under subscription. When you finally do return your loaned chute they’ll immediately ship you out another one based on your wishlist.
There is a definite allure to this scheme. Many of us would love to experiment and try out a wide range of gear, whether it’s a main camera body or sampling a smorgasbord of different lenses, flashes or other accessories. As Parachut points out in their statement, though it’s tempting to do this, “few of us have thousands of dollars to constantly drop on new gear. That’s crazy talk.”
Parachut allows consumers to try before they buy a risky purchase but also give many photogs the opportunity break out of their comfort zones and practice with kit they wouldn’t normally consider. After all, if you’ve already gotten it delivered your doorstep, you’re gonna give it a go aren’t you?
On the other hand, it is a little baffling why Parachut decided to combine the longterm rental and “mystery box” platforms. The US$149 per month subscription fee is going to be a little painful for newbies, who will be major target audience. What’s makes this sting even more is that even though users are under no official return deadlines, they’re still going to be taking a lot longer to figure out the ins and outs of a new photography product than they ever were watching a mail-order DVD.
/parachut Youtube channel
Will a monthly fee for gear you’re just renting be worth it to most photographers? Since the gear included in your chute drops will be a complete surprise, there will be no way to plan any shoots in advance of it arriving. We do have fears that Parachut may be purely for the free spirits with disposable cash on hand.
The service is currently in beta, with a waiting list for membership, and is only available in the US right now. The initial questionnaire for new subscribers allows you to choose whether you’re leaning towards photo or video capture, whether you’re analog or digital based, and lets you select your subject interest from a large multiple choice list e.g portraiture, landscapes, product. This leads us to believe that your loot chutes, even if they are mysterious, will be highly tailored to your needs and interests.
In a world well-acquainted with web-based purchase and rental, alternative camera equipment hire schemes are going to become more commonplace. Differing strategies can target not only the various budgets of photographers, but their needs, interests, and experience levels. In addition to Parachut, another example would be the recently launched peer-to-peer camera equipment rental service Kitsplit. It is impossible for anyone to tell which alternative models will end up sinking or swimming in the end, but we definitely support a change from the norm. In the meantime we’ll wait and see how Parachut’s particular “goodiebags for shutterbugs” idea turns out.
Tell us what you think about new rental models. Do you think you’d give Parachut a try or would you like something more reliable? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.