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The Best Pet Photography Lenses You Have to Try!

Best friends

Reading Time: 7 minutes read

It’s reported that two thirds of all households have a furry friend or two waiting at the door for their owners to come home. Of those households, nearly all of them have cameras brimming with photos of those furry, loving faces. To put it quite simply, we’re infatuated with our pets. Most consider them furry members of the family. 

Pets bring us joy as companions. They make us laugh and show us affection. So it’s no surprise we can’t stop taking pictures of them. Any camera will do the job. Yet, there are a variety of pet photography lenses available to better capture your pet’s personality. Some people want more than just a photo or their pet asleep on the couch or staring up at you from your lap. 

This post aims to educate you on the best pet photography lens for your next “puptrait.” It’s important to note, there is no best lens for a pet portrait or photos in general. That’s because everyone is different and the best pet photography lens is the one that works for your photo needs. 

But First, Some Pet Photography Basics.

Miniature poodle playing with dog run

Before we dive into the variety of pet photography lenses, it’s good to have an understanding of some basics. Unless your pet is a turtle, you’ll realize most pets kind of understand the command, “sit.” The same applies to, “stay.” There are so many other variables that can break their concentration on you, the shooter. Introduce a squirrel to your dog photography session and it’s basically all over. That being said, some lenses that have built-in image stabilization to increase the odds of getting the best dog photos. 

Some pet photography lenses allow you to either manually or automatically focus on your subject. These AF/MF modes should be a consideration when choosing. As mentioned before, one ill-timed squirrel could leave you with a lovely shot of your dog’s tail if you were manually trying to focus your camera. If your pet is napping, manually zoom and focus away. All the tips and techniques you can find will certainly let you take better pet photos.

Technically, pets are animals. However, taking photos of pets and wildlife vary. Often, wildlife photography is done from safe distances and hidden places to prevent the subject from scaring or being alerted to your presence. Conversely, taking a pet portrait normally is done at close range. Some of the best dog photos focus heavily on their furry faces. The closer you are to the subject, the easier it is to give a scratch behind the ear or feed a treat by hand to reward them.       

Standard Photo Lenses

Top view of cute small jack russell terrier dog sitting on a wood bridge outdoors and looking at the camera.

Standard lenses capture pet photos that are closest to what the human eye sees. The image looks natural to the viewer. They’re some of the easiest lenses to use because you don’t have to factor in distortion. Many pet photographers go for the standard lens for its ease of use.

Standard lenses also tend to have wide-open apertures. This makes them great for low light and shallow depth of field. Basic dog photography tips will only improve the photos you take. Pair them with a better understanding of the right lenses and watch your dog photography shine. 

Shooting with a Telephoto Lens.

Running border collie puppy in winter time

For those photos that aren’t up close and personal, it’s really helpful to have a telephoto lens in your bag. They’re available in a variety of focal lengths to cover most any distance you’d need to shoot from. They let you sit back and photograph your pet from afar without disturbing them. 

Telephoto lenses are also useful for pet action photography because they have a longer focal length. You can better fill the frame with a distant subject at events. Examples of these events include dog shows or agility competitions.

Shooting with a Macro Lens. 

Funny Portait of a Cairn Terrier

You can also try a macro lens to mix things up. A macro lens works well for photographing your pets up close and personal. As a pet photographer, you can capture lots of detail in ultra-sharp focus.

A big benefit of macro lenses is that their focusing limit is very close to the glass. You can capture those fun shots of the dog or cat coming right up to the glass of your lens!

Shooting with Wide Angle Lenses.

Wide angle lenses allow photographers to get physically closer to subjects and capture photos with a wider depth of field than longer lenses — even at comparable aperture widths.

The comparable aperture widths point is especially important when it comes to pet photography. Particularly if you’re a photographer who shys from using a flash, strobes or other artificial light sources when working with pets. Quite simply, a wider lens will free you to use faster apertures without ending up with an overly narrow and impractical depth of field.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how fast your lens is if the more extreme settings of your lens can not sharply capture the key facial features of your subject. Use wide angle lenses to capture your pet up close while also capturing the complement of their surroundings. 

Using the Tilt Shift Lens.

Another specialty lens is the tilt-shift lens. You can tilt or shift the optics of this lens in relation to the image sensor. You can tilt up and down and shift side to side individually. The shift function allows you to minimize distortion (common when using wide angle lenses) when you are shooting from a high or low angle. 

Analogue Lenses.

For vintage looks on dog photography, try classic analogue lenses. They will add a unique character to your images, which can help you create a personal style. You can get adapters that attach analogue lenses to your digital camera.

Lenses. Pets. Photos.

Photo of man and his puppy in a yard

All three of these combine for great pet portrait results. As your skill set results in taking better photos, the more amazing shots fill your camera. Over time, a collection featuring your furry ones grows and grows. 

If you’re lucky enough to begin when that furry face locks eyes with yours, a story begins that can be told through photos. At the rate puppies grow, you have the chance to document its transformation from a clumsy little ball of fur into the graceful, or not so graceful character you’ll grow to love. This is the perfect opportunity to create a pet brag book with Motif. And don’t worry, the opportunities to take your best dog photos will be plenty. 

And before you shop, please consider adopting. Take a trip to your local animal shelter and experience the joy of rescuing a pet. If only we could tap the power of the tail wag, we could power the world with pets. 

Creating a photo book featuring Fido is easy. From your iPad and iPhone, simply download and open the Motif Photos app and choose the photo project you want to create. On your Mac, simply download and install Motif. In the Photos app, select a photo, album, or memory then choose File, then select Create, then choose Book, then select Motif. Motif helps place your best photos into a layout of your choosing. Be sure to add all the details of your pup’s story with the text feature, then sit back and relax. Motif prints and ships your pet photo project to your door.