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Lens Types to Consider for Dog Photography

If you shoot your dog photos with a digital SLR, a camera lens is an essential piece of the photography puzzle. Often, you can find digital SLR cameras sold as bundled packages that already include an everyday zoom lens. You have a huge amount of lens options to choose from, but typically, a lens falls into one of these three categories:

  • Fixed focal length lenses: A fixed focal length lens (also referred to as a prime lens) has only one focal length. For instance, a 50mm f/1.8 is considered a prime lens. These lenses are typically small and light because they don’t have a lot of moving parts.

    They also tend to take slightly crisper photos compared to zoom lenses, and they boast fast speeds (that is, low f-stop numbers) at an affordable price. The one downside to a prime lens is that you have to physically move if you want to increase or decrease your field of view, which can be tough when you’re dealing with dogs that are constantly on the move already!

  • Zoom lenses: A zoom lens covers a range of focal lengths. For instance, a 24mm–70mm f/2.8 is considered a zoom lens. These lenses are typically larger in size and weigh considerably more than prime lenses, but they’re great for photographing dogs because you can quickly change your angle of view by simply zooming in or out.

    Zoom lenses are generally more expensive than prime lenses. Although you can find affordable zoom lenses, know that you’ll sacrifice speed (a less expensive zoom lens may be capable of opening up to only f/4.0).

  • Wide-angle lenses: A wide-angle lens is any lens with a focal length below 35mm (after factoring in your camera’s crop factor). For example, a 16mm–35mm f/2.8 is considered a wide-angle lens if it’s used on a full-frame camera, but if your camera has a 1.6x crop factor, you’d need an even wider lens, like a 10mm–22mm f/3.5, to truly shoot at a wide angle.

    These lenses are usually used for capturing great, big, flowing landscapes, but don’t underestimate the power of getting up close to your subject with a wide-angle lens, especially in dog photography! Wide-angle lenses are great for bigheaded puppy shots, because they have a certain way of exaggerating the perceived distance between things that are close to the camera and things that are farther away.


    24mm, 1/250 sec., f/11, 125

    Although little Piko is barely pushing 12 inches in height and 6 pounds in weight, the wide angle that the photographer used, combined with focusing the camera just inches from his snout, makes his head and ears appear huge.

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