A few weeks ago, I decided to work on my holiday greeting cards. I am one of “those” quasi-creative types. I like to design original cards for friends and family. This year I planned to produce really cute cards that feature my dogs. All five of them — yes, I dream big!
I managed to get everyone bathed, brushed and looking good. The day was sunny — perfect for the photo shoot. I took my camera, a bag of treats, some interesting props and we jumped in to the project.
Several hours later, my memory card was filled with pictures of dog tongues, teeth, eyes and various portions of their heads, paws, legs and tails. Not one decent holiday cover among them.
How hard could it be to photograph five spirited, curious dogs? Very hard! What I needed was better equipment.
The following are some features you’ll definitely want from a camera used to take amazing pictures of your pets. Then, near the end of this post, I’ll reveal my list of the 10 best cameras for pet photos.
Ready. Shoot. Aim!
“Ready, shoot, aim” is an appropriate formula for photographing pets. Animals typically do not sit still, they do not pose easily, and they absolutely will not recreate that super shot you just missed while fiddling with camera settings.
Plan to take lots and lots of pictures just to get one good print. For that reason, a digital camera is a must. Digital photography provides the ability to immediately preview your pictures. You can delete the shots you aren’t happy with before you spend a lot of time and money developing prints.
Choose a digital camera with a rechargeable battery, a backup battery and a memory card with lots of storage.
In a Flash
A digital camera with a flash is a good consideration for general photography. Experts depend on flash photography when lighting is insufficient and to control subject definition.
A flash will not be a great option if your pets are easily spooked by bright lights or sudden motion. A scared dog hunkered behind the furniture does not create the “Kodak Moment.”
Choose a digital camera with ISO setting controls. When possible, use natural light.
Dark- and light-colored pets alike can be lost in the background of a picture unless your camera has the proper adjustments for exposure and balance. A good digital camera with exposure compensation and balance settings is an important feature for more interesting pet photos.
Shutter to Think
When working with animals you have an instant to catch the perfect photo opportunity. A split second of hesitation from the shutter and you have lost the entire shot!
Shutter setting is a powerful tool, so look for a camera with appropriate shutter speeds and an auto set capability.
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
The best selection of a camera to capture all the charm of your pet’s personality is the one with a good zoom lens. Standing back, giving the animals space and watching until there is an interesting shot is an easier proposition with a zoom lens.
Burst Into Action
Even the great Audubon couldn’t depend on random luck. He was reputed to kill his subjects and pose them for his amazing images. You read that right.
If you work with more than one LIVE animal, you will chase them around a lot. A digital camera with a burst, or continuous shutter mode, will enable you to take a stream of action pictures. Then you can go back and edit to get the best shot.
Select a digital camera with a shutter priority control, and DO NOT practice the Audubon method of picture perfection!
When you’re searching for the best camera for pet photography, look for these features:
- Digital processing
- Extended-life battery (and backup)
- Memory card
- ISO controls
- Exposure and balance settings
- Zoom lens
- Variable shutter speeds with auto/manual capability
- Continuous/burst shutter mode
Digital cameras with these desired features can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars up to thousands. Several online sites provide consumer preference rankings based on price, picture quality, ease of use, range of features and zoom capabilities.
10 Best Cameras for Pet Photos
Here are my top 10 recommendations:
- Canon EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi) — buy on Amazon for around $650 (affiliate link)
- Sony Cybershot DSC-HX 100 V — List price $399
- Canon PowerShot SD 1100 iS — List price $600
- Nikon D90 — List price $1,200
- Canon PowerShot SX 120 — List price $155
- Canon PowerShot SX 200 iS — List price $315
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II — List price $1,800
- Fuji Fine Pix J50 — List price $124
- Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 — List price $322
- Canon PowerShot SX 110 iS — List price $230
The right equipment for any project is essential. There is an enormous array of features, benefits, technical applications, ease of use and cost in the camera market.
Experts agree the most important aspect to getting great pictures is having FUN! Enjoying the experience from both sides of the camera will transcend the film. If your subject is relaxed, happy and animated, you will have the incredible opportunity to capture your pet’s unique personality.