Dog Photography Gear Set-up 2020

THE most asked question I get after "How do I take good dog pics?" is,

"What camera gear/ set-up do you use?"

dog photography black echo company in snow

©Black Echo Company

I will answer that question here, going into 2020. BUT. and a BIG BUT. Before you start reading this, I want you to keep in mind that this list of my own gear (excluding stuff I don't use just for dogs) is ridiculously overkill because they are the same gear I use for large landscape and fine art prints, professional real estate and commercial work. I am only listing these because I want to be transparent about it.

HOWEVER, I will make recommendations outside of my own photography gear list at the end. Those would be the gear I would start out with if I were to do it all over again.

Camera Bodies:

Sony a7rIII Mirrorless Camera:

This is my A-camera with 42mp. Sony has recently released the a7rVI, making the a7rIII a little cheaper. A recent firmware update in 2019 allows these to utilize Sony's Animal Eye AF. The Animal Eye AF (autofocus) allows the camera to detect eyes of the dogs and cats (remember our IG dog photography tip [@blackechocompany] about this?). This feature is definitely far from perfect, and will have a hard time finding eyes of black dogs like Echo (especially when the angle isn't dead center) and fast moving animals. I actually don't find myself using this feature often as it usually ends up with me screaming at the camera. It is an innovative feature, but just knowing how to use the back focus will be much more effective and consistent if you can get over the learning curve. Maybe I will get used to it one day.

Sony a7rII Mirrorless Camera:

This is my B-camera with almost identical image-quality specs as the main camera. However, it lacks features like animal eye autofocus and touch focus. During a shoot, this camera will have a wide angle or prime lens on while the main camera has on a telephoto lens. It also ensures that I don't have to stop and reschedule if the main camera breaks.

🐱‍👤If you like to hike and take photographs like us, it absolutely helps so much to have something like our hands free leash which allows you to actually use your hands to hold the camera instead of our dogs causing the shaky, blurry images. These are the exact leashes we use on hikes.

Lenses:

Sony FE 50mm 1.8:

Working with normal pet distances, this will be the best value lens to satisfy most of the work. At f/1.8, it will be able to separate the dogs from the background fairly well under most light conditions, and the focal length of 50mm will provide the natural look human eyes see. This one lens can get the job done if you are looking to photograph your own dogs or other people's friendly pets in comfortable settings. If you are looking to photograph dog sports like protection/ bite work, I'm going to take a wild guess that you would be a little uncomfortable standing between the dog and the decoy.

This lens is the least expensive for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. The 50mm 1.8 lenses are also usually the cheapest and smallest lenses for most major camera brands. With the affordable price comes soft corners (corners are usually out of focus anyway for pet photos) and slower auto focus (still very usable). Below photo was taken was this lens. Not bad at all for a cheap lens.

Black echo company dog photography shirt

©Black Echo Company

Sony FE 70-300MM G:

A telephoto (longer-reach) zoom lens. Don't want to stand between the handler and decoy? Me, either. A telephoto lens like this will help you stay out of the way and shoot from far away. Any telephoto lens will do, unless you work indoors/ low-light environment a lot, a f/2.8 telephoto lens or primes can be very beneficial. The downside is you probably need to sell your kidney just for the down payment on it ($2,600-13,000).

running dog german shepherd black echo company

©Black Echo Company

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM:

Lenses least mentioned when talking about pet photography are wide-angle lenses, but they definitely have their uses in my opinion to create different perspectives that show the dog's personality. Picture below was taken with the wide angle.

dog photography wide angle pet german shepherd

©Black Echo Company

If I were to build up a kit for dog photography, this will probably be the last lens I get.

OTHER NECESSITIES

WD 4TB My Passport External Hard Drive:

Have. Multiple. Copies. Of. Your. Files. I wish I could use the clapping emojis on the computer. Took awesome photographs? Good. Now go copy them onto the computer. Done? Good. Now make a back-up of the back-up. All storage devices fail. Not will-they or won't-they. They will fail sooner or later. I learned this the hard way. Don't be me. Be smart. Back it up, and keep them in separate places.

Sandisk 128GB Extreme MicroSDXC UHS-! SD Card:

I hate buying storage. I really do. They are so boring, but we need them. These ones are fast enough, affordable enough, reliable enough, and big enough.

NOW, MY RECOMMENDATION FOR STARTING OUT,

First of all, have you seen phone pics lately? They are killing it. And the best part is, you already have a phone camera. It also comes with touch focus and fits in your pocket while also serving as a Netflix machine. It's mind blowing. Look at this phone pic we took in front of United States Capitol in D.C. Echo is wearing our Black Echo Company Everyday Harness and Honey Badger Collar.

dog photography washington dc tactical german shepherd

©Black Echo Company

If you consistently find your phone pics blurry, stop shaking your hand. But seriously, if you have a camera mode that lets you control the shutter speed, bring that up fast until you stop getting blurry pics. Or just go outside where it's super bright because your phone will automatically adjust the shutter speed to compensate for the amount of light coming in.

Want to try out different camera settings, but don't want to carry around a bag just for dog pics? Look into this pocket camera.

Sony RX100 VII:

It is definitely on the more expensive side of the pocket cameras, but you won't have to go buy different lenses. It also comes with the animal eye autofocus feature if that's your thing. And most importantly, it's tiny. They already come equipped with the focal length of 24mm-70mm (moderately wide angle to short telephoto), and the aperture of f/2.8. Way more than adequate to start out. I have the older version of this I use.

Want an interchangeable lens system, but don't wanna sell your dogs to pay for them? Try the APS-C sensor cameras. The sensors are smaller, and it allows the cameras and the lenses to be much smaller and lighter than the full-frame cameras, and the sensor size difference is negligible for this use. Also, the bodies and lenses are SO MUCH CHEAPER. I would definitely be using APS-C cameras if I didn't already have other cameras and lenses.

Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera:

If you are interested in these, Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera is an affordable option that comes with the animal eye af, while being fairly new with updated firmware. If you wanna go all out, there are cameras like a6600 that are newer.

Did this help? Any question? Anything else you want to know? Let me know at echo@blackechocompany.com . Also, check out our DOG GEAR and APPAREL because if you finished reading the whole thing, you would probably love them.

Leave a comment