What’s in the bag of a dog photographer?

Very often people ask me what equipment I use for my photo sessions with dogs, so I decided to write you a short article on everything that I can take with me during my sessions. Over time I understood which material was suitable for my use. 

My cameras

I have two cameras, a Nikon D750 and a Nikon D500.

The D750 is a Full-Frame camera that I find really versatile, it does a very good job both in portrait and in action. It has fast autofocus and a burst of 6.5 fps per second, which comes in handy when our subjects are moving a lot. It is particularly lightweight for an SLR, the buttons are less well organized than the D500 in my opinion, but we get used to it. Today it is the camera that I use every day, its adjustable screen is very practical in certain conditions (when I do not want to lie on the floor for example). I recommend it for those who want to get started with Nikon!

The D500 is an APS-C that I used for a long time when I changed all my equipment to go to Nikon. Its autofocus is monstrous! With a burst of 10 fps per second, this makes it an excellent camera for animal and sport photography. Even if it is an APS-C, its image quality as well as its ISO management is very good, beyond 4000ISO it becomes average.

Nikon D500 + Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Nikon D500 Sigma Art 85mm

Nikon D750 + Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Nikon D750 SIgma Art 85mm

My lenses

Sigma 135mm f/1.4 Art: a lens that I mainly use for my photo shoots with clients, the bokeh really highlights dogs thanks to its very wide aperture. I can also stay away from dogs who are afraid or who just don’t feel comfortable.

dog photo session professional canine photographer dog photography Auvergne France Allier Puy de Dôme Workshop Dog Photo Workshop
photo equipment dog photo session professional canine photographer canine photography Auvergne France Allier Puy de Dôme Workshop Dog Photo Workshop

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art: my favorite of all, I make 99% of my portraits with this lens. The focal length is perfect, neither too long nor too short. The bokeh is delicious, the autofocus is correct, it can sometimes be inaccurate, the chromatic aberrations are rather low.

canine dog photographer equipment
With what equipment to photograph pets

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art: the new one, replacing my Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art. The first tests were conclusive, nice bokeh, precise autofocus, perfect sharpness, even at wide aperture. I chose it mainly to photograph dogs with more landscape, to photograph my products, etc.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Dog photographer

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II: for action photography, it’s the best. The autofocus is incredibly fast and precise, the sharpness is divine. The weight can be a little to much after a few hours, but we have experienced much worse! For portrait use, it is better to mount it on a full-frame, 200 mm on APS-C, that’s a lot.

photograph dogs in action with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f / 2.8G ED VR II
dog photography portrait Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f / 2.8G ED VR II

Essential equipment for dog photography

Because it is not over!

I always have with me my cleaning kit in case of annoying traces on my lens. The kit consists of a blower bulb, a microfiber rag and a microfiber brush, you can find it on Amazon for less than 10 euros.

Also important: additional batteries and memory cards! Choose brand batteries, they last longer and are more reliable.

For memory cards, all depends on your needs but a card with good writing speed is preferable to avoid ending up with a card that is too slow and a saturated buffer.

What would a dog photographer be without a ball in his bag? Even if there are plenty of other ways to get a dog’s attention, a toy is by far the best tool!

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