Essential Lenses for Perfect Pet Portraits

Pet photography is a rapidly growing genre in the photography world thanks to more owners wanting quality portraits of their furry friends. 

When it comes to portrait photography all of us generally think about the classic images that portray men, women and children, but portraits don’t have to be limited to to just humans. Pet photography is a rapidly growing genre in the photography world thanks to more owners wanting quality portraits of their furry friends. Our four-legged friends all have their own characters and personalities, and many photographers are setting out to capture both of those things with perfect pet portraits. The question is, what are the best lenses to use to capture people’s fur-babies? Here is a look at the essential lenses for perfect pet portraits.

The Trusty 50mm F1.8


It doesn’t matter what camera system you use, the nifty fifty f1.8 is a must have lens for all Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Pentax shooters. The 50mm focal length also happens to perfect for pet photography.  The 50mm lenses from all of the big boys in photography are fast to focus, and thanks to their maximum aperture of f1.8, you’ll be able to capture your clients furbaby in low light situations.

In our review of the Canon 50mm f1.8 we said:

“Of all the cheap 50mm lenses made, Canon’s nifty 50 has always reigned supreme as the niftiest thanks to both image quality and affordability.” 

In our review of the Nikon 50mm f1.8 G we said:

“This lens is for the elder states man photographer or the newbies. It can tackle pretty much every situation on any Nikon digital camera, especially the newer cameras”

In our review of the Sony 50mm f1.8 we said:

“Generally speaking in terms of nifty 50 lenses, you can’t really get much better here. Sony’s 50mm f1.8 is right up there with the Canon 50mm f1.8 in terms of image quality. It’s got great color output, is very sharp, very little chromatic aberration (and even then you’ve really got to look for it) and bokeh that isn’t bad overall.”

When it comes to image quality these lenses are hard to beat, especially when you factor in the low prices that these lenses generally have.  The images you’ll capture will be nice and sharp from edge to edge, and because of their small footprint, and light weight you will be able to follow Rover the dog, or Princess Kitten all over the place without much to worry about. This is a must have lens for pet photographers.

Buy them now. Canon $125. Amazon, Nikon $196.95. Amazon, Sony $198. Amazon, Pentax 169.99. Amazon


Canon 50mm f1.8 image sample



Nikon 50mm F1.8 G Image Samples



Sony 50mm F1.8 Sample Images



Pro Tip: Keep your lenses paw print free with this lens cleaning kit.


Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2


A 70-200mm f2.8 should be in the bag of every pet photographer due to its incredible versatility, and the Tamron 70-200 G2 is a superb choice. The G2 line of lenses from Tamron are really quite special. The build quality of this 70-200mm from Tamron is top notch, and image quality rivals that of the legendary Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L USM II.

In our review we said:

“The Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 is honestly a fantastic option for many photographers out there. Portrait and landscape photographers will appreciate the great image quality and versatility it allows. Photojournalists and wedding photographers will seriously love the autofocus speed and accuracy it can deliver. And most of all, it’s really not badly priced for what it’s offering.”

In regards to pet photography the 70-200mm focal range is perfect. At 70mm you can take nice posed portraits of animals, while at the 200mm end of things you can capture fido running around in his or her natural habitat. The Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 in incredibly fast to focus, and the vibration control helps you get nice sharp images in low light, or while using low shutter speeds. Images that come from this lens are sharp, and color reproduction is very nice. If bokeh is your thing, this lens will not disappoint at all, as bokeh at f2.8 is nice and creamy. If you are looking for a well built, versatile telephoto lens for your pet photography, check out this 70-200mm G2 from Tamron. Available in Canon and Nikon mounts.

Buy it now $1299. Amazon (Nikon), Amazon (Canon)

Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 Image Samples



Pro Tip:  If you’re a Sony shooter and would like to use any Canon mount lens, this EF to E mount adapter will open up a whole new world for you.


Sigma 18-35 F1.8 DC HSM Art


If you are a APS-C camera user then you have access to one of the best lenses Sigma has ever made, and it also just happens to be perfect for pet photography. The Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM Art is quite possibly one of the sharpest lenses ever made. On APS-C bodies this lens will have an equivalent focal range of 28-56mm, which puts it in the range of a normal portrait lens. The 18-35 has incredible build quality (sadly no weather sealing), and phenomenal image quality.

In our review we said:

“We’ve got absolutely nothing but respect and love for the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM. If you’re an APS-C DSLR user, this should be the lens that is a high priority item on your list to get. It’s sharp, contrasty, has beautiful color that is true to life, focuses quickly, and stays compact due to its internal zooming and focusing design.”

The Sigma 18-35mm Art is like have three prime lenses in one body. The maximum aperture of f1.8 across the entire focal range is quite simply amazing, and it makes it a great lens for environmental portraiture as well as regular portraits too. The lens is a little on the heavy side, but that just speaks to the crazy amount of glass packed inside, and to the overall build quality. Thanks to newer camera bodies that have a crop sensor mode, this lens is now usable on all Sony Full Frame bodies as long as you use a Canon EF to E mount adapter, and on some Nikon Full Frame bodies too. The lens is fast to focus, which means you’ll have no issues keeping up with pets running around, and thanks to the nicely dampened zoom ring you’ll be able to compose your shots quickly. For APS-C users who shoot pet photos this lens is a must have.

Buy it now $678-90 – $696.86.Amazon (Nikon)Amazon (Canon)


Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Image Samples



Pro Tip: If you are having a hard time getting the attention of a pet, grab their fave toy to hold above the camera or, or attach this toy to your lens so that they will look your way.


Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS USM


Pets don’t always cooperate with us and sometimes the squirrel running across the yard, or the toy in the corner is far more important to them than a portrait. Being able to go from wide angles to telephoto lengths quickly is important, and there is not a more versatile lens than the Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS USM. There are of course other 24-105mm lenses on the market from Sigma and Tamron, not to mention the comparable Nikon version for Nikon shooters, but Canon have perfected this focal range.

In our review we said:

“This lens is one of the most affordable L lenses in Canon’s lineup and can often be found used for an even better price. The fast autofocusing speed, silent motors, image stabilization, sharpness, color rendering, and zoom range make this lens a no brainer for most photographers.”

As mentioned above, the Canon 24-105 F4 L USM is one of the most affordable L series lenses that Canon offers. Image quality is excellent, colors reproduced are natural and pleasing to the eye,  and honestly overall image quality is not that far behind the newer and more expensive second gen version of this lens. The build quality is superb, and the weather sealing means that you can take this lens out and not have to worry about inclement weather. The Ultra Sonic Motor allows this lens to focus fast, not to mention quietly. Given the versatility and image quality of this lens, it is a must have for those who take pet portraits.

Buy it now $799. Amazon


Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Image Samples


Pro Tip: When on long shoots comfort is key. Use a quality Camera sling to take the weight from around your neck.


Do you practice pet photography? What lenses do you use? Let us know in the comment section below.