My favourite lens for gorgeous dog portraits is Nikkor 85/1.4G. I use it all the time, everywhere (except when I travel). In my opinion there is no better lens for portraits. Sometimes I go wild with 35/1.4G or Sigma’s 50/1.4 (the old version, really looking forward to the new one!)
I could do all my dog sessions with this one lens. And you know what, that’s what I do!
But I’ve had my share of tricky situations with this darling. It’s impossible to use it wide open when photographing kids or dogs on the move. If you’re just a little off, say bye-bye to your beautiful, dreamy photo. Actually, your objects don’t even have to move. The depth of field (DOF) is so shallow that even the tiniest movement affects the outcome. Aaaaand “the tiniest” being only 1 centimeter (that is something like 0,4 inches).
But once you know how to use it, you’ll be able to get some amazing images.
Here are two images I took couple of weeks ago in Espoo. We had a gorgeous afternoon light to perfect these frames. The first one is taken with 2.8 aperture, for the other one I used 1.4 and I love both of them.
In dog photos the challenges pick up due to the snout. The lovely, soft and wet snout. The loooong snout that appears as the body part closest to the camera. Sometimes you want to focus on that but if you’re like me and believe that the connection is made through eyes, you’ll want to focus to them. In the first photo I was able to use autofocus (Nikon’s focusing system is superb, it gives me over 50 focal points) because the depth of field is a bit deeper. In the second image I used manual focus because the depth of field is so much shallower.
Manual focus is way better with close-ups, macro photography and in situations where you don’t want to focus on the object closest to the lens. It takes time to master it but when you do it you’ll gain a full control of your photography. I usually start with autofocus and fine-tune it to perfection!
Have fun manual focusing!