5 of the Best Cameras For Pet Photography – Purrfect Pet Portraits!

In this article, we’ll explore our staff picks for the 5 best cameras for pet photography. We shall also provide a buying guide and expert pet photography tips to help you get ‘purrfect’ results with any camera at your disposal. Lastly, we’ll address the most common pet photography questions in the FAQ.

Best Overall
Sony a7R III
Sony a7R III
9.7
  • 42 MP Resolution
  • Animal Eye AF
  • 5.5 stops IBIS
  • Dual card slots
  • Great video capabilities
Runner Up
Fujifilm X-T30
Fujifilm X-T30
9.5
  • 4K/30p video
  • Reliable autofocus
  • Looks and feels fantastic
  • The best JPEGs in the game
Best Budget
Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX100 IV
9.1
  • 1/32000 shutter speed
  • 40x Slow-motion video mode
  • Dual recording capture
  • Eye AF
  • Tiny form factor

Capturing stunning high-quality photos and videos of animals can be challenging even for experienced photographers. That’s because the critters don’t always feel like posing for the camera – far from it. Luckily, some cameras have special features to help us produce excellent shots of our beloved pets.

Let’s jump straight in.

Contents show

Best Cameras for Pet Photography: The Overpowered

#1 SONY ALPHA 7R III FULL FRAME MIRRORLESS CAMERA

Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera: 42.4MP Full Frame High Resolution Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Front End LSI Image Processor, 4K HDR Video and 3
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SONY A7R III

  • 42 MP Resolution
  • Animal Eye AF
  • 5.5 stops IBS
  • Dual card slots
  • Great video capabilities

FEATURES

The Sony Alpha A7R iii possesses some useful tricks that any pet and even wildlife photographer would appreciate. There is a 10 fps burst mode that captures just the right perfect moment, and with the new, improved eye AF, you are sure to get tack-sharp focus every time.

DESIGN

The sleek magnesium chassis of the a7 R iii is similar to its siblings from the a7 family. However, minor layout tweaks make choosing an AF point easier than previously. While the menu system is dense, it is well laid out. The record button has also been slightly moved and raised to eliminate the chance of accidental presses.

PERFORMANCE

If you want to capture sharp photos of fast-moving subjects such as pets and even wildlife, the A7R iii can deliver in spades. The camera offers excellent subject tracking and sublime autofocus abilities that will freeze any movement. With the Animal Eye AF feature, it gets tack-sharp focus on the eye of the subject practically every time. The Sony A7R is a beast at capturing video, too, providing 14-bit uncompressed footage.

WE LIKE

  • Improved battery life
  • AF joystick and AF-on button
  • LCD Touchscreen
  • Low shutter lag

WE DON’T LIKE

  • No built-in flash
  • Dust and moisture sealing not the best
  • Lack of 4K/60p
  • Limited selection of E-mount lenses
  • Still quite pricey

FINAL VERDICT ON SONY A7R III FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

If only the best is good enough, the Sony Alpha 7R iii is it. While the camera does have a few imperfections, the overall package is insanely powerful and a potent tool for any kind of animal photos, including birds and wildlife photography. If the budget is no issue, you can get crisp full-frame pet photos and uncompressed video footage, even at high ISO settings.

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BEST CAMERAS FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY: THE WICKEDLY FAST

#2 SONY ALPHA 6600 E-MOUNT APSC MIRRORLESS CAMERA

Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SONY A6600 CAMERA

  • Fast AF and excellent tracking
  • Tilting high-res screen
  • Battery life (810)
  • 4K video capture
  • IBIS

FEATURES

Sony’s Alpha 6600 is their flagship crop sensor camera, and it undoubtfully deserves the second spot on our list. Notably, because it offers speedy autofocus and fantastic tracking of moving subjects. These fundamental traits make the a6600 a dream for any cat or dog photographer, but that’s not all. There is also 4K video and In-body image stabilization.

DESIGN

Following the Sony alpha family’s footsteps, the a6600 has a similar lightweight metal chassis to the other models. Furthermore, the camera can charge via USB, just like the rest of the lineup. While there is a decent grip to latch on to, the camera’s overall handling can be somewhat cumbersome.

PERFORMANCE

The performance area is where the a6600 truly shines. In particular, for the price. The alpha 6600 mirrorless camera is rocking a 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor that, combined with the IBIS, ensures good low-light performance. Subject tracking is excellent, and the AF is quick and sticky like a tick on a hound.

WE LIKE

  • Great battery life
  • Image stabilization
  • Superb autofocus
  • Weather sealing

WE DON’T LIKE

  • Severe rolling shutter
  • Cramped feeling
  • Only 1 card slot
  • Dated design

FINAL VERDICT ON SONY A6600 FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

Although the a6600 from Sony is relatively expensive, its zippy autofocus rivals that of an a7R iii. All in all, the a6600 is a capable digital camera, whether you are a working photographer or just dabbling into dog photography. However, it can feel somewhat cramped to operate, and the lack of a second card slot could be a turn-off for some.

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BEST CAMERAS FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY: THE SEXY ONE

#3 FUJIFILM X-T30 MIRRORLESS CAMERA

Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera, Silver
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FUJIFILM X-T30 CAMERA

  • 4K/30p video
  • Reliable autofocus
  • Looks and feels fantastic
  • The best JPEGs in the game

FEATURES

While the X-T30 from Fuji is not entirely up to par with its bigger brother, X-T3, it is a compelling option. It’s significantly smaller, lighter, and cheaper, too. The camera does carry over much of the X-T3’s power. This includes the dedicated top dials for exposure compensation, drive, and shutter speed. We also get the lovely new Eterna simulation.

DESIGN

According to our taste, the X-T30 checks all the right boxes in terms of aesthetics. With that said, the ergonomics are frankly nothing to write home about. Fortunately, there are extra grips and cages available from third-party manufacturers. That aside, the camera is generally well laid out and a breeze to use without much menu-diving.

PERFORMANCE

The X-T30 represents the best bang for the buck on this list. Especially in the video department that provides 10-bit 4:2:2 over HDMI and 4K/30p for up to 10 minutes. In terms of AF, you’ll be pleased to find that the Fuji XT30 has quick, tenacious autofocus that tracks faces well – just what we need as pet photographers. Obviously, the X-T30 performs well in other photo genres, too.

WE LIKE

  • Impressive video out of the box
  • Performance for the money
  • The analog dials
  • Gorgeous, timeless design

WE DON’T LIKE

  • 10 minute limit in 4K/30p
  • 2.5mm mic input
  • Ergonomics not great
  • Lack of weather sealing

FINAL VERDICT ON FUJIFILM X-T30 FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

The Fujifilm X-T30 is an impressive, good-looking camera – both externally and in terms of imaging quality. It’s more than adequate for most use-cases, boasting much of the power of the bigger and pricier X-T3. However, the tilting screen can’t get into selfie mode, which might scare off some vloggers.

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BEST CAMERAS FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY: THE ACTION LOVER

#4 GoPro HERO 9 BLACK ACTION CAMERA

GoPro HERO9 Black - Waterproof Action Camera with Front LCD and Touch Rear Screens, 5K Ultra HD Video, 20MP Photos, 1080p Live Streaming, Webcam, Stabilization
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GOPRO HERO 9 CAMERA

  • Front display
  • Improved battery life
  • Programmable
  • 5K footage

FEATURES

An action camera can tell your pet’s story in an engaging and fun way – from the animal’s perspective. Although, please beware and use it responsibly if you choose to. Mounting a camera to your dog’s collar can represent a risk of injury by getting stuck.

Thanks to Hypersmooth 3.0, the footage comes out silky smooth. But we get other cool new features with the Hero 9. For example, it can be programmed to capture the sunset while you sleep in. It can also do the exact opposite and keep filming or time-lapsing until a preordained time.

DESIGN

The form factor and layout are somewhat similar to the rest of the widely successful Hero line. However, the device has gained a bit of bulk, along with a bigger and better battery. Our favorite addition is the new front-facing screen, which makes vlogging a breeze. The lens-protector can now be replaced if scratched, and there are pseudo-interchangeable lenses available for added flexibility in composition.

PERFORMANCE

The GoPro Hero 9 action camera has received several upgrades in the performance category, too. For example, it can capture 5K footage – although, in practice, it’s only 30p and eats up a ton of storage space. The 20 MP stills coming out of the Hero 9 are truly impressive, including the 14.7 MP frames grabbed while filming. The wide-angle means that virtually everything is in focus. However, the small-ish sensor still means mediocre low-light performance.

WE LIKE

  • Dead-smooth footage
  • Moddable and fixable
  • Powerful as ever
  • Can go anywhere

WE DON’T LIKE

  • Only 30p in 5K
  • The screen can be unresponsive
  • Not as good value as the Hero 8

FINAL VERDICT ON GOPRO HERO 9 FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

The Hero 9 is, at the moment of writing, the hottest cam in town for action photography. Ever wondered how the world looks from your woofer’s point of view? While it should be used with respect and caution, the camera can deliver smooth, unique, and fun footage from your pet’s perspective. It can also work as a vlogging tool in a pinch, not to mention action scenes, time-lapses, sunrises, and sunsets.

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BEST CAMERAS FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY: THE TINY MONSTER

#5 SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-RX100 IV POCKET CAMERA

Sony RX100 IV 20.1 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/ 1-inch Sensor, 4K Movies and 40x Super Slow Motion HD DSCRX100M4/B
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SONY DSC-RX100 IV

  • 1/32000 shutter speed
  • Slow-motion video mode
  • Dual recording capture
  • Eye AF
  • Tiny form factor

FEATURES

The RX100 IV made it to this list thanks to its useful capabilities, such as ultra-fast electronic shutter speeds. The camera also has a wealth of intelligent autofocus modes, including Eye AF. This ensures sharp pin focus on your doggo’s eyes but is also great for portraits. Like other Sony cameras, the ultra-compact RX100 IV charges via USB. It also offers photo capture during video capture, which can happen at up to 100 Mbps with the right memory card.

DESIGN

The fourth version of Sony’s legendary RX100 is precisely what you’d expect in terms of design. The only visible difference from the older versions is the print on top. The overall package is dense, well-built, and has a new, better EVF than the predecessor. While this pocket-rocket is not the world’s most convenient camera to handle, it means business when it comes to the sheer performance to size ratio. Besides, it’s possible to get aftermarket grips that make it easier to grab on to.

PERFORMANCE

For the lack of a better word, the RX100 iv offers hardcore performance considering its size. Most impressive is the 1/32000 electronic shutter and the astonishing video capabilities that include S-log profiles to satisfy any lut-nut. While the subject tracking is not perfect, it’s mostly adequate and can help you capture the best pet photos – whether you’re shooting JPEG, raw, or video. The large Exmor RS sensor means that the rx100 Mark 4 fairs reasonably well in the dark, too.

WE LIKE

  • Fantastic performance
  • Intelligent AF modes
  • Versatile yet tiny
  • Built-in ND-filter

WE DON’T LIKE

  • Shorter battery life than Mark III
  • Handling can feel cramped
  • The menu is not the most intuitive
  • Expensive for a subcompact

FINAL VERDICT ON SONY RX100 IV FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

As far as compact cameras go, the Sony RX100 Mark IV is hard to beat. Thanks to the superb Zeiss optics and the large sensor, it can produce imaging quality that could match your regular DSLR camera. Yet, it’s not optimal for users with large hands or for extended photo or video sessions – unless running off a power bank to grab that action shot. In terms of pet photography, the rx100 m4 is a steady and reliable performer in a teeny-weeny package.

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BUYERS GUIDE: HOW TO PICK THE BEST CAMERA FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY

Now we’ve had a look at some of the best cameras available for pet photographers. But how to pick the right camera body and lens for you? Here are the most crucial tips to keep in mind before buying.

THE BEST FOCAL LENGTH FOR CAPTURING PETS AND WILDLIFE

The most common pets, which are dogs and cats, are quite conscious of being photographed. Although exceptions exist, many are not exactly fond of posing in front of the camera – just like many people aren’t. The easiest way to make the whole process less intimidating is to use a large focal length.

You can get more distance between yourself and your subject by picking a camera with either a built-in zoom lens or an interchangeable lens system. Be mindful of this feature when looking for a new camera. Some bundles come with a very decent kit lens in the 18-55mm range.

If wildlife photography is your game, 400mm and even higher will make your photographic mission more manageable. Unless you’re in an environment where the animals have never encountered humans, they are likely to be avoiding our kind, and for a good reason. That’s why a massive telephoto lens can help get up close while you’re hiding somewhere in the surroundings.

WHY CAMERA SIZE MATTERS IN ANIMAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Pets are not stupid. Most are well aware that something is going on and that your camera is involved. Just as with human subjects, a small camera can play to your advantage by being inconspicuous and unthreatening.

For the same reason, busting out your favorite prime lens can work in your favor, at least in some situations.

If you have your pet since it’s tiny, you can accustom it to being photographed regularly. Otherwise, the size of the camera can make or break a shoot. If the session is not working out as intended, you can always fall back to the zoom lens strategy above.

THE BEST CAMERA ACCESSORIES FOR PHOTOGRAPHING PETS

When you are looking to get fantastic photos or videos of your four-legged friend, remote shutter releases and tripods can come in handy. That’s because then, the camera doesn’t immediately appear to be operated by you. Instead, it’s parked somewhere and just stands there, looking like another random object.

Then, you could either let the camera silently capture time-lapses, video, or strategically timed stills. Most cameras allow you to operate them via smartphone. Sony devices, in particular, work super well in this regard. Simply fire up the app and face a different direction while keeping a sharp eye on the display.

Cat on a skateboard - best cameras for pet photography

FAQ

HOW TO TAKE A GREAT PHOTO OF YOUR PET WITH ANY CAMERA?

As any dog photographer knows, the number one thing to remember for a photoshoot is dog treats. In particular, if the pup is not well-trained and calm. Simply hold the treat in your hand and direct the dog’s attention while your other hand is on the shutter, ready to click away.

Of course, it’s vital to reward good effort and patience. Just make sure that there are enough treats, and don’t lose sight of them.

But what about cats? The feline photo models tend to be acutely aware of any potentially exciting sounds. Think mice moving around in dried leaves. Any high-pitched swooshy sounds or whistles tend to grab cats’ attention.

Experiment with, for example, loudly whispering f and s sounds in quick succession. It comes down to personality, too. While dogs generally respond coherently, cats can be quite unpredictable and resistant to our influence.

Experimentation, patience, and building rapport are all necessary elements of a successful pet photoshoot. Oh, and if your pup has a severe case of zoomies, you might have trouble attaining focus at all. In that case, setting a fast shutter speed and pre-focusing on the spot in their path is often the way forward.

Lastly, it’s essential to get on the same level as your subject. While there are exceptions to this rule, the photo usually comes out best if the lens is in the same plane as the animal you’re trying to photograph. More often than not, this means you’ll have to go down low, and that’s why a tilting screen can be beneficial, enabling you to view from above.

WHAT CAMERA SETTINGS TO USE FOR PET PHOTOGRAPHY?

The short answer is fast. Unless you’re photographing a turtle or a very well-behaved or resting puppy or cat, you’re going to need fast shutter speeds. How fast? 1/250 of a second should suffice. However, if you want to freeze motion mid-jump, even faster might be necessary. Of course, with faster shutter speeds, less light reaches the sensor. This means that we either need a wide aperture, bump up the ISO, add more light, or a combination thereof.

Using your mirrorless or DSLR camera in shutter priority should produce good results reliably. However, it’s crucial to select the best AF method for the situation, too. Most cameras nowadays have face-tracking or even a dedicated Eye-AF mode. Sony cameras can even ‘remember’ faces to better recognize them.

WHY DOES A GOOD DIGITAL CAMERA AND LENS MATTER IN PET AND WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY?

Being a pet photographer has its challenges. Fast-moving subjects with a low level of patience and a high energy level require every bit of help we can get. That’s because they can be quite challenging to track and focus on consistently. This is where equipment can make a huge difference.

While a modern smartphone might keep up in tracking and AF, the resolution and dynamic range often suffer. A phone’s sensor is not nearly as good in low light, either. If you must resort to using your phone for pet photography, ensure that there is adequate light, and try to take many singles or even bursts. This maximizes the chances of getting many keepers.

CONCLUSION

Even the best cameras for pet photography might not be enough in and on themselves. With the advent of smartphones, everyone and their grandmother is now a photographer. Even my young daughter has tried her hand at dog photography! However, far from everybody can produce a gorgeous pet portrait consistently. The reason being that the art of pet photography requires a combination of patience, skill, and the right gear to pull off at a high level. It is great fun, though, and if you haven’t tried it yet, we highly recommend it.