Sallie - E-M1 Mark III, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500
Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear,  Photography Projects

How to take Action Photographs of Your Dog with Your Olympus OM-D Camera

I love taking photographs of my dog and like many proud dog parents, I post them on social media.  These photos also provide a memory of your dog when they are no longer with us. 

We recently lost our Toy Fox Terrier after 15 years.  Since we took so many photographs of her, we were able to create a photo book of her with pictures throughout her lifetime.

Action photographs of your dog doing what they love can be a great addition to your photo collection of your dog.  Photographing your dog running, jumping, or swimming can easily be captured with your Olympus OM-D camera.  In this blog, I’ll discuss the equipment, settings, and tips you’ll need to photograph great actions shots of your dog.

Sallie - E-M10 Mark II, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640
Sallie – E-M10 Mark II, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640
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Equipment to Use for Dog Action Photographs

  • Camera – Any Olympus OM-D Camera will work for action photographs of your dog.  I mainly use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III but I’ve also taken some great shots with the E-M10 Mark II.
  • Lens – You don’t need a super telephoto lens to photograph you dog in action.  The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 is the ideal lens for this type of photography.  But, I take most of my dog action photographs with the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 lens.
  • Tripod.  You will not need a tripod.  With the Image Stabilization of the Olympus cameras and the high shutter speeds you will shooting with to freeze the action, a tripod will not be necessary.
Sallie - E-M1 Mark III, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500
Sallie – E-M1 Mark III, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500

Camera Settings for Photographing your Dog in Action

  • Sequential Low Mode.  When capturing action, you will want to shoot with a high number of frames per second (fps).  I shoot in Continuous Low Mode because it will focus between frames.  In Olympus Continuous High Mode, it will only focus before the first frame.

With my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, I can get 10 fps on Sequential Low Mode using the mechanical shutter.  While on my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, I get 4 fps when shooting with the mechanical shutter and C-AF.  While it’s quite a bit slower than the E-M1 Mark III, I am still able to get a quite a few sharp action images of my dog with the E-M10 Mark II.

  • Continuous Autofocus (C-AF).  You will want to set your camera to C-AF mode to continuously autofocus throughout the action.
  • Focus Points.  I usually use the 5 or 9 point focus areas shown below.  Using the joystick or Arrow Pad, try to keep these Focus Areas on your dog’s head during the action.
  • AF Tracking.  I keep AF Tracking turned off and just use C-AF Mode.  I get really good results keeping the focus area in the center and moving it as necessary with the joystick.
  • Shooting Mode.  I use Aperture Priority and try to keep the Aperture set at f/5.6 or f/6.3.
  • ISO.  The ISO setting will depend on the lighting.  It better to photograph these action shoots in brighter light.  You will want to adjust your ISO, to keep your Shutter Speed at a minimum of 1/500 of a second to minimize the blur.  Shooting 1/1000 of a second or faster will ensure freezing the action.
Sallie - E-M1 Mark III, 1/1000 sec, f/5.0, ISO 500
Sallie – E-M1 Mark III, 1/1000 sec, f/5.0, ISO 500

Dog Action Shooting Tips

  • My dog, Sallie loves to fetch the ball or frisbee.  This is an excellent way to get action shots as she will run toward me as she retrieves the ball.  I also call her to come as she is running around the backyard.
  • Be ready.  Take some test exposures ahead of time – check the lighting and shutter speed.  Have the camera turned on and around your neck.  You will only get a few images for each fetch / run.
  • You can also have someone else throw the ball, frisbee or whatever your dog likes to fetch so that you are ready for the shot.
  • Get down low.  Sit on the steps or kneel on the ground to get down to your dog’s eye level.  This will create better engagement with the photograph.
  • Use exposure compensation.  You may need to lower exposure compensation for white dogs in the bright light so you don’t blow out (lose detail) in the highlights.  Likewise, you may need to increase exposure compensation for a dark colored dog.

Photographing your dog in action can be rewarding and a lot of fun.  Taking action photographs of your dog is also a great way to begin to learn bird, wildlife, and sports photography.

Written by Martin Belan

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