Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Camera Lenses Every Food Photographer Needs

I recently had the opportunity to be a speaker on a panel at BlogHer Food, titled “How to Fake Great Photos.” Of course the photos are very real, but there are so many things to learn about food photography and most of us are indeed faking it until we make it.

One thing we didn’t talk about at our session was gear. So much to cover and so little time. Today I want to talk about the two lenses every food photographer – specifically every DSLR food photographer – should have in their kit bag.

1. A macro lens. Macro lenses allow you to get up very close to the food (usually as close as a foot away), and they magnify the food. They are perfect for food shots where you want to highlight the details of the food. For a full frame camera, a 100mm macro lens is perfect; on a crop frame camera choose a 60mm lens.My macro lens is my go to lens for about 60% of the photos I take in my home studio.

2. A wide angle lens or a telephoto lens that starts at 24mm (or 17-18mm for a crop frame camera).
Wide angle lenses are used for top down shots, shots where you want to capture more of the table, or when you have people in the photo.

I use a 24-105mm lens with my full frame camera, and a 17-55mm lens with my crop frame camera. If you can, I suggest buying a lens with image stabilization, as this will likely become your travel and walking around lens. If you are using the camera almost exclusively for food photography, a wide angle lens might be your choice. I have been working with the macro and telephoto lens for some time, but I am now saving up for a great 35mm lens. The fixed focal length should give me a sharper picture with less distortion.

I am a big believer is buying the best lens you can afford. Rather than choosing an inferior lens, save your money until you can get what you really want. While the camera itself provides some great functionality, the majority of the differences in the quality of a photo (in addition to the choices the photographer makes in his or her camera settings) is achieved with the lens. The links in this blog post are for Canon cameras. Make sure you select a lens that works with your camera!

What are your favorite lenses for food photography? Why?


Unknown said...

Hi Collette - thanks for the photography information. I have a blog, but need help in the picture department! This is really good! you have a recipe for a soy, nut, dairy, wheat free sweet potato pie by any chance?

Jean | said...

Collette, thank you veddy much (said sarcastically)! Of all the things I've read about cameras (and it's a lot because I've been "studying on" which DSLR to buy), this is the FIRST mention of full frame vs crop frame. Now I have more factors to complicate my decision-making, so ... Thank you veddy much!! ;-)

Colette said...

Jean, when I was buying my camera I made a couple of mistakes. I researched (as you did) and couldn't find the real straight scoop. In terms of crop vs full frame -- if you think you are going to want a full frame eventually (and you can afford it) I'd go straight there. But yes, which lenses to get are different depending on which camera.

Zahra, I don't have a sweet potato pie recipe (gotta get on that), but there's a terrific recipe for Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls in Learning to Bake Allergen-Free.