As the popularity of Instagram, Yelp, and other photo sharing and food review websites arise, more and more people get into food photography. Sure, we can take pictures of our mouthwatering meals using or phone or just any camera. But how nice it would be to use the best lens for food photography to capture delectable foods and leave the world craving for them?
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Moreover, do you know that professional food photography is a real thing? Yes. Those pictures we see on magazines and restaurant menus were taken by professional photographers who dedicate their time and energy to bring people pictures that will make them want to eat their subject.
Food photography is not as simple as many people would think. It involves a good amount of planning and dedication to come up with a result that would impress its viewers. Below are the most crucial points you might need to create picture-perfect food photographs…
Food photography, similar to any other form of photography, requires a good lighting. Good lighting does not mean that you need to buy a couple of expensive studio lights, some softboxes, or other tools that may break your bank. Most of the time, natural lighting is enough. So, search for a nice window, one that is not giving in harsh light, and then set up the subject as usual. Unfortunately, of course, you can only do this during the day. If you are planning to do the shoot at night, you need to get artificial lighting.
Do everything you can to get the best lighting at any time of the day. You will be amazed at how some adjustments can improve your photos. Normally, I would set up at least 2 white boards and use it to bounce light and a mirror. It doesn’t have to be big.
Props and Arrangement
My favorite thing about food photography is that the subject doesn’t move, unlike wildlife photography, wedding photography, and the like. It does not move, it just stays there on one position, but you still need to work it. Take a cut, collect the food pieces together, pour in some oil to add some shine, change its angle, and add the best props to change it up every time. Choose props that match the color and style. Remember the pros you choose to add in the frame can make or break the picture. You have to keep in mind that most of the time, less is more, don’t overdo the picture when not necessary.
Attention to Detail
Remember that food does not move so you don’t have to rush; take your time. But for some specific foods, you have to be careful such as ice cream and other subjects that melt. Some food may sag and lose its life. Zoom in, get close, take some shots, adjust, take some more, make sure you do it quickly. Pay attention to every detail. Don’t rely on Photoshop all the time, instead trust yourself on using your skills.
Focus On the Look and Not the Taste
The thing about food photography is it feeds the eyes and not the tummy. Now, it means you can cook it the way you want it to be cooked, it doesn’t matter if it is raw or overly done, as long as it looks good, that what matters! Improve the grill marks using a blow torch, add cotton balls for some steam, put on some shine using vegetable oil, some would use glue to alternate milk or other alternatives that look like the food it represents.
You are only as good as the tools you use, so using a nice set of lens is important. A macro lens is the best for food photography. Their price varies but you can surely find one that suits your needs and offer its purpose.
Some people would also prefer to use a tripod as they don’t have steady hands. Using a tripod can keep things nice and on its right level, plus it offers you the choice to make adjustments without losing the shot.
Lens for Food Photography
One of the nastiest and rambling misconceptions when it comes to food photography is that there are specific lenses that are best suitable for food photography. A lot of young photographers have raised concerns saying that they would like to know which the best lens for food photography is.
Professional photographers who are devoted to advertising photography, particularly the experts in the industry, don’t claim that there’s a certain lens that’s best for shooting food. They might have their personal preferences, but that’s because they’re comfortable with a specific lens and have shot some of their best images with these lenses. With enough practice, you too might have your personal favorites with lenses, eventually.
But which lenses would be great to use? Below we listed down five of our favorite. We are sure that at least one of them will suit your specific needs and the budget you are willing put out for buying one.
Canon has significantly redesigned their previous models to produce this wonderful lens. Different from its predecessor, it comes with a metal mount and focus ring made of rubber. The plastic lens barrel is has a nice matte finish. The EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens continues to use a direct focus extension system so its inner lens tube spreads towards closer focus distances. This lens uses a stepping motor or STM for auto-focusing. The STM has been enhanced to offer "smooth servo auto-focus for movies and a quick auto-focus for stills". That is the theory as it claims by Canon, at least. To be honest, the AF feels as fast as on to the EF 50mm f/1.8 II - at best. But it’s definitely quieter even though it is not as silent as USM AF of Canon. Anyway, it is definitely not bad in any case. Typical for every STM-driven lenses, manual focusing works "by-wire" so you trigger the AF motor by adjusting the focus ring. This works excellently.
Editor's Rating: 98/100
Price On Amazon: from $125.00
The Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED is highly reliable when it comes to food photography. This lens shoots images that look amazing at wider apertures, and it has razor sharp when stopped down. It is a great options for photographers who love taking micro objects including food, as it could lock focus close enough to capture subjects onto an image sensor at full-size. It is not a perfect lens— as you can notice the corners and edges are dim at wide apertures and it takes out image stabilization—but it is an overall outstanding performer. However, it is still makes one of the best lens for food photography.
Editor's Rating: 97/100
Price On Amazon: from $596.95
The 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor is another lens you can consider if you are looking for the best lens for food photography. However, you have to know that it is on the big and heavy side, and does not focus that fast. Well, it depends on your camera’s focus motor, but its visual characteristics are just extremely good that living with its minor shortcomings would be easy. Actually, stopped down to f/5.6 to f/8.0, you can easily see if when you perform resolution test.This is actually my personal favorite. I think the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D is a great lens, mainly if you are into food photography. While it is in a great focal length range for portrait photography, it is probably too sharp to use. This lens is probably not for everyone, but if you are looking for an extremely sharp, high-quality lens in the same focal length range, this one is one for you. If you are a macro shooter, this is an excellent tool, with the extra benefit of a comfortable working variety, due to its 105mm focal length.
Editor's Rating: 95/100
Price On Amazon: from $299.00
As one of Nikon's new mid-range macro lenses, the lens barrel is built from high-quality plastics with a metal lens mount, which contains a rubber gasket in the position to stop the entry of moisture and dust. It offers a somewhat rough finish, which does not show marks easily and a big rubberized focusing ring. The size of this lens might take those who have used the older AF-D version on the hop, as it’s considerably wider and longer. Even so, it’s very lightweight, weighing just 350g and it balances well on most Nikon cameras.As focusing is performed within the 67mm filter thread doesn’t rotate while using it, which this lens perfect for use with progressed and polarizing filters. The focus speeds are reasonable, even not lightning fast and the wide manual focus ring gives a great amount of resistance, which makes using fine adjustments a great experience.Its minimum focus distance of 80cm is not too special for a lens in this focal range and is ideally suited for capturing, even though it is not so much for frame filling detail up close.
Editor's Rating: 93/100
Price On Amazon: from $1,976.95
The Olympus MSC ED M. 60mm f/2.8 Lens weighs only 185g and its diameter measures 56x82mm which makes it nearly the same size of the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3, but significantly lighter. It offers a set focal length of 60 mm. The lens offers seven circular diaphragm blades which is helpful in increasing the “bokeh” effect made in the defocused parts of the image. This lens also comes with a high-speed Imager AF system. Imager AF is developed by way of gap detection and mostly focuses on the subject closest to the lens. This lens is made for daily shooting with an importance on macro photography. The 60mm macro lens is fun to use and very easy. It has a small dial on the lens which lets it to be used in either macro or traditional mode. See how perfect is it for food photography?
Editor's Rating: 90/100
Price On Amazon: from $449.00
So, which one do you think is best for you? Are you looking for one that is within your limited budget? Then you should read more reviews on Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens, or maybe ones on the mid-range bracket like Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor Lens, but of course, be ready to live with their drawbacks. If you can spend money on better quality ones, go for Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor Lens, Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor Lens, or on expensive Nikon PC-E FX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Fixed Zoom Lens.
So, which one do you think is the best lens for food photography? Let us know in the comment below!