The food industry is big business, with brands and establishments willing to pay large sums to have their food advertised in the best way possible. So whether you’re a budding food stylist and photographer or an aspiring online influencer, there’s always some profit to be made out of taking pretty pictures of presentable plates of food.
Of course, to be able to take a good picture, you need to have the right arsenal. The fact is, even a professional grade DSLR may not be the best tool if it doesn’t have the right lens. If you want to step up the way you take pictures of food, we’ve put together a guide to help you find the best lens for food photography.
Top 10 Lenses for Food Photography Table
Finding the Perfect Lens for Food Photography
Lenses have different specifications which allow them to function for different purposes. For instance, some lenses are designed for landscapes and sceneries, while others are made to capture the perfect portrait.
If you’re in search for the best lens for food photography, make sure to take these specifications into consideration.
- Focal Length. Focal length is the number you’ll see expressed in millimeters, and ranges from tens to hundreds. Basically, this tells you the distance between the convergence of your lens and the sensor on your camera.
The significance of focal length is that it tells you how “zoomed in” your pictures will look. The higher the number, the closer your subject seems. With food photography, the sweet spot for focal lenses can be anywhere between 50mm and 300mm, depending on your preference.
A 50mm lens will capture subjects as a whole, with little bokeh in the background. This is ideal for food that’s laid flat and photographed directly above. If you want to take more dramatic shots at an angle, higher focal lengths can help highlight certain aspects of the food, making it stand out from the background and creating a shallow depth of field.
- Cropped Sensors. A cropped sensor isn’t a characteristic of a lens, but rather of your camera itself. It’s important to consider nonetheless because it will tell you what lens to purchase.
A cropped sensor simply means that your camera will cut out a certain amount of the view’s edges, making your subject seem closer. So when you install a 50mm on a camera with a crop factor of 1.6, the images you get will manifest up to an 80mm focal length.
To find out what your outcomes will be, simply research your camera’s crop factor and multiply that number by the measure of your lens’ focal length. This will tell you what focal length will manifest with your captures.
- Prime vs. Zoom Lenses. To tell whether you’ve chosen a prime lens or a zoom lens, just take a look at the focal length measurement that the lens offers. If you’re seeing a fixed number, you’ve got yourself a prime lens. But if it gives you a range, like for example 70-300mm, you’ve got a zoom lens.
The main difference between primes and zooms is that the prime can’t change focal lengths, while the zoom can be easily adjusted within its range. Ultimately, this gives the zoom more versatility in terms of subjects and styles. With a twist of a zoom lens, you can adjust your settings for food photography to scenery, and many others.
While it may seem that the zoom lens is an obvious better choice, it does come at a price. Mainly, zoom lenses are slower, let less light in, and may lose sharpness because of the positioning of lenses inside the device.
Top 3 Best Lens for Food Photography Reviews
Taking the cake as the best lens for food photography, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is a premium choice if you want something that will really give those perfectly plated dishes justice.
This prime lens has a 100mm focal length, making it fall within the macro lens category. This makes it easy for the lens to focus on certain points of your subject to create a dramatic, shallow depth of field that’s perfect for food photography.
Finally, what makes the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens a winner is the fact that it packs a round aperture. This produces better quality bokeh throughout the out of focus areas of your images, which helps highlight food and intensify contrast. So despite the price tag, the lens definitely makes up for it with quality.
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus is a prime lens with a 50mm focal length, making it fall into the standard lens category. This makes it ideal for food photography styles that don’t cancel out the background, leaving room for creativity and potential depending how you want to style your set up.
The lens comes with rounded aperture blades, making bokeh much more artful even if images don’t have a shallow depth of field. The size of the aperture also makes it highly versatile, allowing the lens to capture subjects even in low light settings like inside restaurants.
The only issue that some more experienced photographers have with the lens is that it tends to lose sharpness throughout the area of the focal point, leaving room for minimal grain.
Another prime lens from the Canon, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens comes with a standard 50mm focal length. The aperture on the device has 7 blades, creating a heptagonal aperture shape which can disrupt bokeh and produce a lower quality out of focus area. Nonetheless, the 1.8 aperture size does give the lens justice by creating more contrast between focal areas and the background.
While it doesn’t really offer the best results compared to higher ranked options, the price does make up for the performance. All in all, you’re getting a great lens that does the job minus the steep price that comes with other options on the list.