Essential Camera Gear for Food Photography

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Choosing camera gear for food photography can evoke a mix of excitement, frustration, and confusion!

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Please note: I intend to update and include actual photos of my gear shortly! I’ve recently expanded my toolkit, so while there are currently mostly stock photos, they’re solely for reference purposes.

Camera Gear | Food Photography | Mean Green Chef

As you embark on your journey to find the perfect camera gear, you’ll encounter a myriad of opinions, each as diverse as the gear itself. While these may not align perfectly with your needs, they’ve certainly proven invaluable to me. I’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to the gear I’ve personally utilized, aiming to offer a starting point for fellow food bloggers who may feel as overwhelmed as I once did when navigating the world of camera equipment.

After careful consideration, I opted for the Canon EOS 80D for various reasons, with the primary factor being its exceptional color science. The quality is simply superb! While Nikon cameras also capture stunning images with impressive colors, Canon’s color science stands out for its excellence, resulting in a seamless and efficient workflow for both photography and videography. It’s not the newest model by far, but it is a wonderful camera!

There are a ton of reviews on the Canon 80d, but this is by far one of the best I’ve found. Plus Zak goes into detail regarding the video capabilities this powerhouse packs.  

Camera Gear | Food Photography | Mean Green Chef

The Canon 80d is a 1.6x crop factor, which changes the focal distance of lenses. Also, know as an APS-C Focal length, this crop factor describes the size difference between a 35mm film frame and a camera’s sensor. Crop factor basically creates a zoom effect with lenses. 

Check out Tom’s Guide to Canon Lenses: Crop Factor Conversion Chart. It was the most concise guide I found while lens shopping and made the most sense as well! Explaining why being aware of the size of the camera sensor is so important. 

Key Features of the Canon 80D

  1. 24.2 Megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor: Delivers high-resolution images with excellent detail and clarity.

  2. DIGIC 6 Image Processor: Provides fast processing speeds and superior image quality, even in low light conditions.

  3. 45-Point All Cross-Type Autofocus System: Offers precise and quick focusing, ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects.

  4. Dual Pixel CMOS AF: Enables smooth and accurate autofocus during live view and video recording.

  5. ISO Range of 100-16000 (Expandable to 25600): Allows for shooting in various lighting conditions with minimal noise.

  6. 7 fps Continuous Shooting: Perfect for capturing fast-action shots and sequences.

  7. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC: Enables easy sharing and remote control of the camera using compatible devices.

  8. Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD: Provides flexibility in composing shots from various angles and intuitive menu navigation.

  9. Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps: Delivers high-quality video with smooth motion and sharp detail.

  10. Weather-Sealed Body: Offers durability and protection against dust and moisture, ideal for outdoor shooting.

The Canon 80D is a prosumer model that offers a wealth of features and strikes an excellent balance between performance and cost. It’s robust yet not overly bulky, providing a sturdy feel. Living in a tropical climate, the weather-sealed body is a welcome feature, offering protection against humidity and stormy weather.

The 45-point AF system with all cross points is absolutely fantastic! It enables precise focusing and offers excellent creative control. Additionally, the 3-inch touchscreen makes it easy to adjust settings, especially in varying lighting conditions and environments.

Tip: Reevaluate what you shoot on a regular basis! You’ll see growth in your photography and places where improvements can be made. You’ll begin to notice subtle changes that will change the entirety of a photo. 

Essential Camera Lenses for Food Photography

I’ve fully embraced Macro lenses! There’s a unique quality to their glass, resulting in sharp images and beautiful colors. Not only can you capture stunningly detailed close-up shots, but you can also step back for wider shots with gorgeous bokeh! These lenses add a fun and artistic touch to shooting, and I couldn’t be happier with both of mine.

Though Prime (fixed) lenses don’t offer zoom capabilities per se, you can adjust your framing by moving closer or farther away with your feet or tripod! Using them heightens my awareness of composition and shooting.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens for Food Photography

  1. Wide Aperture: The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens features a wide maximum aperture of f/1.4, allowing for excellent low-light performance and the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field. This is beneficial for food photography, as it enables you to create beautifully blurred backgrounds (bokeh) while keeping your subject in sharp focus.

  2. Versatility: With a 50mm focal length on a full-frame camera, this lens offers a standard field of view, making it suitable for a wide range of food photography styles, from close-up shots of individual dishes to wider shots of table settings or restaurant interiors. When used with a Canon APS-C sensor camera, the 1.6x crop factor effectively increases the focal length to approximately 80mm, providing a more compressed perspective that is ideal for capturing detailed shots of food.

  3. Compact and Lightweight Design: The compact and lightweight design of the lens makes it easy to carry around and handle, perfect for shooting food photography on location or in tight spaces. It’s also less obtrusive when shooting in restaurants or events where discretion is important.

  4. Fast and Quiet Autofocus: The Ultrasonic Motor (USM) ensures fast, accurate, and virtually silent autofocus performance, allowing you to quickly and discreetly capture images without disturbing the ambiance of the scene.

  5. High-Quality Optics: The lens features high-quality optics that deliver sharp, clear images with minimal distortion and aberrations, ensuring that your food photos are crisp and detailed.

  6. Natural Perspective: The 50mm focal length closely matches the perspective of the human eye, resulting in natural-looking images that accurately represent the scale and proportions of food items.

  7. Affordability: Compared to other lenses in its class, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens offers excellent value for money, making it an accessible option for food photographers looking to achieve professional-quality results without breaking the bank.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM (Prime) Lens for Food Photography

  1. Macro Capability: The Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens is specifically designed for macro photography, allowing you to capture intricate details and textures of food with stunning clarity and sharpness.

  2. Versatility: With a focal length equivalent to approximately 96mm on a full-frame camera due to the 1.6x crop factor of Canon APS-C sensors, this lens offers a versatile range for capturing both close-up shots of individual ingredients and wider shots of plated dishes.

  3. Wide Aperture: The maximum aperture of f/2.8 enables you to achieve beautiful background blur (bokeh) while keeping your subject in sharp focus, making it ideal for isolating food subjects and creating visually appealing images.

  4. Fast and Quiet Autofocus: The Ultrasonic Motor (USM) provides fast and precise autofocus, allowing you to quickly lock onto your subject without disturbing the scene, which is essential for capturing fleeting moments in food photography.

  5. Compact and Lightweight Design: The compact and lightweight design of the lens makes it easy to handle and carry, perfect for shooting in various environments and angles without adding unnecessary bulk to your gear setup.

  6. Close Focusing Distance: With a minimum focusing distance of just 7.9 inches (20cm), this lens allows you to get up close to your subject to capture fine details and textures, making it particularly well-suited for small food items like berries or garnishes.

  7. Image Quality: The lens delivers exceptional image quality with minimal distortion and chromatic aberration, ensuring that your food photos are sharp, vibrant, and true to life.

  8. Affordability: Compared to other macro lenses in the Canon lineup, the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens offers excellent value for money, making it an accessible option for food photographers looking to explore the world of macro photography.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens for Food Photography

  1. Macro Capability: The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens is specifically designed for macro photography, allowing you to capture intricate details and textures of food with exceptional clarity and sharpness.

  2. Versatility: With a 100mm focal length on a full-frame camera, this lens offers a longer reach, allowing you to capture close-up shots of individual ingredients or food items while maintaining a comfortable shooting distance. When used with a Canon APS-C sensor camera, the 1.6x crop factor effectively increases the focal length to approximately 160mm, providing even greater magnification for capturing fine details.

  3. Image Stabilization: The built-in Image Stabilization (IS) technology helps minimize camera shake, allowing you to capture sharp images handheld at slower shutter speeds. This is particularly useful for food photography, where precise focus and minimal blur are essential for achieving professional-quality results.

  4. Wide Aperture: The maximum aperture of f/2.8 enables you to achieve beautiful background blur (bokeh) while keeping your subject in sharp focus, making it ideal for isolating food subjects and creating visually appealing images with a shallow depth of field.

  5. High-Quality Optics: The lens features high-quality optics with Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) elements and Super Spectra coatings, which minimize chromatic aberrations and ghosting, ensuring that your food photos are sharp, vibrant, and free from unwanted artifacts.

  6. Weather-Sealed Construction: The lens features a weather-sealed construction, making it resistant to dust and moisture, allowing you to shoot in challenging outdoor or kitchen environments without worry.

  7. Fast and Quiet Autofocus: The Ultrasonic Motor (USM) provides fast, smooth, and virtually silent autofocus performance, allowing you to quickly and accurately focus on your subject without disturbing the scene.

  8. Close Focusing Distance: With a minimum focusing distance of just 11.8 inches (30cm), this lens allows you to get up close to your subject to capture fine details and textures, making it particularly well-suited for small food items or tabletop photography.

  9. L-Series Build Quality: As part of Canon’s prestigious L-series lineup, the lens boasts a durable and robust build quality, ensuring long-lasting performance and reliability in professional shooting environments.

SIGMA Art 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens (for Canon EF mount) for Food Photography

  1. Wide Aperture: The SIGMA Art 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens features a wide maximum aperture of f/1.4, allowing for excellent low-light performance and the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field. This is beneficial for food photography, as it enables you to create beautifully blurred backgrounds (bokeh) while keeping your subject in sharp focus.

  2. Versatility: With a 35mm focal length on a full-frame camera, this lens offers a standard field of view, making it suitable for a wide range of food photography styles, from close-up shots of individual dishes to wider shots of table settings or restaurant interiors. When used with a Canon APS-C sensor camera, the 1.6x crop factor effectively increases the focal length to approximately 56mm, providing a versatile perspective for capturing food scenes.

  3. High-Quality Optics: The lens features high-quality optics with Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and aspherical elements, which minimize chromatic aberrations and distortion, ensuring that your food photos are sharp, vibrant, and free from unwanted artifacts.

  4. Art Series Quality: As part of SIGMA’s prestigious Art series lineup, the lens boasts exceptional optical performance and build quality, making it well-suited for professional-grade food photography applications.

  5. Fast and Quiet Autofocus: The Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) provides fast, smooth, and virtually silent autofocus performance, allowing you to quickly and accurately focus on your subject without disturbing the scene.

  6. Weather-Sealed Construction: The lens features a weather-sealed construction, making it resistant to dust and moisture, allowing you to shoot in challenging outdoor or kitchen environments without worry.

  7. Compact and Lightweight Design: Despite its wide aperture and high-quality construction, the lens remains relatively compact and lightweight, making it easy to handle and carry around for extended shooting sessions.

  8. Excellent Price-to-Performance Ratio: The SIGMA Art 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens offers exceptional value for money, providing professional-level performance at a more affordable price point compared to similar lenses from other manufacturers.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telefoto Zoom Lens for Food Photography

  1. Versatility: The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens offers a versatile focal length range, allowing you to capture a wide variety of food subjects, from close-up shots of individual dishes to wider shots of table settings or restaurant interiors.

  2. Wide Aperture: With a maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, this lens excels in low-light conditions and provides excellent background blur (bokeh), making your food subjects stand out against a beautifully blurred background.

  3. Image Stabilization: The built-in Image Stabilization (IS) technology helps minimize camera shake, allowing you to capture sharp images handheld at slower shutter speeds. This is particularly useful for food photography, where precise focus and minimal blur are essential for achieving professional-quality results.

  4. High-Quality Optics: The lens features high-quality optics with Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) elements and Super Spectra coatings, which minimize chromatic aberrations and ghosting, ensuring that your food photos are sharp, vibrant, and free from unwanted artifacts.

  5. Telephoto Reach: With a telephoto zoom range of 70-200mm on a full-frame camera, this lens allows you to capture distant food subjects with ease, providing a compressed perspective that emphasizes the details and textures of your dishes.

  6. Fast and Quiet Autofocus: The Ultrasonic Motor (USM) provides fast, smooth, and virtually silent autofocus performance, allowing you to quickly and accurately focus on your subject without disturbing the scene.

  7. Weather-Sealed Construction: The lens features a weather-sealed construction, making it resistant to dust and moisture, allowing you to shoot in challenging outdoor or kitchen environments without worry.

  8. L-Series Build Quality: As part of Canon’s prestigious L-series lineup, the lens boasts a durable and robust build quality, ensuring long-lasting performance and reliability in professional shooting environments.

  9. Crop Factor: When used with a Canon APS-C sensor camera, the 1.6x crop factor effectively increases the focal length to approximately 112-320mm, providing even greater reach for capturing distant food subjects or achieving a more compressed perspective.

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Macro (Prime) Lens for Food Photography

  1. Macro Capability: The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Macro lens is designed specifically for macro photography, allowing you to capture intricate details and textures of food with exceptional clarity and sharpness.

  2. Versatility: With a 24mm focal length on a Canon APS-C sensor camera, this lens offers a wide-angle perspective, making it suitable for capturing both close-up shots of individual dishes and wider shots of table settings or restaurant interiors. The 1.6x crop factor effectively increases the focal length to approximately 38mm, providing a versatile range for food photography.

  3. Wide Aperture: The maximum aperture of f/2.8 enables you to achieve beautiful background blur (bokeh) while keeping your subject in sharp focus, making it ideal for isolating food subjects and creating visually appealing images with a shallow depth of field.

  4. Compact and Lightweight Design: The lens features a compact and lightweight design, making it easy to handle and carry around, perfect for shooting food photography on location or in tight spaces.

  5. Quiet Autofocus: The STM (Stepping Motor) autofocus system provides smooth and virtually silent autofocus performance, allowing you to quickly and accurately focus on your subject without disturbing the scene.

  6. Close Focusing Distance: With a minimum focusing distance of just 0.16m (0.52 ft.), this lens allows you to get up close to your subject to capture fine details and textures, making it particularly well-suited for small food items or tabletop photography.

  7. High-Quality Optics: The lens features high-quality optics that deliver sharp, clear images with minimal distortion and aberrations, ensuring that your food photos are crisp and detailed.

  8. Affordability: Compared to other macro lenses in its class, the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Macro lens offers excellent value for money, making it an accessible option for food photographers looking to explore the world of macro photography.

 

Budget-Friendly Tips for Buying Camera Equipment

  1. Start with Essentials: Begin by investing in essential equipment such as a camera body, lens, and tripod. Focus on building a solid foundation before considering additional accessories.

  2. Research and Comparison: Take the time to research different camera models, lenses, and accessories within your budget. Compare prices, features, and reviews to make informed decisions.

  3. Consider Used Gear: Explore the option of purchasing used or refurbished equipment to save money. Online marketplaces, camera stores, and classified ads can be great sources for finding quality gear at discounted prices.

  4. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity: Instead of buying a large quantity of cheap equipment, prioritize quality over quantity. Invest in fewer, but higher-quality, items that will last longer and provide better results in the long run.

  5. Look for Deals and Discounts: Keep an eye out for deals, discounts, and promotions offered by camera stores, online retailers, and manufacturers. Sign up for newsletters or follow social media pages to stay informed about sales and special offers.

  6. Consider Alternative Brands: Explore alternative brands and third-party manufacturers that offer quality equipment at lower prices compared to major camera brands. Be sure to read reviews and research compatibility with your existing gear.

  7. Start with Entry-Level Gear: Consider starting with entry-level camera bodies and lenses that offer good performance at a lower price point. You can always upgrade to more advanced equipment as your skills and budget grow.

  8. Rent Equipment: If you only need specific equipment for a short period or want to try out different gear before making a purchase, consider renting from camera rental shops or online platforms. This allows you to access high-quality equipment without the upfront cost of buying.

  9. DIY Solutions: Explore DIY solutions and inexpensive alternatives for accessories such as lighting modifiers, backgrounds, and props. Get creative with household items or affordable materials to achieve professional-looking results on a budget.

  10. Plan for Future Upgrades: Invest in equipment that can be easily upgraded or expanded upon in the future. Choose interchangeable lens systems and camera bodies with compatibility with a wide range of accessories to accommodate future needs and upgrades.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that gear does not make a photographer. Invest what you can and work with what you have if you can’t invest right now. Shoot with your phone if you’re just starting out, and can’t invest. Equipment does not make a good or great photographer, shooting does. 

Devote as much time to practice as you can manage. Personally, I aim for 4-8 setups each week, but it varies. I also fully immerse myself in the world of food photography. Spend at least 15 minutes daily exploring Pinterest, Instagram, or any other inspiring websites to refine your skills and gather fresh ideas.

Where to Purchase Camera Gear for Food Photography: Tips for Buying Secondhand

There are a lot of options here obviously, from Amazon to camera retailers like B&H which are reputable dealers and  have warranties. But, keeping an eye on eBay for that special lens at a great price can be a serious reward! Just make sure that you’re buying from a verified seller with great feedback! 

  1. Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace offer a wide selection of new and used camera gear. Be sure to carefully review seller ratings, descriptions, and photos before making a purchase.

  2. Camera Stores: Local camera stores often carry both new and used equipment. Visit stores in your area to browse their selection and speak with knowledgeable staff who can offer advice and assistance.

  3. Online Retailers: Websites such as Amazon, B&H Photo Video, and Adorama offer a vast array of new and refurbished camera gear at competitive prices. Look for deals, discounts, and bundle offers to maximize your savings.

  4. Camera Rental Shops: Consider renting camera gear from rental shops or online platforms like Lensrentals or BorrowLenses. Renting allows you to try out equipment before buying and access high-quality gear for specific projects without the long-term commitment.

  5. Camera Expos and Events: Attend camera expos, trade shows, and photography events where vendors often sell new and used equipment at discounted prices. These events also provide opportunities to network with other photographers and learn about the latest gear trends.

  6. Photography Forums and Communities: Join online photography forums and communities where members buy, sell, and trade camera gear. Websites like FredMiranda, Photography-on-the.net, and Reddit’s r/photomarket are popular platforms for buying and selling used equipment.

Points to Watch For:

  • Condition: Carefully inspect the condition of the equipment, looking for signs of wear, damage, or malfunction. Ask the seller for detailed photos and descriptions to ensure transparency.

  • Seller Reputation: Check the seller’s reputation and feedback ratings, especially when buying from online marketplaces or forums. Look for sellers with positive reviews and a history of reliable transactions.

  • Return Policy: Verify the seller’s return policy and warranty coverage before making a purchase. Ensure that you have recourse in case the equipment does not meet your expectations or needs.

  • Price Comparison: Compare prices across multiple sources to ensure that you are getting a fair deal. Consider factors such as the condition, age, and accessories included with the equipment when evaluating pricing.

  • Compatibility: Confirm that the camera gear is compatible with your existing equipment and meets your specific requirements for food photography. Check for compatibility with your camera body, lens mount, and any accessories you plan to use.

  • Authentication: When purchasing high-value items or rare collectibles, verify the authenticity and provenance of the equipment to avoid scams or counterfeit products. Request documentation, certificates of authenticity, or proof of purchase when necessary.

Considering building your own website in WordPress? Be sure to check out Lightroom Basics for Food Photographers, covering importing and the main editing features in this powerful program. And, if your confused about WordPress platforms and which one you should choose read Understanding WordPress for help with clarification. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

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    1. I’m currently shopping for a new camera, this post has really been helpful. Thanks, Catherine

      1. So glad that our post has been helpful for you, Catherine 🙂 Be sure to let us know what you choose!

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