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I’m a professional food photographer who turned my weekend hobby into a career-changing business. I’m also a cat lover, a motorcycle rider and don’t think bay leaves serve any purpose whatsoever.

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Best Camera For Food Photography

Spoiler alert, my friends… there isn’t a best camera for food photography. But, figuring out what camera to buy (or upgrade to) is definitely a popular topic of discussion. I’m a photographer who invests in fancy lenses rather than the fanciest camera body. However, there are definitely some features to consider before buying a camera for food photography.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the affiliate disclosure.

My Current Gear for Food Photography

Best Camera For Food Photography

There are so many great cameras on the market and the technology is constantly changing and improving. It can definitely be hard to keep up and know what to choose. Even I struggle with this! My advise is to figure out what you need your camera to do for you and your images and of course, be mindful of your budget.

How To Choose A Camera For Food Photography

When choosing a camera, the features are pretty standard across all brands and models. So, let’s look at some common features to consider when choosing a camera for food photography.

1. IMAGE SENSOR SIZE

DSLR’s have image sensors that are either cropped or full frame. Keep in mind that if you choose a cropped sensor or full frame camera, this will affect the type of lenses you shoot with as well.

A cropped sensor will crop the size of the image. A full frame camera will give you the full frame of the image. A lot of beginner and intermediate DSLR’s will have cropped sensors. They’re lightweight and more affordable. Full frame DSLR’s have more advanced featured, tend to be heavier and are more expensive.

Camera brands have different ways of labeling a cropped sensor vs. a full frame camera. For example, Nikon’s cropped sensor cameras are labeled DX, whereas Nikon’s full frame sensor cameras are labeled FX. Canon’s cropped sensor cameras are EF-S, whereas Canon’s full frame cameras are labeled EF. So, be sure to ask which is which depending on the brand you consider buying.

I started with Nikon DX cameras and later upgraded to Nikon FX cameras for my food photography. As a professional photographer, I prefer FX lenses over DX lenses. Because of this, upgrading to full frame cameras made the most sense for me to produce higher quality images for my clients.

2. MEGAPIXELS

You don’t necessarily need a camera with the highest megapixels, but because this is a popular feature that camera companies love to promote, I want to talk about it.

The more megapixels, the better the image quality, right? This is technically true, but the real question to ask yourself is what will you be doing with your images?

If you are going to be posting images to the web (like on your website or blog), megapixels shouldn’t be a deciding factor when buying a camera. Web images are a low resolution of 72dpi, so you won’t see a difference if you use a camera with 23 megapixels vs. 45 megapixels.

If you are printing your images, the resolution will be higher and set at 300dpi for a nice clear image. So, how does this translate to megapixels?

If you are printing an image that’s 8×10 at 300dpi, that would mean that your camera would need to have at least 8 megapixels to print the image clearly. Most DSLR cameras have at least 24 megapixels now, which is well within a clear print range. So, unless you’re planning to do a lot of large-format printing, you probably don’t need a camera with the most megapixels.

3. AF FOCAL POINTS

The number of auto focus points a camera offers is good to know, because the more options you have, the more flexibility you have with different compositions. Food isn’t always centered in the middle of the image. Sometimes the composition requires the food to be positioned in the bottom right of the image and you’ll want to able to select the focal point in the area you want.

4. ABILITY TO SHOOT RAW

You’ll want to be sure that your DSLR can shoot RAW images. Most DSLR cameras will allow you to shoot RAW, which will be an option that you select in the camera’s menu settings.

RAW means you get all of the information from the image you captured which allows for full editing capabilities.

JPG is a compressed format of your image which means, you won’t get all the information for the image you captured and won’t have a full range of editing capabilities.

5. ISO

A lot of camera companies will talk about the ISO range on their cameras. ISO is your camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO will give you more light sensitivity and potentially more noise in your image. A lower the ISO will give you less light sensitivity and less noise.

Noise is a grainy effect caused from using a high ISO setting. Each camera starts showing noise at different ISO settings. For example, the Nikon D750 doesn’t show noise until the ISO is around 8000. Whereas with the Nikon D7100, the ISO started showing noise at 2000. It really depends on how advanced your camera model is.

With food photography the lower the ISO, the better, so should ISO even be something to consider?

Whether or not higher ISO capabilities will matter for your food photography really depends on how you are shooting your images. If you are holding your camera and shooting in a low light environment, a higher ISO capability is something to consider. If you use a tripod, shoot with artificial lights or have a lot of natural light to work with, a higher ISO capability may not be as important.

6. FRAMES PER SECOND

Food photography isn’t just about shooting motionless food on a plate. Sometimes I’m trying to capture movement like a splash or a gooey egg yolk drip. When trying to capture movement, photographers will often use Continuous Mode on their camera. This mode allows you take several shots with one click. The frames per second is what you want to look for when shooting in Continuous mode. The more shots you can get per second, the better your chances are to capture a delicious-looking movement shot.

7. ABILITY TO SHOOT TETHERED

As a food photographer, I am shooting tethered a lot for my clients. This means that my camera is hooked up to my computer so we can see the images on a larger screen. Being able to shoot tethered and see the image larger helps me catch issues that could easily be missed and gets us to the final image faster.

8. DUAL MEMORY CARD SLOTS

If I’m not shooting tethered, I have more peace of mind when I can have two memory cards in my camera. This allows me to either use one card as overflow if I run out of room on the other OR I can use the second card as a backup.

raspberry cocktail

Nikon Cameras

All brands are great to consider, but since I’m a Nikon shooter, I’m going to share a few of the Nikon cameras I’ve owned and rented over the years. If you’re on the fence about what camera to buy, I highly recommend renting your camera first to see how you like using it.

Lensrentals.com is a fabulous resource for photography gear because they aren’t brand specific and have a large variety of cameras, lenses, lighting, etc. to rent before you make the bigger purchase. I also use them when I’m not looking to buy, but need something special to rent for a client shoot.

NIKON D750

I currently own the Nikon D750, so I’ll give a more in depth review of this great camera. I was originally deciding between the Nikon D750 and the Nikon D810. I rented both of these cameras before I made my decision. After testing them both out, I didn’t see a difference in my images. While there were several factors I considered, price was the deciding factor for me at the time.

Nikon D750: The Pros

1) FULL FRAME (FX)

A full frame camera (FX) is a must-have for me as opposed to a cropped sensor camera (DX). As a professional food photographer, I shoot with a variety of amazing FX lenses and I don’t want any cropping or vignetting to occur with any of my images.

2) ISO CAPABILITIES

A lot of food photographers will tell you that ISO capabilities aren’t important in food photography, but like I mentioned earlier, it really depends on how you’re shooting.

When I was first starting out, I was shooting with a lot more restaurants and depended on natural light. Some restaurants had awesome natural light pouring in, but a lot of others didn’t. Since I wasn’t using a tripod or artificial lighting at the time, I wanted a camera that could handle a higher ISO setting without adding too much “noise” to my images.

The D750 allowed me to use an ISO of 8000 before seeing any noise in my images, which at the time was a big selling point for me.

Now I shoot with artificial lights and often use a tripod, so I don’t consider ISO capabilities like I used to. But, if you’re a photographer who is holding your camera and working in unpredictable lighting situations, high ISO capabilities are definitely something to consider.

Related Post: My Current Gear for Food Photography

3) DUAL MEMORY CARD SLOTS

Dual card slots means you are able to use two SD memory cards in your camera at the same time. I HIGHLY recommend having this feature on your camera to ensure the safety of your images when you’re not shooting tethered (when your camera is connected to your computer). This just ensures that if one memory card goes cray cray, your images are safely backed up on the second memory card. You can also use the second memory card slot for overflow if you’re planning to shoot A LOT of images.

5) BUDGET FRIENDLY

Although FX cameras are more expensive than DX cameras, the D750 was on the lower end of expensive in comparison to other FX cameras I was considering. Like I mentioned earlier, I was also considering the Nikon D810 before I purchased the Nikon D750. I rented both cameras from lensrentals.com to test them out and didn’t see any major differences with my images. Budget ended up being the deciding factor for me at the time, which allowed me to invest in some badass FX lenses.

Nikon D750: The Cons

1) MEGAPIXELS

I have a hard time saying anything bad about this camera. However, when I’ve been on commercial shoots, I don’t usually use my D750. The main reason is because a lot of commercial food photography jobs that I shoot will want to use the images for large format printing. The D750 has 24.3 megapixels, which is really good, but isn’t enough for the larger format printing that some of my clients want to do.

When considering large format printing, you need to look at the megapixels of the camera. So, let’s talk about what this means.

When you are shooting images for print, the resolution will need to be set to at least 300dpi in post for clarity. So, how does this translate to megapixels?

If you are printing an image that’s 8×10 at 300dpi, that would mean that your camera would need to have at least 8 megapixels to print this image clearly. Most DSLR cameras have at least 24 megapixels now, which is well within a clear print range. So, do you really need a camera that has 45 megapixels vs. 24 megapixels? It really depends on how big you want to print the images afterwards. If you’re just using your images for digital use or printing smaller sized prints, you don’t need the extra megapixels.

Nikon d750 camera body

Nikon D750: The Specs

  • Cost: $1,500
  • Image Sensor Format: FX
  • Megapixels: 24.3
  • Sensor Size: 35.9mm x 24mm
  • ISO: 100 – 12,800 (Lo 50 & Hi1 – 25,600 & Hi2 – 51,200)
  • AF Focal Points: 51
  • FPS: 6.5 Frames per Second
  • Video: Full HD: 24-60 fps / HD: 1280 x 720 50 & 60 fps
  • Built-in WiFi

NIKON D850

The D850 is an awesome FX camera that I rent for a variety of commercial client projects. I rent this camera when my clients need large-format printing capabilities for the images. My D750 will produce beautiful prints, but can’t do large-scale printing. The D850 has 45.7 megapixels, which is wonderful for my clients needs. It’s also a little larger and heavier than my D750, but still handles really well.

One issue I had with this camera was that it defaults to standard image size settings if you try to replace the battery while the camera is still on. You must turn the camera off before switching the batteries in order to avoid the camera going back to its default image size settings. Live and learn, but I thought that seemed a little quirky.

nikon-d850

NIKON D850: The Specs

  • Cost: $2,999
  • Image Sensor Format: FX (Full Frame)
  • Sensor Size: 35.9mm x 23.9mm
  • Megapixels: 45.7
  • ISO: 64 – 25,600
  • AF Focal Points: 153
  • FPS: 7 Frames per Second
  • Video: 4k, Full HD, HD, Slow Motion
  • Built-in WiFi

NIKON Df 

I have rented this camera a few times, because I like playing with the old school dials and I dig the aesthetics. It’s a pretty controversial full frame camera on the market, though. This camera is almost as expensive as the D850, but doesn’t offer nearly the same features.

For example, it doesn’t have any video capabilities and video is pretty common in most DSLR’s. It only has one memory card slot, which is risky if you’re not shooting tethered. It only has 39 AF focal points which is what the beginner-level DSLR’s offer. While Df definitely looks cool and the dials are fun to play with, I am not really sure what I’d be paying for with this camera.

nikon-df

NIKON Df: The Specs

  • Cost: $2,749
  • Image Sensor Format: FX (Full Frame)
  • Sensor Size: 36mm x 23.9mm
  • Megapixels: 16.2
  • ISO: 100 – 12,800 (Lo 50 & Hi1 Boost – 204,800)
  • AF Focal Points: 39
  • FPS: 5.5 Frames per Second

NIKON D7100 (Cropped Sensor/DX)

This is the last DX camera that I bought before officially upgrading to full frame cameras. I was ready to upgrade from my beginner-level DSLR, but the FX cameras were still out of my price range at the time. The functionality isn’t much different in comparison to my first camera, but the features become more advanced as you upgrade camera models. The D7100 was a really fun step up from my first camera.

nikon-d7100

NIKON D7100: The Specs

  • Cost: $900
  • Image Sensor Format: DX (Cropped Sensor)
  • Sensor Size: 23.5mm x 15.6mm
  • Megapixels: 24.1
  • ISO: 100 – 6,400 (Hi1 – 12,800 / Hi2 – 25,600)
  • AF Focal Points: 51
  • FPS: 6 Frames per Second
  • Video: Full HD, HD

NIKON D5500 (Cropped Sensor/DX)

My first DSLR was the Nikon D3100, but they don’t make that camera model anymore. The Nikon D5500 is comparable to the D3100 and is a great starter camera if you’re new to photography.

It’s affordable and easy to use so you can master shooting in Manual mode. After I learned how to shoot in Manual mode, I had a big breakthrough with my photography. I started seeing the limitations of the beginner-model features, which helped me know what to look for in my next camera to make a bigger investment worth it.

nikon-d5500

NIKON D5500: The Specs

  • Cost: $700
  • Image Sensor Format: DX (Cropped Sensor)
  • Sensor Size: 23.5mm x 15.6mm
  • Megapixels: 24.2
  • ISO: 100 – 25,600
  • AF Focal Points: 39
  • FPS: 5 Frames per Second
  • Video: Full HD, HD, VGA

Related Post: My Favorite Lenses for Food Photography

I hope this post has helped you learn a little more about different camera features and what to look for when choosing a camera. Remember, there are a lot of great brands and models out there. I started with Nikon and stuck with it, because I really liked the brand. But, all the brands are awesome. Good luck in your search and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Shooting!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support. 

All images ©Regan Baroni 2020.

comments +

  1. Bailey Hill says:

    Hi Regan!

    Are you able to share what you used set up and gear wise for the photos on this post?

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Food Photography

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Gear Recos

Dark & Moody Food Photography Tips

03

My Overhead Setup for Food Photography

02

How To Improve Your Photography Website

01

Popular POSTS

I’m a professional food photographer who turned my weekend hobby into a career-changing business. I’m also a cat lover, a motorcycle rider and truly don’t think bay leaves serve any purpose whatsoever.

Hey, I'm Regan.

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Regan Baroni Photography, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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