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The Best Camera For Food Photography

Spoiler alert, friends… there isn’t a best camera for food photography. But, this is a very popular question and there are 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

The Best Camera For Food Photography

There are so many great cameras on the market and the technology is constantly changing and improving. It can be really hard to keep up with it all. My advice is to figure out what you need your camera to do and be mindful of your budget… photography equipment adds up really fast.

How To Choose A Camera For Food Photography

When figuring out which camera to buy, 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 in particular.

1. SENSOR SIZE

If you’re considering a DSLR, you’ll have a choice of a cropped sensor or a full frame. This decision will also affect the types of lenses you’ll want to buy too.

CROPPED SENSOR VS. FULL FRAME

A cropped sensor, in a nutshell, will crop the size of the image. A full frame camera will give you the full frame of the image. The beginner and intermediate-level DSLR’s will have cropped sensors. They’re lighter in weight and are more affordable. Full frame DSLR’s are heavier, have more advanced features 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 and Nikon’s full frame sensor cameras are labeled FX. Canon’s cropped sensor cameras are labeled EF-S, whereas Canon’s full frame cameras are labeled EF. Be sure to ask which is which depending on the brand you consider buying.

2. MEGAPIXELS

You don’t necessarily need a camera with the highest megapixels, because a lot of DSLR’s will come with enough megapixels. But, this is a popular feature that camera companies love to promote, so let’s talk about it a little more.

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?

Are you posting your images online to a blog or social media? Or, are you printing your images?

If you are going to be posting images to the web, megapixels don’t need to be a deciding factor when buying a camera. Web images are a low resolution (72dpi), so you won’t see a difference in your images if you use a camera with 23 megapixels vs. a camera with 45 megapixels.

If you are printing your images, the image resolution will at least 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 larger-format printing, you probably don’t need a camera with the highest number of megapixels.

3. FOCUS POINTS

The number of focus points a camera offers is important to know, because the more options you have, the more flexibility you have with different different focal points and 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 or left of the image and you’ll want the flexibility to move your focal point easily. The more focal points, the more flexibility you’ll have.

4. ABILITY TO SHOOT RAW

You’ll want to be sure that your DSLR can shoot RAW images. Most cameras (including your iPhone) will allow you to shoot raw images now.

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

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 the 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 in your images caused from using a high ISO setting. Each camera starts showing noise at different ISO settings. The more advanced the camera, the higher you can go with your ISO without seeing noise.

For example, the Nikon D750 doesn’t show noise in the image until the ISO is around 8000. Whereas with the Nikon D7100, the ISO started showing noise at around 2000.

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 shoot in a lower light environments (like restaurants), a higher ISO capability is definitely 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 you will want to capture movement like a splash or a pour. When trying to capture movement, photographers will try using Continuous Mode on their camera. This mode allows you take several shots with one click, similar to “burst mode” with your iPhone.

The frames per second is important when you shoot in Continuous mode. The more shots you can get per second, the better your chances are to capture that perfect moment in the movement of the splash or pour.

7. ABILITY TO SHOOT TETHERED

As a food photographer, I shoot tethered a lot for my client projects. Tethered means that my camera is hooked up to my computer so I can see the images on a larger screen as I shoot. Being able to see the images on my large computer screen helps me correct any issues with the image much easier and quicker. It’s very easy to miss details when reviewing images on the small LCD screen on the back of your camera.

8. DUAL MEMORY CARD SLOTS

When I’m not shooting tethered, I have more peace of mind when I can have two memory cards in my camera. I always use the second card as a backup just in case the other card goes a little cray cray.

raspberry cocktail

Lensrentals.com

I totally understand that purchasing a camera is a big deal. If you’re really unsure about what camera to buy or are stuck between two options, I highly recommend renting first! It’s a great option to ensure you’re comfortable with the investment.

Lensrentals.com is a fabulous resource for renting photography gear, lighting and accessories. I actually use them when I’m not necessarily looking to buy, but when I need something specific for a client project. It’s super convenient, so it’s something to consider.

Lensrentals logo

Nikon Cameras

I’m a Nikon shooter, so I wanted to share a few of the Nikon cameras that I have owned and rented over the years. All brands are pretty awesome, though, so if Nikon isn’t your focus, it’s A-OK.

NIKON D750

I currently own the Nikon D750. 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 including:

1) IMAGE SENSOR/FULL FRAME (FX)

I wanted a full frame camera (FX). 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 from a cropped sensor camera (DX).

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 bought this camera, I was shooting with a lot more restaurants and used 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 quite yet, I wanted a camera that could handle a higher ISO setting without adding too much “noise” to my images. This is why ISO was important to me back then.

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

This feature is important to me when I’m not shooting tethered. It ensures that my images are safely backed up on not one, but two memory cards.

4) 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 extra fancy FX lenses.

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 Nikon 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. My D750 will produce beautiful prints, but can’t produce images for large-scale printing with only 24.3 megapixels. The D850 has 45.7 megapixels, which is wonderful for my clients needs.

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 the old school aesthetic and dials. But, this is a pretty controversial full frame camera on the market and I can definitely see why. This camera is almost as expensive as the D850, but doesn’t offer nearly the same awesome features.

It doesn’t have any video capabilities and video is pretty common in most DSLR’s today. It only has one memory card slot, which is risky when you’re not shooting tethered. It only has 39 AF focal points which is what the beginner-level DSLR’s offer at 1/3 of the price. But, it sure does look cool. 😉 Buuuuut, I can’t justify the price of this camera for what it doesn’t offer.

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 and didn’t break the bank.

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 practice 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.

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 or reach out.

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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Gear Recos

Dark & Moody Food Photography Tips

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02

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01

Popular POSTS

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

Hey, I'm Regan.

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