I’m a photographer who knows that you don’t need the most expensive equipment to capture beautiful images. But, with good lenses, it can be pretty much impossible to avoid the expense. This posts shares my favorite lenses for food photography.
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My Favorite Lenses for Food Photography
First, there are two very popular questions that come up when it comes to learning about lenses that I want to clear up first.
1. WHAT DO THE LENS NUMBERS MEAN?
The lens numbers tell you the focal length and the maximum (widest) aperture you can get at that focal length.
Here are a couple of examples:
- This is a prime lens.
- 50mm is your fixed focal length.
- 1.8 is your maximum (widest) aperture.
18-55mm 3.5 – 5.6
- This is a zoom lens.
- The 18-55mm is the range of focal lengths it offers.
- 3.5 is the maximum (widest) aperture you’ll get at 18mm.
- 5.6 is the maximum (widest) aperture you’ll get when you zoom in to 55mm.
2. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ZOOM AND A PRIME LENS?
A zoom lens is a focal length that you can adjust. You can rotate the lens to get closer or further away from your subject.
A prime lens is a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in and out. You have to physically move closer or further away from your subject.
Now, let’s dive into some of my favorite lenses for food photography!
Food Photography Lenses
This lens is also known as the “nifty fifty” and is a total steal for the price. In fact, this was my first lens that I purchased to replace the kit lens that came with my first DSLR.
It’s a lightweight, prime lens which makes it incredibly versatile for different types of food shots from overhead setups to angled and straight on. In addition, the low aperture of 1.8 works really well for low light situations. I still have this lens in my lineup and it’s the first one I recommend to newer photographers who are looking for a good (affordable) lens.
The image of the arborio rice below was shot with the 50mm 1.8.
Cost: Under $200
This is a beautiful prime lens and it works beautifully for the type of food shoots that I’m constantly working on. The low aperture is great for low light situations such as shooting in darker restaurants.
The only thing to note about this lens is that it’s almost considered a wide angle lens and there could be slight “wide angle distortion” around the edges of your image. I haven’t noticed it much at all, but pay attention to this if you’re shooting an overhead table scape or flat lay with this lens.
I highly recommend it, because of how versatile it is and the quality is OH-SO-SHARP. For me, it was worth every penny.
The image of rosé in crystal glasses below was shot with the 35mm 1.4.
SIGNMA ART VERSIONS
I use this macro lens A LOT. This prime, macro lens lets me get up close to those delicious gooey details with incredible sharpness. I definitely recommend this lens to food photographers who want to capture the type of images that make people feel like they can taste the food.
The image of the tomato tart below was shot with the 105mm 2.8.
SIGMA ART VERSIONS
This lens may come as a surprise in my lineup, but I don’t shoot on location without it. It’s an ultra wide angle, zoom lens that has a nice range of wide-angle focal lengths. So, as a food photographer, why would I use this lens?
If I’m shooting at a restaurant or with a hospitality client, they always want interior, exterior and landscape images. So, while I don’t use this lens to shoot food, I use it to capture those beautiful ‘scenic’ shots for my clients.
The images of the restaurant interiors below were shot with the 14-24mm 2.8.
SIGMA ART VERSIONS
I love this lens. I call it my convenient lens, because the zoom allows me to adjust the focal length without having to move my camera or setup. It’s a gorgeous zoom lens that ranges from wide angle to closer telephoto shots. It is on the heavier side, but it’s extremely versatile whether you’re shooting food, people, interiors, exteriors or landscapes.
The images of the kitchen and mixologist below were shot with the 24-70mm 2.8.
Related Post: The Best Camera for Food Photography
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All images ©Regan Baroni 2020.