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.
As often said, taking good photos requires the right arsenal. Hence, the best lens for food photography is a must. 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, here is a guide to help you find the best lens for food photography.
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 5 Best Lens for Food Photography
1. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
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.
- Outstanding image quality
- Sharp images without stabilization
- Shallow depth of field
- Ideal for macro shots
- Primarily useful with manual focus
- Buzz when IS turns off
2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR has upgraded features that will make capturing photos convenient and fun, even in low-light conditions. 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. Hence, it takes the second place in this list of the best lens for food photography.
- Great for low-light conditions
- Provides the “bokeh” effect
- Has no edge artifacts
- Bright and vivid images
- Challenging to attach
- Autofocus takes a while
Read also: Nikon vs Canon Comparison
3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
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 to put it in the third place for the best lens for food photography. 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.
- Good color and contrast
- Silent focusing for videos
- Impressive focal length
- Fast aperture
- Soft edges
- Poorly functioning autofocus
4. Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens
The Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens is a fantastic option for up-close shots of your food. You’ll fall in love with some of its features, making it ideal for macro shots as well as general shots. There are a couple of added conveniences as well that make this model a fantastic choice.
One of the most impressive features of this lens is its silent ultrasonic monitor. When autofocusing, you’ll find the lens makes significantly less noise than other Canon lenses.
Also, the ring-type monitor is perfect for robust focusing, allowing you to capture more delicate details of small objects. The closest focusing distance for this lens is 0.65 feet with a focal length of 60mm.
When it comes to capturing the finer details of your favorite dessert or breakfast, your job will be simpler. Also, when paired with the USM autofocusing, capturing the perfect shot is significantly faster than expected.
Compared to other lenses, this model features a 25-degree angle of view, helping you compose the perfect photo. You’ll find that it’s equivalent to a 96mm lens if you use a 35mm camera. Also, the general size of the lens makes it ideal for several SLR cameras, as it’s 2.9” by 2.8”.
One of the most important things you need to consider when purchasing lenses is ensuring they fit your camera. This lens is recommended for EOS digital SLR cameras and offers an impressive f/2.8 maximum aperture.
If you’re in the market for a 60mm macro lens, this is one of the best models to consider.
- Incredibly sharp
- 1:1 magnification ratio
- Features a wide aperture
- Quiet autofocusing
- Helpful only for crop cameras
- Minimum focus is too tight
5. Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Black) Lens
The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Black) Lens is a fabulous telephoto lens for many occasions. It has plenty of unique features that make it a fantastic combination with your existing DSLR. Whether you’re shooting portraits, sporting events, or up-close shots, it’s bound to offer many uses.
The versatility of the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Black) Lens is one of its best features. You’ll find it captures clear and crisp photos across a spectrum of events, making it one of the more versatile choices. It features a 150mm equivalent field of view, which is remarkable for wide and up-close shots.
When it comes to lighting, you can guarantee this model is designed to help offer vivid images in low light. It boasts an f/1.8 aperture, which increases shutter speeds so you can capture impressive quality without artificial lighting. You’ll find it’s instrumental when shooting indoors.
The all-metal construction of the lens helps add to its build quality while making it appear luxurious. However, as it’s metal, it’s also slightly heavier than you might expect, which is something to consider. The clarity of the lens more than makes up for its weight, offering impeccable details with ease.
Like many other Olympus lenses, this model features the Zuiko Extra-Low Reflection Optical lens coating. This coating is designed to protect the integrity of your lens while maintaining its clarity over the years. As an added benefit, it’s designed with an all-metal lens hood, allowing you to maximize how you use light.
- Professional-quality pictures
- Fast-focusing in all lighting
- Stunning image quality
- Minimal design
- Noisy autofocusing
- Works best with manual focus
1. What Is a Good Lens for Food Photography?
When you’re shopping for the ideal lens for food photography, there are several features to consider. You’ll want to choose a lens that features a high-quality sensor, which helps determine your photos’ framing. It’s also imperative you choose between a zoom or prime lens, depending on how close you want your shots to be.
2. Do You Need a Macro Lens for Food Photography?
It’s important to note that you don’t need a macro lens for food photography, but it can be beneficial. Macro lenses allow you to zoom significantly closer into the subject, capturing its finer details. When it comes to food, it can help you showcase the decadence of your meal with ease.
3. What mm Lens for Food Photography?
With food photography, there are a few different mm lenses that you’ll want to consider. A couple of recommendations include:
- 50mm Prime Lens: Ideal for overhead shots
- 80 To 100mm Prime Lens: Great for extreme closeups and blurred backgrounds