You know the thing about the chefs and their great knives, the same thing goes for the photographer and its camera and lenses. For photographing food you will need a good camera overall and a good lens to go along with it which is also extremely important in my opinion. We all know that you will get the best photographs with a $6000 camera, but not everyone can justify investing that amount of money for that purpose.
I have read that some food photographers suggest cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II or the Nikon D5, which are excellent cameras for every purpose. But not every restaurant owner wants that, or someone that is running web services for local food joints or even a photographer that doesn’t have an unlimited budget. For that reason, I have decided to write the complete guide to getting the best camera for food photography.
First off we will take a look at the best options in the market, options that fit in different price ranges, and different skill levels, so everyone can find a camera for food photography for themselves. Besides that, we will check things that make a camera better than the other options for food photography, by discussing the features and qualities. I hope that you get as much information as you can and find yourself the best camera you need. Without further ado, let’s get a closer look.
The Top 5 Best Cameras For Food Photography
5. Fujifilm X-T1
We are going to start this list with the excellent Fujifilm X-T1. I am a big fan of Fujifilm cameras, and this one is a budget model, yet it delivers some excellent features that will make every photographer happy, and especially a food photographer.
I combined this camera with the excellent Fujinon XF55-200mm which will deliver you a great performance for standard and telephoto shots and it has some great features in its body as well.
This camera is packed with a 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor and the EXR Processor II to deliver a beautiful performance with plenty of detail and amazing colors. On top fo, all that the Fujifilm X-T1 also delivers a great ISO performance that spans from 200 to 6400 with great noise reduction and it has an autofocus performance that does wonders with its contrast-detect sensor.
4. Nikon D3400
Coming up next on our list we have the Nikon D3400, which is one of the best cameras in the market for beginners. The Nikon D3400 has tons of features, such as its great ease of use, compact body, amazing autofocus performance, quiet performance, and great battery life.
To test this camera out I combined it with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens which is a prime lens that delivers an amazing amount of detail. Also, it is my recommendation for starters in the food photography industry.
The Nikon D3400 is a great upgrade over its predecessor and despite being released a few years ago, it is still the favorite of many photographers. It is based around the 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers some sharp images. It also has the EXPEED 4 image-processing engine and it has 11 point autofocus system that combines rather well with its ISO range to provide great shots.
3. Nikon D810
Up next we have another camera coming in from Nikon’s range, the D810. This full frame camera has definitely provided a breath of fresh air to the mid-range market and I have been a huge fan of the full frame sensor of this camera.
To get the full capabilities of this full frame camera I combined it with, what I think as the best one for food photography, the Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G prime lens. This might offer plenty of versatility but I have seen that it does wonders for that kind of photography.
The biggest selling point of the Nikon D810 full frame camera is its superb full frame CMOS 36.3 megapixel sensor that does wonders with the Expeed 4 image-processing engine. On top of that, the ISO range of this camera spans from 64 to 12,800 natively with great noise management in the higher levels. It does wonders in low light situations. Coupled with the 51 point autofocus system I think that this full frame camera has no actual weak points for food photography.
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
If you consider yourself more of a professional photographer and need a device that can deliver you plenty of creative freedom, I would recommend the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full frame camera. This camera definitely delivers some amazing qualities to the table that are really pro-grade.
For food photography, I would combine the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with the amazing Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM zoom lens, which might be a bit expensive but I think that it will provide you excellent performance, with plenty of versatility.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is packed with an amazing 30.4 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor that is a huge upgrade over its predecessor. It delivers some amazing shots with plenty of sharpness and accurate colors. The ISO range of this camera spans from 100 to 32,000 and it controls the noise perfectly with its dual Digic 6 and Digic 6+ image processing engines.
1. Sony a7R III
On top of the list, we have an amazing and exceptional Sony a7R III. This camera is definitely one of the best interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras out there, delivering a priceless performance. It is fast, shoots with plenty of resolution, has a great autofocus system and so much more. It works well in low light too, so if you want to capture some cinematic shots, this is the camera you should go with.
For food photography, I think that it is worth investing in the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens that delivers a great performance overall. I think that this lens brings out plenty of versatility and amazing sharpness to your images which is essential for food photography.
The Sony a7R III is based around the 42.2-megapixel full frame stacked backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that is one of the best in terms of sharpness. It also has some great features such as eliminating the noise in high ISO levels and can shoot 10 frames per second with full AF. While we are at it I should mention that it has a hybrid 399 point autofocus system that does one hell of a job. Definitely one of the best full frame cameras around.
Things To Consider When Buying a Camera for Food Photography
There are several things you should be careful about before buying the best camera for food photography. They aren’t a particularly hard thing or rare things you will find on modern cameras, but still, it is better to check them out and not make a mistake. To be honest you can do food photography with any modern DSLR or mirrorless camera. Will the results be adequate? Well, that depends on what you consider adequate, so for that reason, it is better to stick to some qualities that are proven to make a camera better for that purpose. So let’s check them out.
As you might already know the most important thing about finding the best camera is its sensor. That is the part that actually captures the image, which with the lens is considered the most crucial part of any camera, regardless of the type of photography. However, for food photography, you should focus more on the size of the sensor rather than the megapixels it offers. There are different sensor sizes out there, the bigger the better here, for example, full frame sensors are optimal. But still, all this will depend on how much can you afford to spend on your camera for food photography.
Cropped sensors are actually a very popular choice and they are much cheaper than 35mm sensors. I wouldn’t recommend dipping below the APS-C format though, because if you go lower than that you will face some difficulties and the results will really be sub-par. Then again if you buy a camera with a crop sensor, you should be more careful with your lens selection, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to capture great photographs. We will touch on to the lenses later, but you should put your focus on the sensor size regardless of the case.
Many experts in the food photography industry are actually very careful about the file size of their images. This will mostly depend on the megapixels of your sensor and the output format. This might not be a very important thing if you are going to use most of your images on the web. However, if you are shooting for a cookbook, prints, or for a stock image agency you will need files to be of at least 3000 pixels large.
But like I said this will also depend on the format that you are shooting. A lot of beginners shoot on the JPEG file format, which is easier to manage. Then after they develop their skills they jump shit to RAW files, but if you want my opinion on this you would start with RAW files from the start. This is because RAW files allow you to edit your images however you want endlessly, without degrading the image quality, something that JPEG files suffer from. On top of that RAW files have more image quality, sharpness, and better color overall, but if you don’t compose your shot properly they tend to bring out faults and mistakes on your image.
When talking about ISO levels, new photographers tend to get confused. As a general tip, I recommend you shoot from a tripod whenever you can when it comes to food and product photography. The K&F Concept Tripod is a great choice for most food photographers out there for example.
However, there will be cases where you will need to shoot from a handheld position, where you can’t really place your tripod to get a good shot. That is when the ISO performance of your camera really comes into play. This doesn’t mean that you need to choose the camera with the highest ISO range possible, but a camera that can handle noise properly. Still, you should know that shooting in high ISO levels, will definitely degrade the image quality. You will need to get help from post-processing software to get better results whichever the case.
The focus performance of your camera is absolutely crucial when it comes to food photography. I know that a lot of pros suggest that you should shoot with manual focus modes, where you can select your focus points manually. But then again not everybody can do that, and these days most of the cameras deliver a great autofocus performance. They deliver plenty of speed and accuracy of two things that are essential in today’s industry. The manual focus might be excellent when you have a lot of time to compose your shots, but with food photography, you are mostly racing against the clock. So besides that check how many focus points that the camera in question offers so you can work easily with your subjects.
The lens is also a very crucial part of food photography and not every lens will deliver you an adequate performance for this kind of photography. For example, the first thing you need to know is that you must stay away from wide-angle lenses. While there might be cases when you need to shoot a large table of food let’s say, they won’t bring out all the detail you need for food photography. A focal length between 50 and 100mm in the full frame format will do you a better job, 80mm is always a safe choice but then again you might need more depending on the shot that you need to achieve, so try to experiment and find what works for you.
As you might have seen food photography has some very specific needs, and you need to check for those qualities in your cameras. Don’t stress it out a lot though, for example, if your budget doesn’t allow you to get the best camera or something that is optimal, try to work with what you can afford. It wouldn’t be very easy per se, but with a bit of editing and tweaking, you can have some great food photos in the end. Then again don’t forget to check the top picks where I have included models from different price ranges and lens recommendations to give you a head start. Have fun and good luck taking food photos!