Take a peek inside my camera bag and find out my recommendations for the best camera and lenses for food bloggers and food photographers!
I often get asked what kind of camera I have and what the best camera and lenses are for food bloggers and food photographers. Cameras and lenses are not cheap, so it makes sense to do a lot of research before making an investment, I know I did.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer on what is necessarily best for food photography, but seeing what others are using can be really helpful. Today I’m giving you a peek inside my camera bag and tackling some of the big questions to consider in making your decision about what camera, lenses and accessories to purchase for food photography.
Canon vs. Nikon for Food Photography
My first DSLR was a Nikon, the Nikon D5500, it is a crop sensor camera. It served me well until I was getting into more professional photography. When I needed to upgrade to a full frame camera I went back and forth for weeks trying to decide between switching to Canon or sticking within the Nikon family.
You see, no amount of googling will give you the answer to the question “Is Canon or Nikon better for food photographers?”. If that is a question on your mind, I too cannot give you a clear cut answer, but I will tell you the two main reasons why I ultimately decided to switch to Canon:
- I don’t know all the technical reasons, but Canon is known for having slightly better color than Nikon. In food photography getting your colors right is really important. We all know what colors certain foods should be, so being able to capture that as accurately as possible is key.
- Canons are more popular than Nikons with food bloggers and photographers in general. The majority of the bloggers and food photographers I was looking to were shooting with Canon. Because of this, I find there are more food photography resources available that cater more towards Canon shooters.
After much research, I ultimately decided to make the switch to Canon and haven’t looked back since!
What’s the difference between a Crop Sensor and Full Frame Camera
The difference between a crop sensor and a full frame, as the name implies, is the size of the sensor. In very basic terms, the sensor on a full frame camera is larger than the sensor on a crop sensor. This effects two important factors of photography – light and depth of field. It allows a full frame camera to perform better in low light situations because the light sensors are able to pick up weaker light signals than those on a crop sensor camera. Depth of field is also enhanced on a full frame camera.
How do I know when I should upgrade to a Full Frame Camera?
You should be able to answer this yourself, meaning you will feel when you are ready. There isn’t a specific place you come to where you HAVE to upgrade. You maybe will notice that you are reaching a plateau in your current work and the upgrade will help push you forward. Or maybe you are starting to get hired for professional photography work, that would be a good time to make the switch.
That’s not to say you can’t start out with a full frame camera of the bat. If you have the means to do so, go for it! But they are quite a bit more expensive than crop sensor cameras. So, if you are just starting out in food photography, a full frame camera may not be the best use of your money.
A Peek Inside My Camera Bag
Canon EOS 6D Mark II – I love this camera, it does everything I need it to do. I’m not super tech-savvy and I find it very easy to use. It’s also pretty light as DSLRs go. Though not cheap, it is significantly less expensive than the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I did a lot of research between the two models and the general consensus I found was that with all factors considered the 6D is a much better deal.
Lenses make the magic happen, in my opinion they are much more important than the camera you chose.
Canon 100mm f/2.8 – This is my go-to lens. I use it 90% of the time when I’m shooting food, I’m obsessed with it. It’s a prime macro lens meaning it gets right up close and captures all the detail. I shoot a lot of food portraiture which this lens does beautifully. I could not live without it and I definitely recommend it if you want to take things to the next level!
Canon 50mm f/1.4 – aka the “nifty fifty”, this is a lens that should be in every food photographer’s kit. The name comes from the fact that it is very affordable and the quality of images it produces are top notch. It was the only lens I had for a while, it is versatile and allows you to really play with depth of field.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art – I just recently purchased this lens, but not specifically for food photography. I got it because I am now offering Newborn Photography! This is not a Canon lens, it’s a Sigma for Canon and I am in love. The word that keeps popping into my head is buttery… which I know is strange, but the pictures have sharp focus with this smooth, buttery depth of field. You don’t need this lens for food photography, but if you do any portrait or lifestyle photography I definitely recommend it!
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 – You will see this lens recommended by a lot of food photographers. But I am here to say that I don’t think it is necessary, especially for the price. I regret this purchase because it is my most expensive lens by far and I use it the least. I should probably sell it, but I keep thinking one day I will discover the magic that so many people rave about. I think my real issue with it is that I am so used to prime lenses, the zoom capability throws me off!
Memory Cards – I recommend purchasing just the body of the camera and then adding whatever lenses and accessories you want as opposed to buying a bundle. I find with the bundles it may seem like a good deal, but you are actually getting a bunch of stuff you don’t need. If you do buy the body only, you will need to purchase at least one memory card so you can actually use your camera. You may also want to pick up an extra battery.
Manfrotto Tripod and Tripod Arm – I shoot food almost exclusively on a tripod, it really helps me control the light and shoot in low-light situations. This Manfrotto tripod may seem expensive, but it is worth every penny. I have wasted a lot of money of cheap tripods that fall apart easily. This one is high quality and very sturdy. The arm attachment is sold separately but it is great for overhead shots like flat-lays and tablescapes.
This is my camera bag. It’s a backpack which makes it easy to carry, especially if I need my arms for other things like my tripod or props and backgrounds. It has a very protective bottom compartment for your lenses and camera, a separate top section for personal things and a padded back compartment for your laptop. I like that it is also inconspicuous, you wouldn’t automatically assume by glancing at it that it is holding thousands of dollars in camera equipment, which is especially nice when traveling.
I have this more stylish leather camera bag that I will take with me if I’m using my camera casually. It can really only fit the camera and one lens, so it’s of course not what I use when I go to shoots. It’s also not very padded and protective, but it is cute, so…
(example of a macro shot with the Canon 100mm)
To anyone who is just starting out I would encourage you to rent or borrow a friend’s camera so you can get a feel for what you like before you invest. Regardless of what kind of camera you settle on, get yourself a 50mm lens to get started. They are not very expensive and they make a world of difference in what you can do for your composition with focus and depth of field.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions! I’m happy to help 🙂 Leave a comment here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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