Best Camera and Lens for Food Photography

If you want to learn how to take pictures of food, you have to start with the best camera gear. What’s the best camera and lens for food photography? Chase Jarvis says the best camera is the one that you have with you. While that is true, there are certain cameras and lenses out there that will help make your food photos pop. This article guides you on some of the top camera and lens options out there, along with ideas for mid-range and budget options as well.

Please bookmark this page as it will be updated regularly. Last updated on December 13, 2016.

food photography tips

Mid-range or wide-angle lenses will help you capture overhead table shots.

Best Camera for Food Photography

You are best off with a DSLR or mirrorless camera when it comes to photographing food. Regardless of what type of camera you get, it’s important to know if it has a crop sensor or not. A crop sensor camera, also known as APS-C, has a smaller sensor than a full-frame camera. This means there’s a difference in image size and resolution. Most importantly, the focal length of your lens will suffer from a Field of View crop factor on a crop sensor camera. As an example, consider the Canon Rebel T5i, a crop sensor DSLR camera. If you put a 50mm lens on this camera, the sensor crop factor of 1.6 will cause you to take photos as if you were using an 80mm lens.

So should I get a full-frame or crop sensor camera?

Crop sensor cameras might have a few drawbacks as mentioned above. But they tend to be cheaper in price compared to full-frame cameras. If you’re just starting out, invest in the cheaper camera. They’re better to use when it comes to learning photography basics. Once you master using a basic camera’s functions, you’ll gain a better appreciation for what the full-frame camera bodies have to offer. Also, camera equipment retains its value very well, so you can easily sell your entry-level camera when you’re ready to upgrade.

My personal food photography choices are a Canon 6D with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. I use this combination to shoot 90% of my food photography work.

Recommended DSLR Cameras

Full-Frame Cameras

These are the top-of-the-line full-frame DSLR cameras that most pro food photographers use. They are very high-end, hence their high prices. You might find it worth it if you can afford it, but if not, there are affordably priced cameras below.

best food concert camera photographyconcert photography camera gear guideconcert photography camera gear guide
Canon 5D Mark IVCanon 5D Mark IIICanon 6D
Nikon Version: Nikon D800Nikon Version: Nikon D750Nikon Version: Nikon D610

Mid-Range Cameras

If the full-frame cameras above sound intimidating, these mid-range options are worth exploring. Both have crop sensors, but they are much more affordable. The main difference is having bigger file sizes and more focus points on the Canon 80D. The 80D has 45 focus points compared to 19 focus points on the 70D and 9 focus points on the Rebel T6i. More focus points equate to more photo flexibility, so the more the better.

Canon 80 food photography cameraCanon 70 food photography camera
Canon 80DCanon 70D
Nikon Version: Nikon D7200Nikon Version: Nikon D7100

Budget Entry-Level Cameras

These are both crop sensor entry-level cameras perfect for beginners or casual photographers. On the lower end is the Canon Rebel T5i. Be sure to get the “i” version. It has a higher resolution touch screen that flips out, perfect for overhead shots. Stepping up from the T5i is the T6i, which differs in two main ways. First, the file sizes are bigger, meaning they will look much better if you print them. Also, the T6i has more focus points, making it easier and more flexible to focus certain parts of your photo.

Canon T6i food photography cameraCanon T5i food photography camera
Canon T6iCanon T5i
Nikon Version: Nikon D5500Nikon Version: Nikon D5200

food photography tips

A macro lens helps you get up close and capture innate details.

Best Lens for Food Photography

If you buy a DSLR camera, you’ll need to get a lens to go with it. The main thing you want to pay attention to when selecting lenses is its aperture or r-stop. For food photography, you want a lens with at least a f/4.0 aperture, ideally faster at f/2.8, f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4. The smaller the aperture or f-stop, the better the lens can shoot in low lighting, and the more bokeh you will get in the photo’s background. Bokeh is the soft, aesthetically pleasing out-of-focus background in a photo that is great for portrait, product, and food photography.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 and 24-105mm f/4 are two of your most flexible lenses thanks to the nice zoom range. However, you’ll also want to have a macro lens in your food photography arsenal. A macro lens gives you the ability to get unusually close-up shots. For food photos, you definitely need this lens to get detailed imagery of your photo subject. The 100mm focal length is ideal for macros so that you can shoot from a distance and not cast shadows over your subject.

Another handy lens is a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, which is compact and affordable, thus very popular.

Canon T6i food photography cameraCanon T5i food photography camera
Canon T6iCanon T5i
Nikon Version: Nikon D5500Nikon Version: Nikon D5200
Canon 100mm f/2.8 macroCanon 50mm f/1.8 food photography camera
Canon 100mm f/2.8 macroCanon 50mm f/1.8
Nikon Version: Nikon 105mm f/2.8Sony a6000 is a best-selling camera, and the best lens and accessories to get for it.

Camera Accessories

After procuring a camera and at least one lens, you’ll need a few extra accessories before you’re ready to start taking photos. Get a couple of memory cards of 16GB-32GB size. Lens filters are also recommended for protecting the front of your lens and reducing glare. Note that lens filters are very specific to the size of your lens. Also, throw in a lens pen and rocket blower to keep your camera sensors dust-free. Finally, consider getting an R-strap to carry your camera more comfortably, and a solid camera bag to protect your gear.

Food Photography Lighting

If you’re just starting out with food photography, it’s best to learn how to shoot with natural light. Over time, it’s a good idea to invest in lighting gear. Check out these best food photography light stands to get started.

Photography Accessories  
SD memory card for cameraLens Filterlens pen camera cleaner
Memory CardLens FilterLens Pen
Rocket blaster camera cleanerR-StrapBest camera bag
Rocket BlowerR-StrapCamera Bag

In Summary

When it comes to investing in a camera and lens for food photography, you have a wide range of choices. Start with the equipment you’re most comfortable with and upgrade as your skills progress. Would you add any other camera or lens recommendations to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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By | 2016-12-21T17:57:24+00:00 December 14th, 2016|3 Comments

About the Author:

Suzi Pratt is an event, food, and concert photographer based in Seattle. She started Intrepid Freelancer to inspire and teach others how to start a photography business. View her at photography portfolio, and subscribe to herYouTube channel.


  1. […] such as concert photography. However, more pros are switching to mirrorless options for things like food photography. The sheer size difference is reason enough to switch, as DSLRs tend to take a toll on your upper […]

  2. […] lighting is a key feature that sets apart professional food photographers from amateurs. My food photography gear has gone through several changes as I experimented with different modifiers and accessories. But a […]

  3. […] years now and have come to love it as much as my 5D Mark III. The Canon 6D is easily one of the best cameras for food photography, and it also does very well as a concert photography camera. Overall, it’s hard to find any […]

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