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Top 8 Lenses For Food Photography

By Matthew Rivera
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When it comes to food photography, the lens is arguably one of the most important parts of your kit. With the right lens and the knowledge of how best to use it, you can produce professional-grade stylized food photos. As with most artists, food photographers each have their own style and favorite tools they like to work with. Deciding which lens is right for you is more than doing the research – it’s also about understanding what kind of shots you want to produce. That said, there are several specific lenses that are commonly recommended by food photographers across the world. In this guide, we’ll go over the best lenses for food photography and give you a basic food photography lens buyer’s guide to help you make an informed decision.

Top 8 Lenses For Food Photography



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4.8
5/5
Best lens for food videography and photography
This 100mm f/2.8 macro lens allows you to get amazing detail up close. While macro lenses are built for close-ups, this lens also gives great natural compression even at slightly farther distances. This lens can be used with both full-frame and cropped sensor cameras.

SPECS

  • Lens type: Macro lens
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/2.8 – 32
  • Magnification: 1.0x
  • Weight: 22.1oz (625g)
  • Dimensions: 3.06 x 4.84in (77.7 x 123mm)

PROS

  • Aperture enhances color 
  • Exceptional sharpness 
  • Minimal distortion 
  • Perfect for close-ups and 45-degree shots

CONS

  • Expensive


4.5
4.9/5
Best versatile zoom lens for food photography
While most professionals recommend prime lenses for food photography, this zoom lens is also often mentioned as a staple. Where this lens shines is its ability to capture wide-angle shots from farther away as well as super up-close for those mouth-watering food photos. The best part? You can do this without having to change your lens out.

Specs

  • Lens type: Zoom lens 
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Focal length: 24-70mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/4 – 22
  • Magnification: 0.7x
  • Weight: 21.2oz (600g)
  • Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.7in (83.4 x 93mm)

PROS

  • Neat macro mode
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile 

CONS

  • Not great in low-light settings 
  • Lower sharpness 


4.7
4.9/5
Best entry-level Canon lens for food photography
Canon’s 50mm f/1.4 lens is nearly always mentioned by professional photographers as an essential part of their gear. Its focal length makes it extremely versatile, so it can be used for a variety of perspectives and spreads. Though it’s great for covering the various angles of your subject, it shines the most when used for flat lays and overhead shots. Experienced food photographers especially recommend this lens for beginners.

Specs

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/1.4 – 22
  • Maximum magnification: 0.15x
  • Weight: 10.2oz (290g)
  • Dimensions: 2.91 x 2.01in (74 x 51mm)

PROS

  • Exceptional value for money
  • Extremely lightweight 
  • Great entry-level lens 
  • Ideal travel lens where lighting is unpredictable 

CONS

  • Flare can be an issue
  • Strong halation at f/1.4
  • Feels flimsy 
4.7
4.9/5
Canon_EF_50mm_f1.4_USM


4.7
4.9/5
Nikon’s best super up-close lens for food photography
This macro lens’ focal length gives you the ability to take super up-close photos of your dish. This enables you to capture minute details in gorgeous clarity. Many photographers say this type of lens is especially useful when taking 45-degree shots of your dish. This lens is mostly used with full-frame cameras. If used with a cropped sensor camera, this lens will behave like a 150mm lens, which will quickly become problematic if space is an issue. When it comes to up-close shots, many professionals will consider this the best lens for food photography. Get this lens if your shot lists frequently include macro perspectives.

Specs

  • Lens type: Macro lens 
  • Image stabilization: Yes, with compatible camera
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/2.8 – 32
  • Magnification: 1.1x
  • Weight: 26.5oz (750 g)
  • Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.6in (83 x 116mm)

PROS

  • Exquisite capturing of minute details 
  • A must-have for macro photography
  • Minimal to no distortion

CONS

  • Limited versatility
  • Heavy 
  • Expensive
4.7
4.9/5
Nikon_105mm_f2.8G_Macro


5
4.9/5
Nikon’s best food photography lens for both full-frame and cropped sensor cameras
This lens is compatible with both full-frame and cropped sensor cameras. When you use it with a cropped sensor camera, it’ll act closer to a 90mm lens, giving you amazingly high-quality close-up shots. When used with a full-frame camera, this behaves more like a 50mm with less distortion. Nikon’s 60mm f/2.8 micro lens will create a beautiful, natural-looking background blur, a highly sought-after feature in food photography. This is a great choice if you are planning to upgrade your camera body in the future, as you can still make use of it after the upgrade.

Specs

  • Lens type: Micro lens
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Focal length: 60mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/2.8 – 32
  • Magnification: 1.0x
  • Weight: 15.0oz (425g)
  • Dimensions: 2.9 x 3.5in (73 x 89mm)

PROS

  • Edge-to-edge sharpness 
  • Lightweight and compact 
  • Fast focusing 

CONS

  • Mechanisms can be quite loud
  • Less illumination of corners at wider apertures


4.7
4.9/5
Nikon’s best “nifty fifty” lens for food photography
Professionals and hobbyists alike will often mention that this lens was their first purchase – many even still use it to this day. It’s incredibly versatile with a wide range of uses, from flat lays to stylized and detailed food stories. These features make it one of the best value-for-money lenses on the market. It particularly shines in low-light situations because of its high apertures.

Specs

  • Lens type: Prime lens
  • Image stabilization: No 
  • Focal length: 50mm 
  • Max/min aperture: f/1.4 – 16
  • Magnification: 0.15x
  • Weight: 9.9oz (280g)
  • Dimensions: 2.1 x 2.9in (54 x 735mm)

PROS

  • Super lightweight 
  • Perfect for low-light environments
  • Fast and quiet
  • Great price point

CONS

  • No ring for aperture control
  • Some say autofocus is slow


4.6
4.9/5
Sony’s best versatile lens for food photography

Food photography enthusiasts often recommend this zoom lens because of its versatility. It comes with the ability to switch between various focal lengths. You can stand back and get a full wide-angle scene in great detail, or you can get super up-close and personal to your dish – both with minimal distortion. When talking about zoom lenses, this is the best Sony lens for food photography.

Specs

  • Lens type: Zoom lens
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Focal length: 24 – 105mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/4 – 22
  • Magnification: 0.31x
  • Weight: 23.36oz (663g)
  • Dimensions: 3.28 x 4.46in (83.4 x 113.3mm)

PROS

  • Durable 
  • Quiet 
  • High ISO capabilities

CONS

  • Expensive 
  • Good lighting needed 
4.6
4.9/5
Sony_FE_24-105mm_F4


4.7
4.9/5
Best macro lens for food photography by Sony
Professionals usually mention this macro lens as one of the best out there. This lens delivers excellent image compression and an exceptional background blur. It also enables you to get perfect subject separation, creating a photo where your dish pops out.

Specs

  • Lens type: Macro lens
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Focal length: 90mm
  • Max/min aperture: f/2.8 – 22
  • Magnification: 0.92x
  • Weight: 21.3oz (602g)
  • Dimensions: 3.11 x 5.14in (79 x 130.5mm)

PROS

  • Fast performance 
  • Excellent image compression 
  • Great image stabilization 

CONS

  • Magnification isn’t 1:1 ratio, only close
  • Expensive
4.7
4.9/5
Sony_FE_90mm_f2.8_Macro


How To Choose The Best Lens For Food Photography?

Still unsure of which lens to buy? Below are some of the factors that you should consider when choosing the best lens for food photography for you.

CAMERA

Cropped Sensor Cameras

Most beginner food photographers typically start with a cropped sensor camera as it’s generally more affordable. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t produce high-quality shots compared to pricier cameras. Cropped sensor cameras are named so because of the crop factor included in their shots. When you take a photo with this type of camera, you’ll notice that it has a tighter field of view. Each brand of cropped sensor camera has a specific crop factor. For example, Canon’s cropped sensor cameras have a crop factor of 1.62, while Nikon’s have a crop factor of 1.50. If you use a 50mm lens on these types of cameras, your food photos will appear to have been shot with a lens that has a higher focal length.

Full-Frame Cameras

With full-frame cameras, what you see is what you get. Unlike cropped sensor cameras, they have a wider field of view and won’t crop your photo. This is especially useful if you’re a food photographer who gets shot lists with varied dynamic angles. Also, it’s great for when you don’t have a lot of space as it will capture more of the subject at shorter distances. We recommend full-frame cameras for food photography, as you will get better-quality photos with the right lenses. These types of cameras are typically used by professional food photographers – they are considerably more expensive due to their size and weight. However, this doesn’t mean that you must have a full-frame camera if you want to do food photography. It all comes down to your budget and what kind of perspective or style you want to achieve.

Lens Types

Your choice of lens will depend on what type of photos you want to create. Specific lenses help achieve a specific style or perspective. Let’s go over the main types of lenses and how they fare in food photography.

Prime

A prime lens is a lens that has only one focal length. When you look at the side of a lens, a prime lens will only show one number, such as 50mm. This is in contrast to zoom lenses, which will show a range of focal lengths. Professionals highly recommend a 50mm prime lens in every food photography kit. Prime lenses will always have the same field of view and are unable to zoom. If you want to get a closer shot of your dish, you will need to physically move closer to it. Whether for full-frame or cropped sensor cameras, these types of lenses are most often recommended by and for food photographers. Boasting sharper, clearer images and higher-quality colors and textures, prime lenses capture the fine details of the ingredients and make the dish look more appetizing. Additionally, prime lenses come with larger apertures, which are ideal for low-lighting situations. If you are a food photographer who travels a lot, you may have to shoot in environments where lighting is unpredictable or uncontrollable. In those cases, having larger apertures would be not just useful but essential.

Zoom

Zoom lenses are great for food photography as they provide a wider range of focal lengths in a single lens. A zoom lens can be identified by its larger construction and bigger zoom range on the side of the lens, such as 24-105mm. Using a zoom lens means that you don’t have to physically move closer to your subject when you want to get a closer shot. However, its versatility sometimes comes at the cost of the quality of your shot. This is due to the higher number of elements in a zoom lens. The more elements you have in your lens, the more “gates” the light has to pass through, affecting the quality of your photos. Zoom lenses can also be more expensive if you want higher apertures, which are needed for low-light situations. That said, there are upsides to zoom lenses. The versatility of these types of zoom lenses allows you to get different shots without needing to adjust your setup. It also means that you can carry just one lens with you instead of multiple lenses. This is handy when traveling or changing locations a lot, as it means less weight to carry with you. Additionally, if you’re on a budget, you can make do with one zoom lens instead of wasting money on multiple prime lenses. Food photographers recommend having at least one zoom lens, like a 24-70mm f/4 or f/2.8.

Macro

Macro lenses are designed to capture the minute details of the dish while providing a beautiful background blur at the same time. A macro lens is perfect for focusing on and accentuating the details of your dish, like the miniature veins on a mint leaf or water droplets on your tomatoes. The magnification for macro lenses is 1:1, which means that the dishes will appear to be the same size as in real life. Some macro lenses magnify it slightly more, making it appear larger than life. Macro lenses have a very shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field means that just your subject will be in focus, but the background will be blurred. This is amazing for food photos where you want to isolate the subject or focus on specific ingredients in your dish. The creamy, blurry background makes the details of each dish you capture stand out. On the flip side, if you want to get a sharper image or background, you need to get a lens with a smaller aperture. The smaller the aperture, or the higher the f/stop number on your lens, the less light it lets in. When using macro lenses, ensure you have good lighting as well. The macro lenses most recommended by food photographers are: 60mm macro lens (either cropped sensor or full-frame camera) 100/110mm macro lens (full-frame camera)

Tilt-Shift

Macro lenses are designed to capture the minute details of the dish while providing a beautiful background blur at the same time. A macro lens is perfect for focusing on and accentuating the details of your dish, like the miniature veins on a mint leaf or water droplets on your tomatoes. The magnification for macro lenses is 1:1, which means that the dishes will appear to be the same size as in real life. Some macro lenses magnify it slightly more, making it appear larger than life. Macro lenses have a very shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field means that just your subject will be in focus, but the background will be blurred. This is amazing for food photos where you want to isolate the subject or focus on specific ingredients in your dish. The creamy, blurry background makes the details of each dish you capture stand out. On the flip side, if you want to get a sharper image or background, you need to get a lens with a smaller aperture. The smaller the aperture, or the higher the f/stop number on your lens, the less light it lets in. When using macro lenses, ensure you have good lighting as well. The macro lenses most recommended by food photographers are: 60mm macro lens (either cropped sensor or full-frame camera) 100/110mm macro lens (full-frame camera)

Focal Length

With most things, higher quality usually comes with a higher price tag. However, there are hidden gems out there that have excellent quality at an affordable price – you just have to know what to look for. 

Below are some of the things you should look for and consider when looking for your next tripod.

35mm

This is a wide-angle focal length, often used by journalistic food photographers. This focal length is recommended for shooting on-site in restaurants, where space is a factor. 35mm is best when paired with a cropped sensor camera body. Due to the wide angle, you can get a lot in your shot even with limited space. The downside to this focal length is that you will get a lot of distortion with up-close shots.

50mm

This focal length is the closest you can get to what our eyes actually see. Because of this, many food photographers consider a 50mm lens a staple in their kit. If you can only take one lens with you, take a 50mm. It excels at multiple and can capture many angles, such as straight-on, overhead, and 45-degree, with minimal distortion.

85mm

85mm is a portrait focal length. This type of lens focuses on your subject while blurring out distractions and unnecessary details in the background. This is useful when you want to tell a story with your photo by guiding the viewer’s eye to the desired features. 

Additionally, its apertures make this focal length ideal for low-light environments like restaurants. This type of lens allows you to stand farther back while getting close-ups, which reduces perspective distortion. 

105mm

A lens with this focal length is also a must-have, according to many professionals. This type of lens is ideal for 45-degree angle shots as well as super close-ups. 

Lenses with this focal length are mostly macro lenses. Macro lenses provide a gorgeous background blur, which makes the ingredients in your dish stand out.

Final Thoughts

A great lens is essential to capturing mouth-watering food photos. Because of this, professionals recommend spending the majority of your budget on your lenses, as they will be the most important part of your kit. In the food photography world, Canon, Nikon, and Sony have some of the best lenses out there. But which lens you buy ultimately depends on what kind of stories you want to tell and what your unique style is.


4.8
5/5
Best lens for food videography and photography


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