The Best Lens for Food Photography

Choosing the right lens for any genre of photographer is a minefield and getting into food photography is no exception.

In this video I go through what I believe to be the best three options for a food photography lens. Although there really is no right or wrong answer to the question of a best lens in any genre, there are certainly some lenses that spring to mind when looking to perform a set task and perhaps some focal lengths that are supposed to be the correct text book focal length, but most photographers who really stand out tend to go against the grain on this (Platon springs to mind).

Personally, I am a big fan of primes, but if you were looking for a zoom lens, then something around the 24-70 or 24-105 range would be a great starting point. But for me, when shooting still life images using a prime is perfect. You don’t need the versatility as everything is hopefully staying put, but you can certainly benefit from the image quality improvements that primes give over zooms. There is also an improved aesthetic from almost all primes over equally priced zooms.

I go over the obvious and almost text book choices of the 50mm and 100mm focal length primes which offer obvious advantages as well as explaining why they are of use. On top of that I offer the opinion on buying a tilt shift lens as your first or only lens if you really want to specialize in food. This would offer you a mix of focal lengths in still life due to their ability to create perfectly stitched images as well as offering optical excellence.

What would you perfect food photography lens be?

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12 Comments

Ivan Lantsov's picture

all talk no photos?!

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah, it was one of my first videos. I have a new one similar to this now that goes into far more depth and has some examples.

user-206807's picture

The best lens is the one you must use to reach the result you want to get.....

Scott Choucino's picture

Yes very much so, but without an unlimited budget, its often a compromise.

user-206807's picture

Yes it is true. From my point of view a tilt shift lens or a view camera is the best that you can use. But this is another world ;)

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah, I find a tilt shift to be the best compromise. A full view camera is pretty time consuming, but obviously has its benefits now that 645 backs have good live view with CCD sensors

William Howell's picture

Hey Scott I’m an enthusiast photographer, I rarely make money with my photography, but I love shooting products. I like to use 24mm lens for some products because of the distortion, it elongates the item.
Most of the time though I use the 50mm f1/8. With that lens there seems to be very little distortion.

Good article and video.

Scott Choucino's picture

Thats cool, there was a really famous tobacco campaign in the 90s using this method + scale tricks.

Tim Foster's picture

It seems something that provides swings and tilts would be the best for food photography.

Motti Bembaron's picture

When you shoot only studio in controlled conditions (no rain, moisture, risk of banging and dropping), there is really no need to spend so much money on f/1.4 or f/1.2 lenses. The very affordable f/1.8 (50mm, 85mm etc.) will do everything exactly the same.

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah the diminishing returns become more drastic once in a controlled environment. If you are only shooting for web use too then the cheaper lenses will 100% do the job.