Lens to use for Food

sharjeel10

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Im using a 500D and I'm just thinking i do a lot of Food Photography currently with a 17-85 IS USM i mean it has been good. but i want to use a go bit more of a Professional look and feel to my work. so I'm thinking of Investing in a new Lens. Please recommend something below about $1300. I'm given the options of 50 1.4 and a 100 F2.8 L. Pleaseeee Help
 

tirediron

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What's wrong with the 17-85? That seems to me an idea focal range for food photography; reasonably wide to moderate tele. I doubt very much if a new lens will change your 'look' all that much other than perhaps providing a slightly greater DoF if you get a faster lens or constant aperture zoom.
 

Dao

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Setup, placement and lighting is more important than the lens I think. Are you looking for shallow Depth of Field type look? I agree with Tirediron that simply replacing the lens may not have much impact on the photo.


Replacing a lens because of you want to replace a lens is different from replacing a lens because it cannot produce the result you want. I think the key is in what way you like your food related images looks like?
 

cgipson1

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We get a dozen requests for "Food" lenses every week it seems like. If you do some searches, you will find those... and hopefully they have some good information in them. (here is something to start with > http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/search.php?searchid=2510968 )

I agree with Dao.. the food prep, and lighting is the most important aspect of food photography... not the lens (you just need a sharp lens with a range that will cover what you are shooting without distortion)
 

amolitor

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Lenses make terrible food. I would suggest some fruit, maybe a slice of bread and some cheese.
 

cgipson1

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Lenses make terrible food. I would suggest some fruit, maybe a slice of bread and some cheese.

You forgot the wine! I would suggest a Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris to go with the above!
 
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sharjeel10

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humm good,thanks everyone i have a idea from your discussion,
 

TCampbell

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Im using a 500D and I'm just thinking i do a lot of Food Photography currently with a 17-85 IS USM i mean it has been good. but i want to use a go bit more of a Professional look and feel to my work. so I'm thinking of Investing in a new Lens. Please recommend something below about $1300. I'm given the options of 50 1.4 and a 100 F2.8 L. Pleaseeee Help

With a 500D?

Use the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM (about $400). That was my FAVORITE lens for food on a crop-frame body. It's ability to resolve fine detail is just amazing and easily rivals the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM that I use with my full-frame bodies (I owned both at the same time though I ultimately donated my EF-S 60mm to a relative when I got rid of my crop-frame body.) The focal length is also pretty nice, and of course as a macro lens if you want to show some really close detail you can do that too. The problem with a 100mm macro on a crop-frame body is that you'll have to set the camera back a bit farther than you might guess. Sometimes you'll be taking a photo of just part of the food, sometimes a plate, but sometimes you'll get a setting (napkins, silverware, glasses, wine, etc.) and for those the 100mm will be fairly restrictive. The 50mm wont have the ability to resolve fine detail like the 60mm... not even close. You wont need the f/1.4 focal length for food... (that's paper thin) and you don't need the ability to gather more light because you'll be on a tripod and the food isn't going anywhere.

While you're asking about lenses, I'm sort of "reading between the lines here". Your rationale on the lenses is that you're trying to get get "more of a professional look" to your work.

The lens is just one element of that. It's important to have at least one good lens and I think if I were to only use one, it would have to be that EF-S 60mm macro.

BUT... lighting is going to have a bigger impact than the lens. Look at a single great food photo and if it was professionally done, it probably has a lot more lighting and light modifiers than you might possibly guess... cards (white or black foam-core boards) to control the look of reflections in plates, glasses, silverware, etc., reflectors, mirrors, flags, spots, grids, diffusers, etc. are used EXTENSIVELY in food photography to control every little bit of it, make sure the highlights are exactly where you want them, make sure there's just enough "shine" on the food to make it look inviting, but not so much to make it look like it's out of control.

Food photographers often work with food "stylists" (think... "designer" or "interior decorator"... but for food.) These people know how to create a setting for the food and also know how to primp the food to look it's best.

My initial food photos were "technically" correct exposures and image composition... but they were boring. I don't think they did much to make the viewer say "I really want this food!"

Here are some examples.

THIS SHOT was taken with a 500D using the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. NOTE: This is one of my earliest food photos. This is an example of what happens when you understand the camera and exposure and have an adequate camera and a very good lens... but lack the lighting and the styling. This image could have been much better.


Shrimp Burger by Tim Campbell1, on Flickr

Here's a shot taken a few years later after I learned a thing or two. NOTE: This is not the same camera or lens, but I spent more time fussing on styling and lighting and used a more creative DoF.


Bistro 222's Sauteed Lake Perch by Tim Campbell1, on Flickr

BTW, this is the same restaurant, same plate (did you notice?) and tablecloth... but this 2nd shot looks COMPLETELY different and much more inviting.
 

amolitor

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Nice. I was gonna say 'what on earth is he showing us THAT travesty for?' until I read ;)

Well done, TCampbell!
 

TCampbell

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Nice. I was gonna say 'what on earth is he showing us THAT travesty for?' until I read ;)

Well done, TCampbell!

Yeah that first shot really did suck (if someone turned that in to me on the job, I'm afraid I'd have to let them go.) I'm glad you noticed that I only posted it for "instructive" (as in, here's what you do NOT want to do) purposes.
 

amolitor

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The first one isn't TERRIBLE. I've seen lots worse on many a menu. It's just not very good, either. Pairing it with a good one is a great piece of instruction. Examining them together, you see *why* the first was comes across so "eh, I dunno", instead of just leaving with a vague sensation of "it's just not very good".
 

Derrel

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I think a Tilt/Shift lens, or a Zorki or other adapter would make a lot of sense. A fixed-back camera is pretty limiting compared to a view camera, and so adding a tilt/shift lens can help, a small amount.

I cannot think of a single specialist in food photography who does not have at the bare minimum, at least one tilt/shift lens.

You can dink around all you want in post processing to correct keystoning and to do focus stacking, but it's just easier to shoot things right and corrected in-camera. It saves a lot of time and effort to be able to do some higher-than-normal-level work by using more advanced tools.
 

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