Best Lens for Food Photography

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Food photography has grown into a complex artform in the 21st-century. A successful image of your company’s food can boost sales like nothing else. While there’s a lot to consider when taking this kind of photo, the equipment you’re using should be where you start.

Even with an incredible lighting setup and decades of knowhow, your images could fall short if you don’t have the right lens and camera to work with. If you’re a professional, you’ll need a lens with the right depth of field and a camera with enough power to support your shooting.

Wondering what the best lens for food photography is? You’ve come to the right place. At Chasing Heartbeats, we’re obsessed with finding the best products for the job. We’ve scoured the internet, comparing reviews, comparisons, and feature sets to find the top food photography lenses in 2021.

Read on to learn more.

Best Food Photography Lenses

This section runs through our favorite lenses for food photography in 2021. Our suggestions cover a broad range of requirements and budgets. If you’re new to this kind of photography, be sure to check out our guide and shooting tips toward the end of this page.

What We’ve Checked When Making Suggestions

We know there’s a ton of information out there regarding lenses and which ones to buy. We want to provide information that’s informative, engaging, and actually helpful. When we recommend a product on this site, we genuinely believe it’s worth your money.

We consider the following when making recommendations:

  • Price
  • Online reviews
  • Comparison pages
  • Features
  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Speed
  • Durability
  • Compatibility

Read on to find your new favorite food lens!

Best Canon Lens for Food Photography – Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM

Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens

This is probably our favorite overall Canon lens for food photography. We think the 22mm focal length is perfect for getting close up to your food. If you prefer something a little larger, be sure to check out the 35mm and 50mm variants we review further down this page.

The combination of a close minimum focus distance with a relatively wide angle makes this thing nice and versatile for your food photography shoots. The shooting angle is equivalent to a 35mm full-frame lens.

This means you’ll have plenty of room to fit your subject into frame while maintaining the ability to focus up nice and close. We’re also big fans of the circular, 7-blade aperture on this offering from Canon. It makes it a breeze to create attractive, blurred backgrounds for your images.

One thing to keep in mind is that this lens doesn’t come with any zoom functionality – if you want to get closer to your subject, you’ll have to physically move there yourself. In our opinion, this is one of the best food lenses available in 2021. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Pros:

  • Wide angle view with a narrow depth of field
  • Does well in low-light conditions
  • Great optical performance
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Focusing can be quite loud for video work

Best Nikon Lens for Food Photography – Nikkor 50mm f1.4F Lens

Coming in at number two is this Nikkor lens from Nikon. For our money, it’s the best lens for food photography that the manufacturer currently makes. It combines an exceptionally bright design and optimal field of view with a price point that’s friendly on the wallet.

The f/1.4 aperture system on this lens is remarkably fast – you won’t be waiting around for long when making adjustments on the fly. This system will also serve you very well in a broad variety of lighting conditions.

Whether you have time to set up your studio lights or are taking an impromptu photograph, this thing won’t let you down. 50mm prime lenses are often referred to as ‘nifty fifties’ by those ‘in the know.’ The main reason for this is that their form factor makes them incredibly versatile.

While this lens will do an excellent job of taking food photos, it’s also capable of handling much more. If you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone, it might be worth taking a look at this Nikkor lens. At less than $400, it costs significantly less than other options on the market.

Pros:

  • ‘Nifty fifty’ 50mm form factor
  • Speedy aperture
  • Performs well in multiple lighting conditions

Cons:

  • Focusing could be faster

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Canon EF-S 35mm f2.8 Macro

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

Macro images lend themselves very well to food photography. The ability to maintain razor-sharp focus when very close to your food can produce images that far surpass your average smartphone or point-and-shoot.

This 35mm lens from Canon comes with a number of features that help it take excellent macro images. The independent macro lamps on either side of this lens can be adjusted to your heart’s content. They give you increased control over the lighting conditions of your macro subjects.

When used correctly, they can significantly improve your resulting images. Having this lens with you when shooting food could give you the boost you’re looking for. Another factor that’s critically important for macro photos is camera shake and resulting image noise.

Even a little wobble can ruin a photo if you’re using the wrong setup. The hybrid image stabilization system on this lens does a great job of keeping your photos nice and stable. Canon has decades of photography innovation under its belt.

This stabilization system is just one of the things that make this lens an excellent photo shooter.

Pros:

  • Great for macro photos
  • Independent macro lamps
  • Razor-sharp focus
  • Stable shooting

Cons:

  • Durability is decent but could be better

Tamron AFF017C700

Tamron AFF017C700 SP 90mm F/2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro for Canon Cameras (Black) - International Version

If you’re constantly switching from subject to subject and tweaking your setup as you go, the ultra-fast autofocus system of this lens will come in handy. It’s remarkably speedy when locking into your subject and is nice and quiet when it does so.

This will come in handy if you shoot food videos for a production company or similar environments – a noisy motor can ruin a video if you’re not careful. The 90mm focusing distance of this Tamron shooter should give you a fair bit of versatility when working.

Just like the Canon lens mentioned above, this option comes with a killer image stabilization system. A three-coil electromagnetic system provides a 3.5-stop advantage when working. The result is images that are significantly sharper with practically no noise.

Your food shots will look fantastic every time. When taking images of dryer foods like bread, particulates from your subject could damage your lens over time. The dust and waterproof design of this Tamron option should give you some welcome peace of mind.

Pros:

  • Silent, speedy autofocus
  • Great image stabilization
  • Versatile 90mm form factor
  • Super sharp images

Cons:

  • A touch pricey

Canon 50mm f1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Remember that 22mm Canon lens we raved about at the top of this review? This is its cheaper, 50mm brother. It packs much the same punch as its smaller sibling, just with a roomier 50mm focusing distance and a lower asking price. In our opinion it’s a fantastic lens for food photography.

Depending on the camera you use, it might even be a better fit than #1 on this page. On APS-C cameras, you’ll be working with an effective focal length of 80mm. Switch to a full-frame setup and you’ll have 50mm at your disposal.

6 elements work together in five groups within this lens. Canon has built itself a legendary reputation in the world of camera lenses and this 50mm shooter is no exception. Expect super sharp images with gorgeous colors and minimal noise.

When used in tandem with a Digic X processor on one of Canon’s EOS cameras, this thing can deliver very respectable results. Use Amazon’s compatibility checker to make sure your camera will play nicely with this option. If it does, we say go for it!

Pros:

  • Can be picked up for under $100!
  • Works with APS-C and Full-frames
  • Excellent performance
  • Great sharpness

Cons:

  • The autofocus can be a little sleepy

Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 DG HSM

Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 Art DG HSM Lens for Sony A- Mount

This versatile Sigma lens comes in flavors to fit most camera setups. It’s available for Sony A-mount, Canon EF-mount, Nikon, and Sigma SA cameras and is the only option on this page that offers zoom functionality. We’ve included it as an option for those who need a slightly more flexible setup.

While zoom lenses aren’t always necessary for food photography, we think this 24-105mm shooter is a great option. It delivers consistently good image quality throughout the entirety of its zoom range.

This is an especially good choice for those who need a lens that can handle a multitude of different tasks. If you’re taking photos of food one day and taking wildlife shots the next, lenses like this are worth considering.

Sigma is something of a powerhouse when it comes to interchangeable lenses. While this product is a touch more expensive than some of the macro shooters on this page, it’s a damn sight more versatile too.

Pros:

  • Flexible lens
  • Maintains high image quality through entire zoom
  • Compatible with many mounting systems

Cons:

  • Autofocus is fine but a little slow

Fujinon XF80mm F2.8 R LM OIS

Fujinon XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens

This premium option from Fujifilm delivers exceptional levels of performance with high predictability and reliability. 16 elements in 12 groups work hard to achieve brilliant optical results every time. This thing is far from cheap, but it’s a phenomenal all-rounder.

Whether you’re taking ultra-crisp food shots or capturing nature subjects, this Fujinon is unlikely to let you down. In the food photography department, it does a phenomenal job of macro shots thanks to its innovative, light-efficient autofocus system.

For wider portrait shots, this thing is also a great candidate. Fujifilm’s fantastic stabilization design does a remarkable job of keeping your shoots steady and clear. We’re big fans of this one.

Pros:

  • Great all-rounder
  • Strong macro performance
  • Excellent stabilization system

Cons:

  • Not a budget option

Nikkor 60mm f2.8G AF ED Lens

Last, but certainly not least, is this 60mm lens from Nikon. For portrait and close-up shots, this thing is an absolute dream. This makes it a brilliant candidate for food photography shoots. The silent, continuous autofocus system will keep your subject firmly in focus no matter what you throw at it.

Even when making adjustments on the fly, your food pics will stay super crisp with vivid detail. This sharpness is further supported by Nikon’s extra-low-dispersion glass design. It effectively eliminates issues like chromatic aberration and results in a staggeringly sharp image almost every time.

Add Nikon’s anti-reflection coating to this design and you’re dealing with a lens that’s determined to stay sharply in focus when you work. For tricky food photography subjects with hard-to-focus on edges, this lens could be a Godsend.

Pros:

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Brilliant portrait and macro performance
  • Silent autofocus

Cons:

  • More versatile but more expensive

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How to Take Good Photos of Food

The lens and camera system you use will do a huge amount of heavy lifting for you when you take photos of your food. That said, there are several things that are worth keeping in mind when doing this type of photography.

An inexperienced photographer can definitely miss a trick or too if they haven’t read up on the basics. Read through our tips below and try implementing them next time you practice.

Multiple Angles

Don’t be afraid to approach your subject from different angles. Sometimes all it takes is a small adjustment up or to the side to get things looking perfect. Moving the food into a different environment can also prove beneficial.

Finding the right backdrop, surroundings, and lighting environment is crucial.

Lighting

Lighting is perhaps the most important aspect of all photography. Nail your lighting and you’ll stand a very good chance of success. For this kind of work, it’s best to take advantage of as much soft, diffused light as possible. Hard overhead or direct lighting will usually ruin a shoot like this.

If possible, take advantage of natural light from a window or other outdoor source. Alternatively, consider soft boxes and reflectors to drench your scene with as much diffused light as possible.

In very specific circumstances, taking advantage of more direct lighting can have interesting results. This is only worth considering if you know what you’re doing, however.

Read our lighting guide here.

Rule of Thirds

Composing your shot effectively is a huge part of good food photography. A favorite tool of photographers around the world is the trusty rule of thirds. This 3×3 grid of rectangles provides a helpful guide within which to frame your shot.

A good rule of thumb is to position your subject(s) within one or more areas where the lines of the grid intersect. Check your camera for a rule of thirds overlay when shooting – most have them these days.

Experiment with positioning your food in different areas of the grid and see what works best. Think about what actually needs to be in your shot and what you can afford to remove. The less clutter, the better in our opinion.

Consider a Tripod

A common complaint from newbies is that their images come out too blurry and without the sharpness you see in professional food photos. One cause of this problem is camera shake from users moving around too much when holding their cameras.

One great solution to this issue is a handy tripod. Setting up your camera on a tripod pointing where you need it to be can free up your hands and keep your shot nice and steady. Taking advantage of remote shutters like this one can further increase your level of control.

Looking for tripods? Check out our mega review here.

Narrow Depth of Field

Another reason behind disappointingly blurry food photos is the depth of field you’re using. When you see an incredibly sharp, delicious-looking image of food in an advertisement, you can bet that the photographer was using a lens with a depth of field that was nice and narrow.

If you want similar results, you’ll have to pick up a lens with the depth you need. Our recommendations above are full of excellent examples, so be sure to check them out if you haven’t already.

Color

Another aspect of great food composition is color. Think how you can compliment the color palette that’s present in the food you’re capturing. Can you put the meal in a bowl that brings out its deliciously rich color, for example?

Would a certain color work well for your backdrop? Asking questions like these can make it much easier to get the results you’re looking for.

Food Photo Equipment List

You don’t need a full studio setup to take great food photos. That said, it always helps to have the right equipment for the job. This section will run through some key pieces of equipment that can really elevate your food photography game.

Read on to learn more.

Reflectors

Reflectors like these give you the control you need over your available light. As the name might suggest, they allow users to reflect the light available to them and direct it where they’d like it to go.

When used correctly, these accessories can dramatically improve the contrast and overall result of your images. They fold away to practically nothing and are very easy to take with you. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Soft Boxes

To be clear, soft boxes aren’t strictly necessary here, especially if you’re not working professionally. However, they can be a phenomenal source of diffused light when you don’t have enough natural sources available.

As mentioned earlier, a good lighting environment for food pictures will use lots of soft, indirect light. For this reason, soft boxes are worth considering if you have the budget for them.

Tripods

We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating. Keeping your setup steady will significantly improve issues like camera shake and resulting image noise. If you want to take your food photos to the next level, consider picking up a decent tripod.

They’re useful for a huge number of photography scenarios so they’re pretty much a must-have if you want to improve as a photographer.

Camera

While great lighting and composition will do a lot of heavy lifting for you, your images will fall short if you don’t have the camera to back you up. Look for cameras with powerful sensors and good onboard image processing.

There’s no point sinking hundreds of dollars into lenses that your camera can’t power effectively. Also be sure that your specific camera is compatible with any of the recommendations outlined on this page.

Amazon offers a very useful compatibility checker on most of its lens listings. Simply fill out your camera’s model number for some much-needed peace of mind.

Best Lenses for Food Photography – The Takeaway

Remember that the best food photography lens will look different for everyone. Your specific requirements and use case will determine the lens that’s right for you. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a great food-ready lens might fall short in other areas.

If your photography work covers more than just food, you might benefit from a more versatile lens than some of the macro shooters listed above. If you’re new to taking this kind of photo, be sure to take advantage of the tips outlined in our guide above.

Practice makes perfect – the more you dive into this kind of work, the easier it will become. Whichever lens you choose, we hope it serves you well. Happy shooting!

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