Food Photography

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses for Beautiful Photos

From beginner to expert, budget to expensive, here are the 4 ultimate food photography lenses you’ll want to consider along the way.

Of course, any conversation about lenses needs to start with the ‘crop factor’. Essentially does your camera have a full frame sensor or a cropped sensor? If that went over your head, or you’re not sure check out this little intro.

My recommendation for these food photography lenses is based on having a full frame camera. If you have a cropped sensor, then you’ll have to take into account that additional cropping factor.

Most photographers when they start out will have a camera that has a cropped sensor. My advice is to invest in the best lens you can afford. Your lenses will stay with you throughout your photography journey, whereas you’ll upgrade your camera. Read 10 tips you should think about when upgrading your camera for food photography.

If you decide to upgrade your camera to full frame but you didn’t buy FX lenses (compatible with full frame), you’ll have to replace them. Ouch. That can be costly.

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.


4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses

I shoot Nikon, and I love the prime lenses in my kit. I use each of these lens when I am working.

This post isn’t about ‘exactly which’ lens to buy, but rather to consider the focal length that is flattering for food photography.

When shopping for food photography lenses, consider the focal length of the lens and what you’re trying to capture.

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

60mm Macro @f/5.6

What will be your next food photography lens? Click to take this guided exercise.

Read: The No.1 Mistake When Upgrading Your 18-50mm Lens


1. The 50mm ‘Nifty Fifty’

There is a reason why the 50mm is referred to as the ‘nifty fifty’. It’s an inexpensive lens, lightweight, great quality for the price and its focal length lends itself to many styles of photography. As far as food photography lenses are concerned, this is your entry level lens. But don’t let ‘entry level’ fool you.

This lens isn’t crap!

At its price point, it’s no wonder it has become a staple part of every photographer’s camera bag.

My Nikkor 50mm AF f/1.8D always go with me. On every shoot, on every holiday. I wouldn’t say it is my favourite lens, but it is my ‘safe lens’. I can rely on it and it gets me out of tight spots.

Why is the 50mm a great food photography lens?

It is great for flat lays, table scenes and capturing highly stylised stories where you need to include a lot of elements.

It’s a perfect lens to capture a wider scene so you can crop your images in post-processing to create a more powerful image without creating distortion that may come with a wider focal length such as a 35mm.

Use it in low light when you are shooting at cafes and restaurants as can go as high as f/1.4 and f/1.8.

How I use my Nikkor 50mm

The 50mm is usually my first go to lens for flat lays and overhead shots where I am trying to capture quite a few elements that connect the viewer to my food story.

I will also use it to provide a wide crop for minimal shots where I want to play around the crop of the shot in post-processing.

If you are looking to add a text element as an overlay and negative space is key, I use this lens to provide that option.

As I don’t tend to shoot food beyond f/3.5, I don’t use this lens to its highest aperture, (being f/1.8). But this high aperture is sure handy to have in low light when you are far away from your subject. 

I call this my ‘safe lens’ sometimes as I know if I am shooting on location or at a restaurant and the lighting is less than ideal I can get safe shots that will get me over the line. Whilst not ideal to shoot subjects on a 45 degree angle, it is a much better option than a 35mm.

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

50mm @f/4.5

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

2. The 60mm Micro/ 6omm Macro

The Nikkor 60mm Micro AF-S 2.8G was the first lens that I purchased all by my wee self and remains one of my favourites. It captures light so beautifully, is incredibly sharp, has one of the prettiest vignetting of any of my lenses and a short minimum focusing distance.

As far as food photography lenses go, this is one is for the smart photographer. Two-in-one, affordable and great quality.

You can read more about which specific macro lens you should buy for your food photography in this post I wrote.

Why is the 60mm Macro a great food photography lens?

It’s the perfect combination of (nearly) ‘nifty fifty’ and macro in one.

Obviously, it is not the same crop as a 50mm, as it is a 60mm, but it is pretty darn close and has macro qualities to boot. If you’re just getting started in investing in your lens collection this is a great combo of a 50mm with the versatility of macro qualities.

If your camera has a cropped sensor, (like my first camera Nikon D300 had a crop factor of 1.5), then the 60mm Macro will become more like a 90mm macro which is close to the professional Canon 100mm Macro. Another killing lens on this list!

60mm Macro Food Photography Lenses

How I use my Nikkor 60mm Micro AF-S f/2.8

I tend to use this lens like I would a 50mm. I shoot overhead with it a lot, especially when I need to get close to a subject.

When shooting at a 25-45 degree angle and I want to get a few more elements into the frame than a tighter crop like the 105mm allows for, I’ll go for this lens.

I rarely shoot below f/3.5 for a food shoot, so f/2.8 on this lens suits me perfectly.

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

60mm Macro @f/4.5

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

60mm macro @f/5.6


Behind The Scenes on how I use natural light with simple setups to create beautiful images every time.
(psst... with equipment you already have!)

Learn How To Manipulate Natural Light (Beyond the basic level) with Rachel Korinek

3. The 105mm Micro/ 100mm Macro

The Nikkor 105mm Micro f/2.8 is always with me on a food shoot.

Whilst food photography doesn’t equate to macro photography, (viewers will want to see more than a macro shot of a sesame seed on their burger), the ability to get close focus to your subject is where macro lenses come in handy.

As it is a more expensive lens when buying Nikon and Canon, Tamron also have a 90mm Macro that photographers I know swear by for a much more reasonable price.

Why is the 105mm Micro a great food photography lens?

It allows you to get those really flattering and tight 45 degree shots of your dish, whilst keeping a shallow depth of field for the background elements.

Wider angle lenses like the 50mm or the 60mm mentioned above don’t provide as flattering an image when used to capture your dish at 45 degrees. The closer you get with these lenses to ‘crop’ the dish at 45 degrees, the more distortion you’ll see. The dish won’t look right. A zoom lens like a 90-105mm focal length will provide much flattering images of your dish when shot at 45 degrees.

If you’re really considering adding a macro lens to your kit, you can read more about which macro lens to consider here.

How I use my Nikkor 105mm Micro

Overall I reserve this lens solely to shoot dishes with height at angles between 25 and 45 degrees.

I rarely shoot this lens at it’s highest aperture, choosing to stay around f/5.6 or f/8 as it has such a shallow depth of field.

The image is an example of this flattering angle shot at f/5.6. Still a gorgeous amount of blur!

As it is a very tight focal length, I do need to be a decent distance from the dish, so I need to have enough space to allow me to explore angles between 25-75 degrees.

This lens does have vibration reduction (VR) for when you are hand holding it, but my hands are still too shaky. I therefore primarily shoot with this lens on a tripod with VR off.

You can also shoot with this lens both overhead and straight on, I just tend to use other lenses for overhead and rarely shoot my subjects straight on.

4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses For Beautiful Photos | From beginner to pro, budget to expensive. Here are the 4 food photography lenses that you need to know to capture stunning images of food. Nikon, Canon and Tamron. This post will have you covered. Click to read.

105mm macro @f/5.6

There is no point in having a great lens if you’re not focusing on your subject correctly. You can read more in this post about how to use autofocus correctly in food photography.

4. The 90mm Tilt Shift/ 85mm Tilt Shift

A zoom tilt-shift lens may just be a pro food photographer’s lens of choice. It allows you to precisely control the plane of focus like no other lens can.

(Alas I don’t have one, but I rent now when I need it for a job. It is the next lens of my list).

Mix of focus/blur control. You can selectively control the plane of focus, allowing the dish at the front of the image to be super in focus, whilst the background story is superbly out of focus.

Angle/subject position control. You can shoot a dish at its most flattering angle, and control how much of the story/props around the frame are included without changing the camera angle, distance or the subject placement. This is really powerful for shooting cover or product/packaging images.

If you want to read more in-depth about the tilt-shift lens, you can read this post.


 Why is the tilt-shift a great food photography lens?

You can shoot a dish in its most flattering angle, having full control over the plane of focus. Allowing the dish to be perfectly in focus, with the surrounding elements out of focus.

Tilt-Shift Food Photography Lenses

Are you looking for your next food photography lenses? Trying to create better food images? Let me know what your considering buying in the comments below.



Two Loves Studio was not paid to write this post, however it does contain affiliate links. If you purchase a item from an affiliate link, Two Loves Studio does get a commission on the sale which goes towards continuing to provide awesome content. Only affiliates for products/services I believe in and that align with my values appear on this site.



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  • Reply Amanda August 25, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for a great post. Very helpful – I use two of the four listed but am still learning about their strengths. A question, what f-stop do you shoot your overhead shots at, please? You mentioned you keep it quite low and I tend to go higher but I am never happy with my overheads. Perhaps my f-stop is my issue.

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

      Hey Amanda, so glad you found it helpful! Some of these types of questions in photography are kinda like ‘how long is a piece of string’! It is so dependant on many factors that there isn’t a hard and fast rule. It will depend on how close you are to your subject, the heights of your subjects, the look you are trying to create and the lighting. I’d say if my lighting is fairly decent then I would start around f/5.6-f/4.5.

  • Reply Chaimae August 25, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Wah… There’s no more accurate word to describe these beautiful photographs ! The color of this beverage is mesmerizing ! Thank you, your blog is by far one of my favorite (even if there’s no recipes on it) because you’re always full of advices and (very) useful tips and how-to about food photography ! We can see you love your job (and maybe that’s the reason you’re good at it haha =D)

    Thank you ^__^

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Yep, no recipes around here. The internet is filled with so many great ones already. Thanks for the very kind words!

  • Reply Melissa August 25, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Alright now you’ve got me all confused. Ha. I’ve been saving for a new lense and thought I knew what I wanted. I’ve got a nifty 50 f/1.8, and a 24-105 f/4 L . I wanted to invest in a prime or maybe a macro lense of some sort. What would you recommend as the next investment as a food photographer? I was thinking maybe a 90mm macro or a 85mm prime? Thoughts/recommendations? I can’t decide.

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:29 am

      There is rarely such a simple answer when it comes to a new lens right? Do you have a cropped sensor or a full frame? I would first think about the shots that you really want to get but can’t with your current lenses. I find that helps steer me in the right direction.

      • Reply Melissa September 1, 2016 at 8:33 pm

        I’ve got a full frame camera. Maybe thinking of a macro since I don’t have one.

        • Reply Jonathan Thompson September 2, 2016 at 7:24 am

          Hey Melissa, have you thought of using macro extension tubes with your current lenses. They fit between the lens and the camera body allowing your regular lens to focus at a close up distance for really tight, macro shots. You can pick them up for £25-35 on Amazon.
          If you’re using your 24-105 for food and you use Adobe Lightroom to edit and organise your images, you can search your food photography folder and see what focal length you’re using the most. If you’re around 85, maybe that’s a good call, if it’s more around 100, you have more relevant info to make an informed decision.
          I always tell people to really work the kit they’ve already got. You have a focal range which is more than enough. If the image quality isn’t there, due to the lens, maybe it’s time to change up the kit. Often I found myself looking to more kit to solve a shooting issue, when it was me that needed to change things up and my technique.
          I’m pretty certain you’re shooting Canon. My 50 1,8 isn’t very sharp, until I get to f8, which is fine for overhead. The 24-105 is a bit of an old girl too, not the sharpest piece of glass in my bag, and there’s a new one coming out. I use the 100 f2.8L Macro, there’s a cheaper version I’d be tempted to purchase 1st, see if you like it, perhaps it will be great for you and no need to invest so much in the L lens. If you want to upgrade after 6 months because you love the 100 macro, then sell it and buy the L version, which is very good. Even renting a lens before the big buy can be a good route for some.
          I hope all that makes sense.

          • Rachel September 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

            Always a pleasure having your thought here, especially being a Canon shooter! Obviously most of my experience is with Nikon. I always, always rent or borrow lenses where possible. I know not everyone has that luxury. But something to think about for sure. What is your favourite lens?

          • Jonathan Thompson September 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm

            Ahh, thanks Rachel, I hate to see folks struggling with the same stuff I did starting out. I actually go a different route to most. After a recent business coach meeting and running through my personality and traits, doesn’t surprise me now. I mostly use the new 24-70 f4 with astonishing IS (Image Stabilising for anyone reading who doesn’t know) It’s reeeeeeeally sharp and covers the focal length I’m often using, 50-70, it can also do macro detail shots and no lens changing. I also bring in the saucy minx of my camera bag, the 100 Macro f2.8 L IS. Some how I always get a shot and view point I like with this lens. I even dusted off my 70-200 f2.8L the other day, just for giggles, and it brought in a view point I hadn’t thought of before and only that lens was going to give it to me. If the crowd is doing one thing I’ll be somewhere else experimenting. That doesn’t mean the crowd is wrong, but I can get creatively claustrophobic.
            With my subject matter being more varied than most my kit tends to be a little different. I’ll be borrowing a tilty shifty for some focal plane fun as the summer wanes for us and makes it’s way over to you. Play time is a good time 🙂

        • Reply Rachel September 2, 2016 at 2:09 pm

          That would be my pick for you where price permits. The 100mm before the 60mm. If you can rent one or borrow to test out before buying is ideal. Jon makes some good points! I haven’t done that myself, but I knew I would have the lens for life so saved up for it. Tamron is also a really good option. Jo from The Luminous Kitchen loves her 90mm Tamron macro.

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way August 25, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Hi, Rachel! This is such a good article. I’ll be sharing it with my food photography groups. I have a Nikon D7200 and my first lens is a Nikkor AF-S 50mm 1.4G. I plan on getting another food lens and an all around lens. Taking into consideration the crop factor, which lens would serve me the best? We are traveling for a month and I’d love a lens for outdoor shots and then my next food lens. I am getting the full frame lens because should I ever upgrade to a full- frame camera I wouldn’t want to start over.
    I looked at your workshop. Wish I could have been there. BTW did you have anything covering the windows to diffuse the light?

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Hey Marisa, do you mean diffuse the light at the workshop or in the images in this blog post?

      Is there shots that you currently want to get but aren’t able to with the lens you have? The 35mm is a good lens on a cropped camera as it will give you the feel of a 50mm. If you ever upgrade to a full frame the 35mm is really awesome for journalistic and travel photography and I know you travel often! I’d say if you see yourself using it for travel in the future (when a full frame comes along) then this will work well for you.

  • Reply Michele Garcia August 26, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Thanks Rachel-very helpful post! I just upgraded to a Nikon D810 ( from a D80) and purchased the 50mm f1.8G, and I have a 24-120mm 4G that came with the body. My D80 was a great starter camera, especially when I added a 40mm f2.8G lens, but I love the greater range and flexibility I have now with the D810. I will keep this list for future reference!

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

      That’s amazing Michele. I have the D800E so quite similar. It’s such an amazing experience when you get to full frame and see the lenses focal length for actually what it is. The world if your oyster now!

  • Reply shibani August 26, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    lovely article Rachel. I really need the Tilt – Shift lens. Have seen the pictures shot from this lens. Totally different.

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

      You and me both Shibani!

  • Reply Angelica August 28, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I am very new to food photography, why does it say 105 mm Micro/ 100 mm Macro? Or 60 mm Micro/ 60 mm Macro? Are those different lenses? My first le se was. 50 mm f 1.8 Canon lense, I’m saving for the next one, a macro lense, I was told the 35 mm would be a good purchase, but now I’m consideran de 60 mm, what do you think? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Rachel August 29, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Hey Angelica. Good question. If you take a look at the name of the lenses and the images of the lenses, you’ll notice that the Nikon macro lens is called a ‘micro’ lens and the Canon version is simply the ‘macro’. Essentially Nikon calls their macro lenses ‘micro lenses’. I shoot Nikon, and I know there are a lot of readers who have Canon, so I put both lenses up there.
      Do you have a cropped sensor or a full frame? The reason they say the 35mm is a good lens for a cropped sensor if that it will give you the feel of a 50mm. Which lends itself quiet well to food photography. If you ever upgrade to a full frame the 35mm won’t be so good for food photography anymore but rather travel and journalistic style images. Not a bad lens to have though as food often ties in with travel. I think a macro lens for food photography is really a must. If you can, I always advise to rent your options and see what you like. I’ve always done that in the past before I purchase.

  • Reply Angelica August 29, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Thanks Rachel, I have a cropped sensor, I’m still trying to understand how does that work, and what does it mean. I’m reading the article you mention here

    • Reply Rachel September 2, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Did that article help you at all Angelica? It can be confusing at first. I would have a think about what your lens current can’t do for you, and some sample images of what you’d like to create. Then we can see what sort of lens would suit that. Let me know!

      • Reply Angelica September 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm

        Thanks Rachel, I’m still trying to understand the effect of cropped camera, I need to read the article a few more times. i would love to be able to capture the texture of the food a little closer, for some things, like the little parts of the berries, or the sprinkles on a cupcake or the texture of puff pastry, that’s why I was thinking on getting a macro. i usually shoot with the 50 mm and I do some of the overhead photos with de 18-55 mm Lens that came with the camera, because I find it easier to Fiat everything in the frame with that lense, e en if I’m on a little bench I have to do this.
        I also want to let you know that you have inspired me to start My own A-Z project, Fritz and vegeta les, and I will be posting on My blog. :). So far, I’m on the letter C

        • Reply Rachel September 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

          I know it’s hard to grasp, but it will come and will really help you to make the right choices for what you are trying to achieve. I’d look into renting one if you can and have a play! If you still can’t work it out, please send me an email with what your struggling with and I will see if I can put it into a blog post for the future.

          I am pumped to hear about your A-Z project. You will learn a tonne of stuff! I like the little flower sugar cookies you have on there!

  • Reply Heather @Boston Girl Bakes September 3, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Such a well done article- the best I’ve read on food photography lenses! I’ve pinned it already! And now I want a 60 mm macro lens 🙂 And love the idea of renting a lens before idea you could do that! Great advice!

    • Reply Rachel September 9, 2016 at 8:54 am

      Oh Heather, you’re so sweet! Happy to heat that. I aim to teach. Yes, I always rent one. They are so pricey that it’s a blind commitment when you first start and are just beginning to understand lenses.

  • Reply Ami T September 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Rachel, thank you for another lovely post. I still remember the first day I found you on pinterest (2 years ago), I went on a “pinning” marathon of your blog. Your pictures and advices never once disappointed me 🙂
    A question for you, so I have a cropped d7000, a 35mm fixed and a 50mm fixed. I plan to shoot scenery (travel) and food mainly, so the Tokina 11-16mm is on my shopping list. However i am thinking of selling the 50mm to get a macro lense mainly for food, do you recommend the 60 over 105 or 90 tamron?

    Thank you so much!

    • Reply Rachel September 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Hey Ami! That is so lovely to hear. Great question. For me, I would think about whether I was ever going to upgrade to a full frame in the future. As that drove my lens choices when I was starting out. The 50mm is a great lens to have, (when it is actually a 50mm). The 60mm, 105mm and 90mm macros you mentioned are all great lenses, it just comes down to how you will be able to utilise them with your cropped sensor. The 60mm will be more like a 90mm, whereas the 105mm will be more like a 150mm (as I am sure you’re aware). If you were shooting with a full frame I would say the 90mm/105mm before the 60mm, but they will be so incredibly close that I would chose the 60mm over those for a cropped sensor. I have a full frame and I often use my 60mm, it is one of my favourite lenses so definitely isn’t a waste of a purchase if you upgrade to full frame. I hope that helps you. If you are able to rent some options before you purchase I highly recommend doing that as there is nothing quite like a test run to see if the results of the focal length will work for you.

  • Reply Kiki November 25, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Phew – glad I already own 3 out of 4 lenses, the 50, 60 and 105. I like them all, and the 60 is one I use for “everyday” photography and not specifically for macros. What realised on reading your post is that I never consciously think about angles in degrees. I think I need to pay more attention to that.

    • Reply Rachel November 30, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Wow! I used the 60mm for everyday too. It is a great lens. Did you have another way that you thought about angles? I’m intrigued.

  • Reply Livia December 16, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I just bought my first DSLR and want to use this for food photos. I’m a little confused. Would the 50 mm or 35 mm be better? I have a 1.6 crop sensor on the Canon t5i so my understanding is that the 50 mm will feel more like an 80mm? (ish?) and the 35 will feel more like the 50? which in essence is better then? the 35mm? but once on a full body the 35 wont be good for food because now its an actual 35mm? I was told to buy the 50mm for food photography but now it seems like the 35mm is better on a crop sensor? Can you clarify for me?

    • Reply Rachel December 16, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Hey Livia, thanks for reaching out! It sure can feel like a minefield to begin with. A lot of people will tell you a 50mm is a great lens (and they are correct), but the power lies in you figuring out exactly what you’re trying to achieve in your work. Personally I think a focal length of 50mm-85mm is a great place to start. 50mm will allow you to get more of a story into your scene and 85mm will allow you to capture intimate/minimalistic details of the dish itself. If you want a good all rounder lens, then the 50mm is your first choice. SO if you have a cropped sensor this would be a 35mm. Always invest in quality lenses and get the best for your money as your lens kit should grow with you no matter what camera you have.
      I think it is important to think about the future and if you will have a full frame, but at the same time you’ve got to be able to get the shots you want now. Life only happens in the present moment and that is where learning happens too.

      The thing about the nifty fifty is that you can pick up a really good one for real cheap. If you think you’ll want to upgrade in the future and have some space/distance to play with this lens then to get more in the frame you’d just move further from your subject. If on the other hand you think you’ll never upgrade and space is an issue then get the 35mm.

      As always, I recommend trying to rent or borrow these lenses to test them out before you commit. Having each one in the space in which you shoot in will instantly allow you to work out what is right for what you are trying to achieve!

  • Reply Livia December 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you so much for your reply and your educated opninion. It’s very appreciated. You’ve also helped clarify for me the specs. I can now visualize how these lenses differ 🙂

  • Reply Livia December 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Actually I have one more question for clarification if you don’t mind. Why would one buy the nifty fifty (50mm) lense if they have a kit lens of 18-55mm? I’m confused. Wouldn’t an 18-55mm have a broader range than just the 50mm? On the cropped sensor of 1.6 the 50 shoots like an 80mm but The 18-55mm would shoot like a 28-88mm. Wouldn’t that make buying the 50mm a waste because you can get that out of your 18-55? I may be totally wrong and just not understanding H kit lense? Please explain? LoL

    • Reply Rachel December 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Sure Livia! This is a great question and I am glad that you are thinking of these things rather than blindly following advice from others. There are so many factors to take into account with a lens purchase, and when you’re buying a lens there is more to it than just the focal length. E.g you buy a lens for the maximum aperture, the bokeh and vignette, whether it is a prime or a zoom, minimum focusing distance etc. Depending on the subject you shoot, these factors will have different weights on your decision.

      So the nitty gritty for your case (and a lot of new photographers will have the 18-55mm lens kit)… Prime lenses tend to be sharper than a entry level zoom kit like this one. You will also be able to have more access to maximum aperture levels, like f/1.4-1.8. Your lens kits max aperture is f/3.5. Whilst food isn’t shot at large apertures, it is nice to have when you shoot other things. The other thing to take into account is lens usually aren’t as sharp at their largest aperture. So if you got a 50mm 1.4, and you’re shooting around f/4.5 your lens will be sharper at that aperture than your current lens kit.

      If you are happy with using this lens at 35mm (to replicate a 50mm) then you can always save your money and invest in another lens. Be sure to work out what you want to achieve with a new lens that your current one isn’t allowing you to create!

      • Reply Livia December 18, 2016 at 3:20 am

        Again, thank you so much. This has helped me tremendously!

  • Reply Kai New York food photographer January 14, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    50mm and 60mm might be redundant. I would add 200mm. That focal length create some really beautiful shot.

    • Reply Rachel January 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Hey Kai! Yes a good photographer friend of mine Jonathan Thompson would absolutely agree with you on the 200mm! I am assuming that you are referring to have BOTH the 50mm and 60mm together? That’s a fair point. I do have and use both, but I think educating on both is powerful as everyone’s budget is different. Not essential to buy together if you’re starting out for sure. Like I always say, it’s best to work out what you want in a new lens so you can make a powerful choice!

  • Reply Heather February 10, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Love your site- so much helpful information!!! Question what do you recommend for those tabletop straight on shots to maybe get like a shot of a tower of cookies let’s say or something like that? I’ve been stuck in a rut using my 18-135 mm lens so I’m excited to break out my 50 mm/f1.8 again and see what I can do with it!

    • Reply Rachel February 12, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Glad you found it resourceful Heather! I would say for straight on shots like you are describing I would be using either the 60mm on a cropped sensor or the 100-105mm on a full frame. You could definitely use your 18-135mm, but be sure to make it like a pseudo prime lens (there is an exercise on this in my free resources library). This was you are moving your feet instead of the lens and getting a different perspective.

  • Reply Heather February 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Quick question- Have you ever tried using macro filters before? Would they be equivalent to a 60mm macro? I’ve been using my 50 mm f1.8 but feel like it doesn’t capture enough detail so looking to upgrade

    • Reply Rachel April 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I actually have not used them myself, but my husband has and he says they can be pretty good. Obviously not the same quality but it depends on what you’re going for. They might be able to get you 90% of the way there.

  • Reply Nehemiah March 5, 2017 at 12:34 am

    Hi Rachel, I am currently a student. I did quite a bit of research and I am not sure which one to go for however I shortlisted to 50mm f1.4/1.8(afs or afd, not sure which one will suit for me), 105mm VR f2.8, or the 100mm Tokina atx pro f2.8. I am planning to use it for macro/food/street photography. I do not have lots of funds to go for but I can save up if it is useful. Which would you recommend? I am using D7100 currently. I hope to have some advice from a famous food photographer like you! Thanks in advance:)

    • Reply Rachel March 11, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Hey Nehemiah! Based on what you want to use it for, if budget is a concern and that you are using a cropped sensor currently then I would say the 50mm. It will be harder to do macro with that lens obviously. Have you considered the 60mm macro that Nikon has? Might be a good combo for you. If you do have the ability to rent or test before you buy I always recommend that. It changed my mind for the better when I was purchasing lenses when I first started. It’s sometimes harder to visualise what we want until we can put it into practise! Let me know what you think.

  • Reply Cara March 17, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Hi Rachel! Your blog has been enormously helpful to me. I shoot a wide range of product photography at work with extremely limited space and glass. In my side gig life, I am just getting my first clients–and I have a specific question no one else has asked. I’m working on a canon 60D (cropped) and I’m taking good advice and upgrading my glass (from my nifty-fifty) for a product shoot before I upgrade the camera. That said, I’m looking for a lens that will keep the entire product sharp as I shoot it, with background bokeh. I understand of course that the aperture+tripod+manual focus will be key here, however, I’ve heard that many lenses just cannot handle keeping things sharp even with a dialed-in aperture, etc. So my question is, of all the lenses you’ve tried, is there one that keeps the bulk of a tabletop item (no bigger than a 12×12 cube) tack-sharp while also providing nice bokeh in the background? And thanks so much for all your efforts answering our queries, it’s incredibly appreciated!

    • Reply Rachel March 20, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Hey Cara! That’s so great to hear. Those things are true. The thing to also think about is aperture in conjunction with how far you are away from the subject you’re shooting. I would suggest for a cropped sensor that you go for the 60mm macro, (I love my Nikkor version, but I can’t speak for the Canon). Another option would be the 90mm Tamron if you have the space to shoot that focal length on the cropped sensor. You can also pull the product further off the background to increase the amount of bokeh you have. So using a larger background if you can and moving the product towards the front. Hope that makes sense! If you can rent either of these lenses to test them out with your set up before you committed I would highly recommend that. It can be a real game changer seeing the results in real time!

  • Reply Cy Gwynne-Heffner March 22, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Thank you so much for your insight into choosing the right lens for the right shoot….
    Loving your website and images by the way….. I shall definitely be using your advice in the future..


    • Reply Rachel March 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Cy, You are most welcome! Is there a lens that you are looking to add to your collection? Something you want to achieve? I’d love to know what your goals are!

      • Reply Cy Gwynne-Heffner April 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        Hi Rachel,
        Yes I’m just looking to improve my plated food shots and from I can see is that your advice on 50mm is the better choice…
        A lot of my experience is through trial and error as I am too impatient to read books… I do have some opportunities in the next couple of weeks to take some beautiful shots of food and I just wanted to better my end result..
        To be honest I just look at what i want to capture and click and shoot and hope for the best…
        I’m using a Nikon 3200 with a 18-55mm lens but on your advice I think I need to up my game..
        Please feel free to looks at my Instagram page and let me know what you think…
        Thanks for you time and help… much appreciated..

        • Reply Rachel April 6, 2017 at 8:35 pm

          Hey Cy! Sounds great. What was it about the 50mm that you thought can capture what your 18-55 currently can’t? Was it the aperture available? So pumped to hear that you have the chance to take some cool shots coming up! Enjoy and explore 🙂

  • Reply Sam Nawbar March 26, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Hi Rachel, i am a passionate amateur photographer. I learnt something very important after going through one of your replies. My challenge is I always get unwanted partial blur in my food subject. The other day I was trying to shoot small grains of Couscous and it was my principle subject, which I wanted all in focus. But I couldn’t. I am using a canon 5D mrkIII (full frame) with a package lens 24-105. Most of my shots had an aperture of f4. In order to get the whole lot in focus, I will try to step away from my subject and use f8 at most. Hope it would work. Thanks a lot.

    • Reply Rachel March 27, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Great to hear Sam! Yes distance plays a vital role and the relationship changes based on this. Please let me know how your experiement went! x

  • Reply Jesse April 18, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Rachel, thank you for the informative post. I have a cropped sensor Cannon 700D and want to upgrade my lens from the 18-55mm to give me a decent range of options for front-on product shots & overhead table styled shots. Also as a general use lens for travelling. After reading your post and the comments I’ve established for my purposes it would be best to go with the 24-70mm to allow for a possible upgrade to a full frame sensor down the track, whilst also allowing for the cropping. My main concern is the f4 aperture and losing out on macro. Would you recommend this over getting two separate lenses, for example a 35mm and a 60mm macro f2.8, beside the latter being the more expensive option?

    • Reply Rachel April 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Hey Jesse! You’re welcome and great to hear that you are starting to figure out options for yourself. I am assuming that you know you can get a 24-70mm 2.8, which alas will be more expensive than the f4. Where possible I would always recommend getting a lens that has those larger apertures. Even though a lot of the time I don’t shoot wide open for food, I need to have that option for low lighting and for the lens to be sharper at apertures of 4.5 and 5.6. Especially if you want to invest in this lens and keep it for travel down the road. I am a little biased here, as I favour prime lenses. I have both the 35mm and 60mm in my kit and use it for other things beyond food. BUT you’ve got to weigh up the trade off for yourself. If you can only afford something now and need to have a lens now then only you can decide what is most important. As lenses stay with you for life really (if you invest in the best), I would be inclined to either save up for the 24-70mm 2.8 (if that is what you have decided is best for you) OR get the two primes you’re talking about. I use both of them on the full frame.

      I know we tend to get anxious about getting ‘the correct’ that we will use forever and it’s hard to know what you will favour in 5 years! I have a couple of lenses I no longer use, so I will sell them and get something that appeals to my journey now.

      Hope that helps! Let me know what you decide 🙂

  • Reply Which Macro Lens for Food Photography Should You Buy? May 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

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  • Reply Gaby May 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I just want to say THANK YOU!!! and CONGRATS on your awesome blog. I have learned so much from it. I am new to the food photography world, I used to be all about portraits and recently fell in love with food photography; and believe you have helped me a lot! I love you photographs by the way!

    • Reply Rachel May 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Hey Gaby – I am so pleased to hear that. Thanks for stopping by. Keep in touch and enjoy the journey.

  • Reply Asmita BD June 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Rachel! I am an extreme amateur (if there is a things like that;)) to food photography, trying to teach myself the basics. I have a Canon 60D but I am unable to figure if it is a cropped sensor or a full frame. These technical terms really bog me down. Also, I have an EFS18-135mm lens and I feel I struggle to take close ups with blurred background and props, Am i doing something wrong or is it the lens which is a problem? Your advice would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!

    • Reply Rachel June 13, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Hey Asmita, the Canon 60D has a cropped sensor. Usually, a quick Google search ill be able to tell you if you are having trouble finding out. It can be tricky to get your head around. This lens will give you more depth of field (rather than less that you are after) because it’s the highest aperture is f/3.5-5.6 depending on the focal length selected. The lens isn’t a problem per say, it’s just this lens isn’t able to give you what you’re after with your food photography. So you’re definitely not doing something wrong, it is just your progressing past the lens capabilities for your vision. This is why I recommend the lenses in this post 🙂

      • Reply Asmita BD June 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

        Thanks so much Rachel! That’s super helpful!!! Looks like 60 or 100mm would be worth an investment 🙂
        Thanks again for your time and keep up the good work!

  • Reply Gabi Conac July 29, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Hi Rachel, what an amazing article. What do you think of DSLR vs mirrorless for food photography? And also, crop sensor vs full frame? Does it make a huge difference? I am looking at a Sony A 6000 or Sony a7. What do you think about them? What lenses for food photography can I get with them?

    • Reply Rachel August 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Hey Gabi! Great questions. I am not much of a ‘gear head’ and tend to come from a place of creating is what you do rather than the camera. I know that saying that I can cop a lot of flack, but I can create the same shot with a cropped sensor v full frame. There are definitely instances where a full frame is needed, but if you see in this post, I took the exact same shot with both sorts of cameras. I would say my best advice is to take a look at this post and then have a look at what images you are trying to create, what angles etc. I have an exercise in the Resource Hub (for free) which helps you break down which lens you can go with based on what you are trying to create! Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  • Reply Felix August 22, 2017 at 6:57 am

    This is very helpfull

  • Reply Galuh Prasetyawan August 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    hi rachel, i have Sony a6000 which is crop sensor ? what kind of lens that suits for me for food photography? do i need macro lens?

  • Reply Brooklyn Food Photography Composition Workshop Recap September 1, 2017 at 3:36 am

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  • Reply Dong November 10, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Thanks again mam Rachel,
    I am now beginning to learn more about food photography …..You’re my angel.


    • Reply Rachel November 10, 2017 at 8:23 am

      So glad you found it helpful!

  • Reply How To Blur Background of Food Photography In Camera November 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    […] READ POST […]

  • Reply sam December 18, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Thank you for this great article ! I have Nikon D5500 does 60 mm lense is compatible please
    thank you so much

    • Reply Rachel January 5, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Hey Sam, you can use any FX lens on any body even cropped sensor, it’s the DX lenses that can’t work on full frame. Are you thinking about getting one?

  • Reply Thomas December 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Hi, Thanks for this great article. I am using Canon PowerShot G7 for my blogging use. I will definitely try the 90mm one.

    • Reply Rachel January 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Awesome, I have some friends who swear by their Tamron 90mm!

  • Reply Sharon January 23, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Rachel
    I am just about to upgrade my camera to the Canon 5D Mark iv. But I am still a bit confused on what lens to get. I already have the 50mm 1.8. I shoot mainly food and travel shots so was thinking of the 60mm to get to use every day too would that be a good idea or would you recommend the 100mm?
    Thanks so much!

    • Reply Rachel January 26, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Hey Sharon! Congrats on the upgrade. How exciting for you. As you’ll have a full frame now and have a 50mm, I would say go for the 100mm macro if it’s in the budget. Not only will you have a tighter crop, but you can capture gorgeous 45 shots that wouldn’t be as powerful with the wider focal length of 60mm. Otherwise, if you can’t get the 100mm now, you can always sell the 60mm if you take good care of it!

  • Reply Petra Bornman February 6, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    I just started a photography course and my first assignment is to describe which lenses to use in product photography. My choices were 100mm Macro or 90mm Tilt-shift lens, but I was not sure about it. Your article has been much help indeed!

    • Reply Rachel February 7, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      So great to hear that Petra! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply biura nieruchomości Opole February 10, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Nieruchomości Opole i Opolskie. You’re good
    to go!

  • Reply Anna February 12, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Hi Rachel, I am new to food photography and wanted to buy camera+lens to get great food shots. I am on budget what camera and lens shall I start with? There is so much information out there! Thank you. Anna

    • Reply Rachel February 12, 2018 at 8:15 am

      There sure is Anna! It’s hard to say exactly which camera, as they are always updating and adding new features. I did a post here on what you should think about for a new camera. Both Nikon and Canon will get you what you need. It’s more important if you can to invest in good lenses, they will last you. I shoot Nikon and love it, but Canon has an upper edge over the market right now and is more popular. That can help with getting advice and borrowing gear. OK SO which lens, if budget is an issue you can’t go wrong with the nifty 50 in this post. (Either Canon or Nikon) Great lens and super cheap.

      • Reply Anna February 16, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Thank you Rachel! I really appreciate your advice.

  • Reply faizan rehman February 12, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for the lovely Article i have Nikon D7200 Dslr With 18-140mm i recently bought this Camera at online store Telemart now i am thinking about changing lens so now which lens should i buy for photography?

    • Reply Rachel February 19, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Welcome I would recommend any of these lenses in this post, but really you need to think about budget and if you think you’ll ever upgrade to full frame. For the budget conscious, the 50mm is amazing. If you want a macro, then go for the 60mm(if you’ll never get a full frame) 105mm if you think you will get one in the future. This will be super close on a cropped sensor. You can easily see the focal lengths by using the one you already have and ask yourself if that’ll work for you 🙂

  • Reply Vickie March 27, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Thank you Rachel ! I shoot Nikon full and crop sensor cameras. I have the Nikon 85mm macro lens that I use on the D7100 which equals 105mm. Some might like it. I also find the 50mm one of my favorite lens to always have with me. I generally shoot outside but recently I was given a food assignment. I really appreciate your food advice.

    • Reply Rachel April 5, 2018 at 4:46 am

      That’s great to hear. All awesome lenses. I love my 85 mm too.

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  • Reply Kristen April 30, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Hi Rachel!

    Thank you for such a helpful post! I’ve been looking to upgrade my lens for a while now and you’ve steered me in the right direction.

    Question: I currently shoot with a d810 and generally use my 40mm 2.8 micro or my 50mm 1.4. Like you said in the post, the nifty fifty is great for overhead but challenging for any angle shots. I’d like a lens to help with this. The 105mm 2.8 seems like a great option, but I’m really curious about the 85mm tilt shift lens. I’ve never shot with a tilt shift lens before. In your opinion, is it worth the steep price tag? It’s a hard price to swallow but if the images are crystal clear and picture control is top notch then it’s something I’ll consider.


    • Reply Rachel May 23, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Hey Kristen! That really depends on preference and budget I think. Personally, I would start with a macro. It is a cheaper option and every foodie should have one in their kit. The 85mm tilt-shit is what you’d ideally want if you are shooting commercial, advertising or cookbooks. Remember that if you keep your lenses in good condition then you should be able to sell them later on. I would say that if you can rent either to play around with first, that is the best idea to work out what would work for you. But I think for what you’re shooting the macro is a better starting point.

  • Reply Mel May 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I just bought my second dslr. A d7100 – I sold my d7200 because I realised I couldn’t afford a single lens :O
    Anyway I have an 18-55 and 55-300 that came with the camera (purchased secondhand) but I am getting the 50mm soon. I was undecided between the 35mm and the 50mm… I do plan on upgrading to a full frame eventually so it would be nice to not have to worry about lenses…

    I really appreciate your well written insight… Also the sample photos really helped solidify my decision!

    • Reply Rachel May 23, 2018 at 7:57 am

      Perfect Mel! Did you come up with a decision? The nifty 50 is just so inexpensive and performs well that it really is a good starting point. For a cropped sensor though, it will be hard to do large flatlays and food scenes. So if that is a must for you then the 35mm is what you want. It also doubles as a great restaurant scene less and travel lens when you upgrade to full frame. Unfortunately when you have a cropped sensor choices are a little harder, so knowing what your style is and your current limitations will help. Also getting a lens that can do to 1.2-2.8 will help you immednsivley which those zooms can’t do.

  • Reply annie May 12, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    I’m just starting and these tips are great! Just the right stuff to get me started without breaking the bank. So grateful to you for sharing these invaluable tips! I am still getting to know my camera, but I have been enjoying every second if it. I bookmarked your site .

    • Reply Rachel May 23, 2018 at 7:57 am

      So excited to hear that Annie! Let me know what you end up ordering!

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  • Reply Eugene Man July 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Good Day Rachel

    I am investing some specific Nikon electronics and any gears, into Food Photography. I have bought a Nikon DSLR D700 which is a Full Frame Sensor digital camera body only. Do you have any tips on specific Nikkor Prime Lens for Indian food? ie. wide focal length to capture more area of the entire jumbo plate.. ..usually the stainless steel plate has types of curry, rice, dosa, roti and you name it.. Lol haha.. therefore the reason for a wide angel focal length Prime lens by Nikkor is important to my investment of Food Photography..

    Regards, Eugene.

    • Reply Rachel July 2, 2018 at 3:00 am

      Hi Eugene. It’s not specially about the ‘type’ of food, but rather the style of photography. If you want to shoot your Indian dishes minimal, more portrait style – narrow lenses will be what you want. If you want to shoot a food scene with lots of elements and dishes, do wider.

      If you’re after wider food scenes with lots of dishes that make an Indian meal, I’d say a 50mm is a great focal lentgth to have.

  • Reply Kylie Chambers July 14, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Rachel, thanks so much for this article it was very helpful. I have a Canon 77D crop sensor camera and I’m struggling to find any macro lenses that can work on both crop sensor and full frame cameras should I wish to upgrade in the future. The two lenses I’m looking at are Canon EF-S 35mm macro f2.8 IS STM and Canon EF-S 60mm f2.8 macro USM which are only compatible for my crop sensor. I do have my nifty fifty which I can use on both. I’m not familiar with any other brands. In terms of my photography I am wanting to do flatlay and at 45 degrees. Any guidance would be fabulous.

    • Reply Rachel July 24, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Hey Kylie, awesome that you are thinking this through. Canon should have one that will work on both I would think. Nikon does, and that’s the one I first used and still use today. (posted in this blog post). My next thought would be to take a look at Sigma.

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