100mm/105mm or 60mm?
Adding a macro lens for food photography to our kit is really exciting, (I know, I know. I’m a total dork). But seriously, it’s kinda a sign that we are progressing in our food photography journey and are ready to explore new ways of composing our images!
One of the most common questions that I get from creatives is regarding lenses, lens upgrades and which lens should you add to your kit. Most of the time we are upgrading or adding to our kit, we’re doing this from wider focal lengths like the 18mm-55mm (which has a different minimum focusing distance and maximum aperture to a macro).
A macro lens for food photography will allow you to explore composition and go beyond overhead shots, which are a little easier to compose (and do well) than 45-degrees.
So which macro lens will it be?
In one of my most popular posts about lenses, 4 Ultimate Food Photography Lenses for Beautiful Photos, I talk about (of course) the four most common and beautiful lenses that food photographers will want to think about adding to their kit. I also chat about how I use each lens I recommend.
And the BIG question is always, which lens should I get for a cropped sensor vs a full frame…
For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I like to empower others to make their own choices. Knowledge is power right? So normally I lay down the education and let you decide. So after you’ve filled your cup with knowledge from my most popular lens post, I’m going to throw it out there that this is what I’d recommend based on whether you currently shoot with a cropped sensor or a full frame.
But what makes me so sure? Well, this is what I did when I was starting my journey and it worked for me. Therefore I’d do it again 🙂 As I shoot Nikon, these are the two lenses I have (love) and use. Canon equivalents are interchangeable for this post.
Let’s dive in.
The evidence. Full frame v cropped sensor.
When we are trying to improve our work, we tend to think that one major thing will improve our images – aka a new lens. But that isn’t always the case.
I know when you have saved your business pennies to purchase a new macro lens for food photography, we can still feel hesitant about which macro lens is better? Rather than thinking which lens will work for the camera and sensor we have.
I come from a camp that views things as YOU are the one that makes the great photo, not (solely) your gear. Therefore, here are two images that I took. One with my Nikon D800 and my Nikkor 105mm 2.8 AND the other my Nikon D300 and my 60mm 2.8.
What do you think?
NOTE: They were taken from on a tripod which was not moved throughout the shoot. Edited the same, with the same settings. You can see the slight difference in the amount of light between each lens.
The 100mm/105mm macro lens for food photography.
If you’re shooting with a full frame, this lens is calling for you!
This lens was one of the ultimate lenses that I looked forward to adding to my kit just before I started to freelance. She’s a bit pricey, but kind of an essential focal length to capture those beautiful 45-degree shots that we all love.
It allows us to get those really flattering and tight 45 degree shots of our dish, whilst keeping a shallow depth of field for the background elements. It’ll cut through the distortion at this angle that you get when you shoot with a wider focal length like a 50mm.
You’ll have a better minimum focusing distance and some great maximum aperture options.
Why do I recommend the 100mm/105mm macro over the 60mm macro for full frame users?
When shooting with a full frame, the focal length you use is the focal length you see. There is no crop factor to deal with. So a 100mm macro lens on a full frame is a 100mm. Likewise, a 105mm macro lens on a full frame is a 105mm.
And you guessed it, a 60mm macro lens on a full frame is a 60mm.
Shooting with a 60mm macro lens on a full frame camera won’t allow you to capture those gorgeous 45-degree shots and get those really flattering shallow backgrounds that a 100mm/105mm will produce. Nor should food photography be macro photography either. We need to see a bit more of the scene and story to really connect. So the 60mm on a full frame is going to act more like a 50mm, and you’ve most likely already got a 50mm. You’ll most likely use it for overhead and wider shots.
Learn more about how I use these lenses. Click below to read!
The 60mm macro lens for food photography.
If you are shooting with a cropped sensor, then this guy is ready for your kit!
This was the first lens that I purchased, so I totally have a soft spot for it (and still use to today). It captures the light so beautiful and is ever reliable.
As far as food photography lenses go, this is one is for the smart photographer. On a cropped sensor you can use it like a 90mm (close enough to the 100mm), and if you ever upgrade you can still use it like you would a 50mm. It also helps when space is an issue for you as you can get closer to your subject.
When shooting in combination with a cropped sensor, this lens will act more like a 100mm and allow you to get those really flattering and tight 45 degree shots of our dish with that shallow background we all drool over. It’ll cut through the distortion at this angle that you get when you shoot with a wider focal length like a true 50mm.
Why do I recommend the 60mm macro over the100mm/105mm macro for cropped sensors?
There are a couple of reasons here. Cropped sensor cameras are generally less expensive than full frames and we are starting out, it’s smart to get started and invest in what we can afford. (There is no point in having the best gear when we start out as we really don’t know how to get the most out of it. You can always sell your old gear and upgrade later).
So investing in less expensive lenses isn’t unwise, investing in expensive lenses that you don’t need is.
On a cropped sensor the 60mm macro lens is more like a 90mm (where you have a crop factor of 1.5) and this is pretty darn close to the 100mm macro lens and will (yes, I know I sound like a broken record) allow you to capture those beautiful 45-degree shots.
If you go for the 100mm/105mm macro lens on a cropped sensor you will be shooting at a focal length of 150mm (where you have a crop factor of 1.5) and this is going to be a super tight crop. If space is an issue, or if your style focuses on a lot of styling and story – this will be super frustrating on a cropped sensor.
Getting the 100mm/105mm macro lens for food photography on a cropped sensor.
There is always exceptions to the rules right?
So when would I recommend investing in the 100mm/105mm macro lens when you have a cropped sensor. This would be an unequivocal yes if you are planning on upgrading to a full frame in the near future and have the budget for it.
I still use my 60mm macro lens for food photography on a full frame, but I have the luxury of having both lenses to play with.
Resale values of lenses are always lower, so if you know that you will be upgrading, have the space to shoot on a cropped sensor until you do – then this would be my pick.
Did this post give you some clarity about which macro lens for food photography you might get next? Let me know which macro lens you’re going to go for!
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