Best Lens for Food Photography

Food photography is gaining popularity at a really fast rate, and it’s almost impossible to go onto any social media platform these days without being bombarded with shot after shot of stunning food. 

However, whilst most people are quite satisfied just using a smartphone to capture a quick shot of their dish, it’ll definitely never do the job when it comes to professional food photography. 

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Whether you’re shooting images for a recipe book or producing photos for the website of a high end restaurant, one piece of equipment you need to add to your kit is a lens that has been specially designed to pick up on every detail of the food and make your photographs look good enough to eat.  

But with so many options available, and with each one providing different features, finding the best lens for food photography can become a little bit tricky. So, to help take the hard work out of it, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites below, along with a super useful buying guide that’s packed with hints and tips on what to look out for when you’re making your purchase. 

Let’s begin with our top pick…

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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135) format is 47 degree and the maximum reproduction ratio is 0.15X
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)
  • Newly developed optical system with aspherical lens element, exclusive Nikon silent wave motor (SWM)
  • M/a focus mode switch, filter thread 58 millimeter, autofocus: Yes. Dimensions (approx.) (from the camera lens mounting flange): Approximately 2.83 inches diameter x 2.01 inches
  • Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both fx and dx format d SLRS

Best Lens for Food Photography – Comparison Table

Best Lens for Food Photography- Reviews

Our Pick
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
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With a 50mm focal length, the AF-S Nikkor Lens from Nikon will give you the opportunity to focus on every single detail of the dish you’re photographing whilst simultaneously blurring out the background, providing you with an image that gives focus solely on the food.  

It’s super fast f/1.8 aperture also allows this lens to capture smaller details and produce high quality images even in low light conditions, which is ideal when you’re trying to take that perfect food picture in a dimly lit restaurant, or if you’re attempting to capture the ambience as well as the food itself. 

This lens also features a newly developed optical system with an aspherical lens which helps to virtually eliminate coma and aberration, and an innovative silent wave motor which quickly and quietly autofocuses your lens, allowing you to get that super sharp image at lightning speed.

Another thing you’ll notice about this lens is that it’s incredibly lightweight. This makes it a great choice for taking with you from shoot to shoot and, when matched with it’s compact size, also means that you can easily store it in your photography bag without weighing you down. Complete with a 5 year warranty, you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality lens that will really take you food photography to the next level.

Pros
  • The 50mm focal length allows you to focus on every detail of the food you’re photographing whilst simultaneously blurring out the background for a super clear shot.
  • It’s f/1.8 aperture is super fast and helps to deliver high quality images even when the light levels are low.
  • Features an optical system with an aspherical lens that eliminates both coma and aberration.
  • Also features a silent wave motor that quickly and quietly autofocuses the lens.
  • Is lightweight enough to carry anywhere without weighing you down, and comes complete with a 5 year warranty
Cons
  • This lens doesn’t feature a zoom function, however this is a rarely used feature for food photography

Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens with Built In Motor for Nikon Digital SLR (Model A17NII)
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Compatible with a wide range of cameras, the AF70 Macro Lens from Tamron is the ideal choice if you like to switch up the camera you’re working with but don’t want the expense of having to find an appropriate lens for each one.  

It also has a really wide range of focal lengths from 70mm-300mm, which allows you to get a really clear shot of your food from a variety of distances and positions whilst simultaneously slightly blurring the background and providing greater detail on the subject you’re shooting. 

This lens also features a built in motor that ensures fast, accurate focus that works in perfect harmony with the telephoto zoom to crop your image tightly and bring more distant subjects close to the frame. 

Perhaps the most impressive feature of this lens however, and certainly one that will greatly improve your food photography skills, is the Macro Switchover Mode. This gives the lens a magnification ratio of 1:2, and focuses on really small details such as a scattering of sesame seeds or flakes of sea salt delicately strewn across a dish and captures them with greater clarity than a standard lens. An included 6 year warranty and protective lens  cap are also included with this lens.

Pros
  • Compatible with a wide range of cameras, making it ideal for anybody that likes to switch between camera models whilst shooting.
  • Has a focal range of 70mm – 300mm that gives you a super clear shot whilst blurring out the background.
  • Also has a built in motor that provides fast focus and works with the telephoto zoom to crop close-up images and bring distant subjects closer.
  • Features an incredible Macro Switchover Mode that gives the lens a magnification ratio of 1:2 and allows you to focus on the tiniest details with unrivalle
Cons
  • This lens doesn’t have any image stabilization features

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Nikon DSLR Camera
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Packed full of features that allow you to get super clear and extremely detailed shots, the 105mm HSM Macro Lens from Sigma is a wonderful choice for anybody looking to take their food photography skills up a notch and offers an advanced performance when shooting close-up photography.

It’s optical stabilization system holds the frame steady whilst you take your photo and ensures that you’re getting super clear images even when shooting in a handheld fashion. Meanwhile, it’s hyper sonic motor provides super quick autofocus as well as giving you the ability to manually focus when required, meaning you’ll have greater control over the quality of the image.

The design of this model also features a Special Low Dispersion Lens (SLD) and one High Refractive Index Lens which work together to completely eliminate the chances of coma, aberration and distortion, giving you peace of mind that each and every shot you take will come out clearly and in high definition.

This lens also features a Macro Mode which gives you a magnification ratio of 1:1 and allows you to take super clear shots of even the tiniest details, whilst the 9-blade diaphragm further enhances the clarity of your shots by creating a blur to the out of focus areas of your shot. The design is also completely splash-proof, so you can use it confidently in both domestic and commercial kitchens, and the lens has been specially coated to prevent flare and ghosting.

Pros
  • Designed with an optical stabilization system that ensures the frame is held steady even when you’re shooting in a handheld fashion
  • The hyper sonic motor gives quiet and lightning fast autofocus, and also allows you to manually focus the shot whenever you need to
  • Features a Special Low Dispersion Lens and a High Refractive Lens that work together to totally eliminate any aberration or distortion
  • The Macro Mode provides a magnification ratio of 1:1 and gives you the ability to take incredibly clear photographs of the tiniest details
  • It is also splash proof so is ideal for using confidently in a kitchen
Cons
  • People that previously purchased this lens noted that it is quite heavy, so it may not be the best choice for carrying around all day long

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, Lens Only
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Next up is a telephoto lens that is rather budget-friendly compared to other Sony lenses on the market. The zoom range is 82.5 to 315mm, allowing you to use the camera to shoot a wider range of different images. Bear in mind that this is a cheaper lens that won’t offer you the optimal quality, but it’s still an excellent choice for beginners or people on a budget. 

The E 55-210mm comes equipped with Optical Steady Shot which will allow your a6000 to capture stabilized images. The lens weighs a mere 12.16 ounces, so it won’t affect your ability to hold the camera up for long periods of time. 

This lens comes with a circular aperture made up of seven blades, which allows you to use a bokeh effect on your images, which gives them a new depth and more impressive final result. Sony suggests that this lens is best suited for shooting nature or sports photography.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly lens.
  • Integrated stabilization.
  • Great for sports and nature photography.
Cons
  • A few customers complained about poor quality control.
  • Takes a bit of finessing to find the right settings.

Tokina at-X PRO M 100mm F2.8 D Macro Lens - Nikon AF Mount
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Constructed using a combination of spherical lens elements, the AT-X Pro-D Macro Lens from TOKINA is guaranteed to provide you with sharp focus and high definition when you’re shooting food whilst simultaneously eliminating any aberration or distortion on your images.  

A macro lens with a magnification ratio of 1:1 makes the subject you’re shooting the same size as the sensor on your camera, giving it a life sized reproduction and allowing you to capture even the smallest details with increased definition. It also features a nine-blade diaphragm that will blur out any backgrounds and pull focus directly onto the subject you’re shooting.

This lens also features a focus limiter switch that allows you to lock the focus and gives you even more control over the quality of the image produced, as well as One Touch Focus Clutch that gives you the opportunity to easily switch between manual and automatic focus. 

The glass lens has been treated with multiple layers of a transparent, anti-reflective coating that ensures each and every shot is clean and sharp, as well as helping to maintain consistent color reproduction. Complete with a three year warranty, this is a lens that will last a long time and help you capture some amazing food shots.

Pros
  • Designed using a combination of spherical lenses that ensure high definition and sharp focus
  • The macro lens has a 1:1 magnification ratio, allowing you to capture even the tiniest detail in high definition
  • A nine blade diaphragm also helps to ensure image clarity by blurring out the background
  • Features a focus limiter and allows you to switch between manual and automatic focus
  • Multiple layers of a transparent, anti-reflective coating have been added to the glass to ensure consist color reproduction and help ensure each shot is clear
Cons
  • Some people that previously purchased this lens noted that the autofocus was quite slow and that there was quite a lot of ‘hunting’ before the subject became clear

Best Lens for Food Photography – Buyers Guide

When it comes to getting the perfect picture of a delicious plate of food, a lens that has all of the features you need to get a clear image that shows every little detail is an essential addition to your photography kit.

However, before you dive straight in and purchase the first lens you come across, it’s really important to make sure that it is suitable for your camera and is able to help you achieve the shot you’re looking for. 

Below, we’ve outlined some points to bear in mind when you’re shopping around, each of which will help you ensure you get the best lens for food photography the first time around.

Compatibility

The first thing you need to be absolutely certain of is that the lens you’re looking at is compatible with your camera. Some lenses are made to only work with the same brand of camera as the lens itself, so if you don’t look into this properly you could be wasting your time and money.

Luckily, there are many lenses that are compatible with a wide range of cameras which doesn’t only take the guesswork out of making sure it will work with your camera, but also broadens your horizons on the features you can have. This type of lens is also a really good option to go for if you like to switch between cameras as you work, and takes away the expense of needing separate lenses for each different camera. 

Of course, if you have a favored brand then there is no problem with sticking with that. However, it is also important to make sure that the lens you’re considering is compatible with your camera’s model, not just the brand. 

Lens Type & Diaphragm 

Although ‘lens’ is the term for summing up the entirety of the piece of equipment, there are different lenses used to form the overall lens itself, and it’s important to take some time to research what type of lenses are being used in the model you’re thinking about purchasing. 

This is usually split into two different lens types, the first of which is known as a ‘Special Low Dispersion’ (SLD) lens. This type of lens is used for eliminating chromatic aberration and ensuring that the color of the subject you’re shooting is reproduced as true to life as possible. 

The second of these lenses is known as a ‘High Refractive Index’ (HRI) lens, and this is designed to allow more light to pass into the lens and therefore capture clear images even when the light levels aren’t particularly good. 

There are lenses that are constructed using a combination of both SLD & HRI lenses, and these are a really good option to go for as they will offer you the best of both features and help you produce super clear images each and every time.

Something else to look out for when you’re looking at lens type is the diaphragm it has. The purpose of this is to help pull more focus onto the subject you’re shooting, and it will produce a blur (otherwise known as ‘Bokeh’) on the background of the image.

A nine bladed diaphragm would be the best option to go for when shooting food, as you’ll be able to get a better definition of each ingredient without any background interference pulling focus. 

Macro Mode

Although macro photography is most commonly associated with nature, it’s actually a really good thing to look for when you’re shooting food. This is because it is designed to magnify the subject and reproduce it into a life sized way to your camera’s sensor. 

This means that you’ll be able to get super close up shots of food, and of every tiny detail right from the garnish to the smallest grain of rice on the plate with extreme high definition. 

Macro modes are available in different magnification ratios, usually either 1:1 or 1:2. Put simply, a 1:1 will magnify your subject at one ‘life sized’ reproduction to your camera's lens, whilst a 1:2 will magnify it twice as much. Both are equally good for food photography, so the choice really comes down to personal preference and the type of food you’re planning on shooting. 

Focus Modes

To get a great shot of your food, you’ll also need to make sure that your lens is able to provide you with super clear focus. Again, there are a couple of options you can look for here.

The most commonly used focus mode is ‘autofocus’. As the name suggests, this works by the lens looking for the subject and automatically focusing itself until it becomes as clear as possible. This is a preferred method amongst many photographers as it takes the hard work out of manually focusing and gives you the opportunity to get your shot in a quicker time.

However, if you do have a preference for manual focus then there are lenses available that will let you switch between the two modes. This gives you even more control over the quality of the image you’re producing and allows you to make small adjustments to the focus whenever you may feel it’s necessary to do so.

One really good feature to look for as well in a lens is a focus limiter. This will allow you to lock the focus at a certain distance, so that when the autofocus mode is selected it will spend less time searching for the subject and won’t go outside of the area you’ve locked it into.

Image Stabilization

When you’re shooting food photography, you’re probably going to be out and about and moving around a restaurant or a kitchen, so it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to have the full tripod and studio setup. 

This means that you’ll be doing a lot of handheld photography, so it’s a good idea to look at getting a lens that offers an image stabilization feature. This will allow you to shoot freely without having to worry about keeping absolutely still, as it will hold the frame in place and keep the image steady as you shoot. 

This is also really good if you’re shooting close ups, as your hands could easily become shaky as you concentrate on getting the shot right. 

Portability 

As we touched on above, you’re most likely going to be out and about when the opportunity to take an awesome food photograph arises. So, with that in mind, it also important to consider how portable your lens is going to be. 

A lightweight lens is usually the best option to go for when considering portability, as you’ll be able to store into your photography bag or keep it attached to your camera without it adding any extra weight as you travel around. 

It’s important to think about the size of your lens here as well, as not only will a larger one be heavier but it will also be much more difficult to store and transport with you all day. Luckily, advances in technology have presented us with really compact lenses that are capable of producing the outstanding images you’d traditionally need a larger lens for without being nearly as cumbersome. 

Extra Features

Good quality lenses are an expensive investment, so it’s also worth seeing what other features you can get for your money. 

One really good thing to look for in a lens, particularly if you’re looking for one to use for food photography, is that it has been designed to be splash proof. This makes it ideal for use in commercial kitchens or on recipe shoots, and you’ll be able to rest assured that if something were to accidentally splash onto your lens it wouldn’t get damaged.

Some lenses also feature a special coating on the glass. This is another really good feature as it will help to prevent any scratches from occurring whilst it’s in use and will help to keep the lens clean, which in turn will enable you to produce clear shots every time. These coatings can also help to ensure a consistent color reproduction, so not only are they great for protecting your lens but can also help to produce a great quality photograph.

Warranty

Finally, it’s really important to look at what type of warranty your proposed lens comes with. Some brands will offer you cover for repair or replacement for up to six years, which is a testament to the quality of the lens itself. 

Many warranties do need to be sent off or activated in order to become effective however, so make sure you read the small print and follow the brand’s procedures to the letter. 

Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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