Art and Photography

camera for food photography

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 10th, 2017 9:09 pm
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
273 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville

camera for food photography

I'm planning to do a cookie business and I need to get a camera to take pictures for my website and interesting cool pictures for instagram.

I wanted to know what is the best camera for my situation. I definitely want to get a live view feature so I watch it while adjusting the look

I know it important to get lighting and food/props placement as well. But I wasn't sure on what is the best lighting situation, i heard about diy lighting and how it a lot cheaper than buying lighting equipment
26 replies
Sr. Member
Aug 25, 2015
959 posts
217 upvotes
Montreal, QC
an entry dslr is all you need for your specific need. it comes down to the lens more than anything else
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
3276 posts
314 upvotes
Toronto
Agreed with the above. Lens and lighting will be more important than the camera itself.
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 5, 2010
847 posts
234 upvotes
All above + get a tripod if you intend to use daylight. The cheapest light source is the light from a window and if it gets a little less bright, on the tripod, you can set it at any shutterspeed no matter how slow, at base ISO and it'll look great.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Mar 31, 2008
9629 posts
1281 upvotes
Toronto
Do you want pictures with alot of 'boceh' (blurred background?). Then you need to get a longer lens (higher mm which is generally used for portraits) and generally lower F (1.8 vs 2.4) which lets in more light.

Of course getting supplemental lighting set up results in less of a need of a lower F number lens.

Then you have post editing. You'll definitely be editing. Agreed as above. Best to post your question the 'Camera' section of RFD, and maybe show some samples of what you're hoping to achieve, where you'll be shooting, under what conditions, budget. You'll get a lot of expert advice there.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
273 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
sumtimw0ng wrote:
Nov 27th, 2017 8:07 am
an entry dslr is all you need for your specific need. it comes down to the lens more than anything else
Yeah I agree with that

What are the entry level options?

Is it better to have a live view feature so I can adjust the look while the camera is on a tripod
at1212b wrote:
Nov 27th, 2017 10:10 am
Do you want pictures with alot of 'boceh' (blurred background?). Then you need to get a longer lens (higher mm which is generally used for portraits) and generally lower F (1.8 vs 2.4) which lets in more light.

Of course getting supplemental lighting set up results in less of a need of a lower F number lens.

Then you have post editing. You'll definitely be editing. Agreed as above. Best to post your question the 'Camera' section of RFD, and maybe show some samples of what you're hoping to achieve, where you'll be shooting, under what conditions, budget. You'll get a lot of expert advice there.
Yeah I would like bokeh look in the background
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 5, 2010
847 posts
234 upvotes
at1212b wrote:
Nov 27th, 2017 10:10 am
Do you want pictures with alot of 'boceh' (blurred background?). Then you need to get a longer lens (higher mm which is generally used for portraits) and generally lower F (1.8 vs 2.4) which lets in more light.

Of course getting supplemental lighting set up results in less of a need of a lower F number lens.

Then you have post editing. You'll definitely be editing. Agreed as above. Best to post your question the 'Camera' section of RFD, and maybe show some samples of what you're hoping to achieve, where you'll be shooting, under what conditions, budget. You'll get a lot of expert advice there.
Longer lens means the background is less compressed that's all. Having a 85mm or a 35mm at the same aperture and having the same cropping will result in a similar bokeh. I agree that using longer lens for portrait is most recommended but for food, I think 50mm equiv or wider is better, specially for those shot from above.

To OP, any modern DSLR have live view. Depend on your budget, I think a Nikon D3400 with a 35mm F1.8 will serve you well and it won't break the bank.
Deal Addict
Sep 3, 2005
2594 posts
253 upvotes
Vaughan
My advice is to hire a professional to do this. Photography is either natural to you, or it takes a learning curve. Its not something you can just pick up right away, if you want to be at least decent at it. Lighting is tricky, and takes time to learn how to expose things properly. Its not something you can learn over night. That's if you want to everything done properly. Good lighting is not cheap either. Creativity lies in the person taking the photo itself.

I mean you could try to learn how to do it. However, i think it will cause you less headaches, less time, and most likely better results if you hire a professional to do it.
For Sale
Banana Republic Mens Top Coat
http://forums.redflagdeals.com/banana-r ... st24082895
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
273 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
Gin Martini wrote:
Nov 27th, 2017 10:20 am
Longer lens means the background is less compressed that's all. Having a 85mm or a 35mm at the same aperture and having the same cropping will result in a similar bokeh. I agree that using longer lens for portrait is most recommended but for food, I think 50mm equiv or wider is better, specially for those shot from above.

To OP, any modern DSLR have live view. Depend on your budget, I think a Nikon D3400 with a 35mm F1.8 will serve you well and it won't break the bank.
I read that canon is better than nikon for photography ... was sure if that's true
phuviano wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 1:54 am
My advice is to hire a professional to do this. Photography is either natural to you, or it takes a learning curve. Its not something you can just pick up right away, if you want to be at least decent at it. Lighting is tricky, and takes time to learn how to expose things properly. Its not something you can learn over night. That's if you want to everything done properly. Good lighting is not cheap either. Creativity lies in the person taking the photo itself.

I mean you could try to learn how to do it. However, i think it will cause you less headaches, less time, and most likely better results if you hire a professional to do it.
I get where you are coming from

If I'm doing up to date with new flavours or new products ...I don't want pay for a photographer every time for my site or social media... it will be costly in a long run
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 5, 2010
847 posts
234 upvotes
toshibaaa wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 2:51 am
I read that canon is better than nikon for photography ... was sure if that's true
Well, Canon is known to have more lenses, like the 85mm F1.2 that Nikon doesn't have. As of right now and since a couple of years (maybe 6-7, not exactly sure), Nikon has a lead on their sensors VS Canon.
You combine these 2 facts and you're left with : both are good and any of their cameras, from both brands, will meet your requirements.

I suggested the D3400 because I know 2 people who have it and I have edited their files a bit and I find it really good for the price of the camera. But I don't think you'll be disappointed with a Canon T6i or Sony A5100 or A6000 or any Fuji's mirrorless. The most important is to check your budget and check the lens you want, say a 35mm F1.8 and see how much it cost at the brand you're interested.

But remember, the camera won't magically make your pictures better. The presentation of your cookies and the composition will make the most impact.
Newbie
Jul 31, 2017
44 posts
17 upvotes
Toronto
Full disclosure - Owner of a digital content agency specializing in food photography...

The history of the internet is littered with food companies that thought they could produce their own images. Can you produce passably good images that might not turn away customers, maybe, if you work hard and spend some time researching everything but chances are you'll be disappointed in your results (especially if you compare your images with those that were professionally done). And when it comes to food, people eat with their eyes first.

The type of camera you use is pretty low down on the list of things you should be worried about. In no particular order

Can you style the cookies to remove every imperfection, including haze on each and every chocolate chip and determine which is the hero angle to highlight.
Can you choose and source the perfect props to complete the image.
Can you light them perfectly
Can you do the post production work to clean up your images (Color correct them, remove dust particles that only show up when zoomed in)
Can you afford the time to do it yourself before realizing you wasted your time and you end up paying someone anyway

It's not cheap to produce beautiful images, but how important is your business to you? Some things to consider

Live view is pointless unless you lock your camera down on a tripod or studio stand. As soon as you move the camera a fraction, you've lost what you were trying to improve. Lock it and then use liveview/Capture One
Forget natural light. get some inexpensive strobes. You'll constantly have to move your set to follow the daylight. You'll also have inconsistent lighting on every image which would look terrible when viewed together on a website.
Spend some time learning photoshop if you haven't already
Sr. Member
User avatar
May 5, 2010
847 posts
234 upvotes
BoatyMcBoatface wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 5:55 pm
Full disclosure - Owner of a digital content agency specializing in food photography...

The history of the internet is littered with food companies that thought they could produce their own images. Can you produce passably good images that might not turn away customers, maybe, if you work hard and spend some time researching everything but chances are you'll be disappointed in your results (especially if you compare your images with those that were professionally done). And when it comes to food, people eat with their eyes first.

The type of camera you use is pretty low down on the list of things you should be worried about. In no particular order

Can you style the cookies to remove every imperfection, including haze on each and every chocolate chip and determine which is the hero angle to highlight.
Can you choose and source the perfect props to complete the image.
Can you light them perfectly
Can you do the post production work to clean up your images (Color correct them, remove dust particles that only show up when zoomed in)
Can you afford the time to do it yourself before realizing you wasted your time and you end up paying someone anyway

It's not cheap to produce beautiful images, but how important is your business to you? Some things to consider

Live view is pointless unless you lock your camera down on a tripod or studio stand. As soon as you move the camera a fraction, you've lost what you were trying to improve. Lock it and then use liveview/Capture One
Forget natural light. get some inexpensive strobes. You'll constantly have to move your set to follow the daylight. You'll also have inconsistent lighting on every image which would look terrible when viewed together on a website.
Spend some time learning photoshop if you haven't already
I agree with you that he can't compete with a whole agency. His speciality is making cookie, mine is doing photo retouching and you have 1 skill that's better than any other skills you have. Compared to a team of top notch professional that works together in 1 photo shoot, only my photo retouching skill are on par, but everything else from food stylization to art direction won't be as good if I work by myself.

I'm also aware how bad some pictures are made by people who just started photography and who knows nothing about food arrangement. All I can say is with the willingness to learn how to prepare, decorate and arrange food, after a few dozen attempts, I think it should be enough for Instagram.
For professional use like magazine or books, I won't be arguing with you and I agree a 100% with your points.

Also, remember that he has a cookie business. I can't tell for everyone, but for me, I won't be travelling a lot just for cookies no matter how good their pictures look like. If I see his store and it's close to work, I'll probably check his instagram once in a while to see what's new and I won't care that much if the new cookie photo looks average, as long as it look delicious.
A restaurant near my work change his weekly special every Wednesday and I look at their Facebook page every week. They are good at making their food look delicous and their pictures are just ok, with imperfections and dust, but enough to let the customers know of their new lunch.

Don't take offense as I'm also working for an advertisement agency and I know the value that professionals bring to a business. I'm just saying it's overkill for his Instagram.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jun 15, 2012
9960 posts
4280 upvotes
Southern Ontario
The camera is just a tool. It's like asking "I'd like to build a shed, what's the best saw?"

While I'm primarily a wedding and portrait photographer, I like to learn about all types of imaging. I have Steve Hansen's "Food Photography Master Class", I recommend it or something similar where the professional will go through what gear (camera, lenses etc) and more importantly, what techniques to use to make stellar photos.


If you're on a budget and have the dedication to learn it, you can do it over and over on your own.

Hiring a professional is a shortcut, if you can afford it, and perhaps you are a growing or established company and do not have the time or interest and need some top notch photos, like these guys who commissioned my buddy, a commercial photog.

Image

Watch some youtube vids, you may decide to forego the trouble, or you may be keen to the challenge, I don't know.
[OP]
Member
Jan 15, 2013
273 posts
13 upvotes
Oakville
Gin Martini wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 9:09 pm

I agree with you that he can't compete with a whole agency. His speciality is making cookie, mine is doing photo retouching and you have 1 skill that's better than any other skills you have. Compared to a team of top notch professional that works together in 1 photo shoot, only my photo retouching skill are on par, but everything else from food stylization to art direction won't be as good if I work by myself.

I'm also aware how bad some pictures are made by people who just started photography and who knows nothing about food arrangement. All I can say is with the willingness to learn how to prepare, decorate and arrange food, after a few dozen attempts, I think it should be enough for Instagram.
For professional use like magazine or books, I won't be arguing with you and I agree a 100% with your points.

Also, remember that he has a cookie business. I can't tell for everyone, but for me, I won't be travelling a lot just for cookies no matter how good their pictures look like. If I see his store and it's close to work, I'll probably check his instagram once in a while to see what's new and I won't care that much if the new cookie photo looks average, as long as it look delicious.
A restaurant near my work change his weekly special every Wednesday and I look at their Facebook page every week. They are good at making their food look delicous and their pictures are just ok, with imperfections and dust, but enough to let the customers know of their new lunch.

Don't take offense as I'm also working for an advertisement agency and I know the value that professionals bring to a business. I'm just saying it's overkill for his Instagram.
I agree with your points and I think it a bit overkill to start with considering it just some pictures for the website and pictures for instagram

my business is in very early stages, I haven't open to the public yet ... I can build up the quality of the photos as I get more established in my business when I expand to do online orders when the pro level looking photos will help in the future.
AncasterRFD wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 10:18 pm
The camera is just a tool. It's like asking "I'd like to build a shed, what's the best saw?"

While I'm primarily a wedding and portrait photographer, I like to learn about all types of imaging. I have Steve Hansen's "Food Photography Master Class", I recommend it or something similar where the professional will go through what gear (camera, lenses etc) and more importantly, what techniques to use to make stellar photos.


If you're on a budget and have the dedication to learn it, you can do it over and over on your own.

Hiring a professional is a shortcut, if you can afford it, and perhaps you are a growing or established company and do not have the time or interest and need some top notch photos, like these guys who commissioned my buddy, a commercial photog.

Image

Watch some youtube vids, you may decide to forego the trouble, or you may be keen to the challenge, I don't know.
i just googled steve hansen food photos and they are awesome

I will check out youtube video on food photography

I have enough money to buy the best camera but I just don't think it worth it. so I just want the best value camera that produce decent photos for the site and instagram... so I might be considering the nikon d3400 or whatever close to it or use my iPad air 2

what do you guys recommend for a white box because my website background is going to be white so I just want the cookies look like they part of the site
Newbie
Jul 31, 2017
44 posts
17 upvotes
Toronto
Gin Martini wrote:
Dec 1st, 2017 9:09 pm

Don't take offense as I'm also working for an advertisement agency and I know the value that professionals bring to a business. I'm just saying it's overkill for his Instagram.
No offense taken at all !

I'm not fishing for businesses, just trying to put the thought in the OP's head (as you mentioned) that his core competency is making cookies. Sometimes it's easier and cheaper in the long run to farm out some aspects of your startup. We work with smaller GTA companies a lot and understand their budget issues. However, they shouldn't approach the food photography with the attitude that they can get better as they go along. That's not how companies are built. You might get away with amateur images on instagram, but your website should absolutely be the best you can make it if you're selling something that people are going to have to make decisions based on appearance before they can taste it.

Cookies need some love before you shoot them. Last year we were approached by a cookie company who wanted to rebrand and change their online images. The existing ones were quite f'ugly but they didn't want to spend the money and that's fair enough but we did a quick and dirty comparison for them which i'll share here to illustrate a point. They also wanted a simple white on white image

The first image was shot by a professional photographer who shoots people not food, we gave him no guidance other than just 'style' them and make them look good.
Cookies-Photographer.jpg
We then had a food stylist give them some love and reshot it.
Cookies-Stylist.jpg
She took care of all the things people don't tend to think about....making the box look fuller, cleaning up crumbs, scraping the choc chips clean etc etc. All the things you should think about if you do it yourself.

Anyway we're digressing from his original question. As others have mentioned, don't spend a fortune on a camera, that isn't what is going to make your images stand out. You might even consider renting one for the day from the numerous equipment rental places around town.
Also consider getting a monitor to tether your camera to. It's a lot easier to make an adjustment to a cookie when you can view the image on a 20" screen rather than 2".
You might want to get a sheet of flexible laminate (Arborite is a good product) so that you can make a seamless cove to shoot on but it is easy to break down and store.
If you are going to shoot on white to match your background, you really need to nail your lighting technique down otherwise you'll end up cropping the cookies to eliminate a halo around them where the whites don't match. That will make your images appear to float on the site which is not a great look.

Anyway, apologies if this sounded like a sales pitch, it really wasn't!

Top