Which DSLR for Professional Product and Food Photography - part II

Started May 9, 2014 | Discussions thread
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photolando Senior Member • Posts: 1,956
Re: Which DSLR for Professional Product and Food Photography - part II

Moti wrote:

You don't need any fancy lighting system for food photography. As a matter of fact, all you need is one small color balanced led light and a few cheap make-up mirrors that you can get in any supermarket. You set up the light and use the mirrors to reflect there where you want it. This is what some of the greatest food photographers use.

Gear is the least important part here. almost any decent camera and a close up lens can be used for food photography But the most important thing here is first and foremost the staging and the preparations which are the art of the trade and then the lighting. The rest you already have more than you need.

It is important to understand that food, unlike most of other products, can change its appearance very fast and as a food photographer you have to know how to deal with these issues. Try to shoot an icecream dish for half an hour and you'll understand what I mean

So, if you really want to do food photography, your first questions should be how do I shoot food. How do I make it look so gorgeous and tasty etc. and not what dslr I should buy which is quite irrelevant. In other words, start thinking as a photographer and not as a gear head.

So my advise to you is if you hadn't done it yet, get a good book about food photography and read it before you buy any further piece of kit. You'll be surprised of how much is there to learn.

Good luck


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I could not agree more.  Shooting food is more about knowing how to make the food look good (styling) than anything else.  My first job was assisting one of the best food shooters around.  His biggest client was Red Lobster and Olive Garden.  We always hired the best food stylists to style the food to the clients vision.  Back then we shot 4x5 and usually a 210 mm.  But food was different back then and shallow depth of field was NOT all the rage that it has been for the past few years.

Today most food shots you see use very shallow DoF and a full frame camera will help a little more in achieving that effect than a crop sensor.  just for that reason I'd choose a full frame camera.

Lens wise, again, if you want the desired shallow DoF, a 2.8 lens, or wider, will be needed.  A variety of lenses from 50mm to 200mm are fast lenses.  I think most don't want to be too far away from the product so lenses from 50mm to 100mm are probably best.  Like I mentioned, back in the day just about every product shot we  did was with a 210mm for a 4x5 camera. That's equal to 63mm.  So 50mm could work but so will 60mm, 85mm and 100mm or even longer with compression getting more and more as you go longer.  So that's up to you.

But again, it's knowing how to style and work with food that is waaaaaay more important than the gear.  There are so many tips and tricks that make shooting food a lot more easier or even possible then you can imagine.  There even legalities you have to be aware of that some are not aware of.  Portion sizes. Use of actual food products and not fake items IF what you are shooting is the item being advertised.  Someone mentioned ice cream. We'll if your shooting for an ice cream maker, you can't use fake ice cream. You have to use the actual ice cream they make since that is what they will be selling.

Hope some of this helps. It can be fun but it can also be a royal pain. It can take a few hours just to get that perfect plate of food and the perfect shot.

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Mike Collins

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