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One of the best parts about using a DSLR is the ability to change your lens! Think of a lens as a tool. Like every tool, there is a time and a place for the right one. When photographing food, there are a wide variety of lenses that you can use. These are my three favorite focal lengths that I always keep in my bag when I am on an assignment.
Wide Angle Lens (17-40)
Wide angle lenses aren’t great for every food shot. The distortion at super wide focal lengths can distort your subjects. When used correctly though, they can be a useful tool. When shooting food, you aren’t always just shooting food on a plate, you will often be assigned or commissioned to shoot the environments that food is found in. A wide zoom, like the 17-40mm lens, is great for shots in a large field, vineyard, or orchard. Inside restaurants and kitchens, a wide angle is great for capturing the environment. As long as you zoom in enough to avoid distortion, you will be just fine. A wide angle lens isn’t just useful for interiors and on farms; when you are shooting a large table spread, a wide angle lens will fit the entre spread in your shot.
It doesn’t matter what manufacturer you shoot with, the 50mm lens is a great prime lens. It is perfect for a wide variety of food shots. It is a nice focal length that won’t distort your subject. 50mm primes like the f/1.8, f/1.4, f/1.2, have wide apertures that provide shallow depths of field and are great for low light shooting. This shallow depth of field can be used as a tool to isolate the subject from its background. The wide aperture is useful when in a darker restaurant and don’t want to use flash. If you are looking for great lens to expand beyond your kit lens, a “nifty 50” is one you will have plenty of use for.
Macro Lens (100 or 105mm)
Macro lenses come in a variety of focal lengths, but the 100 or 105mm is my favorite lens to use for food photography. The short minimum focusing distance’s ability to get a close up and life size view of your subject is an incredibly effective tool in food photography. When doing food photography, you will often be required to take pictures of the chefs and farmers who produce the food. The 100mm focal length is a great length for portraits.
Article by Taylor Mathis