When I started food photography 11 years ago when this blog started, I was totally lost. I had no idea which camera to choose, nor which lens to use to showcase my recipes… To tell the truth, I didn't understand anything about the technical world of photography but one thing was certain: I wanted to learn and I wanted to succeed in doing beautiful photos.
Does this situation speak to you? I am sure yes, because I have received so many messages addressing the issue of the camera on social networks ... In this article, I give you all my tips for choosing easily the camera that will suit you.
You take pictures with your smartphone but you would like to have a better rendering quality ? Have you ever bought a camera but find it doesn't give you the expected result? Here are my recommendations for making the right choices.
How to define your real camera needs?
Your use : do you want to use your camera occasionally or very regularly (or even daily)? Is food photography a new passion for you, or do you want to make it your job?
Your budget : A camera and its lenses represent an investment which can be very important depending on the model. It is therefore essential to determine now the budget you want to devote to it.
Contrary to popular belief (and this is important), it's not the camera that makes a great photo, it's the photographer.
Buying the most expensive camera in its category will not make you a good photographer if you do not train yourself in parallel (learn the basics of the composition of a scene for example, understand how to manage light…). This dramatizes the choice of camera I find very much.
For my part, I have taken pictures with a very entry-level DSLR for many years. I even made visuals for two books with this first SLR… Then I decided to invest when I wanted to make it my job 100%.
Which sensor to choose for your camera: APS-C or full frame?
Inside the device there is a key element: the sensor, it is he who "captures" the light. It allows us to see our scene, through the viewfinder. Here are two categories of sensor that can be chosen for food photography:
- ideal for beginners
- image slightly cropped because the sensor is smaller
- poorer image quality in low light
- lighter to carry
- very affordable price!
Full frame sensor (24 × 36)
- larger viewfinder
- higher resolution images
- better light sensitivity (ISO)
- beautiful depth of field
- less affordable price ...
If you want to get started in food photography, the APS-C sensor may be suitable for you at first. However, to professionalize later, I highly recommend the full frame sensor.
In photography, there are several “families”, I am talking here about brands of cameras and lenses. Me for example, I am Nikon, but others swear by Canon. The choice is yours!
APS-C cameras that I recommend:
These APS-Cs usually come as a kit with an 18-55mm starting lens. To start, it's not bad, but changing the lens afterwards will allow you more options in your shots. I advise you to read my article dedicated to photo lenses for food photography.
Full frame cameras that I recommend:
The choice of your camera brand determines all the lenses that you will be able to acquire thereafter. They must always be of the same brand. It is therefore not recommended to change once you have determined a brand for your camera body.
How to get the most from your camera
Read the instructions carefully
It seems obvious to some, off-putting for others, but it is really the base I assure you! You can't know your camera 100% if you haven't explored it thoroughly the user manual. You should be able to know all the features and be able to use them quickly during a photo shoot.
Quickly try out the manual mode (M) of your camera
It is quite normal to start with automatic mode on an SLR. I've been there too :) But very quickly, I advise you to use the manual mode which allows you to manage all aspects of shooting yourself.
The depth of field, the speed, the ISO sensitivity are elements that are likely to change with each shot, and that you can adjust at will with manual mode.
One day = one photo
Not a day without taking out your SLR! If, if I am serious. What I mean by that is that the more you go to use it, the less complicated you will find it, impressive.
Moreover, I advise you to train first on everyday elements. You don't necessarily need to have a dish to photograph to get your reflex out. Think for example of an apple placed on a table: it's a great way to learn how to use your SLR in terms of focusing distance, light management, etc.
To learn more about photo lenses for food photography, also read this article.
Last tip: be indulgent with yourself. I assure you that no photographer has become a photographer overnight :) You will improve your understanding day after day, your photos too.
PS: I am not paid to write this article, however it contains affiliate links. The products listed here are those that I personally recommend to you.