Food Photography: Which Photo Lens to Buy?

Food photography which photo lenses to buy - Lilie Bakery

You've found your ideal camera and you're thinking: ok, now what lens (s) to buy to take great photos? I reassure you right away, we all asked ourselves this question ...

I still remember that time when I was shooting everything with my 18-55mm, you know, that lens that came as a kit with the camera body. Until the day when I really felt limited by its performance: it was time to find better!

From my point of view, choosing a photo lens is Very important because it greatly conditions the visual result of a shot. On its own, it makes it possible to evoke a particular atmosphere, to assert a style or to make visible details of our subject that could have gone unnoticed.

Two types of lenses exist: fixed focal length or zoom. With a fixed focal length, it's up to you to move closer or further from the scene to be photographed to take your photo. With a zoom lens, you move the lens ring to get closer or further away.

Good news ! Lenses designed for full frame cameras also work on APS-C. Which means you can continue to use your goals even as you level up your gear. This is not true the other way around (those designed for APS-C sensors will not work with full frame sensors).

Be careful, however, APS-C sensors will offer a different rendering than a full-frame sensor. The rendering will indeed be "closer" to the scene to be photographed. For more details on the different sensors, I invite you to read my article on the choice of your camera.

The 50mm lens: my essential in food photography

NIKON 50mm f1.4G / CANON EF50mm f1.4

The fixed 50mm is the first lens I had when I started working as a food photographer. And I still use it very often because it is very versatile! It allows you to photograph the subject of your photo (whether it is a recipe or a product) by also showing elements around it.

50mm lens - Lilie Bakery
  • it is a fixed focal length so no distortion of the elements in the angles when shooting at 45 °, as we sometimes see with zooms
  • it takes very bright photos thanks to its aperture capacity (1.4). Note that the smaller this number, the brighter your photos will be.
  • beautiful background blurs
  • impeccable sharpness
  • very light

I mainly use 50mm for: flatlay shots (top view), low light shots, landscape shots ...

The 105mm macro lens: my favorite in food photography

NIKON 105mm macro f2.8 - CANON EF100mm macro f2.8

The 105 or 100mm macro lens (depending on the brand) is a gem. It is perfect for highlighting your subject, photographing it close-up. Once we have tested it, we can hardly do without it, I warn you :)

105mm macro lens - Lilie Bakery
  • it perfectly captures all the details of the subject
  • gives sharp photos
  • beautiful background blur
  • you can get very close to the subject (it's a macro lens)
  • no or little distortion in the angles because it is a fixed focal length
  • less bright than a 50mm f1.4 on the other hand
  • quite heavy, ideal for use with a tripod

I use the 105mm for close-up views whether it's ingredients or recipes. I can only recommend it to people who have a full-size camera! However, I do not really recommend it to those who have an APS-C box because the rendering will be very (too) close-up. For APS-C the ideal would be rather a 60mm macro: NIKON 60mm macro f2.8.

The 24-70mm lens: my "Swiss army knife" in food photography

NIKON 24-70mm f2.8 - CANON EF24-70mm f2.8 - TAMRON for Nikon - TAMRON for Canon

The 24-70mm zoom is a bit like a Swiss Army knife! Thanks to its adjustment ring, we can vary our distance from the scene: move away or get closer without having to do so physically.

24-70mm lens - Lilie Bakery
  • practical to use (we move the adjustment ring)
  • avoid changing the lens each time you want a different rendering
  • pay attention to the distortion effect it creates on photos, especially in angles
  • less bright than a 50mm f1.4 for example
  • small flat on the sharpness, less sharpness than a fixed focal length

Personally I use 24-70mm when doing photo reports for clients, or to quickly shoot recipes from multiple angles. I also often use it for flatlays (top view).

How to make the right choice?

Of course, this list is not exhaustive and could continue to grow! But I am telling you about these 3 objectives because they are the ones I really use on a daily basis in my work.

When making your choice, make a list of your real needs : the type of shots you take (or will need to do) most often, or the times when you feel limited by your equipment. At this point, the choice towards this or that goal will then become obvious to you.

Getting the right gear is the first step to better photos, that's for sure. But nothing beats the practice, still and always. Hope my advice will help you make the best choice!

If you haven't read it yet, I also invite you to discover my article on the choice of your camera.

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.



  1. Reply


    6th October, 2021

    First of all thank you for your advice, I just discovered you while surfing the net. I'm going to get into food photography. Obviously I take note of your advice for the ideal equipment as a beginner, nevertheless I would like to have your opinion on the lightbox, maybe you have already spoken about it… and maybe you can recommend me a brand at a reasonable price because there are some dozens mostly on Amazon and I don't know if it's really necessary to get started. Thank you for taking the time to answer me. Good continuation. Mr. Forget

    • Reply

      Lilie bakery

      6th October, 2021

      Hello Michel, to get started, I advise you to first use natural light: in addition to being free, it is above all the best light to highlight your dishes. There are a lot of photographers who only use this light. Then, when you have the budget, you can invest in flashes or LEDs, but only after you have mastered natural light. I hope this will help you ! Have you downloaded the list of my photo equipment? I give a direct link in my article. Goodbye !

  2. Reply


    September 7, 2023


    I'm hesitating between buying a 50mm 1.8 and an 85mm 1.8 for food photography and portraiture.
    Which one should be preferred first?
    I have a full frame R8
    thank you, I really like your site ☺️

    • Reply

      Lilie bakery

      September 13, 2023

      Hello Céline, to answer you, I started (and worked for several years) only with a 50mm. It's inexpensive, light and practical for moving around your stage. You can then crop the image in post-production to get “closer” to your photographed element if you are a little far away. See you soon :)

  3. Reply


    7th June 2024

    The best combo in my opinion is really the 50mm and the 100mm, you can really do almost everything!