My Food Photography Equipment

I get asked ALLL the time what I shoot with and how I create consistently beautiful food beautiful photos, so I wanted to shear my list of gear with you. I've been shooting professionally now for 4 years, but prior to that had zero training. You can learn everything you need to know about food photography + styling on YouTube if you're willing to spend some time on it (otherwise, just book into one of my workshops and we can shoot together!).

Camera Body

Canon 5D MKiii - though I am debating upgrading this to the MKIV before the end of the financial year - this is the current standard in pro food photography. I've had this one for almost 3 years and shot both of my cookbooks on it. It's seen SO much use. Prior to that I had a Canon 70D which is a great camera when you're learning and not yet ready to commit to the fully-pro version.

Lenses

I have 3 lenses I use on rotation - each one is under for a different purpose.

Sigma 50mm 1.4 PRIME Art lens - my absolute favourite lens of alllllll time - and one that many food photographers have on heavy rotation in their hit. PRIME means it doesn't zoom - you manually have to step in closer to or away from the dish, but it means that the lens is cheaper (WAY less technical to make). Give crisp images and that beautiful depth of field (background blur) you see on many pro photos.

Canon 100mm Macro - used to get ALL up in the detail of food. Use this if you want to FILL the frame with your muffin or get the detail of salt on your caramel. It's a beautiful lens, and I have only added this to my kit in the last 6 months because it is on the expensive side and isn't super versatile.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 - Awesome lens if you can stretch to the price. Super-sharp, you can remain still whilst you zoom into or out of food. I also use this one for overhead group table shots when I can't climb higher (just zoom out!) and also for portaits and travel.

Lighting Equipment

Lighting Diffuser – Diffusers are so important and can be such a great tool for photography. It’s something that I use in natural and artificial light. This diffuser will essentially act as your light source (so the bigger the better) while also diffusing the light and getting rid of harsh shadows.

Editing Software

Lightroom CC Classic - I use this on my desktop to make image ALL my image edits. This is the go-to editing software for photography enthusiasts (pro and entry-level) but it does take a little time to get to grips with. It is SO powerful and can transform a really drab photo into something spectacular when you know how to use it. Again, hit up YouTube for some good on-screen demos. There's also a 30 day free trial for those of you wanting to play with it.

My settings using for the photo below:

  • Natural side light
  • No tripod
  • Sigma 50mm 1.4L Lens
  • ISO – 300
  • Shutter – 1/200
  • Aperture – f/3.2
  • Edited with my Light + Bright Presets⁣

FAQ

When do you use artificial light vs. natural light? 

Natural light is almost always my go-to way to shoot food photography - even better if its a bright, cloudy day because the direct streams of light are filtered into a soft glow. If it’s a grey, dreary day - that’s when artificial light comes out. It's also good for shooting into the early evening or when I want to keep a consistent look throughout the changing light conditions of the day.

What are your camera settings when shooting with flash? 

The great thing about artificial light is that you can always keep your ISO low - at around 100. This is ideal becuase higher ISO ranges (800-1000+) start to show more grain on the photos - some people love this, I prefer a crisp shot. I generally keep my shutter speed at 1/250 and then adjust my aperture (probably between the F/2.4-5.2 range depending on the lens) and the flash strength to achieve the look I need. As for my white balance, I always shoot on auto and then make any amendments in lightrom.

If you love this post, be sure to leave a comment here on the blog or reach out to me on Instagram. I love hearing from you! xx

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also writes for national health magazines, has launched a range of Protein Ball Mixes: Fit Mixes, and is the author of Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017).

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