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What equipment do I need for food photography?

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.

What Are The Food Photography Equipment Essentials

1. A Camera

Now, that’s an obvious one. It doesn’t need to be fancy schmancy to get you started, though.

Go to your local camera store and ask to try the cameras to see what feels the most natural. I tried an old Nikon (maybe it would be different with a newer one), but I felt like Canon was more intuitive for me personally. You might be different, so I won’t suggest which brand you should buy. They are all good, you just need to figure out what’s best for you. If you have the option to rent a camera, I’d suggest doing that.

Can you use a phone? Sure, you can! I’ve seen beautiful photos shot with a phone. Now personally, I’m not a fan of phone food photography. I like to hold a big old camera in my hands. It just feels different. But if you’re on a budget and already have a good camera on your phone, you might start from there. But, if you’re going to shoot commercially, then you’ll want to do with a DSLR.

Crop Sensor vs. Full Frame?

A crop-sensor camera has a smaller sensor and therefore crops out a part of the image. Crop sensor cameras are cheaper but also produce smaller images. A full frame sensor has some other advantages like a broader dynamic range and better low light/high ISO performance. But all in all, crop sensors can produce stunning images too. Scroll through my old posts. All posts before May 2019 were shot with the old crop sensor camera.

2. Lenses

When you’re buying lenses, you should think about how you can use those lenses once you upgrade your camera. If you’re starting out with a crop sensor camera, you can still use lenses designed for a full frame camera. But you can’t use lenses designed specifically for crop sensor on a full frame camera. Lenses for crop sensor cameras are cheaper, but if you plan to upgrade eventually, you might be better off buying the full frame lenses.

One more thing, when you’re considering buying equipment, I recommend spending more on lenses than you do on a camera. They really do make a difference.

Want a great cheap lens?

You probably heard of the nifty fifty. I find this lens worth so much more than the 100€ (a little over a 100$). Before I had my full frame the 50 mm was on practically 99% of the time. I used a 30mm for wider shots and flatlays. Now I use the nifty fifty for wider shots and flatlays and I still find it amazing for the money I paid.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A nifty fifty on the left and a 100mm macro lens on the right. My top two choices, but the macro is quite expensive.

3. A Diffuser

Diffusers are used to diffuse the light. The surface of a diffuser is matte and therefore disperses the light in different directions making it less direct and creates softer shadows.

You can use a collapsible translucent diffuser that usually comes in a 5-in-1 pack with a black, white, gold and silver sides. All very useful. I love it because it folds to a very small size and is super transportable and light.

If you’re only shooting at home, you can just as easily use a thin white curtain or a big sheet of tracing paper. I used this one for a very long time and I still use the curtain a lot.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A diffuzer is used to create a more dispersed light. This one is foldable and extends to a 120×90 cm.

4. Black And White Foam Board

These too are super important and very cheap. Write those two down, cuz’ you’re gonna need them!

A black foam board is used to block the light from reaching the subject. Placed on the opposite side of the object it sucks the light and creates deep shadows.

On the other hand, white foam board is used to bounce the light back on the subject and make the shadows softer and brightens up the part of the subject that would otherwise be in the shadows.

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A white foam board folded in half so it stands on its own.
There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A big black foam board used as a negative fill or to block light.
There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A simple setting with a black cardboard attached to a white foam board used as a negative fill.

5. A tripod

A lot of photographers like to work without a tripod because using a tripod makes you more stationary and it’s hard to move around.

I personally have used tripod since I first started, and I love it. It is especially helpful if you’re shooting in low light situations where you need to use a slower shutter speed. By holding a camera in hand you’re risking a blurry image.

One other thing, by using a tripod you can clearly set your focus is. May I suggest using manual focus at this point 😊

There is so much photography equipment out there but is all that necessary to create beautiful food photos. No, definitely not! Today, I’m sharing a few food photography equipment essentials, that I feel are necessary to produce great shots.
A tripod with a horizontal head is very useful for overhead shots.

But I don’t have the cash?

Don’t worry. I’m all about cost-effective solutions. For the longest time, I used an old crop-sensor camera (my Canon EOS 600D). I just recently upgraded to a full frame, so that’s not essential. At first, I shot with a kit lens and I think it’s completely okay when you’re just starting out. When you feel like upgrading without spending too much, the cheaper you can go is by buying a nifty fifty. That’s a 50mm f1.8 lens. Until recently I used a very very cheap (also not very sturdy) tripod, which was completely okay. The reason I upgraded is to buy one with a horizontal arm.

Really, you can start food photography on a budget and still produce beautiful imagery. So don’t get overwhelmed by what other people are using. Use what you have or can afford and build from there. The most important thing is to work on your photography skills, not the equipment.

I hope this little guide was helpful. If you have any further questions ask in the comment section and I’ll try my best to give you the answers.