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Canon lens for food macro photography

jimiiykingston
Apprentice

I have Canon Rebel T5i and am researching getting a macro lens for food photography (mostly baked goods if that makes a difference). It's only a hobby, so I am not looking to spend a ton on this right now.

From my research, it seems the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 macro IS STM or the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro USM are the best, most reasonably prices ones.

Between the two, do you have a recommendation? Or did I completely miss another lens that would be better?

Thanks!!

8 REPLIES 8

Waddizzle
Legend

What lenses do you currently own?  You may not need a macro lens, at all.  Where do your current lenses fall short?

 

You are looking at a 35mm or a 60mm.  The focal lengths of those two lenses are worlds apart.  Most baked goods are not what I would consider to be small enough to need a macro lens.  Maybe all you need is a sharp lens and a good quality tripod.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."


@jimiiykingston wrote:

I have Canon Rebel T5i and am researching getting a macro lens for food photography (mostly baked goods if that makes a difference). It's only a hobby, so I am not looking to spend a ton on this right now.

From my research, it seems the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 macro IS STM or the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro USM are the best, most reasonably prices ones.

Between the two, do you have a recommendation? Or did I completely miss another lens that would be better?

Thanks!!


I know nothing about the 35mm, but the 60mm is a very good and useful lens. (I know because my wife has one.) But the determining factor in your case may be exactly what you're trying to show in your food photos. Keep in mind that when you get up close, the focal length of the lens can have a considerable effect on the relative sizes of items in the image, as well as on which of those items are in focus and which aren't.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

wq9nsc
Authority

You need a good lens but with macro work of this type you will find your lighting at least as critical as choosing a lens.  For sufficient depth of field, you will either need a tripod or stand preferably using mirror lockup to allow a long exposure without shake or a lot of light so that a narrow aperture setting can be used.  Many people are surprised how difficult it is to get sufficient DoF when doing macro work because it usually takes them into a F stop range they rarely use in normal photography.  Either long exposures and/or a lot of light or necessary; increasing ISO is a crutch that can help but you will start losing image quality pretty quickly with a T5i when pushing ISO for an image where high detail is desired.

 

Also note that although the great majority of glass provides improved image quality as you go a step or two down from wide open, you will find the image quality also drops with the lens as the aperture is closed down far beyond typical-especially with some lenses that weren't designed with macro use in mind. It is just something else to look closely at in a lens review when choosing a lens for this type of work to see what weaknesses and aberrations show up as the aperture is greatly narrowed.

 

The below was shot at 1/200, F10, ISO 125 with an EF 100 F2.8L macro lens and 5DS R; F10 is uncharted territory for someone used to shooting high school field supports with telephoto primes at F2.8 and F10 with this macro lens at close range didn't provide sufficient depth of field.  And this was in bright sunlight, I will use a different exposure triangle next time! 

 

Rodger

 

2A8A1563.JPG

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"Many people are surprised how difficult it is to get sufficient DoF when doing macro work because it usually takes them into a F stop range they rarely use in normal photography."

 

My son is an executive chef, and frequently takes photos of finished plates of food.  I taught him how to use a 24mm Tilt-Shift lens to expand his DoF, and capture a tight shot with the entire plate in focus.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

Have you thought of getting some extension tubes? I bought the Kenko series. Believe it or not, these cost me $60 used on Craigslist from a user who bought it not sure how to use it. These tubes were made in Japan and they look identical to those made by Canon for a much lower price.

 

I recently ventured into the wonderful world of macro photography thanks to COVID19 and shelter orders. I must say, I am pretty happy with the results I've been getting, that said, it really boils down to what it is you are looking to do. As suggested by our friends above, you should really consider getting a sturdy tripod as well. Good luck.

 

Here's the sample photo was taken with the Kenko tube. shot at 70mm F7.1 ISO 100 1/30sec.

Sunflower 2 .jpg

ebiggs1
Legend

"Most baked goods are not what I would consider to be small enough to need a macro lens."

 

I have to agree with this.  What "baked goods" are you taking shots of? A good post editor may be what you need instead of a true macro lens.  But you should have a good post editor anyway!

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I would go with the EF-S 60mm. The longer focal length allows for more working distance and lets you get farther from the subject for the same magnification to allow for better lighting.

thomaskin
Apprentice

If you love photography and you love food, then the best lenses for food photography will be perfect for you. While pretty much any camera should be able to produce great results when shooting pictures of food, you’ll need to add the right type of lens to the recipe. So here's our list of the best lenses for food photography, whatever your camera.


You’ll typically want a natural perspective when shooting food, which rules out ultra-wide-angle lenses. We’d recommend a minimum of 35mm on an APS-C format camera, and 50mm on a full-frame body. As long as you don't want to focus ultra-close, some of the are ideal for food photography. You don't have to pay a fortune, either, since some of thecan be pretty handy for food photography.

To zoom in on the tastiest morsels, though, you’ll want to get in close, so a lens’s minimum focus distance becomes important and a macro lens will be ideal. You probably won’t need a full macro magnification factor of 1.0x or 1:1, which reproduces small objects at full life-size on the camera’s image sensor and which you get with the  Even so, buying a macro lens will ensure that you can always get as close as you need to.

Naturally, when you’re shooting food indoors, there’s often not a huge amount of ambient light. It’s tempting to reach for a flashgun but this can ruin the pictorial quality of food shots. Try more subtle lighting techniques, like bouncing sunlight from a window with sheets of white card, or adding light with table lamps or a photographic LED panel. Creating highlights and shadows can give a much more three-dimensional and delicious look to food photos.

 

To make the most of available light, it’s good to have a lens with a fairly ‘fast’ aperture rating. The option of a wide aperture also enables you to get a tight depth of field, so you can blur the background if you wish, or even isolate a particular part of a dish in close-ups, by blurring its immediate surroundings.


With all of this in mind, a 30mm to 60mm macro prime lens with an aperture rating of around f/2.8 is ideal for food photography with crop-sensor cameras. For full-frame outfits, a 90mm to 105mm macro prime with the same aperture rating is a good choice. However, 50mm and even 35mm prime lenses can also work well on full-frame bodies, providing that they have a fairly short minimum focus distance. 

 

So let's see which lenses are good enough to go on the menu. We've chosen cheaper options for less expensive cameras, by the way, and gone more up-market for full frame models.

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