So you like taking pictures of your food, who doesn't? But which DSLRs best captures those images of savoring, delicious dinners, desserts, and 5 course meals in a way that will make your friends envious of your cooking skills, or invite others to your restaurant? Our experts talked with several food photographers, and here are their favorite cameras for food photography:
1) Canon EOS 5D Mark II
There's food photography... and then there's food photography. If you're very serious about taking the best, sharpest, and accurate photos of food for whatever reason (you work for a good magazine), then there's no better choice than the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
We recommend pairing this with the classic 50mm f/1.4 lens. You'll produce some of the sharpest photos. We shot a few photos of our meals one day in good and dim lighting and were amazed at the photos that were produced - it was if we were looking at real life replicas of our dishes. All of the photos were extremely rich in color, and super sharp.
The best things about the EOS 5D Mark II is its best in class performance in low light. We were able to capture some excellent images even in the darkest of settings.
If you're serious about your food photography, there's no better choice in our eyes. Sure, it's a bit bulky, and people might give you weird looks if you bring it out in a restaurant... but who cares? Life is short!
2) Canon EOS 20D
We love this camera - it's the same camera in the cooking blog 101 Cookbooks. We've shot with the 20D many times before and even wrote a review on it. It's a great camera to use, and so much fun to shoot with. Its solid 24 ounce body is nice and compact, and has a comfortable grip. All of the controls are laid out intuitively, and it's quite ergonomic as well. We've shot a full day worth of photos with the EOS 20D and never felt any strain.
Since the EOS 20D is compact, they didn't make room for dedicated buttons here. You have to dig into the LCD menu, and change some settings there. For the most part, we didn't encounter any problems changing the settings, but you will need to get used to it. The control layout for the most part is simple.
The EOS 20D features splendid performance. With other cameras, we wasted time waiting for the camera, but with the 20D, it provided great speed and responsiveness. What makes the EOS 20D especially suited for shooting food is its autofocus performance in low light conditions, as well as good light conditions.
We shot several photos using the EOS 20D, and overall were pleased with the image quality. Photos had very little, and were clean, crisp and sharp. We shot using ISO 3200 in occasions and photos still remained clean. Colors were always well saturated, and accurate. You can choose to make your colors very vivid by tweaking certain settings. In general, if you want the colors of your food to look warmer, shoot in JPEG. If you want the colors to be more accurate, shoot in RAW.
As we mentioned 20D excels in low light focus, making it ideal for shooting food in low light. We recommend shooting raw images, then convert your images to JPEG format with very high sharpness settings. There are many lens you can pair this camera body with, but we highly pairing the 20D with the 24mm to 70 mm f/2.8L, which provides good medium range zoom.
If you're interested in making large prints of your food photos, the 20D is also capable for that purpose since it has one of the best resolutions in its class.
Overall, the EOS 20D is a solid option for food photography, especially for those that aren't exactly serious food photographers (shooting for the cover of food magazines for instance). For the casual food blogger, or person who just wants cool photos to post in Facebook, the EOS 20D is a great camera for both food photography and daily uses.
3) Nikon D300 DX
This is a solid camera used by many food bloggers to shoot food. We recommend pairing it with the Nikkor 60 mm macro lens for those close up shots, and the Tamron 17-200mm one for daily use.
The D300 DX is a pretty durable body with dust and weatherproof design. It feels really solid. We love the viewfinder here, it's big and bright and features 100% coverage. There are a few quirks such as the metering dial which can be difficult to use. But other than, it's quite easy and comfortable to use.
One of the useful features in the D300 DX is its live view and the very bright 3 inch LCD screen. The live view does support autofocus, which although professionals try and refrain from using can be quite convenient in some situations.
The D300 DX delivers outstanding performance in low light, which is a major reason why we recommend it for food photography. Performance, in general is pretty damn good - it takes just .1 seconds to power on and shoot - an excellent number. Focus and shoot takes .5 seconds in good conditions, and .9 seconds in dim conditions. Burst mode is 5.8 frames per second. We tested shooting a plate of french fries sitting in the shadows of a dimly lit restaurant, and it was not a problem.
The image quality doesn't disappoint. It handles noise extremely well, and if you know how to handle it, you can produce extremely sharp photos with accurate colors, good exposures and broad tonal ranges.
One thing that may turn off potential buyers is the lack of IS (image stabilization), which will make buying lenses more expensive.