An image of small chocolate cakes on a plate as an example of a 45 degree camera angle.

28th April 2021

The Best Camera for Food Photography?

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What’s the best camera for food photography? It’s a question I get a lot! If you’re starting out in food photography or looking to upgrade your old kit, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with all of the amazing camera options out there. Which is best?

An image of small chocolate cakes by Lauren Short of Food Photography Academy overlaid with text that reads The Best Camera for Food Photography.

Here’s the bad news: I’m not going to be telling you what brand or model to buy because there really is no such thing as the ‘best’ camera: things change so fast these days that it is impossible to keep up. The good news is that, instead, I’m going to walk you through a list of features to keep in mind as you decide what camera to buy – features that are particularly important in food photography.

As with all types of photography, the lenses that you use are going to have a far bigger effect on the overall look of your finished photographs than the camera body will. So make sure you check out my video on how to choose your lenses for food photography.

Features of the Best Camera for Food Photography

Some of these features are crucial, and some may not be a worthwhile investment for you. Let’s take a look at what features the best camera for food photography needs and doesn’t need to create incredible images:

Full-Frame vs Crop Sensor

Should you buy a camera that shoots in full-frame? The simple truth is that this doesn’t matter too much when it comes to your images. If you are a professional food photographer, you’re going to be shooting on a full-frame. But if you’re a beginner, or you just want to run a food blog, then a crop sensor is not going to hold you back.

What’s really important as you decide on a model is to know how it’s going to affect your lenses. Going for a crop sensor camera will save you a bit of money in the beginning, but if you know that you are going to upgrade later, keep in mind that your lenses might not be transferable to your new camera. You have to decide between starting off with a full-frame camera, and building up your lenses from the beginning, or starting with a crop sensor camera and a basic lens before eventually upgrading.

The best camera for food photography is the one that will help you to grow!

How Important Is Megapixel Range?

It’s no secret that camera companies love to tell you how many megapixels their cameras capture. And it’s easy to get swept up in the desire for a camera with the highest level of resolution. But how many do you really need? Is the best camera for food photography really the one with the most megapixel capacity?

The number of pixels you need in your photographs really depends on what the photos are going to be used for. For displaying photographs on the web, which is probably what most of us are intending to do most of the time, the best camera for food photography isn’t necessarily one with a higher resolution. Most photos online are not – and, if you want your website to load quickly, shouldn’t be – more than 2000 pixels wide. One megapixel is one million pixels: so some quick maths will show you that it really isn’t necessary to shell out for a camera with dozens of megapixels.

When you are shooting for print, you need to make sure that your images are 300 DPI (dots per inch) at the size that the final photograph will be used. For an 8 x 10 inch cookbook, this works out to 8 megapixels. This does require a much higher resolution than web usage – but, unless you are shooting for large posters or billboard campaigns, the best camera for food photography doesn’t have to have 50 megapixels.

Ability to Shoot Raw

Make sure that your camera can shoot raw files – rather than automatically converting them to JPEGs or other file types. Shooting raw allows you to edit your photographs without damaging the quality of the photos, so this feature is a must-have for a professional photographer. The best camera for food photography will have several settings for you to choose from, allowing you to turn raw shooting on and off.

Focus Peaking

Another feature that the best camera for food photography will have is focus peaking. This shows you where the plane of focus is in the shot and it is unbelievably helpful. There’s nothing worse than going over your photographs to find that the shot was out of focus! I find that focus peaking allows me the control I want when I’m on a shoot.

Number of Auto-focus Points

Auto-focus is also very important. The best camera for food photography has a lot of AF points to help you really nail down the focus where you want it. If you’re looking at cameras with only 9 AF points, you may struggle to get the perfect shot.

ISO Range

Manufacturers will often boast that their cameras come with an ISO range of 100 – 150,000: this is amazing, but the truth is that the best camera for food photography really doesn’t need ISO to go that far. Ninety percent of the time my own ISO is set to 100 for indoor shooting. Outside in the evenings, I might go as far as 2000 but I won’t ever go beyond that – the visible grain becomes too dramatic. There’s no need to prioritise a big ISO range as you look for a camera for food photography.

Continuous Shooting Mode

I love using continuous shooting mode for catching motions and actions – syrup pouring out or pans sizzling, for example. This lets me hold down the shutter and take continuous photographs so that I can choose the best photo from the bunch, rather than relying on myself to catch exactly the right moment.

Every camera will have a different rate of frames per second. For example, my camera, the Sony A7 III, has a rate of 10 photographs per second. I really think that this is a case of ‘more is more’ – I’d always rather have more photographs to choose from, so the best camera for food photography is one with a high rate of frames per second in continuous shooting mode.

Final Thoughts on the Best Camera for Food Photography

I hope this was a helpful starting point for you as you search for the right camera! There are so many incredible cameras and lenses out there, but as long as you focus on the key features I outlined here, you’re sure to find one that will allow your food photography to really shine.

Starting out as a food photographer? Check out my guide to setting up your own home food photography studio!

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2 years ago

Hi! You shared a very informative article. . I learned some interesting facts about the camera that I was not aware of.  In the modern world, cameras play an increasingly important role. Please keep up the good work

jerry walker
3 years ago

I bought an old canon 550d which is a great camera however it does not do off camera flash sinc, which is going to cause me problems for restaurant shoots in the future. I believe the 60D and upwards do not have this problem.
Also heads up Canon are discontinuing a lot of the rf lenses, as they are pushing towards mirrorless. Great post thank you.

Patricia Lewis
Patricia Lewis
3 years ago

OMG! I wish I had read this a month ago. I just bought a new Canon 6D Mark II that doesn’t do focus peaking and I am struggling to figure this out (I am a newbie to manual mode). Oh well, great post!

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