What is the best food photography lens? This is a good question, and since there is a specific ‘food photography lens’ (unless I have missed the Canon 15 – 200mm f1.2L IS food lens that is!) choosing the lens that is going to help you capture the best food photos possible can be a real headache. What with fish eye lenses, wide (and ultra-wide) angle lenses, prime lenses and zoom lenses there is so much choice out there it is all too easy to get confused.
The bottom line is any decent lens, and by decent I mean professional grade photography lenses (such as the Canon L series lenses) will capture stunning food photos with image quality more than good enough to make a buck or two. You can of course use a cheaper budget lens and still capture good quality food photos, it’s just that a more costly lens will make a better food photography lens than a cheaper lens.
My go to “food photography lens” is a macro lens and rather than reach for my Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens (which I use for insect photography) my food photography lens of choice is the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens and if anyone asked for my opinion for a food photography lens this would be my first recommendation.
Many people consider the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS lens (check out this review) the flagship macro lens even though the Canon 180mm macro lens is more expensive, so you may be wondering why I would recommend the 60mm macro lens instead. The Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens is a lot cheaper than the 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens, and price does come in to it, however the lower cost of the 60mm macro lens isn’t the only reason.
The Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens is tack sharp (it is easily the sharpest camera lens I own) and it records details you can’t see with the naked eye. This may sound great, but you don’t need the level of detail the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens records. Basically, the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS lens is too sharp for food photography and if there are any imperfections with the food these will clearly show on the photograph, which is not good. The Canon 60mm does not record the same level of detail however it is still very sharp and a more than capable food photography lens.
Okay, so the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens is cheaper, it doesn’t show imperfections as easily – what else? Well….. The Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens is smaller, lighter and less imposing. The Canon 60mm feels well balanced, even on smaller Canon cameras. For example, the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens is balanced on my fully gripped Canon 7d (my preferred camera and lens combination for insect photography) but it feels too heavy when I put it on my (smaller) Canon 80d. The Canon 80d/100mm f2.8L IS macro lens combination simply feels wrong to me. On the other hand, when I put my Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens on the Canon 80d it feels balanced and is comfortable to use. When I put the 60mm f2.8 on the fully gripped Canon 7d (which I seldom do) you can barely tell there’s a lens on the camera. The Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens just works as a food photography lens.
So, if you are on the search for the perfect food photography lens you don’t need to look any further than the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens.
The best food photography lenses for full frame Canon cameras
If you shoot a full frame camera you won’t be able to use the Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens because this is a crop sensor camera lens only. If you do shoot a full frame camera there are a couple of lenses that are sharp, but not super sharp making them perfect for food photography, and these comprise:-
Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L
"The Canon 24 - 70 f2.8L lens is awesome but it isn't cheap"
The Canon 24 – 70 lens is a bit of a beast (i.e. it is big and heavy) but it is a great lens for food photography. Being an L series lens it uses superior optics, and whilst it is a sharp lens it is not as sharp as a macro lens. The 24 – 70 zoom range is ideal for a variety of different framing/composition options too.
The Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L lens is expensive, and whilst some people may not be able to justify spending out for a new lens there are plenty of used Canon 24 – 70 f2.8L lenses out there in good condition and a second hand lens may be the way forward.
When I am looking to buy used photography equipment the first place I head for is eBay, where there are always loads of bargains to be had, and the eBay search box below may be of some use.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.