A Basic Food Photography Kit

A Basic Food Photography Kit


food-photography-kit-1.jpgSteve Buchanan is a commercial photographer in Maryland and a contributor on Photocrati’s Photography Blog. His work can be seen at www.buchanan-studios.com.

Many of the photographers I know are gadget hounds. They love their toys. They love to talk about them, read about them, argue about them and drool over the ones they can’t afford. I’m not so much of a gadget hound. I have my share of gear, and it will occasionally (ok, regularly) spill out of the equipment room and into the rest of the house, but I’ve made a point to try and keep things simple in my business, and in my work. For those looking to get started in food photography I’ve compiled a list of equipment that I would recommend getting, in order.

1. Any Canon or Nikon DSLR.

I don’t care how many megapixels, or if it shoots video, or whether its full frame or dx sized. Just so you like it and you’re comfortable using it. I know Sony, Fuji, Pentax and others make perfectly good dslrs, but Canon and Nikon have the largest user base and accessory range, and that will be important to you some day. Also, when it’s time to upgrade, Canon and Nikon usually have a better resale value. My primary camera is a Canon 5D.

2. A Macro Lens

Manufacturer branded lenses are best, and of course most expensive. Most of the major aftermarket brands are fine (Sigma, Tamron) but do your research on those first and I’ve heard of some quality issues from time to time with aftermarket gear. I would not recommend the close up filters that screw into the front of a lens and allow you to focus closer. They’re terrible in terms of sharpness and flatness of field. My primary lens, Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro.

3. A Good Tripod


Since food photography is all about slowly building the image from test shot to test shot, a sturdy tripod is a must. One commonly overlooked spec on tripods is the minimum height when in use. I have several tripods but the one I use the most often is a Bogen/Manfrotton 3001 with a 3035 head. It’s a relatively light tripod and a heavy head, but I shoot in a lot of restaurants. Standard table height is 30 inches and sometimes I want to be right at that height. My larger, more sturdy tripods won’t allow me to get that low.

4. Homemade Reflectors

A trip to the art store will set this up for you. A couple half sheets of fomecore, some silver boards, a utility knife, some funtak and a couple of artists manikins and you’ve got yourself all that you need for making reflector cards and a means to keep them in place.

5. A Computer Workstation Capable of Shooting Tethered

Specifying a computer workstation setup is a whole other can of worms, but chances are you’re already working with one so the big thing to notice here is the ability to shoot tethered. I shoot Canon and EOS capture came with my camera. I don’t know if Nikon includes their Capture program or not but it’s worth getting if need be. Again, shooting food requires you to shoot, look, repeat. It’s a whole lot easier to evaluate your shots on a laptop screen than on that little lcd viewer on the back of your camera.

6. A Color Checker


Something like the Expodisc or a Macbeth color checker is crucial. I ALWAYS shoot a color chart on every shoot. This is even more crucial when using available light since available light rarely matches those preset white balances on your camera. Nothing looks less appetizing than a green banana.

7. Studio Strobes or Monolights

These can be fairly expensive, or relatively cheap. It all depends on how much you shoot and how hard you are on your gear. One key factor to keep in mind is the availability and diversity of light modifiers for your particular system. A typical studio setup for me contains 2 or 3 lights with fairly focused light modifiers like grid spots or snoots and 1 soft fill light, usually a softbox overhead or slightly behind.

You’ll notice that the strobes are at the bottom. It’s entirely possible to do some great shots with just available light and some basic gear. If you have the first three I think you’ve got all you need to do some top notch work. Sure, if you’re going to hang a shingle and start selling yourself as a pro, you’ll need more. But if you want to get started and learn your way around food photography this will get you moving. I think a lot of photographers use their lack of funds to buy really cool gear as a crutch – don’t.

From the Editor (Darren Rowse): Thanks to Stephen for this post. Of course his point on Canon/Nikon cameras is probably going to cause some debate (going on past experience). I’m more than happy for this debate to happen below – just please be civilized.

For the record – DPS loves great images – not any particular brand of camera. If you can take a great shot with a Sony, Pentax, Sigma or even a Kodak… that’s fantastic! Use what your finances, preferences and situation leads you to and keep shooting!

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Some Older Comments

  • Kathy Radford December 2, 2012 01:18 am

    I enjoy playing around shooting food and also took the CreativeLive. om workshop on Food Photography and loved it.

    I too disagree with the first statement about Canon and Nikon. Even my camera club, when introducing a new member at the meetings will enthusiastically say "they shoot Canon" or "they shoot Nikon" but never mention any of the other cameras.

    I just purchased my second Pentax, the K5 II that just came out and absolutely love it. I have been a long believer that it is not the camera but the person behind it. Any really good photographer can come up with fabulous photos no matter what camera they use. Any Canon or Nikon put in the hands of a poor photographer will still come up with lousy photos no matter what. Thanks for letting me vent my two cents.

  • Aina May 30, 2012 07:36 pm

    "I know Sony, Fuji, Pentax and others make perfectly good dslrs, but Canon and Nikon have the largest user base and accessory range, and that will be important to you some day"

    I think this was fairly mentioned, I mean the fact that he mentioned something that could be of importance to a photographer some day. There was no mention of other brands being incompetent.. Some readers have completely missed the point, and that's really sad.

    If you want something so plain: He's using a Canon 5D... It didn't give me the impression that i had to ditch my 600D. These are already both Canon made

    I was surprised to see that people have seemed to lost along reading this article. It's about food.. Food photography.. Did you notice the tips? The Homemade Reflectors? I bought those big round thingies.. does it mean my photos will come out better or does it mean that reflectors help make the food products look better? The authored shared something... That's all there is to it. :(

  • Frank M. April 19, 2012 10:51 am

    Well as an extremely new photographer. (no experiance beyond simple point and shoot cameras) I want to say thank you. I am attempting to write my own and very first cookbook. I've been struggling to find a decent basic set up. I love ya for being to the point. It is so very hard to find something short and simple, without all the fancy mumbo jumbo. It is so nice to have something basic and cheap for once. I was terrified I was going to have to drop 1700 for a set up.

  • Cat @ Cat's Kitchen April 17, 2012 06:57 am

    Reading through these comments it struck me that there are a few things to note:
    1. It's an article about equipment, so it's not fair to run down it for lacking advice on techniques or styling. Good on him for staying on point.
    2. As a (very) amateur photographer, it's really useful to have a few brands recommended by an experienced photographer. Remember that while many of you are well familiar with various equipment, some readers may find it all new and a little daunting to know where to start.
    3. And finally, thank you Steve for the free sharing of advice and information!

  • Marcel November 25, 2011 02:16 am

    This is typical behaviour of people that only comment when they read something that doesn't fit in their mind. Even if the author says something that you don't agree with, you can always take the camera that you have and keep on reading the other tips.

    Just be happy with the camera you have and make happy fotos.

  • Mark September 30, 2011 04:47 am

    It's a little unfortunate for the author to have kicked off this article by discussing brands of equipment. No-one's ever going to say they have poor taste in music, no sense of humour, or that their brand of choice isn't the best! BrandWars aside, there are some useful tips here if you'd all just unruffle your feathers for a moment.. as someone who is fairly new to food photography, the most interesting tip for me was the basic approach of mixing focused light with soft fill-light. I tried it and I have enjoyed discovering the effects that one can create this way. So, thank you Steve.
    Oh, and by the way.. don't ask me which camera I'm shooting with 'coz I'm not telling. The best camera for the job is the one you have.

  • Heather May 13, 2011 11:03 am

    Did people forget that this was a "food Photography" blog?? Not a "who's got the better camera" blog?? Really people? Everyone has their camera preference, and he stated his. Whether or not you agree with his preference is completely fine, but remember that YOU chose to read this for FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY!!! Cut the guy some slack, and get back to the reason you opened this is the first place....geeze...

  • Eddy mendoza March 8, 2011 02:10 am

    I think the statement about using Nikon or Canon is a bit misleading but it's also very accurate. I have used both, still do but I shoot most if not all my food photography with and older medium format film camera with both film and a digital back. The reason for this is because one the medium format allows me to print a larger and better image. Also the bellows on my Mamiya RZ gives me the macro ability on all of my lenses and lastly when I need that huger than life image I use the film back which after scanning gives me an almost 1 gigabyte file to work with.

    This is just my personal choice and I can say without hesitation that any camera will do especially if the outcome is for web.

  • Eddy mendoza March 8, 2011 02:10 am

    I think the statement about using Nikon or Canon is a bit misleading but it's also very accurate. I have used both, still do but I shoot most if not all my food photography with and older medium format film camera with both film and a digital back. The reason for this is because one the medium format allows me to print a larger and better image. Also the bellows on my Mamiya RZ gives me the macro ability on all of my lenses and lastly when I need that huger than life image I use the film back which after scanning gives me an almost 1 gigabyte file to work with.

    This is just my personal choice and I can say without hesitation that any camera will do especially if the outcome is for web.

  • Bruce52 March 5, 2011 05:28 pm

    I think Steve's article was as he described: a basic food photography kit - not how to use it or how to set up the lighting. About using either Canon or Nikon cameras I believe he qualified that statement in a reasonable manner - not to bring down other brands but for accessories and resale value in general. As far as lenses go I have a mix of a couple of good consumer lenses, a couple of good (used) pro lenses and a few of the better Tokina lenses (which I think are unbelievable value) all of which I researched thoroughly and that will provide the tools for many types of photography. I am a hobbyist nearing my sixties recently resuming an interest from my y,ore youthful years and I hope to one day make a dollar or two with my kit. I currently use a humble Nikon D90 and I don't get upset when some photographer bags Nikons or whatever. I think some here maybe have thin hides and should realise that this hobby is about what they are happy with, what they perceive through the viewfinder and to improve upon that learning from others.

  • Denver Photographer October 31, 2010 07:26 am

    What a great article. I was just doing some research about getting into doing food photography, and stumbled across it. Great work.

  • Andrew August 25, 2010 08:26 pm

    Article was okay. Nothing new under the sun, but not doing any food photography myself yet, it was useful to find the author's problems with Tripod height. I will now remember this. Also interesting as always to read the comments, as this is so often where my real learning happens as people comment or pull apart an article.

    Brands - well that was brave of the author as I am pretty sure he knew of the risks involved. Right or wrong to do it - I don't know. I am Canon and I agree with some of his reasons - I live on the arse end of the world yet am able to find cheap used L glass for my Canon which I love, the same cannot be said about the other manufacturers where I come from. Same for other accessories. If I wrote an article I would also recommend the big two (my personal opinion only) for that very reason as the spares for the smaller market share brands are not that easy to come accross in the sticks!

    Again - the comments are where lots of my learning happens, so when people disagree, and then qualify why they do so, it is very informative and gives a good big picture to people like me. When you just flame a persons article, well then I am not so sure I enjoy reading your comments.

  • Kathleen August 15, 2010 12:43 am

    Hey, I am just starting to takes food pics of my husbands creations. He is a personal chef & does a lot of recipe development at home. I have taken some pretty goods pics with a Canon 3IS. If you want to see some fabulous food pics check out this photographer http://annawilliamsphotography.com . This photographer made me want to run out and buy a new camera and start shooting. I didn't obviously. But she did inspire me to want to learn more about shooting food. The object of this article was to help you with some tips if this is something you want to persue. Let's not turn this article into a "Camera Brand" war.

  • Sophie August 13, 2010 06:44 am

    A lot of defensive and argumentative people are on here? Did you guys even read the article?
    He's talking about the "BASIC FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY KIT" not the TECHNIQUES to shooting food photography. He also did not say GO AND BUY A NIKON OR A CANNON!
    Reading is fundamental.

    GREAT JOB Steve Buchanan. I enjoyed the article.
    P.S. You can't please everyone.

  • Brandon August 13, 2010 01:41 am

    First of all the title of this article is not "How to Photograph Food". This is a professional photographer talking about what he uses and making suggestions to "those looking to get started". If you have a Pentax and you're in love with it then simply disregard #1. It's just a suggestion for those looking to make a career out of food photography, and I believe, a valid one.

  • ever August 9, 2010 08:16 am

    it's a shame that you guys fight about a single comment instead of the effort of the author to give some advice on food photography, you should thank instead of fight.

  • 11zxcvb11 August 24, 2009 09:32 pm

    i think one uses the manikin to hold up the reflector cards?! though i might be wrong.

    and for all of you asking for "how to" tips, check out this article:

    enjoy your photography and the food :)

  • Dom Kennedy July 17, 2009 10:32 pm

    @Anders C. Madsen you are wrong. C/N are not the only manufactureres of FF cameras today. Ever heard of the Sony A900? No? Go look it up. You are obviously very ignorant.

  • Clarke July 17, 2009 05:52 am

    While I didn't agree with a lot of it, what turned me off at the end was the picture of the pie and ice cream that looked, quite clearly, like it had been processed to death in Photoshop. Overuse of the blur tool is a no-no. Should have included that you should never rely on Photoshop to fix your images, unless you actually use it to fix them. Good photographers don't need much of that, whether they shoot food or anything else.

  • mrsrobinson July 12, 2009 06:51 am

    I think we need to remember that these articles are the author's opinion. It is not a survey of different techniques on how to shoot food. It is HIS equipment for shooting food. He did explain why he prefers the brands he does, and I think they are good points. Like mature adults I'm sure we're capable of considering other people's opinions without being insulted and becoming defensive. Turning every article posted here into a product debate or critique on article writing is counterproductive and a waste of time. I for one like to hear about the equipment that others are using and why they think it's good. It doesn't demean the equipment that's in my bag. And if I can find anything useful in the article to take away with me, great. If not, I browse to something else.

    Can we just limit comments to adding extra info on the topic and not bashing every article, either in content or style?

    I honestly don't have time to sort through hundreds of flame responses just to try and get some more points of view or tips on the topic (which is why I am reading the articles in the first place). Please?

  • Menk July 11, 2009 03:06 am

    I do agree that everyone should read, read and read again their article before posting BUT I believe Steve already give us a hint on the TITLE its about BASIC food photography KIT, not TECHNIQUES, HOW-TO, etc.

    And for BASIC part, let see it like temperature ie. 25C is cool for me but it maybe too hot for you.

    Why insult the man sharing it for free? Why not just take whatever usefull for you, say 'thanks' (its free n easy) and leave the rest??

  • Tony Woods July 10, 2009 08:16 pm

    Oh Dear, poor Steve. I don't know whether this is his first tuition article or not but, let's hope he never writes another like this!

    The first thing to remember is never, never, never recommend one brand of equipment over another or seem to do this as your article clearly does.

    Secondly, stick to the point of your article which, as far as I can see, told us nothing about the technique of shooting food only what equipment we should have.

    Lastly, read your article a couple of times before you publish it. It may not seem as brilliant as you first imagined!!

  • David Thomson July 7, 2009 07:29 am

    Absolute drivel, Mr. Steve Buchanan.

    1) What does having a large user base have to do with taking pictures of food?
    2) How many accessories does one require to take the aforementioned pictures at any one time? And please list the ones mandatory for this assignment which Canon & Nikon have which other brands don't.
    3) What does upgrading your camera (albeit in the future) got to do again, with taking pictures of food?
    And to further qualify your own position on this ..."My primary camera is a Canon 5D".

    One doesn't need to be a proponent of any camera brand to see you can't even stick to the subject.

    You're so overly concerned about the tools/accessories you advocate ... that it no longer fits the description of "A Basic Food Photography Kit" ...
    Computer Workstation? Bogen/Manfrotto tripod?
    Geez. Get real.

  • Katherine July 7, 2009 02:52 am

    I really enjoyed this and thought the tips were very helpful. I've been wondering what essentials I might be missing and this really filled in some blanks. Thanks!

    To: "pupster" and the like-
    In reading this, from the title, you must be interested in piecing together an equipment list. You will be spending a lot of money (even a few hundred for a point and shoot is a lot of money). If the only thing on your mind is a nice looking cherry pie when you buy a camera, or any equipment, that costs that much money and not how much it will be worth (re sale or usefulness) in five years then just buy the cherry pie instead of the camera. You wont have to think much about its future value.

    The color checker and working "tethered" seem to be the next logical steps for me. Having a color wheel might help in composition a bit too, thanks!

  • L.W. Baruch July 5, 2009 03:24 am

    Thanks Michael, I really appreciate you giving me an answer, ANY answer. I had to look up in google to even find out what an artist's maikin was. Once I did, I realized I'd seen them but thought them decorative and didn't know what use they were meant for. Your answer makes sense and I DO thank you for responding to it.
    I would love it if they did a follow up article on how to use this stuff for amatures.

  • michael wood July 4, 2009 11:18 pm

    this is for L.W. Baruch,
    I would like to help you with the artist’s manikin and reflector but I don't know so I don't want to bum steer you but all I can really think of is that because is says buy a couple and thumb tacs is that you tac the card between the two manikins to hold your card in place.

    As for any other issue on this page, you people have to understand that internet arguments are about as useful as well ........... there not, so SHUT UP about who has what or what is the latest branded thing out there and do what you enjoy and that is take photos

  • liz July 4, 2009 05:16 am

    This whole arguement over camera brands is rather sad and not at all helpful to anyone.

  • jimmy July 3, 2009 07:01 pm

    WOW, what a ridiculously written article! This really doesn't help anyone, especially someone who is learning - the whole aim of DPS!!!

    you list equipment, dont' really suggest how to use it at all...

    and shoot tethered? i respect your opinion as to why, but making suggestions that carrying $30,000 of gear to take a picture of a pie? are you for real?

    this kind of stuff makes me disappointed in DPS....

  • Swapan Mukherjee July 3, 2009 04:26 pm

    Must thank Steve Buchanan for the two very interesting articles on food photography. It is kinda reassuring that we follow the same techniques.

    I agree with Steve almost 100% of what he has to say about food photography in his articles on the subject. I, more or less, do what he says in the articles. Learned them from trial and error, over many years. However, I am not too sure of the preference for the Canon 100mm Macro lens. It is a great lens for macro photography, and most food photography is just that. One major drawback of most macro lenses is that up close their depth of field is very limited. A plate full of food, which is only sharp in the centre, does not look appetizing. I would go for the Canon 90MM TSE lens, where I can control the plane of focus, thus enabling me to shoot at mid-apertures like f/8, or f/11. It is also a great lens to shoot products, where one needs to control the verticals, by using the shift facilities.

    Having worked with large format and film for decades, working with the TSE lens on a Canon DSLR is a boon. However, if Steve and his clients are happy with the 100MM Macro, why upset the apple cart?

    Sorry for coming so late into the thread as I just stumbled upon it .

  • michelle July 3, 2009 02:30 pm

    First, sorry for my bad english. But anyway, I understand what I read and I could not find "you have to buy Canon or Nikon to make good photos". For me, if somebody tells me Canon or Nikon are good brands (which is a fact) it doesn't mean the other ones are bad......... And, why not see the big work these guys are doing with all these tutorials and good tips??? I'm sure they spend hours and nights on it. And they give it to us for free. So: A BIG THANKS FOR ALL YOUR WORK AND KEEP DOING IT, you're great and I must say I learned a lot with your advices.

  • L.W. Baruch July 3, 2009 04:22 am

    I am ASTOUNDED and fed up frankly with all the comments lambasting the writer for mentioning the FACT that Canon and Nikon are THE most populare brands, with the widest base of after market products, lenses and best resale value. Give it a rest! Get a life and stop being so thinned skinned about YOUR brand of camera and how about focusing on WHAT HE SAID ABOUT PHOTOGRPAHY!! You sound like a bunch of cry babies in the school yard. Try learning from the tip about the techniques!

    My question that I originally posted hasn't been address by a single person, how is an artist's manikin used.

    I'd like MORE info on how to USE the reflectors, homemade or otherwise....let's get on with the discussion of PHOTOGRAPHY which transends any particular camera or brand.

  • Mustafa Sazak July 3, 2009 04:00 am

    I'm going to unsubscribe the newsletter after reading this topic. "Canon or Nikon" huh? What do the others stand for? Why the writer is speaking like he's humiliating the other cameras? I totally disagree with the writer.

  • Mandy July 2, 2009 07:38 am

    This is a good article on kit for food photography, it's good to see what others are using. I'm with the others on asking for more indepth posts on the reflectors and on lighting for food photography. You've got to tell us how best to use this equipment that we should be buying!!!

  • Odyn July 1, 2009 06:36 am

    Well, the 'higher resell value' is very two edged: sure you can sell your stuff for higher value but it also means used stuff will cost you more in return. And not really accurate as for Canikon vs. the others debate: should you be lucky enough to have bought 85mm FA* 1.4 lens when it was in production you could sell it for double it's price now. And use it on current bodies as any other Pentax lens since them going SLR.
    And I really can't see much better accesory for food photography (on crop camera) than the Pentax 35mm 2.8 Macro Limited lens. Or at least something in the 50 mm-ish department.

  • Swisstony10 June 30, 2009 09:50 pm

    "More importantly, there is almost nothing about food specific photography in the article."

    Personally, I didn't read an article entitled "A Basic Food Photography Kit" for advice on how to take photographs, because that isn't what the title suggested. The title suggested a list of suitable equipment that someone wanting to start taking photographs of food should consider.

    If you want advice on "How To" carry out food photography, it might be worth reading an article on that instead. Perhaps one of the "Technique" forums might be a good place to start, and not a thread posted in the "Cameras And Equipment" forum.

    As far as the Canon/Nikon Vs Everything Else debate - the author doesn't actually suggest that other manufacturers don't make good cameras, and his point about the user base and accessory availability (and thus the increased potential to expand and grow) is, in my opinion, entirely valid. MV Agusta, for example, make some beautiful motorbikes, but if I bought one, I wouldn't expect to find as great a range of after-market accessories for it as I would if I bought one of the "Big Four" (Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki or Yamaha).

  • Anders C. Madsen June 28, 2009 07:49 am

    Alberto, I know you were being sarcastic - but I still think you were right whether you wanted to or not. :)

    As for the tripod I just returned from a 8 hour shoot that included some food and beverages, and I can guarantee that my cheap tripod is headed for the garbage can (or the holiday rucksack)! Too short to get a good overview on the bar desk and way too fiddly and imprecise because of the two-way head (no sideway tilt) with friction locks.

    I had the opportunity to try a professional geared three-way head on a really sturdy tripod a couple of weeks ago and my next purchase will most likely be something like a Manfrotto 055PROB (Bogen 3021BPRO) with a Manfrotto 410 (Bogen 3275) Compact Geared Head: For something like food, the ability to fine-tune the camera placement easily and precisely is very valuable. While not exactly cheap, it's still less than just one reasonable lens, and treated well it will last you a decade or more.

  • Tomblerone June 28, 2009 05:03 am

    I do not really believe you need all those stuff he says, the tamron 90mm macro is better than the canon version, you dont need an expensive tripod, as long as you can lock it and there are no accesoires he mentions, that cant be used on sony's and fuji's...

  • Alberto June 28, 2009 04:02 am

    oh, anders madsen, my comment on the phaseone or hasselblad was sarcastic! lol. But If i had the money I'd buy a 60mp ASPC frame that a 12mp full frame :-)

  • Alberto June 28, 2009 03:53 am

    ok whatever he said in his article....ok, I mean everybody has preferences and people should not be influenced by this tutorial, concerning camera/lens selection.
    Now all of you are going to kill me but I'm just trying to be constructive and to bring up a very important point. I took a look at his pictures on his website....from what I saw (and there's no Hi-Res pic) I have a couple of comments: the food pictures are good so I would take this tutorial as a good one. On the other side the portrait, architectural and industrial lack of "soul". Sometimes they look like they have been taken just for the hell of it...no thinking behing the lighting, some pictures are blurry and generally the composition is not the best. Example in the portrait section: 2 girls on a beach...the flash comes right from the front resulting in hard shadows in the back, you can take a picture like that anytime...the guy in the football uniform: i dont like the lighting at all, looks like the object is lit from behind and there's no highlight on the uniform or his face, which is probably what u want to achieve. THe b/w portrait and a couple of other are pretty good. The industrial is my least favourite, 3 of them are good but the other ones are just pictures you can take with any camera, u dont need a $3000 canon or nikon.
    So what I'm trying to say here is, I might be wrong and I probably am and anyhow criticism needs to be contructive, is that some point in this tutorial are valid but at the same time I would take advice on lighting and composition from somebody else.
    Now, go ahead and just slaughter me, I know most of you are going to be mad at me, but hey....just trying to be constructive.

  • L.W. Baruch June 28, 2009 02:31 am

    I'd also love a tutorial on home made reflectors as Nei Teng suggested and I would guess a whole lot of us would.

  • L.W. Baruch June 28, 2009 02:29 am

    Please tell me what an artist's manikin has to do with home made reflector's. I gather it does something, but what?

  • majorca June 27, 2009 10:15 pm

    keep your canon/nikons - mines a holga

  • Heuristx June 27, 2009 10:03 pm

    Imagine a master chef starts the gourmet recipe like: "Use any sauce from Heinz or Kraft"... I wouldn't bother reading it. I didn't this time.

  • TC June 27, 2009 04:50 pm

    Okay - some interesting stuff here on the first point.

    Somebody said that Steve is just stating facts when he says that Nikon/Canon has "largest user base and accessory range, [...] a better resale value.". That may be true, but is that really the three most important criteria for selecting a DSLR? I don't think so...

    Saying that "...the glass quality in the Canon and nikon lenses is unsurpassed." is simply nonsense. Pentax makes some amazing glass, with (and "everybody" agrees on this!) amazing color rendition. Zeiss makes some amazingly sharp and fast stuff.

  • Teresa June 27, 2009 02:46 pm

    Ah yes, of course a simple google search turned up the strobist (I should have remembered that blog!) Here is a post on lighting food - but also has a link to a diy light box for few $$.

    So far I don't do food - or even special lighting. I might have to add these to my list of things to learn. Although I have to say I'm really not into photographing food - so maybe I'll just stick with the lighting.

  • Yazan June 27, 2009 01:38 pm

    look at the title. keywords: basic and kit

    ie this is an article for those who want to invest some money to get started with taking higher quality photos of food.

  • Abhi June 27, 2009 01:37 pm

    I think what is written in the first section is pretty true in a way.

    In a market that is not as developed as others, people buying used equipment do tend to lean towards a Nikon / Cannon because they have proven over time and also because they know that they will find someone to fix it more easily than the others.

    Also, people starting out look at other people's images and try to learn adn with similar equipment as the majority own, it becomes easier and your learning curve reduces by that much.

    Ofcourse, I own a Panasonic, Sony & Nikon, so I am not a fanboy or something trying to defend the top two brands.

  • Aleeya June 27, 2009 12:25 pm

    He doesn't say "buy" a Canon or Nikon or you can't do photography. He only suggests using them since they have the largest accessory range, user base and resale value. So if you're not happy with the camera, you can resell it and buy one of the other brands.

  • MeiTeng June 27, 2009 11:46 am

    I would like a tutorial on the home made reflectors. That would be most helpful as I love shooting food. But most of my shots aren't that professional looking.

    I think it doesn't matter if one doesn't own either a Canon or Nikon camera. It's the photographer that makes or breaks an image. Unless you have a budget for manufacturer branded lenses, Sigma or Tamron are also good.

  • Kerry Garrison June 27, 2009 09:53 am

    Did any of you READ the first parapgraph? The author says that there are more accessories and greater resale value for Canon and Nikon equipment. That is a fact. He does not say they take better pictures. His statement was accurate, although not relevant to a food photography article.

    More importantly, there is almost nothing about food specific photography in the article.

  • Fradster June 27, 2009 09:28 am

    Thanks to guest contributor Steve for a nice article about food photography - some cool stuff!


    Adding to the brand war conversation...

    There are LOTS of pros and cons to ALL DSLRs.

    I love my Olympus E-system camera and I think the Olympus Zuiko brand lenses are THE BEST manufacturer lenses out there, but that's just my opinion and others might disagree.

    Read up on Canon vs Nikon vs Olympus and a few informed people will actually tell you that lower and mid level Canons and Nikons have exposure balance problems that Olympus models dont have at the same price point. While this can be fixed by using the EV settings, I find this annoying that a product would need adjustments like this...this was one of my primary determining factors for choosing Olympus. To others, maybe it just isn't that big a deal...and hey...thats cool if it works for them.

    Don't be fooled by 30 year old wisdom that DID apply to film cameras...size does NOT matter! Olympus has done their homework and their smaller 4/3 CMOS sensor packs just as much of punch as a comparable MegaPixel Nikon/Canon in a MUCH smaller package that weighs less and typically costs less too.

    All the old arguments just don't apply much anymore. Now it all comes down to personal preference.

    Things to take into consideration:
    Yes, Nikon and Canon do offer a wider accessory base (this is my only drawback in the Olympus system)
    No, Nikon and Canon are NOT better
    No, Olympus and Pentax are NOT better
    Yes, you pay for what you get (to a point)
    Yes, the Nikon and Canon weigh a lot more and are larger (maybe you want that - maybe you don't)
    ...list could go on forever...

    End the end, let it rest. If you're stuck in your ways with a certain brand, I challenge you to go out and try another brand just for fun! If you're in the market for a new camera body, try out all the brands and get the one that YOU like the best and don't let anybody tell you that you have to have a certain brand because its better. That may be true for them, but may NOT for you...you need to think and feel for yourself and weigh the pros and cons to determine what is right for YOU!

  • Teresa June 27, 2009 08:45 am

    Tiffany - your light question is an excellent one. I know I've seen some stuff online about inexpensive lighting for photography. I would think it might be interesting to google and see what the results are. I'm off to make my dinner now, but will try it later and see what I get.

    Too bad the rest of the comments have been driven by the first point which seems to have sidetracked the entire discussion.

  • Jeff Plum June 27, 2009 08:09 am

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear. First you upset people with a broad stroke about Canon and Nikon cameras. Then you give us some basic tips on how to take photographs. Not of food, just photographs. Where's the tips I expected about composition, light, point of interest, focus etc? This is just your version of camera kit porn.

  • Anders C. Madsen June 27, 2009 07:52 am

    While I perfectly understand the anger expressed in many of the above posts, I still think that the first statement has merit, and it really has very little to do with the ability and the optical quality of the other manufacturers.

    The comment from "alberto" pretty much nails it: "Why not a PhaseOne or Hasselblad?" Well, why should it be? "Because of the larger sensors in medium format cameras" would be the most likely answer, and there you have the most plausible reason for recommending Canon or Nikon: They are the only manufacturers today that makes fullframe sensor cameras.

    That means that if you want to take your photography further as you improves, these are the two brands that will carry you furthest without you having to ditch your investment in lenses and other brand specific gear, and as such, these are the two brands that it makes most sense to recommend to someone interested in a photography genre that typically demands large image sizes (if not for anything else, then because the agencies demands it out of principle), and large images are best when produced on large sensors.

    I'm not saying that other cameras aren't good (I own a Canon and I absolutely lust for the new Pentax K7 but I know that someplace down the road I will want to go full frame) but unless they get their behind in gear and start supplying FF-gear, they will be in for a tough battle on some of the professional markets. On other markets they will rule the world if they keep it up as is - like I don't understand photo journalists lugging around a ton of Canon gear when they could have 20% of the weight in Olympus gear and get exactly the same shot.

    Just my thoughts - feel free to flame away.

  • Ray June 27, 2009 07:43 am

    Wow, why are photographers such whiners? Who cares about what the author prefers? Why get butthurt over it? If you like your equpiment, what does it matter what everyone else is using?

    Stick to the topic (food photography) and stop getting into religious brand debates?

    Arguments like this make me just want to drop this feed.

  • Mikel Daniel June 27, 2009 06:40 am

    I have to agree, even as a Nikon owner. That first line made me go "hmm...". And hey, why it gotta be Canon first eh! Why couldn't it be any Nikon or Canon!

  • Angela Jenkins June 27, 2009 05:50 am

    I own a Nikon D50 and have been using that for all my photography. I have become very interested in doing more food photography, this post seems to have sprouted at just the right moment! Basic gear, not too intimidating for a beginner :)

  • Rick June 27, 2009 05:38 am

    I shoot with an Olympus and I like the way it works, I'm comfortable with it. BUT, having said that, my next camera will be a Nikon or cannon just because I seem to be able to find other lens for those cameras a lot easier then for the Olympus. Good article!

  • Celine Ellis June 27, 2009 05:27 am

    im with the majority here - starting a guest article on a photography website with a phrase like that is just plain rude to all us non canon or non nikon users. and then the comment about manufaturer glass being superior.

    More to the point - im suprised that even got through Darren/site admin to be honest!

    I dont mind if people have an opinion but this guy is just ignorant. shame coz the rest was a good article.


  • Alberto June 27, 2009 04:52 am

    dude, come on. I'm a nikon owner (d700) but starting with "buy a nikon or a canon"....i mean, the why not with an PhaseOne or Hasselblad, talking about professional grade cameras! Anyhow in the range of DSLRs, the camera doesnt make the photographer, but very much the opposite. You can have the best camera in the world for $15000 but if you dont know how to use it.

  • Jeffrey Kontur June 27, 2009 04:51 am

    As a corporation, Olympus is actually bigger than Nikon. It's just that Nikon makes almost exclusively photography stuff whereas, for Olympus, it is merely a sideline.

    "The just proves the point," you might say.

    Except that Olympus' main business is optics. They are the world's largest and most respected manufacturer of scientific and medical equipment. There is also the fact that every single review ever written lists their 50mm f2 macro as the sharpest lens ever made. (For any camera line.) Period.

  • Mary June 27, 2009 04:31 am

    Article after article and comment after comment on this site are always about, how great pictures come not from the camera but from the photographer behind it. Besides, first tip in the article has nothing to do with shooting food.

  • Danferno June 27, 2009 03:44 am

    Lol, the first tip is brilliant.


  • Tiffany June 27, 2009 03:34 am

    I'd like to see a tutorial on setting up the homemade reflectors. The biggest problem I have with food photography is low light. I shoot the food I make for our family and often that is in the evening, which means totally dark outside in the winter. I don't have a lot of time to shoot the pics because we are getting ready to eat it! Most of the food photography info I see assumes lots of time to set up the shot. I don't have that kind of time or fancy equipment but I still want the food to look good on my blog.

  • Alex June 27, 2009 03:29 am

    Coming next week: Basic guest contributor tips.

  • Paul H June 27, 2009 03:20 am

    Some people maybe upset about your first comment however it is very accurate. I've been shooting for 30+ years and have tried many cameras in both film and digital. Canon and nikon are the professional grade cameras period. Of the two Nikons tend to be easier to use but Canon tends to preform better across the board. Primary cameras are 2 Canon EOS 1D Mark IIII. In regards to lenses you can get some excellent generic lenses at great prices and they do sometimes perform better on paper. However, the glass quality in the Canon and nikon lenses is unsurpassed.

  • clear01 June 27, 2009 03:11 am

    This would have been a good article but the first item turned me off. I don't think it makes a difference what camera you use for food photography.

  • TC June 27, 2009 03:10 am

    I agree with pablo, William and Darder - that was totally uncalled for.

  • Pupster June 27, 2009 03:04 am

    A rather... pointless article that just throws equipment together without much explanation. Disregarding the fact that this article is great flame bait, I'm quite sure I won't be looking for advice on resale value on my equipment when trying to take photos of food.

  • Darder June 27, 2009 02:46 am

    wow way to insult an entire category of photographers with your very first tip, I know plenty of people who would happily disagree with your assessment. seriously way to leave a bad taste in this pentaxian's mouth.

  • Lori aka A Cowboy's Wife June 27, 2009 02:40 am

    I'm really trying hard to improve my food photography. I just bought a whole photo box kit to hopefully help. Thanks for the tips!

  • William June 27, 2009 02:13 am

    Please be careful making blanket generalizations. For example, manufacturer lenses are not necessarily the best.

    The Sigma 50/1.4 outperforms both its Canon/Nikon equivalents in terms of sharpness and bokeh wide open. There are a few people who modify Zeiss lenses for Canon/Nikon mounts as well.

  • Deneil Merritt June 27, 2009 01:57 am

    I like the article, taking photos of food is a passion of mine. I just never got around to doing it. (Well maybe a picture or 2)

  • YJD June 27, 2009 01:26 am

    I have Pentax too and I don't agree with the article. First remove Fuji and but Olympus. Second all of them have good resell value and are as good as a Canon or Nikon would be. Though Canon and Nikon really high end don't have that much equivalent. But please, stop telling only Canon and Nikon are worst it! Other brand are as good.

    Though I really enjoy this site, no bad feeling towards you guys but a little note for other brands than Canon / Nikon would be much appreciated.

  • luiz June 27, 2009 12:42 am

    I had this blog on my google reader but I'm going to unsubscribe from it after having read the statement about "Canon or Nikon". That's just plain stupid.

  • roman June 27, 2009 12:39 am

    Same here, the first statement pretty much disqualifies the whole article. What - I can only make good pictures with a Nikon or Canon?

  • pablo June 27, 2009 12:34 am

    it's just a shame to read an article that begins with "buy Canon or Nikon". give people a chance... I own a Pentax and I wouldn't trade it for any Canon or Nikon.