Bite into these food photography tools

November 8, 2021

Cameras, lenses, and tripods — oh, my!

Real foodies know the one rule to follow at the dinner table — the camera eats first! Whether you are building a recipe blog, curating a social media feed featuring your favorite restaurants, or looking to land a career as a food stylist (dream job alert!), you need the right tools to take your food shots from bland to tantalizing.

We’ve compiled a list of the must-have food photography tools for everyone, from newbie foodies just starting out to experts looking to level up their craft. Get ready to take a bite into these food photography tools that will have your friends, followers, and clients drooling. We’ll even let you call the shots on your favorite tool, so be sure to vote at the end!

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Before you order just anything off the menu, you need to choose a quality camera that serves your needs. After all, a camera is one of the most important food photography tools you will have in your arsenal (besides a sophisticated palette).

 

Sony ZV-1

The Sony ZV-1 point-and-shoot camera is perfect for first-time food bloggers. It is designed specifically for creators, featuring “product showcase” and “slow-motion video” modes.

Pros:

  • The product showcase setting easily transitions focus between subjects
  • Records 4K video
  • Wi-Fi-enabled for easy file transfer

Cons:

  • Does not have interchangeable lens capabilities
  • Learning the settings may require some trial and error
  • Accessories are sold separately

Price: $749.99

Rating: 4.4/5

Sony ZV-1

 

Fujifilm X-T30

The Fujifilm X-T30 offers interchangeable lenses, vibrant color capture, and powerful processors, all in a compact design that you can easily take to dinner.

Pros:

  • The mirrorless design offers lightweight construction, better video quality, and faster shutter speeds
  • Includes features for professionals and beginners, making it a camera you can grow into
  • Fun retro design

Cons:

  • Lenses are sold separately
  • The camera body isn’t weather-sealed
  • Restricted maximum video clip length

Price: $899.00

Rating: 4.8/5

Fujifilm X-T30

 

Canon EOS R6

The Canon EOS R6 has everything you need in a professional-grade camera for under $2,500 — sounds like a recipe for success.

Pros:

  • Mirrorless design that allows for easy transitions between 4K video and photo capture
  • Fast photo burst capture speeds for split-second shots
  • In-body stabilization and top-of-the-line autofocus features

Cons:

  • Lenses sold separately
  • Difficult to navigate menus\
  • Marginally lower resolution compared to similar cameras

Price: $2,499.00

Rating: 4.1/5

Canon EOS R6

Camera lenses can make or break your shot, and they can also be expensive investments. Luckily, when shooting food, you will be working close to your subject. That means you won’t need to purchase ultra-wide angle or telephoto lenses. Instead, invest in a quality 35mm lens versatile enough to cover a range of food shots and a macro lens for close-up details.

 

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G lens offers aperture settings perfect for capturing crisp images in low light conditions — dimly lit restaurants are no match for this baby!

Pros:

  • An ultra-fast aperture that captures crisp images in low light
  • Natural focal length that mimics the human eye
  • Superior image quality and unsurpassed versatility

Cons:

  • Expensive price point
  • Slight distortion in flat lay photography
  • New features may present a learning curve

Price: $1,699.95

Rating: 4.9/5

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm

 

Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM

The Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM lens is the best macro lens for capturing close-up details, like salt flakes on crispy fries or grill marks on a juicy steak. (Are you drooling yet? Because we are.)

Pros:

  • 4-stop hybrid image stabilizer for crisp shots
  • Built-in LED Macro Lite for illuminating darker shots
  • Compact and lightweight design

Cons:

  • Short working distance
  • Limited range of Macro Lite settings
  • Manual focus settings may take time to get used to

Price: $349.99

Rating: 4.8/5

Canon EF-S 35mm

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | A

As you can see, camera lenses can be expensive. For foodies on a budget, Sigma makes the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | A lens that is compatible with almost any camera brand.

Pros:

  • This budget-conscious lens allows you to spend more money on what we’re really here for — food!
  • Features high-speed capture with large-aperture settings
  • Comes with a free lens hood and carrying case

Cons:

  • Not tailor-made for a specific camera
  • Fewer features than more expensive lenses
  • Photographers need to double-check camera specs before purchasing

Price: $899.00

Rating: 5/5

Sigma 35mm

Tripods allow you to stabilize your camera to get crisp images with long exposure times, which is a must for romantic (think dimly lit) restaurant shots.

 

PIXI Mini-tripod by Manfrotto

The PIXI Mini-tripod by Manfrotto is an inexpensive option perfect for foodies because it can sit on top of the table, like a cute dinner companion to assist on your shoot.

Pros:

  • Compact design makes it easy to bring into restaurants
  • Inexpensive price point
  • Comfortable handgrip to transition to video shots

Cons:

  • Limited uses
  • Can’t extend to a full-size tripod
  • Maximum height is restricted to five inches

Price: $29.99

Rating: 4.7/5

PIXI Mini-tripod

 

Gitzo GT2545T Series 2 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod

Fully equipped home photography studios require full-sized tripods. The Gitzo GT2545T Series 2 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod features a durable carbon fiber design that is easier to transport than takeout.

Pros:

  • Strong carbon fiber design and 26-lb load capacity
  • Locking leg system
  • Interchangeable feet

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Reported industrial odor
  • Requires matching accessories from Gitzo

Price: $713.88

Rating: 4.5/5

Gitzo GT2545T Series

 

SLIK Sprint 150 Aluminum Tripod

If you have champagne taste but are on a beer budget (not craft IPAs), the SLIK Sprint 150 Aluminum Tripod offers top-of-the-line features at a fraction of the price.

Pros:

  • Lower price point
  • Strong aluminum design
  • Only weighs two pounds

Cons:

  • Max load capacity is limited to four pounds
  • No center hook to hang added stabilization weight
  • Pivoting head can be difficult to turn

Price: $59.95

Rating: 4.5/5

SLIK Sprint

Good lighting is the secret sauce for food photography. After all, you need a well-lit space to capture crisp images that reveal the beautiful colors of the dish. However, you can’t rely on sunshine alone, especially since restaurants tend to be on the dark side. (Candlelit dinners are great for date night — not so much for photo sessions.) That’s where lighting equipment comes in!

 

Panel Mini by Lume Cube

Mini LED light panels offer powerful and adjustable lighting in a bite-sized package. The Panel Mini by Lume Cube is about the same size as your restaurant rewards credit card and perfectly illuminates any shot once it’s attached to your camera.

Pros:

  • 3200k warm – 5600k cool color temp adjustability
  • Compatible with Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, and Panasonic cameras
  • Offers discrete lighting for restaurant photography

Cons:

  • The battery only lasts two hours on max power
  • Less control than a full light kit

Price: $59.99

Rating: 4.9/5

Panel Mini

 

Foldio3 LightBox

Light boxes are an inexpensive (and foolproof) way to capture studio-quality shots of your home-cooked meals. Simply slide your plate into the box, turn it on, and shoot. Now, how easy is that, Ina Garten? The Foldio3 LightBox is a great option to consider for first-timers.

Pros:

  • Dimmable triple LED lighting system
  • Foldable design that is easy to store and transport
  • Creates the best lighting every time

Cons:

  • Limited to black or white background
  • Have to put food inside the box to photograph
  • Too big to bring into a restaurant

Price: $139.00-$359.00

Rating: N/A

Foldio3 LightBox

 

Flashpoint

Full light kits provide the level of control needed to churn out drool-worthy food photos every time. They typically include lights, softboxes, adjustable stands, and connectors. Flashpoint offers a two-light kit that is made for professionals on a mission (to eat).

Pros:

  • Complete camera system real-time auto-sensing for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, and Olympus
  • Travel-friendly design
  • Bi-Color LED Modelling Light ranging from 3000K to 6000K

Cons:

  • Expensive price point
  • Lighting techniques are difficult to learn
  • Lots of equipment to store

Price: $1,462.85

Rating: 5/5

Flashpoint

You’ve probably noticed that some colors are just more appetizing than others. After all, no one wants to eat gray food! Color correction cards can help turn those gray shots into great shots by making it easy to find the proper white balance, yielding bold and vibrant images. Here are three options that will fit any photographer’s needs and budget.

 

Pixel Perfect Color Correction Card

The Pixel Perfect Color Correction Card is about as basic as you can get, but there is something to be said for simple! This easy-to-use card is perfect for beginners looking to upgrade their images, and it covers all the bases.

Pros:

  • Includes 24 standard colors and gray target
  • Affordable
  • Includes free Adobe correction software

Cons:

  • Paper construction
  • No case
  • Small size

Price: $10.99

Rating: 4/5

Pixel Perfect Color Correction Card

 

X-Rite ColorChecker Card

The X-Rite ColorChecker Card is perfect for the at-home food photographer looking to upgrade their studio setup. This card ensures accurate color balance every time.

Pros:

  • Can use to create color and white balance profiles
  • Compatible with ColorChecker Calibration
  • Larger card size

Cons:

  • Not weatherproof
  • A more expensive price point compared to competitors
  • Does not include software

Price: $80.00

Rating: 4.5/5

X-Rite ColorChecker Card

 

Calibrite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2

The Calibrite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 is the latest in color balance technology. (Basically, it is the cronut of the camera world.) If you are a professional food photographer, this upgrade is a must.

Pros:

  • Includes gray, white, classic, and enhancement balance targets
  • Sturdy design with a waterproof case
  • Includes Color Calibration software

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Currently only available for pre-order

Price: $119.00

Rating: N/A

Calibrite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2

The costs of photography equipment can add up quickly, which can be discouraging for newbie foodies looking to get a taste of the food photography craft. Don’t worry, though. You already have everything you need for a great shot in your pocket — your phone! Phone cameras are quickly catching up to the professional level. Here are some of the options leading the way.

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max offers the latest in camera design, including next-level hardware and processors that capture every image in stunning detail.

Pros:

  • The ultra-wide camera can focus at just 2 cm and capture epic macro photos
  • Night mode is perfect for low light situations
  • The New Photographic Styles feature applies your preferred tone and warmth settings to your photos automatically

Cons:

  • Expensive price point
  • Less versatility than a DSLR camera

Price: Starting at $1,099

Rating: N/A

iPhone 13 Pro Max

 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra includes impressive features like 8K video recording, 100x spatial zoom, and a 108MP lens. It’s no wonder why this phone is a go-to for Android users.

Pros:

  • Includes four rear cameras and one 40MP selfie camera
  • Sharpest zoom possible
  • New intelligent battery

Cons:

  • Only a small camera upgrade from the previous model
  • Distorted detail on close-up crops

Price: Starting at $799.99

Rating: 4.8

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

After you get the shot and eat the food, it’s time to edit the photos. Mastering the editing process will turn up the heat on your images. Here are some apps (the phone kind) and software to get you started.

 

Snapseed

Snapseed is a free smartphone app that offers everything you need to touch up your pictures, including brush tools, color adjustments, and preset filters.

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • Comes with professional-looking presets and filters
  • Can edit everything from RAW files to camera phone shots

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to learn
  • Limited to editing on your phone

Price: Free

Rating: 3.7/5

Snapseed

 

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom allows you to edit on your phone or desktop, providing presets and all the tools the professionals use.

Pros:

  • Can edit photos on multiple devices
  • Built-in file management system
  • Easy to learn

Cons:

  • Not suitable for adding graphic design elements
  • Recurring pricing

Price: Starting at $9.99/month

Rating: N/A

Adobe Lightroom

 

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has the most versatility, enabling you to edit and remix your photographs into pretty much anything you can imagine.

Pros:

  • Can bundle with Lightroom and save on monthly expenses
  • Unlimited editing potential
  • Includes graphic design tools

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Difficult to learn

Price: $20.00/month

Rating: N/A

Adobe Photoshop

If you’re photographing home-cooked recipes in your kitchen, sooner or later, you are going to get tired of seeing the same background in all of your pictures. Hyper-realistic printed backdrops can transform your space with marble, wood, and tile-look surfaces in seconds.

 

Ink and Helm

Ink and Helm prints stylish backdrops that you can hang up and change out whenever you feel inspired. (Plus, this is a way more affordable option than monthly kitchen renovations.)

Pros:

  • Come in a variety of styles
  • Can be printed on food-safe material
  • Storage tubes are included

Cons:

  • Must be hung and require clamps or a backdrop armature
  • May have up to a week-long production timeline

Price: Starting at $19.95

Rating: N/A

Ink and Helm

 

Replica Surfaces

Replica Surfaces makes interlocking backdrops that can be used to create over 150 different combinations. Base plates and backgrounds lock together in seconds to create your own mini-studio space.

Pros:

  • Rigid and lightweight construction
  • Stain-resistant
  • Hyper-realistic designs

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Limited sizing

Price: Surfaces start at $77.00 each

Rating: N/A

 

Replica Surfaces

Sometimes, side dishes are the best part of a meal because they add that little something extra that leaves you wanting more. Props are the side dishes of food photography. Elements like dishes, glassware, flowers, and tablecloths add the finishing touch that sets your images apart. You can even get creative with inexpensive props. For example, you can spice up a vanilla shot of ice cream with some fun and colorful sprinkles. Here are some staples to get you started.

 

White dishes

Let the food speak for itself. White plates make for a cleaner photo where the food can take center stage. This 12-piece dinner set from Pottery Barn has everything you need.

Pros:

  • Minimalist design
  • Includes a combination of dishes and bowls
  • Microwave and dishwasher safe

Con:

  • You will want to eat off them every night!

Price: $79

Rating: N/A

White dishes

 

Cutting board

Do it for the ‘gram! Cutting boards have become staples in Instagram foodie shots. Just check out the #charcuterie hashtag, and you will see thousands of wooden planks gracing scrumptious photographs. This cutting board duo from Williams Sonoma is a must-have accessory!

Pros:

  • Beautiful neutral design
  • Two is better than one!

Cons:

  • Can stain
  • Needs upkeep

Price: $29.95

Rating: 3.7/5

Cutting board

While food photography is fun, it comes with a few risks. After all, restaurants and kitchens are busy settings where accidents can happen. Protect yourself with Thimble’s Photographer Insurance that works to cover liability exposure.

And don’t forget about your photography gear! The last thing you want is to be caught crying over spilled milk when it splashes all over your new camera. So make sure your equipment is covered with Thimble’s Camera Insurance, and save the spilled for cookies.

Choose from coverage by the job, month, or year. Just click “get a quote” or download the Thimble mobile app, answer a quick set of questions, receive your quote, and purchase within minutes.

Pros:

  • Made just for you
  • Easy to apply
  • Affordable rates

Con:

  • We still haven’t found any!

With the right food photography tools, you will be able to take photos worthy of a Michelin star. Just don’t forget the recipe:

  • Keep your staged shots looking fresher than a farm-to-table dinner spread with a variety of props and backdrops.
  • Shop for the best ingredients (aka the best photography gear).
  • And like that final pinch of salt, download editing software to add finishing touches.

Finally, protect your business with flexible photographer insurance and camera insurance.

With this recipe for success, you are well on your way to becoming a professional photographer. With food as your subject of choice, you will have a full belly to boot!

Written on October 20, 2021 | Last updated: November 8, 2021

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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