One of the most common questions I receive from new photographers is which lens to use when photographing food. When choosing gear there is never a correct choice; it all boils down to the type and size of the food, your workspace and setup, the style you hope to achieve, along with how you want your final image will look. Each lens will have advantages, and even disadvantages, depending on your setup. Here is a list of a variety of lenses, along with why you might choose each type of lens for food photography.
A macro lens is an obvious choice for photographing food. You can get really close to the food to highlight certain elements, and also easily photograph and fill the frame with small items, like berries or tiny bites of food. Depending on the camera you use, macro lenses come in different ranges of focal lengths.
Keep in mind that a macro lens is not always necessary to photograph food. With full-frame cameras it is sometimes necessary to use a macro-capable lens in order to get close enough and fill the frame. And, in some cases, getting too close to your dish may not be the best way to photograph it. With crop-frame cameras, such as with the FUJIFILM X-T2 used for this photo, a macro lens is not always a requirement. Because of the crop factor there is the perception that the camera is closer to the subject, and so a macro lens is only a real necessity when you want to get really close and fill the frame with small items.
In most cases a wide lens will be best for overhead setups. The space I use to photograph food in my home is too small for a wide-angle lens to be used without including other elements, such as the window or reflectors. Instead I reserve the wider focal lengths for overhead shots.
A mid-range lens, especially one that has a close focusing distance, can be a good option for food in any environment. I like to use this type of lens when I know I will want to photograph my dinner while traveling (for example). It is long enough to compress and blur the background, but narrow enough to not include too wide of an angle of view. I can also still sit quite close to the food; with a longer lens I need to move back a few feet, which can be difficult when sitting at a dinner table.
Medium Telephoto (90–120mm)
The medium telephoto lens, also known as a good range for portraits, is also a great focal length range for food photographs. One of my favorites is the FUJINON XF90mmF2 R LM WR; I can get in close to the subject, and also compress and blur the background quite well.
When you have a lot of space to work in and really want to compress and blur your background, then a telephoto lens might be a good option for you. This type of lens will typically work well with crop-frame cameras, which is great news for Fujifilm users! On full-frame cameras, however, you may find that the focal length will not allow you to get close enough to the subject to get it in focus. However even with this setup (a small item of food) I was unable to get a tight shot of the bruschetta with my FUJIFILM X-T2 because of the limited focusing distance, but with a larger dish this lens might work well.
For music & concert photographers, restrictions have meant it’s become harder and harder over the years to get those great shots. So seeing the Fujifilm XF100-400mm lens come into the fold is a very welcome addition to the Fujifilm lenses lineup.
Along with bad photography contracts thrust upon us as we collect our photo passes, and image right grabs on the pictures we capture, we’re now being forced further and further back within a venue, which restricts what we can actually capture due to the distance we’re expected to shoot at. This makes the XF100-400mm essential to achieving good results.
Bruce Springsteen – Manchester
With Bruce Springsteen performing in Manchester, I looked forward to using Fuji’s new beast of a lens the 100-400mm. Even though we were expected to shoot from the ‘Golden Circle’ barrier at around 50 meters (164 feet) from the stage, it’s still quite a distance.
The size & weight of this new lens was inline with all the Fuji X series cameras/lenses, well made, light in weight and weather sealed.
The one thing that did concern me though as I arrived at the City of Manchester stadium was the weather…… It was absolutely pouring down. I knew this would be a good test for both this new lens and my Fuji X-T1 camera!
Once in position, I had 3 songs in which to capture images from the ‘Golden Circle’ barrier. Even from here it was difficult to gain a vantage point above the sea of waving arms, mobile phones and homemade signs that swam through the crowd as Springsteen performed.
Even though it is a larger lens than other Fuji lenses in their range, in comparison to Full Frame it’s still relatively light and having to shoot without a mono pod (as I was constantly moving to dodge the arms blocking my shot) I was able to do this and keep my camera steady without much shake.
The camera and lens handled the heavy rain perfectly, no problems there, and I also found that the lens focuses very quickly and especially when Bruce was standing directly in front of the big video screen (which can be challenging for cameras).
Once home and after a bit of time spent editing the pictures, I was extremely happy with how the 100-400mm lens performed.
It helped me capture some great moments in the allotted 3 songs slot I was given to shoot in, and the distance the lens covers from 100mm to 400mm was a massive plus as right at the end of the third song Springsteen stepped onto the lower stage and I was able to capture that moment too!
I was recently in Japan to take part in a marketing meeting, which in itself was nice, but by coincidence, the weekend I was there was also the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji race at the Fuji Speedway and I had tickets!
It seemed as good a place as any to try out the new XF1.4X TC Teleconverter for Fujifilm X Mount lenses, and also the cheeky little XF35mmF2 WR compact lens.
We were there on the Saturday filming some Fuji Guys content (to be released soon) but on the Sunday, the actual race day, I was given the freedom to simply enjoy the race and do some shooting for myself.
The XF1.4X TC
This obviously got the most use since I was at a motorsport event. Here’s a selection of OOC JPGs. I’ve not uploaded the full res versions because they were taken on a pre-production version of the lens and I wouldn’t want to do it an injustice, but it’s clear even from these “resized by WordPress” images that the quality is there.
I spent most of my time shooting with the “Zone Mode” Autofocus. I’ve used it before with mixed results but I found that here it was working amazingly, despite the spray from the wet roads.
Sometimes I was tempted to shoot Manual Focus and know that I’ll be getting the cars as they come through, but I stuck with Zone and the hit rate was amazing – especially since I’m not a professional myself.
Here’s a sequence of OOC JPGs that demonstrate the Zone AF working under some pretty touch conditions. This Ferrari was really moving!
The adaptor itself makes little to no difference to the size and weight of the camera, and I can’t notice any noticeable difference in image quality compared to using the lens without it.
I took both of these shots from trackside within a hairpin. When I switched from the XF50-140mm + TC to the XF35mmF2 I felt like I was about to throw the camera because it was so light. I know the same can be said for most of our lenses compared to what I had previously, but this lens really is small and light. Both using “Zone Mode” Autofocus.
There was a bit of light rain when I took these shots so the Weather Resistance was a nice addition.
All in all I’m really impressed with the new additions to the lens lineup and I’m certainly glad that I got the opportunity to test them out in this amazing location.
I’ll sign off with a couple of “Lightroomed” versions of my creations, including a few from the pit walk before the race started. I hope you enjoy and you can see more on my instagram.
When Fuji released this lens (75-210mm DSLR Equivalent), my intrigue questioned whether this would be an equal to the 70-200mm F2.8L series I had used on my DSLR; would the optics be as good? After trying it I could only describe the results in 2 words ‘Blown away’; the image quality was absolutely outstanding. I use this lens a lot in the studio for its narrower angle of view and the compression it applies to the depth of my images. The focusing & sharpness of this lens, even when hand held is amazing!… I had no need to question this lens, it more than equaled my DSLR equivalent and it’s much lighter too.
It’s obviously a little bigger than the other Fujinon lenses, but who cares when it delivers truly incredible results like it does.
I’ve shot on Fuji for almost two years now, but it was the release of the 50-140mm lens that really sealed the deal for me. Shooting fast equestrian sports needs a fast, longer lens – whether you are looking to capture pin sharp action pictures, or deliberately looking to include creative movement with interesting bokeh.
Even in low light the wide aperture, teamed with the brilliant OIS means I can still hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also, shooting horses, whether on the polo field or out in the wild, means one thing – rain and mud! The X-T1 body with the 50-140mm gives me a robust weather sealed system I can take anywhere.
I shoot prime lenses most of the time, but as my primes top out at 56mm (85mm in old money), I often need the reach and speed of the 50-140mm f2.8 for music photography (especially for stage work). With a full frame equivalent of 75-210mm, this is the the classic workhorse zoom that has the beautiful look of a full frame 70-200mm f2.8. Put it together with the 16-55mm f2.8 and you have the ultimate fast twin lens zoom setup that can cover just about any type of event. The OIS is essential on a lens of this size and it does an amazing job, even allowing me to shoot handheld at 1/15th sec while zoomed all the way in.
This is strapped to the front of one of my X-T1s at all times. Sharp, fast and built to withstand some strong abuse, the XF50-140mm is designed for those who need a lens to rely on and not to let them down. With beautiful bokeh and tack sharp wide open, this F2.8 zoom has such a useful focal range that it is in the kit bag of nearly all working X-Photographers. The autofocus is able to track moving animals and it has turned out to be the game changer for many of my recent wildlife encounters.
I love to shoot prime lenses but at events and festivals you just cant get close enough to your subjects due to the crowed density, so the next best lens to a fast prime is a fast Zoom and the 50-140mm lens is just stunning. I have used top of the range glass from all the other big names when I used to use DSLR’s but nothing compares to the sharpness of this 75-210mm equivalent. What makes it even better is I can shoot with this lens all day and still not have shoulder and neck ache. It gives me beautiful out of focus areas, pin sharp subjects and the image stabilisation comes in to its own when the light drops.
The XF50-140 is a real workhorse of a lens and without doubt, a lens I am loathed to leave behind.
The incredible optics deliver superb definition and contrast throughout the entire aperture range. But for me it is not the technical specifications that make this lens worthy of the plaudits it receives across the web and throughout the photographic world.
It is the fact that in a cluttered world, I can isolate my subjects, drawing attention to them by shooting with the aperture wide open, deliver exceptional details, stunning candid portraits and most of all dramatic landscapes that have impact & power over the grace of a wide-angled image.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is a different discipline but it is one worth persevering with & utilising every mm of focal length this stunning lens offers you.
It’s ideal for shooting panoramas and the tripod mount gives it an incredibly stable base for shooting long exposures without a hint of camera shake – but for those who only shoot hand held the image stabilisation is second to none.
In short, if you want to add one zoom lens to your bag, this is the one – it is worth every penny and will never let you down.
When this lens was created there was nothing else much like it in the range. And to date, it is still the finest long lens in the line up. Tack sharp from 50mm to 140mm – this constant f2.8 lens is fast enough & stabilised enough for you to think less and shoot more. Combined with the most recent updates leaves this lens as one of the most reliable lenses – regardless of genre or type of photography.
It’s packed full of all the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech, such as nano Gi coating, LMO (corrects for diffraction), HTEBC Coating (ensuring ghosting and flare are controlled), five ED lens elements, one Super ED lens, 23 glass elements in 16 groups and then seven rounded aperture blades to create a smooth, circular bokeh. It has a massive 5.0 stop stabilisation too. Internal barrel movements combined with large rubber grips give this lens a wonderful sense of balance whilst also feeling very natural to hold.
In short, this lens is one of the most vital items in my kit bag alongside the 56mm APD & 16-55mm lens. The real world interpretation of the technology being used in this lens is simply that it does what you would expect it to as a working professional photographer. Combine this with the focus tracking in the X-T1 and you can confidentially take on any genre of photography. Whether it be a fashion catwalk, motorsports or even wildlife photography knowing you can get the shots you are looking for, every time.