My Food Photography Equipment

I’m so excited to share this list of gear with you guys. I posted a couple of story videos of my behind the scenes food photography setup on Instagram over the last couple of weeks and I was overwhelmed with responses about what equipment I am using.

restaurant photography hands holding plate of steak
This was shot in natural light

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need the most expensive camera, lights or backdrops to get gorgeous photos–you just need to understand light, composition and editing. With that being said, you don’t have to dish out thousands of dollars on camera equipment to achieve success in this industry. I promise you that whatever camera you have, you can make beautiful photos using it! Anyway, more about all that in a future post.

My Camera Gear

Canon 7D Mark II– I upgraded to this camera about two years ago and before that I was shooting with a [dinosaur] Nikon 70D. I’m loving the Canon 7D Mark II but looking to upgrade to Canon 5D Mark IV in the next year. I have purchased all of my cameras used on eBay but I linked an Amazon version. If you are just starting out and looking for a cheaper camera, I recommend looking into a the Canon Rebel Series.

50 mm 1.4 lens– This is the lens I use most often, like everyday! I usually start every shoot with this lens and especially for flat lays. This lens or the “nifty fifty” 50mm 1.8 (which is significantly cheaper) is the lens I recommend starting out with. 

60 mm Macro 2.8 lens– This lens captures light so beautifully and it’s one of my favorites. This lens is fantastic for food photography because of it’s macro capabilities and affordability.

100 mm 2.8 Macro lens– This is hands down my favorite lens because it gets you right up in the food. This lens is how I get those great “in your face” shots. The downside is the price but pay for what you get with this lens. It’s definitely not cheap but I promise you, it’s worth it. 

24 mm 2.8 Macro lens– This lens is my favorite for overhead shots and for the price, you can’t beat it! I also love to bring this lens along when I travel for great wide landscape shots!

chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting
I shot this using artificial light

My Lighting Equipment

I started my photography journey using natural light and finally mastered artificial light probably less than a year ago and I have to admit that sometimes it’s such a relief not having to rely on good natural light for my photoshoots. When I started working for brands creating their content, packaging, website images, etc. this was especially helpful in helping to achieve a consistent look.

The list below seems long and overwhelming but I promise you that it’s not. It’s just one light source with a few pieces sold separately. What I love about this setup is that it’s affordable (I think all together it’s probably less than $150) and it’s light weight so if you needed to take it apart and bring it with you (which I’ve done on many occasions), it’s not going to weigh down your camera bag.

food photographer
This was shot in natural light

So let’s get on with it…

Newer Speedlite – This speedlite is probably the cheapest one available but it get’s the job done!!! Unless you are shooting for a big commercial brand like Burger King, you can get by with this light! I’m telling you, I shoot with this thing everyday and it’s hands down the best $30 bucks I’ve ever spent for my career.

Newer NW – 561 Speedlite – I haven’t really noticed a difference in my photos but the quality of the flash itself is better and more durable.

Studio Umbrella – I used this to bounce the light through the diffuser. You could just just use the speedlite to shoot directly at your subject that would create very harsh light which isn’t ideal for food photography so I highly recommend grabbing one of these umbrellas to bounce the light.

Receiver & Trigger – I probably should have mentioned this at the beginning but I believe that this lighting setup only works with a DSLR. If you have a point and shoot, iPhone or mirrorless then this lighting setup isn’t for you. That being said, you need this receiver and trigger to communicate between the camera and speedlite so when you press the shutter, the light flashes at the same time.

Receiver & Trigger (second option) – I recently upgraded to this trigger and receiver and I like it much better than the one listed above. It won’t change the outlook of your images so if this price point is too high, the one listed above will work just fine but this trigger and receiver are much more durable and will last much better.

Light Stand – You will need this to hold the umbrella and speed light.

Light Stand Bracket Mount – This is just the mount that connects your speedlite flash to the light stand

Lighting Diffuser – Diffusers are so important and can be such a great tool for photography. It’s something that I use in natural and artificial light. This diffuser will essentially act as your light source (so the bigger the better) while also diffusing the light and getting rid of harsh shadows.

Diffuser Holder – This one is not necessary because you can prop your diffuser onto anything use some cheap clamps but if you want a stand/holder for you diffuser, this is the one I use.

That’s it! These are the main things I use for my food photography. With all that being said, remember that good food photography really only comes down to lighting, composition and editing. Please send me an email or leave a comment if you have any questions. ­čÖé

A few commonly asked questions

When do you use artificial light and when do you use natural light? Natural light is almost always my go-to way to shoot food photography and when I’m incorporating the background, some of my kitchen, my couch, dog, etc. into the photo then I will alway use natural light. If it’s a crappy day out and not much sun is lighting my house, that’s when I turn to artificial light. I also use artificial light in the evening or when I want to keep a consistent look.

What are your camera settings for shooting with a speedlite? The great thing about artificial light is that you can always keep your ISO at 100 (yay!) and I keep my shutter speed at 1/250 to remove all ambient light. From there I adjust my aperture and the speedlite power to achieve the look I want (probably between the F/2.4-5.2 range depending on the lens). As for my white balance, I always shoot on auto for artificial light and it gets the job done!

My settings using flash photography for the photo below:

  • ISO – 100
  • Shutter – 1/250
  • Aperture – f/2.8
  • 50 mm 1.4 lens

If you love this post, be sure to leave a comment here on the blog or reach out to me on Instagram. I love hearing from you! xx

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