Skip to main content

The best lenses for food photography in 2022: make your supper the star

best lenses for food
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best lenses for food photography will ensure you always end up with mouth-watering photos.  Chances are if you love food and photography, you'll love combining the two and while pretty much any camera will be able to produce great photos, the right lens will make your photos look extra appetizing. So without any further ado, here are the best lenses for food photography...

More lens guides

Back to basics
• What are the best camera lenses to buy (opens in new tab)?

Other photography genres
Best lenses for astrophotography (opens in new tab)
Best lenses for bird photography (opens in new tab)
Best lenses for landscapes (opens in new tab)

Lenses for your camera
Best Canon lenses
Best Fujifilm lenses
Best Nikon lenses
Best Olympus lenses
Best Panasonic lenses
Best Pentax lenses
Best Sony lenses

Typically, the best lenses for food photography are those that give a natural perspective. You don't want to shoot with an ultra-wide-angle lens that distorts the image as it will make your photos look strange. We'd recommend a minimum focal length of 35mm on an APS-C body or a 50mm on a full-frame camera. We have a guide dedicated to the best 50mm lenses (opens in new tab) which will help you decide which one is best for you depending on your budget and brand of camera. Even some of the best cheap lenses will be great for food photography and after all, the more you can save on kit the more you'll have to spend on things like props which you will need!

If you want to get really up close to your food so you can photograph every single detail, you may want to think about investing in one of the best macro lenses (opens in new tab). Chances are you won't need a full macro magnification factor of 1:1 but you will want a lens that focuses really close to the food you're photographing. 

You'll also want to think about lighting. Most food photography is done indoors so there might not be a huge amount of ambient light. The best way to get around this is by investing in lighting - this can be either flash or LED panels but if you're not used to shooting with lights LED panels will be easier to use. This is because once they're set up you'll be able to preview the exposure in-camera without worrying about the light changing. It would also be a good idea to invest in big white sheets of card as these ca be used to bounce sunlight or other light sources for a more subtle look. Creating highlights and shadows will give your photos more depth and make your food look even more delicious. 

Food photography tips

10 food photography tips (opens in new tab)
Make a splash with food and drink (opens in new tab)
Photo hacks: window diffuser (opens in new tab)
Photo hacks: make a lightbox (opens in new tab)
Food Photographer of the Year (opens in new tab)
Best books on food photography (opens in new tab)

To make the most of available light, it’s good to have a lens with a fairly ‘fast’ aperture rating. The option of a wide aperture also enables you to get a tight depth of field, so you can blur the background if you wish, or even isolate a particular part of a dish in close-ups, by blurring its immediate surroundings.

With all of this in mind, a 30mm to 60mm macro prime lens with an aperture rating of around f/2.8 is ideal for food photography with crop-sensor cameras. For full-frame outfits, a 90mm to 105mm macro prime with the same aperture rating is a good choice. However, 50mm and even 35mm prime lenses can also work well on full-frame bodies, providing that they have a fairly short minimum focus distance. 

So let's see which lenses are good enough to go on the menu. We've chosen cheaper options for less expensive cameras, by the way, and gone more up-market for full frame models.

Best lenses for food photography

Canon

(Image credit: Canon)
(opens in new tab)
It's our top recommendation for Canon's APS-C DSLRs

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF-S
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.13m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 49mm (via hood)
Dimensions: 69x56mm
Weight: 190g

Reasons to buy

+
4-stop hybrid image stabilizer
+
Built-in ‘LED Macro Lite’

Reasons to avoid

-
Short working distance
-
LED Macro Lite has limited range

Although small and lightweight at just 190g, there’s a fair bit packed into this lens for APS-C format Canon SLRs. It has a quick and ultra-quiet autofocus system based on a stepping motor, a nicely wide f/2.8 aperture rating and a 4-stop ‘hybrid’ image stabilizer, which can correct for x-y shift as well as the usual angular vibration. This makes the stabilization particularly effective in close-up shots, which is good news for food photography. Another neat feature is that it has a built-in LED Macro Lite around the front end. Powered from the camera’s battery, this can add illumination from one or both sides of the circular light. It’s useful for video as well as stills, but is only really powerful enough for use at very close range. Speaking of which, the working distance between the front of the lens and what you’re shooting for full 1.0x macro magnification is a mere 3cm, or just over an inch.

(Image credit: Tamron)
(opens in new tab)
The best food photography lens for full frame Canon DSLRs

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.3m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 79x117mm
Weight: 610g

Reasons to buy

+
Super-sharp even at very close distances
+
4-stop hybrid image stabilizer

Reasons to avoid

-
AF is quiet but not silent
-
Lens flare can be an issue

Tamron’s 90mm macro lenses have been highly popular for decades. This latest edition boasts a high-tech optical path including both LD (Low Dispersion) and XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) elements, along with dual coatings to minimize ghosting and flare. Like in some of Canon’s recent macro lenses, the latest Tamron features a hybrid image stabilizer that corrects for x-y shift as well as angular vibration. If you’re particularly messy in the kitchen, you might appreciate its moisture- and dust-proof construction, as well as the keep-clean fluorine coating on its front element. Ultimately, this lens is every bit as good as Canon’s EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, but rather less expensive to buy.

(Image credit: Canon)
(opens in new tab)
Best for Canon EOS R/RP cameras and very compact

Specifications

Mount: Canon RF
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 5-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.17m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.5x
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions: 74x63mm
Weight: 305g

Reasons to buy

+
0.5x macro magnification
+
5-stop hybrid image stabilizer

Reasons to avoid

-
Focal length is short for close ups
-
Hood sold separately

Unlike many of Canon’s RF-mount lenses for its EOS R-series cameras, this one is compact, lightweight and attractively priced. It has a maximum magnification of 0.5x at its closest focus distance of 0.17m, which should be more than sufficient for food photography and qualifies it as a ‘macro’ lens. The autofocus system is swift and virtually silent, based on a stepping motor, and the 5-stop hybrid image stabilizer really is a star performer. You might feel that the 35mm focal length is a little short, considering that this lens is for full-frame bodies, but it’s nevertheless a hugely versatile optic that delivers superb image quality.

(Image credit: Canon)
(opens in new tab)
A versatile standard zoom the has a neat macro feature

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: 5-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.38m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.7x
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 83x93mm
Weight: 600g

Reasons to buy

+
Small and light for a standard zoom
+
Handy macro mode
+
Versatile Hybrid IS

Reasons to avoid

-
Sharpness could be better

If you want a one-lens-fits-all solution you may want to think about investing in a standard zoom. The Canon EF 24-70 f/4 L IS USM is a great contender due to its lightweight design, a constant aperture of f/4 and optical image stabilization. There is an f/2.8 version of this lens but it's considerably heavier and will cost you a lot more and to be honest, you'll be able to get away with f/4 for pretty much all food photography. Another reason this lens is great is that it has a max magnification factor of 0.7 which is two to three times more than most standard zoom lenses. The image quality is very good, it sharp from corner to corner and the contrast is vibrant. The only downside is that it produced more vignetting at wide apertures than other f/4 lenses but this is easy to correct in post. 

Nikon

(Image credit: Nikon)
(opens in new tab)
A smart nifty fifty for the Nikon Z 6, Z 7 and the Z 50

Specifications

Mount: Nikon Z FX
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.4m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.15x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 76x87mm
Weight: 415g

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning sharpness and clarity
+
High-quality construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite pricey for a 50mm f/1.8 lens
-
Only 0.15x macro magnification

There’s not yet a macro lens in Nikon’s Z-mount line-up, so you’d need to use an F-mount lens via an FTZ mount adapter for shooting extreme close-ups. Even so, the angle of view delivered by this 50mm lens on a full-frame body, along with its 0.4m closest focus distance, enables you to fill the entire image sensor with a regular sized dinner plate. The 0.15x maximum magnification ratio is also sufficient to create sizeable enlargements from small foodie treats, even more so if you shoot with a Z 50 APS-C format body. However, this makes image stabilization unavailable, which is lacking in the Z 50 but featured in full-frame Z 6 and Z 7 cameras. Autofocus is fast and virtually silent, while image quality is absolutely stellar in all respects.

(Image credit: Nikon)
(opens in new tab)
A compact and light f/1.4 lens that's incredibly sharp across the whole image frame

Specifications

Mount options: Nikon F
Effective focal length: 50mm
Full-frame compatible: Yes
Autofocus type: Ultrasonic (ring)
Stabilizer: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.45m
Filter thread: 58mm
Dimensions (WxL): 74 x 54mm
Weight: 280g

Reasons to buy

+
Pin-sharp from f/2.8
+
Good autofocus

Reasons to avoid

-
Distortion is noticeable
-
Susceptible to flare

For an f/1.4 lens the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4 G is really small - in fact it;s about half the physical length of the Nikon-fit Sigma 50mm lens and about the third of the weight. The wider aperture means that even if you're shooting in low light environments without any additional lights you'll still be able to produce quite a bright image with a beautifully burred background and shallow depth of field. It'd a great lens if you want to capture detailed shots of food or very specific elements on a plate. There is also a more budget f/1.8 version which is arguably more popular due to the price and the fact the aperture is only one step down.

(Image credit: Nikon)
(opens in new tab)

Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro

This small wonder is the best food lens for DX size Nikon DSLRs

Specifications

Mount: Nikon F DX
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.16m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 52mm
Dimensions: 69x65mm
Weight: 235g

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Full 1.0x magnification

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilization
-
Short working distance for macros

With an effective focal length of 60mm in full-frame terms, this little DX lens for Nikon’s APS-C format SLRs gives a very natural viewing perspective. It has a short minimum focus distance that enables full 1.0x magnification, although the distance between the front of the lens and what you’re shooting becomes a mere 3.5cm. You therefore need to be careful not to cast an unwanted shadow over what you’re shooting. Unlike a few similar lenses from some other manufacturers, the Nikon lacks image stabilization but at least it has a fairly fast f/2.8 aperture rating. Autofocus speed is a little pedestrian, although that’s no real problem in food photography. Image quality is great, with superb sharpness and virtually no distortion whatsoever.

(Image credit: Tamron)
(opens in new tab)
A superb macro lens for full-frame FX format Nikon DSLR foodies

Specifications

Mount: Nikon F FX
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring)
Optical stabilizer: 4-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.3m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 79x117mm
Weight: 610g

Reasons to buy

+
Fabulous image quality
+
4-stop hybrid image stabilizer

Reasons to avoid

-
AF is quiet but not silent
-
Lens flare can be an issue

Popular own-brand ‘Micro’ lenses from Nikon for its full-frame SLRs include 60mm and 105mm options. We prefer this Tamron, which splits the difference in terms of focal length, while adding 4-stop hybrid stabilization. This counteracts x-y shift, or movement in the vertical and horizontal planes, as well as the more usual angular vibration or wobble. The net effect is that it’s rather more effective at combating camera-shake when shooting close-ups. There’s a comfortable working distance at the minimum focus distance of 0.3m, which enables full 1.0x macro magnification. Image quality is fabulous at all focus distances, with outstanding sharpness and absolutely negligible amounts of colour fringing and distortion.

Fujifilm

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
(opens in new tab)
A classic viewing angle and the best choice for Fujifilm X cameras

Specifications

Mount: Fujifilm X
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.27m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.5x
Filter size: 39mm
Dimensions: 64x64mm
Weight: 215g

Reasons to buy

+
Fast f/2.4 aperture rating
+
0.5x macro magnification

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilizer
-
Quite pricey

Fujifilm’s 60mm macro lens is compact and lightweight but well-engineered and smartly turned out. It has an effective focal length of 90mm, taking into account the 1.5x crop factor of Fujifilm’s X-mount cameras, giving the same angle of view as popular 90mm macro lenses on full-frame cameras. The closest focus distance of 0.27x enables 0.5x macro magnification, which should prove ample for food photography. High-quality glass includes a moulded aspheric element and an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element. The fast f/2.4 aperture enables a very tight depth of field at short focus distances, along with pleasing bokeh (the pictorial quality of defocused areas). Unlike an increasing number of macro lenses from other manufacturers, however, there’s no optical image stabilizer.

Olympus and Panasonic

(Image credit: Panasonic)
(opens in new tab)

Panasonic LUMIX G Macro 30mm f/2.8 Asph Mega OIS

The best lens for food photography for Micro Four Thirds cameras

Specifications

Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: 3-stop
Minimum focusing distance: 0.11m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 46mm
Dimensions: 59x64mm
Weight: 180g

Reasons to buy

+
Full 1.0x macro magnification
+
Optical image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Very close working distance
-
Plastic build

A peach of a lens for food photography, the Panasonic 30mm gives a very natural viewing perspective, equivalent to using a 60mm lens on a full-frame camera. It’s small and particularly lightweight, at just 180g, but very nicely built with a high-quality feel. It’s super-sharp even when shooting wide-open at f/2.8, right down to its closest focus distance of 0.11m which enables full 1.0x magnification. Thanks to the 2.0x crop factor of Micro Four Thirds cameras, you get an effective 2.0x magnification compared with a full-frame camera. The only downside is that the front of the lens comes very close to the subject in full macro shooting.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 Pro

(Image credit: Olympus)
Light as an apple and can take macro shots

Specifications

Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.12m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.5x
Filter size: 58mm
Dimensions: 63x70mm
Weight: 254g

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely light and compact
+
Macro functionality
+
Fantastic weather sealing

Reasons to avoid

-
No focus clutch / guide

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 Pro is currently the world’s smallest and most lightweight fixed aperture standard zoom lens. Weighing in at just 254g, it's also incredibly compact at just 70mm length. Its Pro designation means it sports an all-metal construction and is fully weather sealed to withstand water, dirt and freezing temperatures. Able to focus as close as 12cm at the widest end and 23cm at the telephoto, and offering 0.25x maximum magnification (0.5x equivalent, in full-frame terms) across the zoom range, it makes it a great option for food photography.  

Sony

(Image credit: Sony)
(opens in new tab)
A feature-rich, high-tech macro lens perfect for full frame Sonys

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: Yes
Minimum focusing distance: 0.28m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 79x131mm
Weight: 602g

Reasons to buy

+
Great handling
+
Optical SteadyShot

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive – though worth the outlay
-
Not weather-sealed

This premium macro lens for Sony full-frame and APS-C format E-mount cameras has plenty of high-end handling features. There’s Optical SteadyShot and a fast, near-silent autofocus system powered by a ‘Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor’. Further focusing attractions include a customisable focus hold button on the barrel and a range limiter switch. A push-pull mechanism in the focus ring enables easy switching between autofocus and manual focus, reminiscent of classic macro lenses from the likes of Tamron and Tokina. Helped by the inclusion of aspherical, ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and Super ED elements, sharpness and clarity are excellent, along with minimal colour fringing and distortion. Meanwhile, defocused areas in images have a pleasingly smooth appearance. All in all, it’s the perfect lens for food photography with A7 and A9 series cameras.

Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 review

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke)
A compact, lightweight alternative to the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8

Specifications

Mount: Sony E
Autofocus: Yes
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.19m
Filter size: 58mm
Dimensions: 72.2x101.5mm
Weight: 470g

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap in comparison to Sony G Master
+
Good zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
No stabilisation 
-
Lose 4mm on the wide end

The Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 is a fantastic lens for food photography as you can zoom right in for detailed shots or shoot at the wide end if you need to get an entire table in shot. It has a beautiful focus fall off so the background is beautifully blurred and the focus point pin sharp. It's a lot cheaper, lighter and smaller than the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 and you'd even be able to buy another lens for the same price as just the one. 

(Image credit: Sony)
(opens in new tab)

Sony E 30mm f/3.5 Macro

Sony’s lightweight macro lens is brilliant for APS-C Sony mirrorless

Specifications

Mount: Sony E
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Optical stabilizer: None
Minimum focusing distance: 0.1m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 49mm
Dimensions: 62x55mm
Weight: 138g

Reasons to buy

+
Small and straightforward
+
Natural perspective

Reasons to avoid

-
Short macro working distance
-
No optical stabilizer

Sony’s shiny 30mm macro lens features an aspherical element and ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, along with a smooth and ultra-quiet stepping motor autofocus system. In other respects, it’s pretty basic, with a relatively slow f/3.5 aperture rating, no Optical SteadyShot, and no external moving parts apart from the electronically coupled manual focus ring. At its shortest focus distance, it delivers 1.0x macro magnification but, as with other full macro lenses of a similar focal length, this means that the front of the lens comes very close to what you’re shooting, so you have to be careful not to block ambient lighting. Even so, the lens is capable of superb results with excellent sharpness in the central region of the frame. It’s also impressively compact and lightweight, as well as being very keenly priced for an own-brand Sony lens.

How we test lenses

We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.

Read more:

• What are the best camera lenses (opens in new tab) to buy?
• Need to shoot ultra close ups? These are the best macro lenses (opens in new tab)
• The best 50mm lenses (opens in new tab) are also great for food photography 
• The best books on food photography (opens in new tab)
10 food photography tips (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1