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Oct 19, 2008 01:48 PM

Best camera for food photography?

I recently read an article about the new 'Gourmet Mode' some cameras have introduced - presumably with aspiring food photographers and bloggers in mind.

The conclusion: "...the "Gourmet Mode" essentially combined Macro and White Balance functionalities, bringing dishes into sharper focus and compensating for the yellow tint indoor light can sometimes cast. While I'm not going to rush to buy another digital camera (I think my first will last me another five years), I'll make sure to choose those two settings the next time I shoot a dish."

As I'm looking to invest in a new camera, I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations of what to choose? A lightweight discreet digital would be ideal, and anything that works wonders for food photography would be even better.

Also, has anyone actually bought a camera specifically for its 'Gourmet Mode' function? And if so, have you seen a difference in your photos or encountered any pros / cons?

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  1. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for someone to take advantage of new food photographers. Camera's are nice,but its all about lighting, styling and the perspective.
    You want to see some great food shots? Go on and there you'll see all sorts of shots done with all levels of photographers, in all sorts of situations all with different cameras. You can click on the photgograher and get information on their camera if that's what you want to know.

    13 Replies
    1. re: chef chicklet

      Not to mention that most professional food photographers often put inedible chemicals on the food to make it look appetizing during the duration of the shoot, which often can take hours under harsh environmental conditions.

      Any photographer who understands white balance, depth of field and basic composition can get a good capture, with a camera that has a raw mode. Beyond that it requires the expertise of an artist to get the best angle, and photoshop-ist to play with the color levels, sharpness, etc.

      Most of those camera "special mode" features should be ignored.

      By the way, google the Sigma SD14 for samples, plus look at the Sigma forum on The sigma cameras have the Foveon sensor that renders very film-like images, with amazing dynamic range. Paired with the right lens,a tripod, and some basic improvised studio lighting, I think you could get some very pleasing food shots.

      1. re: MartinDC

        Oh yeah, forgot to mention photo-shop, great point.

        1. re: chef chicklet

          Right. RAW and Photoshop. The two magic words that will produce decent food shots from even the most basic point-and-shoot digital (at least, one that has the RAW capability). Don't even need to understand white balance. You can fix it later. Ain't technology grand?!?

          1. re: JoanN

            I despise photoshop. It is even less intuitive than the Chow software. I don't see any reason for paying for this junk when I can get the same thing for free in Window's Live Photogallery.

            At one time this was a good product. I used photoshop years ago. Now they just screwed it up. I'm using the free trial but it is unlikely I'll buy it.

            The only reason I need photoshop is to resize, but I'm looking at a few free software options for that.

            1. re: rworange

              No question about it. Photoshop is definitely not intuitive. But it's extraordinarily powerful. I'm far from adept with it. But I needed to learn to use it professionally and there's just nothing comparable out there. If you think you're getting all Photoshop capabilities in Window's Live Photogallery then Photoshop clearly isn't the right program for you.

              If all you need to do is resize your photos, I'd recommend Irfanview. It's a really nifty little program, especially good at resizing and converting formats, and it's free.

              1. re: JoanN

                However, you are talking the difference between buying the $$$ version of photoshop or the low-end Elements ... what twit came up with that name.

                Even photoshop advises the casual photo taker just to go with Elements

                I'll try out all the software at all levels, but so far I'm not impressed and there's nothing on their low end that gives me any more than Windows.

                1. re: rworange

                  Actually, PSElements is just that - the "elements" of Photoshop, and 1/6th the price. It lacks the ability to work in CMYK, so if one is doing pre-press work for commercial printers, or for designers, who are outputting to commercial printers, that is out.

                  It cannot create Button Layer Sets (for DVD & BD Menus), but can edit them.

                  It cannot do some of the Adjustment Layers (a great tool for non-destructive editing), nor can it do some of the automation, like Actions and Scripting, that PS can.

                  It ships with an organizational program, Organizer, that is not as full-featured as is Adobe Bridge, that ships with the full PS.

                  PSE is more of a "big button" program, where more is automated. PSE can create SlideShows, and can directly interface with the video-editing program, Premiere Elements, for those SlideShows. While PS interfaces well with either PrElements, or PrPro, (plus Adobe Encore, the DVD/BD authoring progarm), it does not do SlideShows, though PS- Extended does do much more motion work. Still, no real SlideShows, like with PSE.

                  There are probably a few more deficiencies in PSE and also some features that it offers, that PS does not.

                  If one is not doing CMYK work, does not need to create DVD/BD Menus, and does not mind a single button doing more with Presets, then PSE is a great little program. Oh, did I mention that it costs 1/6th what PS costs, and 1/8th what PS-Extended costs? One can buy a bundle of both PSE and PrE, and still come in for about 1/4 the cost of PS.

                  Now, I have used the full-blown version of Photoshop for decades - from the first day that it hit the PC. During that time, I have made a very good living with it, but then do advertising photography, so that goes hand-in-hand with what I do.

                  I cannot imagine doing any photography without my PS handy.

                  "I'm not impressed and there's nothing on their low end that gives me any more than Windows." This depends on what one wants/needs to do, and what they need to end up with. If you have not yet tried GIMP, look into that open source program. I looked at it many years/versions ago, but did not like the interface, and also already owned two licenses of PS, so it was not an option for me. Still, others love that program, and it IS free.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    >>> If one is not doing CMYK work, does not need to create DVD/BD Menus, and does not mind a single button doing more with Presets, then PSE is a great little program.

                    Thanks. No I don't need to do all that and can not see anything that PSE can do (other than resizing) that Windows cannot for free.

                    And I just intuitively picked up on Windows. I needed to go to the online videos for PSE ... which were out of date ... and which Photoshop refused to acknowledge to a number of people who complained about them on line. It was brush off that Elements 7 is close enough to Elements 8. What a cheesy operation.

                    Let me repeat ... PSE is NOT a great little program and I would discourage anyone to buy it. But then again, there's a free 30 day trial. Give that Edsel a test run.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Does Windows have Layers?

                      Does Windows have Adjustment Layers (though a reduced set)?

                      Does Windows have Levels (I forgot, Curves were missing, but may have been added)?

                      Does Windows have Highlight & Shadow?

                      Does Windows accept plug-ins?

                      I am not being facitious here, but just asking, as I have not used any version of Windows' similar programs, since Paint in the early 80's.

                      Now, if all one needs to do is resize images, then there is absolutely no reason to go beyond freeware.

                      Have you tried GIMP?

                      "Let me repeat ... PSE is NOT a great little program and I would discourage anyone to buy it." I am not at all sure what you are basing this anti-rec. on. I am a professional photographer, and power-user of PS (and Corel Painter), and I actually give copies of PSE to many, just to get them started. All have found it to be a great little program. This has ranged from doctors to engineers. The common thread has been image editing. Just curious.

                      Good luck,


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Yep. Windows has everything PSE has except the resizing. It is better designed, a pleasure to use and FREE

                        Seriously, I was surprised. I started with Windows because I didn't have time to download PSE. When I got PSE, I was really surprised that PSE not only didn't have anything more, it was slow and unintuitive to use. I can't begin to say how turned off those videos for how to use the product made me. The total lack of concern from the rep for that product to a number of complaints was appalling. I don't want a company that will not support their product adequately.

                        Ohhhh ... and add to that the font is teeny so I have to wear my glasses to use PSE. What a piece of junk. Maybe they are only interested in the high end customers.

                        Those are the only two I've tried so far. I have 30 days to test drive this so maybe I might find something astounding that I'm missing.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Your anti-PS bias is frankly bizarre.

                          It's professional-level editing software, and to call it a piece of junk because it's complex to use is like saying a 747 is a piece of junk because it's complex to fly.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Most people I would guess are not buying the professional version. The basic package is worse to use and offers NO features that I can't get with windows live which is intuitive.

      2. re: chef chicklet


        This is a 2008 thread so Dolly has probably long ago bought her camera. I didn't notice until I already replied below

      3. I use a Cannon Digital Rebel XT with Sigma lenses. I've had no problem. The lens is much more important than the megapixels if you want to submit for print media.

        1. The Canon SD1000 on the digital macro setting is GREAT for food. I don't have it yet but my cousin does and showed me her food photos and theyre amazing. I have the Canon SD400.

          1. I have a D80 with a macro lens. while its less then stealthy at a restaurant, it takes amazing photos in any lighting situation. I will echo the photoshop rec., it doesnt seem fair to all of us that took the time to learn photography, but you really can fix/do just about anything later. You still have to get a good angle and capture depth fairly well but thats pretty easy.

            1. I suggest checking out food blogs with photos that you like and asking what they use. 101 Cookbooks, for example, uses a Canon EOS 20D.