If there is one lens that I love the most, it might be my 100mm Macro lens. If you are into food photography or aspiring to learn more about food photography this is considered to be the best lens for capturing food.
When I am out tailgating, the 50mm is my go to lens, but the 100mm stays close to my side. To give you an idea of what you can do with this lens, Here are some of the shots I have taken with the 100mm Macro while tailgating.
This is the lens I turn to when I want a close up shot of the food, I am shooting items on a hot grill and need to keep my distance, or I am shooting people in a crowd. There are many things that I love about this lens. One of them is the focal length of 100mm. This long focal length looks great on people as well as food. It gives a nice compression to the background and allows the subject to stand out sharply. I will explain more about focal lengths in another post, but once you start shooting with 100mm I am sure you will fall in love with it. There are other ways that you can shoot with 100mm as your focal length, but the Macro capabilities on this lens are by far my favorite part.
What is Macro you ask?
A macro lens has the ability to photo graph a subject at 1:1. This means that the size of the subject in your image is life size on your sensor. This allows you to get those really close up shots of the food that you see. Here are some examples.
If your lens doesn’t have macro capabilities, then you can’t get these 1:1 results. You can’t just get a 200mm lens and achieve the same results as a macro lens. In a future post I will explain why. The elements of a macro lens are specifically arranged so that you are able to achieve 1:1 or high magnification of your subject.
While it is nice to have the ability to photograph my food at 1:1, I don’t always do so. When shooting with the Macro Lens I can shoot from about any distance and always have my subject in focus. I just have to decide how large I want the subject in the frame. I use the lens for both horizontal
and vertical shots, and it works equally well.
Notice in these shots how the subject is sharp and the background is out of focus. This shallow depth of field is created by the aperture and the 100mm focal length. You can achieve similar results with the 50mm f1.4 or f1.8 and shooting at a large aperture of say f2 or f1.6, the problem is that you will not be able to have the subject as large in the frame as you would when using a lens with macro capabilities. In addition, the 50mm focal length will not give as nice of a compression to the background as the 100mm focal length will.
As you can see this really is an amazing lens for food photography. The problem is this lens doesn’t come cheap. Here is a list of all lenses with Macro Capabilities.
In the 100mm range, Canon makes 2 options. The
which will run you around $1,000 and the
Which will run you around $600. So what is the difference? Well its 2 letters. IS. The more expensive one has image stabilization. This is amazing if, like me, you are doing a lot of shooting outside not on a tripod and shooting moving objects. With the focal length of 100mm and working close in and working with a razor thin plane of focus, having that extra stabilization is a savior. In addition, the $1,00o gets you canon L series glass.
Now is the extra $400 worth it? That depends. If you are earning money from your images and will not be on a tripod a lot of the time, then you could justify it. If you images are for your food blog and you are always on a tripod at home, then it probably isn’t worth it.
The 100mm Macro lens is awesome, but a serious investment. If you are considering purchasing one, I highly suggest renting one first. For about $50 you can rent one for a week and see what you think. This is definitely worth it before sinking $600 or more into the lens.
I shoot with Canon, so I am only familiar with what Canon has to offer. I am sure that Nikon’s equivalent lenses provide the same picture quality and features.