Food Photography Logo
Food Photography

The Perfect 35mm Digital Food Photography Lens

I’m a professional food photographer, and I use a view camera.  Not all professional food photographers use view cameras, in fact many I know, don’t.  But until just a couple of months ago, I couldn’t understand how anyone could possible shoot food without one…

I just couldn’t imagine that I could do without the focus control of the view camera, and I really didn’t think that there was any other way of manipulating focus with a 35mm DSLR camera.  I of course I knew of PC (perspective control) lenses, but I was under the impression that they were only for architectural photography. 

What motivated me to start looking for alternative food photography capabilities was the need to come up with a system that allowed me to go on location without taking my whole darn studio.  Even though I shoot with a small view camera, a 6x9 Arca Swiss, I was still looking for something that was even lighter, and more importantly, faster than the cumbersome view camera.  I needed faster, but wasn’t looking forward to giving up all the focus advantages of the view camera.  Then, I happened to notice a lens that Nikon offered.  It was an 85mm Micro PC lens, and it had everything I needed!  It could focus closely, and I could manipulate the plane of focus too.  Awesome!
I already had a 100mm macro, so I had one lens that would at least let me focus as closely as I wanted, but now, with this lens, I had another, slightly shorter lens.  And then, it struck me.  My favorite food photography lens for the 6x9 is the 120mm and when you translate the 6x9 format to the 35mm format, the 120mm comes very close to the 85mm dslr lens!  Great!

To be honest, I haven’t shot food with the lens yet, but I have shot some other commercial projects, and the thing works great.  I’m even plan on doing some “lens baby” portraiture with it.

I’m so excited about this lens.  And do you know another great thing about it?  Nikon also makes a 45mm PC Macro lens. 

Digital Food Photography Lens

Another great lens for digital food photography

That could come in real handy when I need something a little wider than normal for my food photography, which does happen.  In fact, my second favorite view camera lens for food photography is the 58mm, which more closely relates for probably a 35mm or even a 24mm dslr lens.  I figure that I have to look into that one later, and I’m not going to run out and buy the 45mm lens either.  I’m going to see how this 85mm lens works out first.  Chances are, it will work out just great for my fast / light food photography needs, especially with the way the dslr cameras are catching up to the digital backs, like my Phase One P45+.  That thing cost me 30 grand, and I’m not really looking for award to replacing it with another costly digital back.  Heck, I’d rather buy a freaking motorcycle or gun, or something… Heck, I could buy both!

So, if you’re looking for THE perfect food photography lens, you might want to look into the Nikon 85mm PC lens. 

Michael Ray's photography and advertising links