Zorra at 1x Umrühren, bitte! is holding this food blogging event:
Photography belongs to a foodblog like good food. Thus, it’s time to pass-on not only our cooking but also our photography experiences.
The task until November 8 is, to write an entry about your camera(s). What model do you use? Did you buy it especially for food photography? Pros and cons of the model? Does it correspond to your requirements? Would you buy this model again? What is the camera of your dreams? etc.
Having recently bought a new camera for this exact reason, I of course couldn’t resist answering to the challenge.
This picture was taken with my Sony DSC W-300, a midprice compact camera. It was one of the first pictures I took with it when it was new, and I like the way it shows off the camera’s ability.
When pondering to buy a new digital camera, I selected for several criteria, but my main selling point was the good optics you got for the price and my experience with previous cameras by the same brand. I have to say that from the model that I used before, this camera is a huge step-up – the colour representation and sensor technology certainly have developed a lot in the past years!
This is not to say that my previous camera(s) didn’t do a perfectly acceptable job, but I’m all for making my life easier. A good photographer certainly can produce perfectly acceptable photos using nothing but a cellphone cam – but I wouldn’t recommend it. No matter what you do, the photos won’t come out as good as if you had used a proper tool to begin with.
Of course, the next step up is a real DSLR, and I am from time to time practising with one. But it has several problems: a) it’s heavy, b) it needs lots of adjusting and training, and c) I’m lazy. And let me tell you, c is by far the biggest problem!
Nowadays, one should expect that most big-brand digital cameras, even the compact ones, can produce at least an acceptable job when it comes to all ranges of photography. So what would I specifically look for in a camera that will be designated for food photography?
Again, and again, and again. I can’t drive this point home enough. Of course you can fix colours in photoshop after the picture is taken, and being the obsessive graphicsbunny that I am, I will do that even with the best pictures, but there is a limit to it. If the lighting is bad and the camera doesn’t have a detailed enough range, the colours will run together you won’t get a good picture anyway.
In my experience with compact cameras, the best brands I have worked with so far in terms of colour representation are Olympus (by far) and Sony. I haven’t tried Nikon yet (I have other qualms with their designs), but I hear they are quite good as well. The only camera brand I straight away wouldn’t recommend is Kyocera.
Most cameras come with that these days but every once and again I see the trend of making the camera menus “super-easy” to use and the setting gets lost. You should definitely tune your own white balance when capturing food – light can be very different and fickle, and I for one take photos of my bento during nighttime and don’t want to fiddle around with expensive lightboxes.
I’m also not a fan of those special “scene” modes like “cuisine” – they are way too restricted in my opinions and a good clear picture in your own white balance will come out a lot better than anything those modes can produce.
How wide is the focus when working in automatic mode under non-ideal conditions? Is it easy to focus in macro mode? How far will you have to stand away and is there any visible pillowing?
This is as much a taste question as it is a technical question – some like to adjust everything themselves, but I don’t have the patience for that if I’m tired and just want to pack my box. My current camera has a very narrow focus in macro mode – I’m still not done fiddling with that to my satisfaction.
You can only fix a very small amount of blurriness in photoshop. Bad focus is bad focus, no matter how much unsharp mask you slap on it. Better use another photo that may not be the exact angle you were thinking of but was sharp to begin with.
If you’re looking for something a bit more professional, look at the additional features. Can you get an external flash that you can bounce off the walls or rig into a makeshift lightbox? What grades of manual adjustment modes does the camera offer? How sturdy is it – are there moving parts that might be damaged in a kitchen environment? Ask followup questions, let your common sense and taste play a part. What will YOU want from a camera in the future?
I hope that this writeup will be helpful in the future! Some say it’s not the camera that takes the picture, it’s the photographer – but there is quite a lot to say for having good tools along the way to help with that!