Camera for food photography (utter beginner)

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by beastoftrall, Jan 24, 2010.

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  1. beastoftrall

    beastoftrall Member

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    Hi there!

    I tried looking for an answer for this, but couldn't find a straight-up one. Would very much appreciate any help.

    I am a complete beginner to photography. I mainly want a camera because my major hobby is cooking, and I want to start taking high-quality pictures of the food I make and/or eat in other places, and possibly start a food blog. Being a perfectionist, I tend to read and learn a lot about everything I do - so if you guys think it will help me take better photos, I want a camera with manual controls (shutter, etc). I do not mind spending time learning about all of this. However, if you don't think that this is particularly necessary for food photography, I can certainly live without it.

    As for the specifications, here's the answers to your FAQ:

    Well, I don't really have a set budget, but I don't want to go over the top (this is just a hobby, after all). I guess something in the 150-300$ range, but exceptions can certainly be made if, say, there's an amazing one for 350$.


    I mainly intend to use this for in-house food photography, but I do want to be able to carry it around when I travel, or if I go out to a restaurant and want to take pictures of their food. Does not have to fit in my pocket, though.

    I don't know, something modern I guess. 10? 12?

    You guys would know more about this than I do. From the food pictures I've seen, a good zoom seems to be necessary - but I don't really know if it's a 3-4 or a 10-12. More is better, anyway.

    Very. I want every detail to pop up, and the colors to shine.

    Like I said, I'm a perfectionist. Manual control is very much preferred, but if there's no good ones for the price, so be it.

    Like I've said quite a few times, mainly food photography.

    Doubt it.
    I'm guessing that the vast majority will be indoors and well lit.

    No.
    No, I know nothing of cameras.

    As above.

    I don't know what those even mean (asides from weatherproof, of course).



    I will be very grateful for any and all answers.
    Thank you all!
     
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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  3. beastoftrall

    beastoftrall Member

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    Alright, thanks a lot for the recommendation!

    I've read several reviews, and this camera certainly seems to be worth the price. I do have 2 questions, though.

    1) I see that it has a macro range of 5 cm. Will that do, if I want to take close-ups of things like vegetables, fruit, etc?

    2) From what I gather, this camera does not allow you to control depth of field. Is this an important feature? I see quite a few photos on food blogs that seem to make extensive use of it. Can it easily be applied in post processing?

    Also, thanks for the link - but I'm not American, so I doubt I can buy there. Also my dad is flying to Singapore soon, and electronics tend to be very well priced there, so I'll probably ask him to pick one up.

    Thanks again :)

    And more recommendations will be welcome.
     
  4. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    5 cm is only 2 inches. That's pretty close. Here are some sample macros taken with the F200EXR.
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=macro&ss=2&cm=fujifilm/finepix_f200exr

    I disagree. The F200EXR has an aperture priority mode so you can select a narrow aperture to increase depth of field (the F200EXR allows you to select only two apertures, wide and narrow, at any particular focal length). The problem with selecting a narrow aperture is that it decreases the amount of light available for the picture. This is less of a problem with the F200EXR than it would be with most point and shoot cameras due to the F200EXR's good low light ability.

    You can get more control over aperture with the Canon SX120IS, a compact ultrazoom camera with full manual controls. This camera will allow you set many possible apertures at any particular focal length, to give you more options as far as depth of field is concerned. It also allows macros as close as 1cm. However, the quality of its pictures in low light is not as good as the Fuji F200EXR. Overall, though, you may be happier with the Canon SX120IS.
    Here are some sample macros from the Canon SX120IS:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=macro&cm=canon/powershot_sx120_is
     
  5. beastoftrall

    beastoftrall Member

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    Darn, you're not making it easy for me. :)

    Having looked at the photos, they both look great. I also looked up some reviews for the Canon. It seems to be far less universally-liked than the Fuji. Also, on one hand Canon's x10 zoom and manual controls do seem to appeal to me, but on the other hand - there are some stunning macros taken with the Fuji as well.

    Long story short, I'm completely stumped.
    Sort of leaning towards the F200EXR, but hoping I won't regret the lack of manual options and high zoom.

    EDIT: Also, how does the SX200IS compare? It's still within my price range, so I wanted to know if it offers any real improvement over the S120. I assume it has the same manual setting options and macro distance?
    And one last question, with regards to low-light settings. What exactly do you classify as low-light? Is food photography generally considered to be low-light? Enough so that I might suffer because of the S120? After giving it a little more thought and looking through more pictures, I am now leaning towards the Canon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  6. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    The SX200IS probably has better image quality overall than the SX120IS, it's faster between flash pictures and it has a better movie mode.

    However, the SX120IS gives you more manual control than the SX200IS. When it comes to selecting apertures the Canon SX200IS is similar to the Fuji F200EXR - you can only select two at any particular focal length. With the SX120IS you have a choice of several apertures at each focal length.

    If you're taking photos of food under controlled conditions - with plenty of diffused lighting, that wouldn't be considered low light. However, taking food pictures in a restaurant setting would definitely be in low light.
     
  7. beastoftrall

    beastoftrall Member

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    Oh? Well, that's a shame. Why don't they mention this in reviews?
    With that in mind, and considering the price, it seems better to go with the 120. Thank you.

    I will probably be taking most of my photos at home, but I don't know too much about lighting, and I certainly would like to be able to take it to a restaurant (or pub, or concert, or whatever). Still, looking at pictures it's taken, it still seems pretty good.

    Anyway, I get a feeling that it's more to do with the photographer than the camera. It'll be a while until I am able to take good shots, I reckon.
     
  8. KCook

    KCook Well-Known Member

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    Even with the Fuji F200EXR, shooting food in low light, without flash, would be very, very tricky. Mostly because the indoors lighting will likely be "off balance", so far as color tone is concerned. A accomplished photographer knows how to adjust the "white balance" for the camera to deal with this. But don't be surprised if your auto controlled shots turn out to be strongly tinted.

    Flash eliminates this color problem. But I don't know if flash is Ok with your restaurants, and some folks hate the harsh shadows resulting from flash.

    I luv my own Fuji, but for a subject as tricky as food, I think a Canon or Sony, in Auto mode, will give a happier result. Both of these brands have just announced a bunch of new camera models for this Spring. No reviews on these yet, so it's hard to know which models to recommend. When in doubt buy from an outfit that makes returns easy.

    no help Kelly
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  9. beastoftrall

    beastoftrall Member

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    Alright. I've thought this over some more, and I believe that, if nothing else changes, I'll go for the SX120. Looks like a good camera.

    Although I am also slightly considering putting up the extra cash for a G10. Of all the cameras I've looked at, it seems to be the most favored - but is obviously much higher priced. :(
     
  10. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    If you decide to pay the extra cash for the G10, consider instead the Canon S90. It's better in low light than the G10, great build quality and full manual controls.
     
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