Here are some settings for food photography that you need to know:
- Metering mode: Spot
- Drive mode: Single shot
- Shooting mode: Aperture priority (A or Av)
- Aperture: f/2.8 to f/5.
- ISO settings: 100 – 400
- Shutter speed: 1/60th of a second or higher for handheld. Tripod food photography can be any suitable shutter speed.
- Focus mode: Single shot
- Auto-Focus Point: Single point autofocus
- Focal length: 100mm is a good place to start but you can use 50mm -105mm successfully
- Image stabilization: Yes especially if you are hand-holding your camera
In food photography the aperture is one of the most important settings. The aperture allows you to change your DoF and achieve the sought after bokeh effect (foreground is sharp and background is blurred). To achieve this effect you need to shoot under f/5.6 in most cases and f/2.8 being the go to setting. With aperture being important to food photography the best shooting mode for this is aperture priority (A or AV). This gives you control over your aperture and allows you to dial in the perfect settings to crate the bokeh you are looking for.
What is Bokeh
Bokeh: is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.
Food photography can require you to be in different lighting conditions and this will have an effect on which ISO you can use. You will need to set your ISO depending on your conditions however the 100-400 range is a good place to start.
The lower the ISO the more detail your images will have, as you increase the ISO the sharpness of your image will degrade. The ideal ISO range for food photography is 100-400. Depending on the quality of your camera will dictate how well your camera copes with higher ISO.
Shutter speed is the final piece of the exposure triangle. This setting will be heavily influenced by your aperture and ISO settings. If you are hand holding your camera then you will need a shutter speed at 1/60th of a second or faster. This will allow you to move around and take your shots from different angles easily. If however you are using a tripod your shutter speed is not as important as both your subject and camera are not moving.
Tips for shooting food photography
- I would not shoot food photography with a fstop over f/5.6 as your DoF gets too wide making it so you lose the blurred background effect.
- Choose the most important part of your subject to focus on.
- Large blurred items in the background can be distracting to the view and pull their attention away from the main subject.
- Experiment with your setting and setup. Try different elements and styles. You never know how something will look when it blurred. One of my favorite food photography images has a garden shed blurred in the background and it ended up giving the background the perfect amount of color to contrast the image. You can see this image below.
For more food photography tips see this article.