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Camera for Taking Pictures of Food in Restaurants


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So the old cell phone camera just isn't producing the photo quality I'm looking for in my food porn.

Any suggestions for a decent digital camera for taking food photos. Ideally I would like to spend in the $100-$150 range, if that is realistic. Any features I should be looking for?

thx.

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So the old cell phone camera just isn't producing the photo quality I'm looking for in my food porn.

Any suggestions for a decent digital camera for taking food photos. Ideally I would like to spend in the $100-$150 range, if that is realistic. Any features I should be looking for?

thx.

This spring, CNET did a rundown of cameras that are good in low-light situations. Here's the link, but this is a telling quote:

... snapshot cameras simply don't perform well in low light. Read through the user opinions of any model and you'll see complaints referring to graininess, poor color, colored dots, fuzzy photos, and so on--all different ways of describing how noise manifests itself in digital images.

That said, some cameras are better than others, especially if you understand their limitations. Rule No. 1: don't use Auto ISO in dim light. The camera will automatically crank it up to one of the highest sensitivity settings (so that you can use a relatively fast shutter speed) and the photos will likely look awful. I mean really bad. You're far better off raising the ISO sensitivity setting to its highest usable level, turning on hardware image stabilization where available, and remembering to stand very, very still because the shutter speed will likely be very, very slow.

... Unfortunately, as your low-light demands increase, so does the price of the camera.

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I think if you are willing to up it to at least $250, you can get some more solid, digital point and shoots. Some are really clunky, so you might want to think about how you're going to transport it, meaning, do you want a flat version to put in a pocket somewhere, or is bulk okay, to be carried in a case.

I feel like these would be what I would buy:

1. Nikon Coolpix series.

2. Canon Powershot series.

3. Panasonic Lumix series.

4. Sony cybershot high-zoom series.

Photo.net and Cnet are both great resources for recommendations. The new feature that I kind of like is the touch screen. Sure, it's a bit cheesy, but I find it quick to just touch and delete, versus menu options and scrolling. Olympus also has this anti-blur function that has been good, while Panasonic has this anti-shock/stable movement feature that people like.

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I wouldn't worry about the high zoom so much, if your primary photos are just a few inches away. In fact, a macro lens will be far more usable, and is not present in many low-end cameras.

Optics quality is crucial - so make sure you read reviews of individual models to see if the experts got quality photos. You can't guarantee that just because one camera in a line got good reviews, that the rest in that line will also be good.

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The low light is probably the biggest problem I've run into, especially because I hate using flash at restaurants. Even when you do use flash you tend to get really washed out results. So what Daniel mentions is probably one of the most important qualities. My other recommendation is that if you are wanting to always document your food get a smaller camera so that you have no problem carrying it all the time. Sometimes the bulk of an SLR is just too much, and it becomes a pain in the butt. Even some point-and-shoots are on the larger side.

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Timely post, as I just researched cameres in the same price range. I purchased a Nikon Coolpix S220. This camera is $130-$140 and currently at Costco for $120. Comsumer Reports also just reviewed cameras (after I purchased, of course) and the Nikon is pretty far down on the recommended list. Although I've always been drawn to Nikons as I find the settings intuitive for me. I took it on vacation and wasn't real pleased with the results; however, when I looked at the troubleshooting guide I noticed that it suggested a different setting. I also went back to the camera store and they suggested another setting. I am currently sampling pics to see how they look. Two things to note: the Nikon has a "food" setting :( which I haven't sampled yet, and it has virtual image stabilization, as opposed to optical (optical is optimal.)

The other camera I am sampling is Canon's Elph SD1200 IS. My in-laws are huge Canon fans, and I had a Canon previously and did not find the menus intuitive like the Nikon. This camera was $200 when I purchased the Nikon, but is now on sale at Costco for $180 plus another $10 rebate. For the money, I think it is a very good deal Plus, Consumers ranked it #2 in the subcompact category, and rated it as "recommended." I bought this one this weekend since Costco has a 90 day return policy, so I'll be taking pics and comparing soon.

I know that doesn't help you with the food pics, but I'll try to include some while I'm playing around with it and post here. I need to make a decision this week as I need to return the Nikon by this weekend.

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I've been pleased as pie with my FujiFilm Finepix F100fd. I know very little about photography, though. I consider the pictures just a "bonus" for my narrative-focused food blog.

Regardless of the device you elect, I emphatically recommend the following lighting setup if you're doing shots at home:

Lowel Ego Light

Especially during winter, the Ego has given a major boost to my photos. My only regret is I wish I had bought two lights instead of one from the outset.

Otherwise, I've also found the following device immensely helpful for steadying the camera as I navigate interesting angles for my bizarrely-shaped culinary creations: Gorilla Tripod

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I'm still a fan of the FX-series Panasonic, having owned a few over the past 5 years. The optical image stabilization, in particular, is probably worth two stops in low-light situations if you don't have a tripod (and frankly the old trick of delay timer and perching on a wine glass is of little use when your subject is below) and it's had a "food" mode since at least the FX07. It's small enough to take everywhere. And it's fairly cheap these days.

However, the features that originally set the Panasonic pocket line apart (28mm-equiv wide angle, optical stabilization) have since been copied by other manufacturers, so your current range of choices is quite a bit broader.

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Well, previously when I posted photos it was on an earlier version of Invision, so I'm not really certain what I'm doing...

I set the camera to auto so did not mess with any of the settings. Dinner tonight consisted of some ubiquitous sliders from Costco. They were pretty good, actually. The soup was a last minute creation since I was freezing in the house with the temp dropping and wanted something hot. Grabbed a can of mushroom soup and added whole wheat pasta, with shaved Dubliner cheese on top.

ETA-this is the Canon Elph 1120 IS. I forgot to mention previously that this camera DOES have optical stabilization.Next test I'll have read the manual and can play around with some of the settings!

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Dead thread revival:

I've been reading tons of CNET reviews lately in an attempt to find a digital camera that will take decent pictures of food in restaurants and won't cost a ton of money ($250 max). Dealing with low light is obviously important, as has been discussed in this thread, so I've been looking out for compact models that are noted for better than average low-light performance in their class, stabilization features, food settings, and just generally good picture quality.

At the moment, this model from Panasonic seems like a viable option, but I was wondering if anybody else had some suggestions for recently released cameras that could do the job.

Edit: A better question: based on the review that Leigh posted, the Sony WX1 seems like a good option. It's gone down in price, but I'm wondering (and not finding much of an answer in my searches) whether or not any new, better models from Sony, FujiFilm, etc. with a specific focus on low-light conditions have been released since that review.

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better than average low-light performance in their class, stabilization features, food settings, and just generally good picture quality.

Have you ever shot with a manual 35 mm? I mean, unless you're acquiring said digital this week, you can do pretty well next Friday with my 6006 -- as long as we get it a battery -- and as long as you manipulate your f-stop and aperture correctly. I've shot tons of low-light photos over the years (hell, this camera is nearly as old as you are, and I'm not being facetious with that comment) and they've come out fine, as long as I use versatile film and make sure I'm adjusting correctly.

I know, I know ... film. What a dinosaur am I.

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unless you're acquiring said digital this week

That was the idea, but this is more an in-general need than seeking to buy equipment for one meal. iPhone pictures just suck, and there's no point in pausing to take pictures of food if they aren't decent shots.

While the camera you mention might be able to get the job done, getting the photos from film to digital isn't exactly the most convenient process. And in the end, the purpose of food pictures is to show off (or less cynically, to share), not to look at them yourself, so digital is kind of important.

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While the camera you mention might be able to get the job done, getting the photos from film to digital isn't exactly the most convenient process. And in the end, the purpose of food pictures is to show off (or less cynically, to share), not to look at them yourself, so digital is kind of important.

Actually CVS puts them straight onto a CD -- I don't even get prints made anymore. It takes an hour.

Funny that this thread and this one are running in tandem right now.

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Venerable online photo resource dpreview has recently posted a nice little Introduction to Food Photography, by photojournalist and expert equipment reviewer Matt Golowczynski. No, Don, they don't review that kind of dp.

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"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double –

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

-- Franklin "Pierce" Adams

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Here's a selection of pix shot throughout 2017. I stopped blogging a while ago and have since transitioned to social media but I keep my old site around as storage space for old photos and also for inspiration.

B and I went to NYC in late April and it was there that my camera zonked and died. Since my camera is my baby - even more important than my cell phone, I dragged my hubby over to Best Buy to pick up a new device - a SONY that I was initially skeptical but have since gotten used to. The below are pix from our kitchen, along with shots from farmers' markets and stores in New York and San Francisco, and food from excursions to local restaurants. Enjoy.

By the way, none of these photos were taken with a tripod. Except for seven, the rest were shot in natural light or in conditions that had a mixture of natural and artificial light.

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These days I'm quite happy with my cellphone (LG G5) camera for food photos, and my cellphone is a couple of years old at this point. Cellphone cameras have improved a LOT in recent years. Low light is still an issue but would be even with my regular camera (a Canon 5D Mark II) unless I used a flash, which I prefer to avoid, or a tripod. There's no way I'd take photos during a meal at a restaurant with my hulking, intrusive Canon (which I love for other purposes).

Here's a photo from last summer at Mirabelle that I took with my cellphone camera:

20170825_120430.jpg.55931d6df3a8341af4f69979c42d923f.jpg

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Yeah, I'm one of the few who carries a pocket-sized camera just for this purpose.

It's also why I'm not on Instagram.

I rarely shoot pix in restaurants due to frequent less-than-ideal conditions, although if I know we're going to a place that has great lighting, then my device comes along for the ride.

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