LTH Home

Good camera for taking food pictures

Good camera for taking food pictures
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 5
  • Good camera for taking food pictures

    Post #1 - May 10th, 2006, 9:25 am
    Post #1 - May 10th, 2006, 9:25 am Post #1 - May 10th, 2006, 9:25 am
    Hi there,

    I am looking for a good camera not just for taking food pictures but that would be one of the things I do with it. I would like to get something smaller than DSLR but it doesnt have to be tiny. I have seen the Panasonic Lumix LX-1. It seems great, and even has a "food" mode. Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

    Thanks!

    J
  • Post #2 - May 10th, 2006, 9:39 am
    Post #2 - May 10th, 2006, 9:39 am Post #2 - May 10th, 2006, 9:39 am
    I just recently did a ton of research on this subject, and here's what I came up with:

    I had four criteria that were of utmost importance to me:

    1) Small enough to mostly palm, thusly making it unobtrusive in a restaurant environment.
    2) Excellent low-light quality due to dim lighting at many restaurants.
    3) Excellent macro focus to better show the up-close detail of the deliciousness.
    4) Good all-around quality that wouldn't make me feel like I was sacrificing everything else to get 1-3.

    I settled on the Fujifilm Finepix F11, and it's fantastic. It takes great photos at ISO 1600 with very little noise. It isn't ultrasexy, but it's still sleek, it's a great all-around camera, and it's absolutely perfect for snapping restaurant photos on the sly. After some Photoshop adjustments, I'm seeing details in my photos that I couldn't see in person at the restaurant (but be warned, it's low light... you WILL need Photoshop or other good image editing software).

    A few notes... first, the F11 isn't generally available in the US. There are a few online merchants that carry it, but its US counterpart is the F10. The image quality is similar, if not the same, I believe. The main difference is that the F11 has a slightly larger LCD.

    However, I would also recommend waiting for just a little bit longer, as the successor to the F10/11 is due out next month, and it sounds like they've added a ton of improvements, including a usable ISO 3200 (!), without increasing the size of the camera more than a millimeter in any direction. It's the F30, and I believe it's due out in the States in June.

    Anyway, there's plenty of info about these cameras out there, so I highly recommend you include it in your search. I could post some sample images, if it helps. Let me know.

    Addendum:

    After posting, I just realized that I didn't read carefully... you didn't specifically say that you wanted to take pictures in restaurants, just of food. If you're not concerned about restaurant action, there are probably better choices out there.
    Last edited by Dmnkly on May 10th, 2006, 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #3 - May 10th, 2006, 9:40 am
    Post #3 - May 10th, 2006, 9:40 am Post #3 - May 10th, 2006, 9:40 am
    I don't know what a food mode is (it keeps your taco de ojo from having redeye?) but having just spilled water on my first Canon, I can heartily recommend my new Canon, which is this one: Canon Powershot SD600

    The reasons I like Canons in general and this one in particular are:

    1) Sharp, clear pics suitable for framing.

    2) Pocket sized, truly, so you'll actually have it with you, yet big (relatively) LED screen and pretty intuitive controls.

    3) Excellent macro (much better than my first Canon) for tight food shots:

    Image

    4) Very good low light capabilities. Though it won't go as far as the Fuji cameras that Dmnkly talked about here, the new one has significantly improved my ability to get something usable from a darkish restaurant.

    To my mind these things-- portability, macro and low light-- make it the perfect food camera for me, whatever a food mode is. Of course, I, or maybe I should say we, take lots of other kinds of pics perfectly successfully with it too:

    Image

    Self-portrait by Liam.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #4 - May 10th, 2006, 10:27 am
    Post #4 - May 10th, 2006, 10:27 am Post #4 - May 10th, 2006, 10:27 am
    I strongly suggest heading over to http://www.dpreview.com and using their excellent reviews to ifnd out if any of these cameras is right for you.

    I also have a powershot, and the form factor and ease of use are fantastic, and the pictures are quite good. The big drawback is the limited optical zoom and some noise in low light at high iso levels (but that's, to a large extent, expected)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #5 - May 16th, 2006, 10:23 pm
    Post #5 - May 16th, 2006, 10:23 pm Post #5 - May 16th, 2006, 10:23 pm
    and a $3 micro tripod. for them extra low-light moments... my hand's jittery from all the fat in my blood vessels.
  • Post #6 - June 14th, 2006, 9:57 am
    Post #6 - June 14th, 2006, 9:57 am Post #6 - June 14th, 2006, 9:57 am
    Dmnkly wrote:However, I would also recommend waiting for just a little bit longer, as the successor to the F10/11 is due out next month, and it sounds like they've added a ton of improvements, including a usable ISO 3200 (!), without increasing the size of the camera more than a millimeter in any direction. It's the F30, and I believe it's due out in the States in June.

    I'm having a devil of a time finding the F 10 or 11 in stores here. (I realize the F 30 isn't quite out here yet, but I figure any store in Chicago that has the 10/11 will have the 30 shortly. But I haven't found a store that has the 10 or 11 yet! Other Fuji models, but not those.) I don't want to buy over the internet, because I need to hold it in my hands, see if the icons on the LCD are big enough to read without my glasses, etc. Dmnkly, did you buy your camera in a store here, and if so, where? Or does anyone else know where it can be found? Thanks.
  • Post #7 - June 14th, 2006, 10:02 am
    Post #7 - June 14th, 2006, 10:02 am Post #7 - June 14th, 2006, 10:02 am
    One of those was only marketed in Europe, so no surprise you don't see it here.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #8 - June 14th, 2006, 10:32 am
    Post #8 - June 14th, 2006, 10:32 am Post #8 - June 14th, 2006, 10:32 am
    Thanks, Mike. I'm also considering the Canon SD600 you recommended (and the pictures you've posted constitute a great recommendation). But it lacks "Image Stabilization." So I suppose my question is, is IS really necessary, or mainly a gimmick? I'm thinking that maybe IS isn't that big a deal, as long as a camera has enough sensitivity to shoot at a high ISO in low light with a fast shutter speed. (My digital camera is a Canon from the caveman days of 2 megapixels, so I don't know about these new inventions of you people of today.)
  • Post #9 - June 14th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Post #9 - June 14th, 2006, 10:38 am Post #9 - June 14th, 2006, 10:38 am
    I did get mine from an internet retailer, and the F11 wasn't officially released in the United States, though many internet and some brick and mortar stores carry it. I doubt you'll find either at the major chain electronics stores, especially since the successor is either due shortly or has just been released (I haven't been watching for it). I'm sure they've been trying to burn stock on the F10/11 in advance of the F30's release.

    I got mine from Prestige Camera (prestigecamera.com), and aside from the fact that the salesperson over the phone was phenomenally aggressive in trying to upsell me on various accessories, I didn't have any problems... good price, they shipped right away, arrived in good conditions, no other complaints.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful than that :-(
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #10 - June 14th, 2006, 11:08 am
    Post #10 - June 14th, 2006, 11:08 am Post #10 - June 14th, 2006, 11:08 am
    Dmnkly wrote:I got mine from Prestige Camera (prestigecamera.com), and aside from the fact that the salesperson over the phone was phenomenally aggressive in trying to upsell me on various accessories, I didn't have any problems...


    That happens a ton ordering cameras online. Did you give in? There have been a lot of horror stories where people, after resisting the upsell, never get their phones.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #11 - June 14th, 2006, 11:15 am
    Post #11 - June 14th, 2006, 11:15 am Post #11 - June 14th, 2006, 11:15 am
    Well, I had planned on ordering an extra battery, and his offer beat my request to the punch, so I took him up on that one. But after that it took a good 2-3 minutes to make it clear to him that, no, I wasn't interested in the other three or four items he was trying to sell to me that I hadn't already decided I wanted. I was a little surprised that he seemed so insistent on trying to upsell me on a $6 camera case. I suppose there's a good chance that the margin on cheap camera cases is much higher than on electronic accessories, but it still felt strange that he was trying to badger me into spending an extra $6 on what was something like a $300 order.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #12 - June 14th, 2006, 12:55 pm
    Post #12 - June 14th, 2006, 12:55 pm Post #12 - June 14th, 2006, 12:55 pm
    you have to be very careful about those 'cheap' places. What they do is break apart a package and sell you the "camera" for, say $200, but then make you pay extra for the battery, lens cap, wrist strap, etc.. -- stuff that should all be included in the first place. As gleam said, more often than not your item magically goes "out of stock" if you refuse. And this is after they've already charged your credit card.

    I'd advaise anyone stick with reputable online places like B&H .

    I've bought thousands of $$ worth of photo equipment from them and have never had a hint of a problem.
  • Post #13 - June 14th, 2006, 12:59 pm
    Post #13 - June 14th, 2006, 12:59 pm Post #13 - June 14th, 2006, 12:59 pm
    riddlemay wrote:But it lacks "Image Stabilization." So I suppose my question is, is IS really necessary, or mainly a gimmick? I'm thinking that maybe IS isn't that big a deal, as long as a camera has enough sensitivity to shoot at a high ISO in low light with a fast shutter speed. (My digital camera is a Canon from the caveman days of 2 megapixels, so I don't know about these new inventions of you people of today.)


    If you can get it, I would say that it *is not* a gimmick, especially indoors w/o a flash. It can make the difference between blur due to camera shake and a tack-sharp picture of that gardinaire. That way, you can still shoot at a lower ISO and still get the 1/30-1/60 shutter speed that one normally needs for sharp pictures. You'll also then get the better quality that lower ISOs give you. Most consumer point & shoots don't do all that fantastic above ISO 200 or 400.
  • Post #14 - June 14th, 2006, 1:37 pm
    Post #14 - June 14th, 2006, 1:37 pm Post #14 - June 14th, 2006, 1:37 pm
    riddlemay wrote:Thanks, Mike. I'm also considering the Canon SD600 you recommended (and the pictures you've posted constitute a great recommendation). But it lacks "Image Stabilization." So I suppose my question is, is IS really necessary, or mainly a gimmick?


    I've been using the SD700IS for a month and it does take some really nice photos, especially if you're a complete photo-klutz like me. I've never turned the IS feature off to determine how much of a difference it makes. I need all the help I can get. :oops:

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #15 - June 15th, 2006, 8:40 am
    Post #15 - June 15th, 2006, 8:40 am Post #15 - June 15th, 2006, 8:40 am
    Bill/SFNM wrote:
    I've been using the SD700IS for a month and it does take some really nice photos, especially if you're a complete photo-klutz like me. I've never turned the IS feature off to determine how much of a difference it makes. I need all the help I can get. :oops:

    Bill,

    I bought the same camera (Canon SD700 IS) a couple of weeks ago. I like the camera but, even though the IS is mechanical, not software, I'm not convinced it does much aside from adding $60 to the camera. It is also possible, in fact likely, I'm not using it properly.

    Overall I like the camera, fast response, great battery life, small ergonomic design, but am not 100% convinced it takes better pictures than my recently departed Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - June 15th, 2006, 9:00 am
    Post #16 - June 15th, 2006, 9:00 am Post #16 - June 15th, 2006, 9:00 am
    Thanks, Mike. I'm also considering the Canon SD600 you recommended (and the pictures you've posted constitute a great recommendation). But it lacks "Image Stabilization." So I suppose my question is, is IS really necessary, or mainly a gimmick?


    Thanks for the compliment, I can't speak to what it's like but I'll tell you what I do about this.

    When I have a lot of light, I take a shot here, a shot from a slightly higher angle, etc. I may duplicate the exact same shot a couple of times, just in case, depending on how sorry I'll be if the one I took was blurry. (A lot of times, though, I just snap the shots as a way of taking notes on what we ordered, not because I think I'll post them-- I only like posting the pretty ones!)

    When the light is lower, I absolutely duplicate, taking every shot 3 or 4 times. Even if I feel like my hand is steady, some WILL be blurry.

    Would IS help that? Maybe, some. But the workaround of simply shooting a lot costs me basically nothing (I suppose a little more time in handling all the shots, but it's negligible, hmm-hmm-that one!) To my mind, the best feature for improving your indoor food photography is still a table near the window on a day with pretty light.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #17 - June 15th, 2006, 9:07 am
    Post #17 - June 15th, 2006, 9:07 am Post #17 - June 15th, 2006, 9:07 am
    Hi,

    I have a Canon PowerShot S400 Digital Elph. About a year ago, I dropped it at the Maxwell Street Market. I cannot review pictures I have taken nor download from my camera. I use a card reader to download pictures. Despite these issues, it takes pretty good pictures. It will get replaced someday when something critical dies like the shutter!

    My dinosaur digital camera was big enough that you brought it only if you needed it. My compact camera goes with me everywhere ... unless I forgot it on my desk at home.

    I have a slight tremor in my hands, which is hereditary, so my next camera will have the optical and software-based image stabilization. Presently I just take lots of pictures because the law of averages usually means a few will be well focused.

    Sadly my pictures of food are usually far better than my pictures of people.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #18 - June 15th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #18 - June 15th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #18 - June 15th, 2006, 10:18 am
    G Wiv wrote:but am not 100% convinced it takes better pictures than my recently departed Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph.


    Gary,

    It takes better pictures than my recently melted Canon Powershot A20. :oops:

    When taking food shots in my well-lit kitchen, the autoflash almost always goes off giving me an overexposed photo. Best shots of food seem to come from manual mode, digital macro, no flash, and auto ISO. Even then, the food shots can be a little overexposed with some hot spots, so sometimes I crank the exposure down -1/2 to -1. If you think I know what I'm talking about, you would be very wrong. Although I understand the concepts and try to apply them, the actual photos are usually disappointing. It ain't the camera.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #19 - June 15th, 2006, 11:41 am
    Post #19 - June 15th, 2006, 11:41 am Post #19 - June 15th, 2006, 11:41 am
    G Wiv wrote:I bought the same camera (Canon SD700 IS)...Overall I like the camera, fast response, great battery life, small ergonomic design, but am not 100% convinced it takes better pictures than my recently departed Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph.

    Funny thing--one reason it's taking me so long to choose a new camera is that my ancient one, the 2.1 MP Canon PowerShot S110, takes such darned good pictures! The LCD is too small for my aging eyes, and the batteries drain down too fast lately, so I need a new camera, no question--but it's hard to take the plunge when you're afraid that your new advanced camera may take worse pictures than your old decrepit one.
  • Post #20 - June 15th, 2006, 11:58 am
    Post #20 - June 15th, 2006, 11:58 am Post #20 - June 15th, 2006, 11:58 am
    If you like the Canons stick with the Canons. My pictures look just like they did, I just got an upgrade in macro and low-light capability, battery life, and LED size. I was in mourning for my old camera (SD100, very similar to 110), and I didn't want to feel like I'd gone backwards or downhill in any area (as I do every time I have to get a new cell phone). I don't, I'm very happy with my SD600 and think you would be too in the areas you've mentioned (low light and LED icon size).
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #21 - June 15th, 2006, 4:30 pm
    Post #21 - June 15th, 2006, 4:30 pm Post #21 - June 15th, 2006, 4:30 pm
    Sounds like very solid advice, Mike. I may get the Canon SD630 over the 600, though, because the 3" screen of the former will probably be that much better for me than the latter's 2.5" screen, especially as my eyes worsen further with the passage of time. I figure I'll be giving up something in battery life, but getting a useful benefit in return.

    (If anybody has anything bad to say about the 630, say it now!)

    I was glad to hear you echo my plaint in general about supposedly more advanced cameras (and other tech devices) being inferior to the supposedly dark-ages kind. Makes me think I'm not crazy to wonder why the pictures taken by my young adult nieces with their 8 MP cameras look like such &#*@ compared to the ones taken with my 2.1 MP Canon.
  • Post #22 - June 15th, 2006, 4:52 pm
    Post #22 - June 15th, 2006, 4:52 pm Post #22 - June 15th, 2006, 4:52 pm
    riddlemay wrote: Makes me think I'm not crazy to wonder why the pictures taken by my young adult nieces with their 8 MP cameras look like such &#*@ compared to the ones taken with my 2.1 MP Canon.


    Technique shouldn't be discounted. Anyone can buy hardware. It takes talent to use it well.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #23 - June 16th, 2006, 8:57 am
    Post #23 - June 16th, 2006, 8:57 am Post #23 - June 16th, 2006, 8:57 am
    Stupid question for the digital photo experts here: when you take a shot for the purposes of posting it to a site like LTHForum, do you take it at the camera's highest resolution and then use a photo editor to reduce it for posting? Or do you simply set the camera for the lower resolution? Does it make a difference?

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #24 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am
    Post #24 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am Post #24 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am
    Bill/SFNM wrote:Stupid question for the digital photo experts here: when you take a shot for the purposes of posting it to a site like LTHForum, do you take it at the camera's highest resolution and then use a photo editor to reduce it for posting? Or do you simply set the camera for the lower resolution? Does it make a difference?


    I'm no digital photo expert, but I only take pictures at the highest resolution. You can always go from bigger to smaller, but the opposite direction doesn't really work. But I don't use a photo editor to reduce it, I let Flickr do the work for me.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #25 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am
    Post #25 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am Post #25 - June 16th, 2006, 9:01 am
    I take everything at the highest possible resolution, it's always set for that by default. One less thing to think about, one less chance to screw up and take a tiny image of something I'd later wish I could zoom in on or print. When you have a big memory card and a big hard drive, there's no reason to be messing with that.

    I take a little time to resize things and then post them to Flickr at the 600 pixels wide size for posting here, but Flickr will also resize large images into various sizes and you could upload a big one but link to one of the smaller sizes.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #26 - June 16th, 2006, 9:17 am
    Post #26 - June 16th, 2006, 9:17 am Post #26 - June 16th, 2006, 9:17 am
    HI,

    I also go full format on my photos. Whenever I choose the best pictures, I will rename the original by right clicking on the image and rename. I found if I changed the name using <save> that there was slight reformatting and reduction in size of the file. To avoid all that, I do the simple name change.

    I will then make a copy (often called "date ORIGINAL NAME min") the photo to manipulate, crop and resize. While I have over 500 photos on flickr with a generous allotment of 2 Gb memory per month to upload. I prefer to provide them my reduced size files to conserve memory with 600x450 the largest file.

    For storage on my hard drive, I give every restaurant its' own file with the originals dumped in there with the date I took the photos. The renamed photos and their copies are also kept in the same files. After a while you will find you have quite a collection of photos to refer to.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - June 16th, 2006, 9:20 am
    Post #27 - June 16th, 2006, 9:20 am Post #27 - June 16th, 2006, 9:20 am
    Actually, that reminds me of one other tip for photo organization:

    Snap a picture of the sign before you leave! It may be the only thing that will tell you where those pot-stickers are from in a few years...
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #28 - June 16th, 2006, 9:31 am
    Post #28 - June 16th, 2006, 9:31 am Post #28 - June 16th, 2006, 9:31 am
    Agreed, I always shoot the highest resolution possible. When shrinking images, if you're using anything with a sharpen filter (I use the unsharp mask in Photoshop, filter 50% radius 1 threshold 0), filter, then reduce the size by exactly half, then filter, then reduce by exactly half, and continue until you're at a size that is less than double your intended size... at which point, you do a final sharpen and a final resize.

    You end up with much cleaner images than if you simply resized once.
    Last edited by Dmnkly on June 16th, 2006, 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #29 - June 16th, 2006, 9:43 am
    Post #29 - June 16th, 2006, 9:43 am Post #29 - June 16th, 2006, 9:43 am
    HI,

    Photo organization addendum: I learned this from Gary to take a picture of the exterior, interior as well as the bill. As Mike said it will help jog the memory when you look back at it in 2 years.

    Dmnkly -- I have photoshop elements as well as Microsoft image composure for photo editing. I am still learning photoshop. I have seen some of the settings you referred to and didn't quite understand them. Thanks for your specific tip, which I will be borrowing.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - June 16th, 2006, 10:37 am
    Post #30 - June 16th, 2006, 10:37 am Post #30 - June 16th, 2006, 10:37 am
    Dmnkly wrote:Agreed, I always shoot the highest resolution possible. When shrinking images, if you're using anything with a sharpen filter (I use the unsharp mask in Photoshop, filter 50% radius 1 threshold 0), filter, then reduce the size by exactly half, then filter, then reduce by exactly half, and continue until you're at a size that is less than double your intended size... at which point, you do a final sharpen and a final resize.

    You end up with much cleaner images than if you simply resized once.


    So I tried this, although I am using Arcsoft Photostudio, and need to learn more about it's unsharpen mask, but here are two photos, the first is multiple sharpens/resizes and the last is just a resize:

    Image

    Image

    You can see some additional detail. I'll bet if I play around with it I can get it better. I still need to take better photos to start with, but thanks for the tip!

    Bill/SFNM

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more