Camera & lenses for flat lays

Cameras and lenses are very important for creating flat lay images. In this lesson, I will help you understand how to choose the right lenses for you. 

First of all, it’s important to differentiate what type of camera you have – crop sensor or full-frame camera. This will influence your image and choice of lens a lot. 

If you don’t know exactly what is the difference between crop sensor and full-frame cameras, click here to access the lesson from the “Photography Fundamentals” Course. 

In this example, you can see the difference of the sensor of the full-frame camera and the crop sensor camera. This is the difference of the view you would get using the same lens.

Coming back to flat lays, there are a few elements to consider when choosing lenses:

  • First of all, what is your camera? Crop sensor or full-frame?
  • What type of flat lay image do you want to create?
  • What do you want to focus on in your image?
  • Do you want to create a wider scene or you aim to shoot a macro shot where you want to capture the details and texture of food?

Putting all these elements together, you will understand what type of lenses are the best to choose for your photos.

If you have a crop sensor camera…

If you have a crop sensor camera, a lens with the lower focal length will be a better choice.

  • 50mm prime lens on a crop sensor camera will behave something around 80mm focal length. This can be a bit difficult to capture a wider scene. You would need to have a very long distance between the camera and the scene. These lenses are however great to capture more macro images, full of texture and details of food. You don’t even need to go very far away from the food.
  • 18-55mm zoom lens are a better choice for flat lays on a crop sensor camera, if you want to capture a wider scene. Firstly, because they are zoom lenses, so once you put your camera on a tripod, it’s easy to zoom in and out. Zooming out can give you an opportunity to capture a wider scene.
  • 35mm prime lens– are great for crop sensor cameras and for capturing wider scenes. If you prefer working with prime lenses and you want to focus on flat lays in food photography, these lenses are perfect for you.
  • 24-70 mm zoom lens – are a great investment as you can use them on a crop sensor camera, as well as the full frame. Because they are zoom lenses, they give you lots of options to capture wider & smaller scenes on both cameras. These lens costs a little bit more, but it’s a great investment and you will use them often, especially when shooting restaurants, interiors, or other projects.

If you have a full-frame camera

If you have a full-frame camera, you have more possibilities:

  • 50 mm prime lens / 60 mm prime lens – are amazing lenses and give you the possibility to capture a wider scene. A full-frame camera is very easy to work with, and you don’t need to be as far from the scene as with a crop sensor camera. 
  • 80mm prime lens and above – are macro lenses and they are better when you want to capture a smaller scene full of details and texture of your food.
  • 40mm and lower focal length – are a great choice for shooting images in a tiny space. So, for example, restaurants, or very wide scene, where you want to capture the whole table, chairs, etc… These lenses will make your shoots very easy, as you don’t need to get so far to capture a wider scene.
  • 24-70 mm zoom lens – are a great lens for full frame cameras too. They are zoom lenses, so they offer you a variety of focal lengths.

Be aware that, the lower the focal length of the lens, the more distortion it will create in your images. And let’s talk about the distortion in the next lesson.

Other useful lessons to go through:

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