Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Shooting Food with Samyang XP 85mm f1.2

Samyang's stunning XP 85mm f1.2 lens is not just a great lens for portrait photography, it's also a lens that can be used to create beautiful food photography. Due to it's manual focusing system, still life photography seems like the perfect match. With food photography the photographer has time to compose each frame so a speedy auto-focusing system isn't a necessity. I use my XP 85mm via an adapter on my Sony A7RIII and the images that this combination produces are stunning with razor sharp details, vibrant colours and punchy contrast - just what you want when photographing food to make it look as appetising as possible.

When it comes to food photography, getting the right light is essential. As I shoot for a lot of different restaurants it's not always possible to have a location at the restaurant to setup near a window or space where there's a good source of natural light. For that reason I always take a studio strobe and a large softbox. This allows me the freedom to setup anywhere in the restaurant and gives me a powerful, controllable light source that is softened depending on the size of the light modifier - in most cases I use a 120cm x 80cm Phot-R softbox with double diffusion.

Here's my usual setup for food photography

In terms of getting the composition and point of focus perfect using the XP 85mm f1.2 lens I occasionally use a tripod but most of the images in this article were shot handheld so I heavily rely on the amazing focus peaking feature built-in to my Sony A7RIII. This feature shows exactly what's in focus in my EVF or on my screen by detecting edges of high contrast (and therefore most in focus) and displaying a red border around them. I then zoom in (using the camera's focus zoom feature) on the specific area that I want in focus and then rotate the focus ring until it has perfect focus - a very easy process for me with my mirrorless camera. Due to DSLRs having an optical viewfinder this whole process could be a lot more difficult and I'd imagine a tripod would be essential.

I love the bokeh (out of focus blur) that the XP 85mm f1.2 lens is capable of producing. It can help to isolate the subject from the background. Perfect for a side on shot like some of the cocktail images towards the bottom of this article. With a minimum focus distance of 80cm it allows me to get close enough to capture some of the finer details of a dish with precise sharpness. This lens really is a joy to use especially for this specific application. Check out some images below that have been taken with it.

Sony A7RIII - f4, 1/80th, ISO 160
Sony A7RIII - f4, 1/125th, ISO 160
Sony A7RIII - f4, 1/80th, ISO 160

Sony A7RIII - f4.5, 1/200th, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII - f4, 1/160th, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII - f4.5, 1/160th, ISO 64

Sony A7RIII - f7.1, 1/160th, ISO 160

Sony A7RIII - f6.3, 1/125th, ISO 160

Sony A7RIII - f5, 1/160th, ISO 100

Sony A7RIII - f8, 1/160th, ISO 125

Sony A7RIII - f9, 1/160th, ISO 200

Sony A7RIII - f5, 1/200th, ISO 800

Sony A7RIII - f3.5, 1/200th, ISO 250

Sony A7RIII - f2.8, 1/200th, ISO 250

Sony A7RIII - f2.8, 1/125th, ISO 160

Thanks for reading!

Check out my initial review for the Samyang XP 85mm f1.2 featured in this article that I wrote a while back HERE

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