A little advice beforehand
Ok, when it comes to photographic gear it always goes really fast crazy. I mean on one side the stuff costs a little fortune and on the other side amateurs often keep the fallacy that you need pro equipment to call yourself a pro. And to make it even worse these people think that they are pros when they own pro equipment.
But let me give you a fair advise: What really distinguishes a pro from an amateur isn’t about gear and it’s technical specs, it’s about knowledge and experience. It’s about know how in it’s literally sense: You should now how to execute your clients wishes to satisfy them at the end of the day. So the technical side of the job is a big part of that, but what is even more important is to gain personal experience. So please keep that in mind. Nowadays you can make stunning pictures with only smartphones and natural light if you know how (e.g. think of the last iPhoneX campaign, where say shot all the ads with its in-build camera).
I know that even among pros there are big discussions about gear – and to be fair I never ever participate in these kind of senseless discussions because I truly believe a photographer should be able to make good photos with any kind of camera.
One of my friends use to say “if a farmer can’t swim, it’s because of his swimming cap”. Hopefully that makes sense to you. It means that if you are not well experienced in something you will find an excuse for your lack of knowledge instead of facing the unknown and gain more experience. So if your aren’t much experienced in photography do yourself a favour and don’t spend to much money in your gear, spent it in good looking food or bottles and learn how to put them in the best possible light and angle. And when you think you are experienced enough after a while, then start thinking about getting some new fancy gear. And when the day comes where you start to earn money with it, then go for pro equipment, because when you are running a business you start to get all these tax reduction things etc. going on and then to own pro equipment starts to make sense. For some stuff it can be ok to buy them second hand. I bought a Canon Speedlite 430 EX II for 90 bucks and for me it’s for sure that it’s better than a new cheap China-no-name-product for the same price. Never change a running system!
The good thing when it comes to food and beverage photography is, that you don’t really need tons of expensive stuff to execute superb shots: You need a cam, a lens, a tripod and a computer. All the other stuff I use mostly – like black, white and silver cards or tweezers for example – is made from relatively cheap DIY-materials.
I built my gear on two premisses: one to have most of it very portable (that’s why I try to use Speedlights most of the time and not big studio strobes), so that I can do client shoots alone without assistants, second to keep it as simple as possible. For some clients this mades totally sense, because it’s more cost effective. For me it’s mostly a pain in the ass, but you have to make sacrifices sometimes… 😉
Disclaimer: Please note that all of the links below are affiliate links and if you come somehow to the conclusion to buy one or another thing from that list I will earn a little commission, but only if you purchase them through those links. That makes my life as freelancer a little bit easier and it makes it easier to run the EasyFoodPhotographyOnlineUniverse at the end. So all stuff below is owned or routinely rented by me and it made only stuff on it which I truly can recommend. Maybe you see sometimes other stuff in my videos, but if they are not on that list below there is maybe a good reason why I can’t recommend it. If you have any questions to one or another item below before purchasing feel free to contact me.
Camera & lenses
When it comes to cameras I’m flirting right now with the new Sony A7 III, but because it’s still not available here, I’m shooting further with my good old Canon…
Canon 5D MK III – a working horse
Canon EF 100mm f2,8L Macro IS USM (L-series)
Canon EF 100mm f2,8 Macro USM (alternatively for the lens above)
Canon Extension Tube EF 25 II (I combine this with the lenses below, it’s the cheapest way to transform nearly every lens into a macro lens, for compatibility have a look here)
Canon EF 24-105mm f4,0 L IS USM (there is a newer one to buy)
Canon EF 50mm f 1,8 STM (the nifty-fifty is the cheapest lens you can buy in the Canon universe)
Flashes & triggers
Canon Speedlight 580 EX II
2 Canon Speedlights 430 EX II
3 Yongnuo YN-622C E-TTL flash trigger/transceiver (restricted recommended, this Yongnuo stuff isn’t the best solution, but it has a highspeed sync-option, I will make a video for that)
1 Yongnuo YN-622C-TX LCD Wireless E-TTL flash controller (same as above, not the best solution, restricted recommended)
USB 3 cable 5m/10m (to shoot tethered)
Tripod & light stands
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminium Tripod with SBH-100 Ball Head
4 usual photographic light stands
2 microphone stands (I use these instead of C-stands only for WD gels, it’s not so heavy and less expensive as C-stands and still doing a pretty good job)
1 Manfrotto Avenger F805 baby wall plate (there are one with 6 or 9 inch attachment, both are doing the job good)
2 Manfrotto Avenger D200B black grip heads
1 reflector 1in5 plus reflector holder
Light formers and diffusors
3 Speedlite adapters to Bowens mount
1 snoot Bowens mount with honeycomb grid
1 reflector dish diffusor with honeycomb grid 10/30/50 degree
1 softbox 40x40cm foldable
1 softbox 60x60cm foldable
1 strip box 20x90cm foldable
1 octagon softbox 120cm + 1 umbrella holder
a bunch of A-clamps
black, white, silver & golden cards in different sizes (DYI made with cardboard and printing foil)
1/4 and 1/2 white diffusion gel
1/4 and 1/2 CTO gel
1/4 and 1/2 CTB gel
some coloured effect gels
Canon EOS Utility 3 (downloadable on the Canon page for free)
Canon Digital Photo Professional 4 (downloadable on the Canon page for free, I use it as RAW Converter)
Adobe Photoshop CC (alternatively use Gimp or Darktable for free)