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Old Nov 10, 2011, 6:16 PM   #1
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Default Standing back and zooming in with telephoto vs. getting close with a 50mm

I was chatting with a photographer and showing him some of my recent food photos. I told him that I primarily use a 50 mm f1.8 lens. He thought my stuff looked really good but his main comment to me was to stand back and use a telephoto lens to zoom in and really show some detail. He said that showing a whole grill full of food is not as good as zooming and really showing the grill marks on just a few pieces of food.

Ok, that makes sense.

But, isn't standing back and using a telephoto lens to zoom in the same as just getting closer with my nifty 50mm lens? My only concern is that my 70-300mm lens is pretty slow and I actually only bought it for daylight sports stuff. My 50 mm f1.8 lets me do food photos in pretty mediocre light inside. The 70-300mm lens requires some bright light.

So, isn't it the same thing: standing back and zooming in via telephoto vs. getting closer with a 50mm?

Thanks!
John
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Old Nov 10, 2011, 6:32 PM   #2
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See http://www.youtube.com/user/sGNL#p/u/46/-IHf6UwQC4s
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Old Nov 10, 2011, 6:56 PM   #3
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Given that you have a 50mm f/1.8 lens,I would say that yes,you can more or less get the same effect by moving in closer- also any depth of field advantages of using a zoom lens are equalized by the "fast 50"... you can also avoid camera shake by using the faster shutter speeds on offer with the "fast 50"
A standard 70-300mm would be pretty ineffective indoors,however,a faster zoom lens(say a 28-70 f/2.8- more than long enough for intimate indoor work) would let you stand a little further away and you would avoid causing potential problems with your own shadow.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 7:01 AM   #4
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Ok, so it seems to me that using my 70-300 zoom would not give me any benefits other than being able to stand back. It would, however, destroy my indoor photography ability.

I think the guy was more concerned with me standing face over a hot grill, so he suggested standing back so I don't melt the camera. But that's really not an issue.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 7:32 AM   #5
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You don't want to use anything really long, and you don't want to use anything dim.

When he said to use a telephoto lens, I don't think your 70-300 was what he had in mind.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 7:42 AM   #6
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I also would also be concerned about grease splatters on the 50mm and my face.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 8:29 AM   #7
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With food, as with anything else, presentation is everything. Photograph the fully prepared food, on a plate, ready to eat.

Don't photograph the grill; don't photograph raw meat; don't photograph a sausage being made!

And don't photograph something with a bite out of it.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 10:55 AM   #8
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I would worry about flame ups on the grill. I get some pretty good ones when I BBQ. Smoke may not be good for your optics. On the other hand, the 50mm f1.8 is inexpensive to replace.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 3:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_spock View Post
I would worry about flame ups on the grill. I get some pretty good ones when I BBQ. Smoke may not be good for your optics. On the other hand, the 50mm f1.8 is inexpensive to replace.
Agreed. In my grilling experience (which is a lot), I'm pretty comfortable with getting close. I don't have too many wild flare ups. And you're right - the lens is pretty darn cheap if I need to replace it. :-)

Thanks guys good suggestions. Tomorrow I'm grilling meatballs and I'm getting close in there to take some pics. I'll let you know how it turns out.

John
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 5:53 PM   #10
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Haven't seen the pictures yet, but I am already drooling.
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