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What’s In My Bag: A Zoom, A Prime & A Macro For Food & Travel

Kristen Mendiola (@kristen.mendiola) is a photographer and videographer based in Chicago. Through photography, she has been able to capture the things she's most passionate about - food, travel and documenting people's stories. From onsite setups in restaurants, to larger productions and travel, each piece of gear is carefully chosen. Using the Sony ecosystem has been an integral part of her success. “A lot of my photography is done onsite and usually in a restaurant, kitchen or dining space,” she explains. “Because of that, I try to keep my gear as simple as possible. I don't always have the ideal amount of space, but I work with whatever I have in each situation and adapt to it. Food photography is challenging because as photographers, we like to control our environment as much as we can. Oftentimes, there are a lot of different variables outside of our control, but I like to see it as a challenge. How can I think quickly on my feet to best capture the essence of a specific chef or dish.” We caught up wit Mendiola to learn more about the gear she relies on for her work. Keep reading as she shares what’s in her bag.

Product Preview – In This Article You'll Find:
Sony Alpha 7R III
Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master
Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G
Sony 55mm f/1.8

Kristen Mendiola's kit for food and travel photos and videos

Camera

Sony Alpha 7R III: When I was looking to upgrade my camera system, I chose the Sony Alpha 7R III because of its full frame sensor as well as being compact and mirrorless. The video features are also more than capable. This camera is a complete workhorse and is so dependable in capturing both professional and leisurely media.

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/40-sec., f/18, ISO 100

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/40-sec., f/18, ISO 100

Most videography is short format in the food and beverage industry. I use the Sony Alpha 7R III for video as well. It's perfect for photo and video and has been helpful to quickly be able to toggle between the two. The biggest differences in video and photography needs are outside of the camera's capabilities - light and audio. If I am filming a testimonial/interview or an ASMR type of video, I'll need to mic up the subject. Lighting needs also vary in video from photo since most video lights aren't strong enough for photography. Because of this, I can use the same camera for all my work, which is awesome. 

Lenses

Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master: The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master was the first Sony lens that I purchased and it still remains the one that I use most. Before this lens and using the Sony system, I was not a fan of zoom lenses because other ones that I used previously weren't that sharp. This lens can do it all! When I am traveling and only trying to pack the necessities for my photography gear, this one is always a no brainer. It is wide enough to capture most landscape scenarios, but also captures fine details for close up shots. I love using this lens while shooting events because of its versatility and being able to quickly capture moments with its autofocus.

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/6.3, ISO 100

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/6.3, ISO 100

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/5.6, ISO 160

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/160-sec., f/5.6, ISO 160

Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G: The Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G is the perfect complement to my 24-70mm lens on a daily basis. Whenever I am photographing food, especially fine dining dishes, this lens is always in my bag. It is incredibly sharp and has beautiful bokeh. Nothing else can capture all of the ornate details quite like this lens.

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/200-sec., f/6.3, ISO 250

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/200-sec., f/6.3, ISO 250

Sony 55mm f/1.8: This lens is my go-to for videography. It's lightweight and perfect for low light situations with a wide aperture of f/1.8. I also love how compact it is, so if I want something more discreet, this lens fits the bill.

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 50mm f/1.8. 1/60-sec., f/11, ISO 100

Photo by Kristen Mendiola. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 50mm f/1.8. 1/60-sec., f/11, ISO 100

Accessories

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster: This is a lifesaver when it comes to sensor dust!

Pelican Memory Card Case: The high resolution files from Sony’s R series cameras are incredible. But you definitely need to make sure that you have plenty of memory cards.

Profoto A1: Always have this packed because you never know when you'll need a flash. I love that this fits into the Profoto ecosystem so that it can be controlled with their remote and synced with other off camera lighting.

Food Photography Accessories: Tweezers to adjust any components of dishes and a small spray bottle with water to keep the food looking fresh.

See more of Kristen Mendiola’s work on Instagram @kristen.mendiola.

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