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I've been asked to help take some photos of food for a japanese restaurant to recreate their menu. I haven't spent much time taking photos of food. Does anyone have recommendations as to what's the best way to approach this? Best FL? should i use off camera flash? etc..
There are no formulae. There is no "best focal length".
The key is light. The simplest way is to study light and lighting for a couple of years. If you don't have as much time as that, get as many lights as you can, with as many modifiers as you can, and start with one single light. Build it up when an added light can help. Often light is best manipulated by taking it away, or flagging it or feathering it.
Take your time and work up on a practice dish. Then put a fresh one in for the shot. Things like steam used to be added by squeeze bulbs and trickery (smoke & mirrors). These days photoshop it in, though in the camera is always best if it can be arranged.
Read, study, and look at food shots. A lot.