The Best Street Photography Cameras
Unlike the early days of street photography, there are a plethora of cameras available to the aspiring photographers. Here, we've picked out a few choices that best exemplify the qualities referenced below.
1. Sony Alpha 6000
Available for $498.00 @ B&H Photo
More and more so, mirrorless cameras are becoming a popular choice among street photographers. Lightweight in comparison to their DSLR counterparts, they often prove to pack a lot of punch into a small package. The Sony Alpha 6000 is no exception – it's a best seller among mirrorless models.
At just 12.13 oz, the camera comes off as a bit delicate. However, it proves to be a powerful piece of equipment. Complete with a tilting LCD screen and OLED electronic viewfinder, it allows users to look through the camera in whatever way feels comfortable and natural to the individual. Able to reach ISO 25600, the camera's built in 1200-zone exposure metering promises images that look true to life.
The hybrid autofocus has 25 contrast detection points and a whopping 179 focal plane detection points. In short, these auto features quickly and accurately detect the settings necessary to make a stellar shot almost instantly. Whats more, the camera is Sony E-Mount compatible, meaning that a variety of lenses can work with the a6000. With the ability to charge via USB, it's even possible to recharge while you're on location – a major advantage for any street photographer.
Keep in mind, however, that this device is not without its flaws. In particular, the system may have a few kinks to work out. Some users report issues with the a600's lens recognition mechanism after a bit of use.
- 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
- ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200). Lens compatibility- Sony E-mount lenses
- Hybrid AF with 179-point focal plane phase-detection and 25 contrast detect points
- Up to 11 FPS continious shooting
- 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots
2. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
Available for $1299.00 @ Amazon
The Canon PowerShot G1 X may be a bit bulkier than some of the other cameras cited in this list. It's certainly among the priciest options included. But don't be quick to write this camera off. This compact camera body packs a DSLR sized CMOS 24.2 MP sensor in order to provide the best results possible.
A big part of the G1 X's allure lies in its inclusion of some of the latest innovations in imaging technology. An electronic viewfinder gives image makers a more accurate idea of how their images will appear after capture. The dual sensor image stabilizer plays a significant role in reducing motion blur and creating clearer images. The most impressive feature of all may very well be the vari-angle touchscreen, which boasts an astounding 3,680,000 dot resolution view jammed into a 3″ LCD screen.
Unfortunately, the PowerShot does have a few limitations that users will have to learn to live with. Despite some of its impressive specs, it can only capture 1080p video. Furthermore, the 24-72mm lens has a modest range of f/2.8-5.6 which can prove to be restrictive to some.
- 24.2 Megapixel* CMOS (APS-C) sensor.
- 3x zoom Lens (24-72mm^^) with optical image stabilizer.
- Dual pixel CMOS AF with phase-detection.
- Digic 7 image processor, Iso 100-25600.
3. Fuji X100
Available for $1049.99 @ Amazon.com
Aesthetically, what's not to love about the Fuji X100? Immediately, it evokes the classic design of the 35mm film cameras most street photography was relegated to before the dawn of the digital era. But don't be fooled – this camera is much more than a pretty toy.
Despite the nostalgic looks, the X100 is working with some cutting edge features, providing an accurate preview along with useful setting data. A hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder allows photographers some options. The lithium ion battery boasts a long life, allowing the ambitious to stay out on the street shooting for hours at a time. And with the ability to process and generate RAW image files, photographers can confidently work up to an incredible ISO 51,200.
Some users may be disappointed to learn that the X100 requires users to purchase lenses separately. Furthermore, Fuji's lens selection leaves something to be desired compared to larger companies like Nikon and Canon. However, the X100 does come with a beautiful 23mm f/2 prime lens.
- 12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- Newly-developed lens offers a focal length of 23mm (135 equivalent: 35mm) and a widest aperture of F2. Made from molded glass, the lens contains 8 elements in 6 groups
- Hybrid Viewfinder combines the window-type "bright frame" optical viewfinder, and the electronic viewfinder system
- HD Movie Mode; capture 720p video
4. Olympus Pen E-PL8
The Pen E-PL8 may not be the flashiest camera out there. In fact, much like the X100, the look of the camera is reminiscent of the 35mm cameras of the past. Nevertheless, Olympus has released a great all-around camera for street photography in the E-PL8.
A discreet design combined with a compact size makes it easy to blend into a crowd without drawing attention to oneself. The iAuto setting screens the camera's surroundings and switches settings and modes to create the best possible end product. This equates to less time fiddling with controls, allowing users to spend more of their energy towards making great shots.
Luckily, Olympus didn't have to make too many sacrifices in the making of the Pen. Along with a 180° tilt touchscreen LCD and built in WiFi, the camera has a 3 axis body image stabilization system within its body.
There are cameras out there with sleeker designs, smaller bodies, and more advanced features. But overall, the Olympus is a reliable choice for those looking to adequately cover all of their bases.
- Compact size with stylish, distinctive design
- 3-Axis in body image stabilization
- High-Speed 8.5 frames per second sequential shooting
- Supersonic Wave Filter sensor dust reduction system
- Built in Wi-Fi for wireless uploading and sharing, also for remote shooting from a smart device
5. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS70
The love child of a Panasonic and Leica union, the Lumix DC-ZS70K delivers the best of both worlds. Better yet, this powerful force is one that can be stored easily in a pocket.
Equipped with a sensitive 20.3 MP MOS sensor, the image quality the Lumix delivers is remarkable. To further support the sensor, the 24-720mm 30x zoom lens the camera sports is specially made by the experts at Leica. In conjunction with one another, it's possible to create full HD videos and work in 4k burst modes.
As if that weren't enough, it's also to stack, adjust, and even switch focus in-camera after you take your shot. Despite these impressive features, the Lumix retains the affordable Panasonic price and can easily be purchased for less than $500.
Like any digital camera, the Lumix has had its fair share of kinks to work out since its release. However, a bigger issue often lies in the layout and format of the camera. For those looking to upgrade from a point and shoot or camera phone, the Lumix can be surprisingly difficult to navigate.
- 20.3 Megapixel MOS sensor plus 30x Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR Lens (24-720mm), plus 5-axis Hybrid o.I.S. (Optical image stabilizer).
- 0.2-Inch 1, 166k-dot EVF (electronic view Finder) with eye-sensor for easier viewing under sunny outdoor conditions.
- 4K QFHD video recording (3840x2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking feature.
- Lens barrel mounted control ring enables quick, intuitive operation of important functions.AC/USB travel charging port
- Wi-Fi plus a 180 degree front flip-up touch feature-enabled screen simplifies selfie photography, and framing for unusual perspectives.
6. Ricoh GR
Available for $949.99 @ Amazon.com
Time and time again, sources have sourced the Ricoh GR as one of the best options out there for street photography. To many, the brand is foreign and unfamiliar. So what exactly does the GR have to offer that catches the attention of so many reviewers?
For starters, it's one of the smallest options out there, weighing in at just 8oz. Yet, it simultaneously houses a rather advanced imaging engine. Capable of capturing high resolution JPEG images as well as versatile RAW files, the 16MP CMOS sensor does not disappoint.
The attached lens has a 40x digital zoom, making it possible to capture subjects far off in the distance. And when all is said and done, the fixed LED screen is backlit, making it easy to view results.
The Ricoh doesn't have all of the bells and whistles. The producers don't have the brand recognition of its competition. However, if you're something that can outperform a camera phone while remaining as portable as possible, the GR has you covered
- 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor offers low-noise characteristics, super-high resolution with no compromise in image quality or color accuracy.
- The advanced GR ENGINE V imaging engine offers high-sensitivity shooting with minimal noise and the GR's anti-aliasing filter less design produces supremely high resolution, color-rich images.
- The GR's fixed wide angle 18.3mm F2.8 GR lens, equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm format, provides high resolution images with edge-to-edge sharpness. With its nine blade diaphragm, the GR lens produces a natural Bokeh effect at larger apertures.
- Despite its large image sensor, the GR has a compact and portable design. Its casing is made of a lightweight magnesium alloy, while its exterior design retains the style typical of the GR series.
- Capture both JPG and open-standard DNG RAW images. The GR offers a variety of computer-free image processing functions, including in-body RAW-data development to output JPEG format files.
7. Nikon 1 J5
Available for $469.95 @ Amazon.com
For die-hard Nikon users looking to get into the street photography, the Nikon J5 is likely your best bet. With full manual and full automatic settings in tact, this camera can accomodate whatever your shooting style happens to be
The 180° tilt touchscreen LCD beautifully displays the images and videos captured by the 20.8MP CMOS sensor. But the area where the J5 really shines is its unbeatable speed. The camera's 105 individual phase detection autofocus points can be used to hone in on stationary or moving objects with tack-sharpness. What's more, the camera can work at an astonishing 60 frames per second and achieve shutter speeds quicker than what the competition can match.
Unfortunately for the Nikon, it's met with some stiff competition in the mirrorless camera market. Though it is indeed a solid camera, it lacks the interchangeable lenses and an electronic viewfinder that come standard with other brands.
- 20.8 effective megapixels
- 105 Phase-detection AutoFocus Points
- 20 frames per second continuous shooting with AF-C
- 1080/60p video capabilities and 180 degree tilting touch screen
- EXPEED 5A advanced processing engine, picture Angle:Approx. 2.7x lens focal length (Nikon CX format)
8. Sony Cybershot WX220
Street photographers on a budget, have no fear. Rounding up our list is the Sony Cybershot, which can be purchased for less than $200!
As Sony proved with the a600, the company has a knack for creating compact cameras. The Cybershot is no exception. Despite weighing in at just 4.3 oz, this camera is no lightweight. Equipped with a 18.2 MP Exmor CMOS sensor, it effectively delivers detailed shots with minimal noise and distortion. And thanks to the 25-250mm lens, users can enjoy a decent viewing range and up to 10x optical zoom.
Before purchasing, potential owners should be aware that this camera isn't infallible. Some users complain of confusing controls – others cite a long “processing time” between images. Both issues can potentially slow down the shooting process, can be detrimental for spur-of-the-moment picture taking.
- 10x Optical / 20x Clear Image Zoom G Lens, 18.2MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor for superb low light images, BIONZ X engine for superb detail and noise reduction
- Smooth Full HD video recording in 1080/60p, Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi w/NFC, Capture the decisive moment with up to 10fps
- Motion Shot Video traces subject movement, 4K quality still image output via HDMI 2, Sweep Panorama mode (up to 360 degrees), Picture Effect for more expressive photos
While it might be a bit subjective to ask what makes a great photograph, there are some aspects that consistently prove to be beneficial in a street photographer's camera.
What is street photography?
Street photography has been a cornerstone to photographic medium since its inception.
Since the late 19th century, artists have taken to their surroundings in hopes of finding magic in everyday human experience and man-made landscapes.
No two eyes have the same approach to the art, adding to the rich tapestry of all street photography has to teach us.
- Portability. First and foremost, it's important that a camera being used for street photography travels easily. Anything clumsy or heavy can quickly become problematic for a photographer on location. There's no time to fiddle with lenses, tripods, and external flashes when the world around you is constantly in motion, not to mention how much energy it can take just to get that gear around town. Additionally, many street photographers value being discreet so that candid shots are a bit easier to attain.
- Versatility. There's no telling what you'll find when exploring the wide open world. Street photography itself is a very broad genre. It can range from a focused detail on a single individual to the movement of a hustling bustling crowd. Street photography is about catching life as it actually is. Therefore cameras with adjustable focal length and powerful auto settings can be incredibly desirable.
- Speed. Catching the decisive moment relies entirely on having an open eye and quick reflexes. Magical moments happen all the time in street photography, but they are often fleeting, constantly in motion. Getting a camera that can keep up with your eye can cost a little bit of money, but it's a feature worth splurging for.
- Affordability. Of course, cost is at the forefront of many buyer's minds. A street photographer may knock around their camera a little bit, but at the end of the day, they need to be able to perform. There are plenty of great options here that accomplish the job without breaking the bank.
- Design. Lastly, a camera used for street photography should have an intuitive design to go along with it. Because the world moves so fast, you want to be able to make any adjustments you need in seconds and snap the shot before the moment passes. A clumsy, hard to navigate layout can impact whether or not the camera captures the scene or not.
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