Street photography has been a medium of capturing the human condition and experience for decades.
During its inception, street imagery was first captured on film cameras, in major cities such as New York and Chicago – showcasing the lifestyle and environment that existed within the metropolis.
As the genre expanded and evolved, street photography became a common practice of capturing people, places, and events – in an effective and visually stimulating documentary style.
In the boom of digital cameras, creating street images became a more accessible process, with the ability to continuously snap images without hesitation. Some street photographers can still be known to capture their subjects on film, but the majority of creatives have switched over to digital techniques for various reasons.
In this article, we will cover the principles of shooting street photography and the best cameras currently available at each budget level.
Jump to 👉 9 of the Best Street Photography Cameras:
- Canon PowerShot S95
- Sony DSCWX220/B 18.2 MP
- Panasonic DC-ZS70S Lumix
- Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless
- Ricoh GR II
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
- Fujifilm X-E3
- Fujifilm X100F
- Leica M Rangefinder
Why You Should Shoot Street Photography
As we previously stated, street photography is about capturing the human experience. Unlike any other genre in the industry, street photography is a documentary style of photography that eliminates the concept of carefully curated posing and planning of your images.
Street photography is captured in real time and in the moment. It is the form of photography that calls for immediacy and urgency – as each second that passes is an opportunity to capture a provoking image.
Every photographer should test out the likings of street photography for various reasons. One being that street photography will test your photographic eye.
In street imagery, you will be forced to find the story, find the true magic within a scene that will result in a captivating photograph. The fact that you could truly shoot anything in terms of “street”, leaves the process up to interpretation and allows for you to be objective in defining what street imagery means to you.
Additionally, if you are drawn toward photographing people and humanity, there is no better way to capture the organic and authentic nature of humans than being hidden in plain sight.
In the beginnings of this photographic movement, street photography was carried out by individuals who could afford to own cameras. With this, ordinary working class people did not have the luxury of owning such a machine and were therefore intrigued and fascinated by its capabilities. As a street photographer in such an era, people were willing to be photographed due to the sheer shock and excitement of what a camera could do.
Now, as we live in a society that is driven by the need to constantly share, we find ourselves within the state of mind of skepticism and craving privacy. Cameras are highly accessible, found within the confines of our cellular devices, therefore making the common man a potential photographer.
In this case, street photography has transformed into an art form that must be handled with increased sensitivity. This isn’t to say that the medium is losing its appeal, but more so calls for photographers to approach their shooting process in more hidden ways or even openly asking potential subjects for permission to take their picture.
Although the medium of street photography has slightly shifted, it will continue to adjust and grow based on the expectations of society and the willingness to share within our social space.
How to Choose a Street Photography Camera
Choosing a street photography camera involves a few specific factors that must be considered including:
- The compactness of the camera
- How discreet you can be with the camera
- The weight of the body
- Focusing features, aperture range, and sharpness of detail
Many photographers believe that the technical aspect of a camera is the main concern when shooting images. With talk of jargon such as megapixels, focus points, and dynamic range, these are often noted to be must-have necessities to create your best imagery.
While the digital era has shifted our focus to the true capabilities of our cameras, we must not forget that the camera’s technical makeup is only one factor to photography.
In the case for street photography, you will want to focus more on qualities such as compactness, discretion, weight, focusing and sharpness for your camera of choice.
In street photography, it is best to avoid using large camera bodies that are found on standard DSLRs. This is due to the fact that these cameras can come with lens and features that will be too cumbersome with your movement through the city.
The camera’s camouflage factor should be high when shooting street photography. You will want your subjects to be unaware that you are photographing them, therefore using a camera that is discreet and potentially unrecognizable by the human eye. You can do this by finding a camera that is sleek and black in color to decrease the chance of it being discovered by passing people as you shoot.
Another factor to consider is the weight of your camera. As with a large body, a heavy camera will become a hassle and pain for you to carry around with your during the day. The ideal street photography camera is one that you can easily place in your bag without taking up too much space or weighing you down while shooting.
Related Post: Best Mirrorless Camera Lenses for Street Photography
Lastly, you should aim to find a street photography camera that has solid focusing features, ability to shoot both wide and narrow apertures for various photographic compositions and sharpness of detail.
Since life moves fast in the streets, you will want a camera that does not lag in its focusing. Consider a camera with a back button shutter focus and multiple focus points for best accuracy. Also, you will want a camera that creates sharp and clear images at any f-stop, as you will be adjusting your settings based on the environment and want to aim for cohesiveness across every photograph.
Now that we have covered the bases for what makes a quality street photography camera, here are our list of best street photography cameras based on your budget from affordable to mid-level to more expensive options.
Affordable Photography Cameras
1. Canon PowerShot S95
- 10.0-megapixel sensor combined with the DIGIC 4 Image Processor creates Canon's HS System
- Capture 720p HD video in stereo sound; play back on an HDTV via the HDMI output
- f/2.0 lens for low light conditions or shallow depth-of-field; control ring for intuitive manual control
- 3.8x optical zoom; 28mm wide-angle lens; Canon's Hybrid IS to compensate for angular and shift camera shake
- Capture images to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards (not included),Made in JAPAN
2. Sony DSCWX220/B 18.2 MP Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (Black)
- 10x Optical / 20x Clear Image Zoom G Lens, 182MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor for superb low light images, BIONZ X engine for...
- Operating temperature:32-104°F/0-40°C.Smooth Full HD video recording in 1080/60p, Simple connectivity to smartphones...
- In the box: Rechargeable Battery (NP-BN), AC Adaptor (AC-UB10C / UB10D), Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Instruction...
3. Panasonic DC-ZS70S Lumix
- 20.3 Megapixel MOS sensor
- 30X LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens (24-270mm)
- 5-axis HYBRID optical image stabilizer
- 0.2-inch 1,166k-dot electronic view finder with eye-sensor
Mid-Level Street Photography Cameras
4. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless
- 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
5. Ricoh GR II
- Battery Life(Approximately) - 320 shots for Still image or 190 minutes for Playback or 45 minutes for recording movies....
- The GR II comes equipped with Wi-Fi functions for wireless connection with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet...
- The advanced GR ENGINE V imaging engine offers high-sensitivity shooting with minimal noise and the GR II's...
- Capture both JPG and open-standard DNG RAW images. The GR II offers a variety of computer-free image processing...
- Capture full HD video in widescreen 1080p resolution with h.264 compression @ 30 frames per second. The Autofocus system...
6. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
- Built-in 5-Axis image stabilization for sharper images
- 2.3 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.62X magnification
- Silent mode (disables all shutter sounds)
- 8.5 frames per second burst shooting
- Fast touch auto focus from camera or phone
More Expensive Street Photography Cameras
7. Fujifilm X-E3
- 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor and high-performance x processor Pro high-speed image processing engine to deliver...
- New touch function controls let you swipe up/down/left/right to choose function setup which you can use even while
- Operating temperature: 0°C to + 40°C (+32°F to +104°F)
8. Fujifilm X100F
- 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor with no low-pass filter and X-Processor Pro
- 8 way focus lever + the number of focusing points has been expanded from 49 in previous models to 91 (up to 325 points)
- Built-in Iso dial, incorporated into the shutter speed dial and operating temperature is 0 degree Celsius to 40 degree...
- AF mode(single / Zone / wide-tracking).Hot shoe:Dedicated TTL Flash compatible
- New np-w126s lithium battery
9. Leica M Rangefinder
- 24MP Leica MAX Full-Frame CMOS Sensor Maestro Image Processor
- Stills-Only Operation, No Live View Rangefinder Focusing
- Optical 0.68x-Magnification Viewfinder 3.0" 921.6k-Dot LCD with Gorilla Glass
- ISO 6400 and 3 fps Continuous Shooting Quiet Shutter Cocking Mechanism
- Compatible with M Mount Lenses Aluminum Top Plate, Red Leica Dot
Conclusion: Which is the Best Camera for Street Photography?
From our list, there are quality cameras for street photography at each budget level. If you’re starting off in street imagery, keep costs low and use the quick, adaptability of a point and shoot such as the Canon Powershot S95. Or if you’re a professional looking for a powerhouse with impeccable dynamic range, choose the Leica M Rangefinder.
Whichever gear you use, remember that street photography is about capturing the moments and movements of life before you. Do you have a preferred street photography camera that is not on our list? Share with us your recommendations in the comments below.
Comparing Reviews, Ratings, and Prices
|#||Camera||Price on Amazon||Ratings on Amazon||Reviews on Amazon|
|1||Canon PowerShot S95||$92.95||718 Reviews|
|2||Sony DSCWX220/B||from $194.94||275 Reviews|
|3||Panasonic DC-ZS70S Lumix||from $545.98||18 Reviews|
|4||Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless||from $548.00||1,427 Reviews|
|5||Ricoh GR II||$496.95||98 Reviews|
|6||Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II||from $449.00||183 Reviews|
|7||Fujifilm X-E3||$799.00||45 Reviews|
|8||Fujifilm X100F||$1,199.00||127 Reviews|
|9||Leica M Rangefinder||$4,195.00||3 Reviews|