Best Street Photography Cameras and Lenses, According to Street Photographers

As a photographer, you’re often tasked with shooting subjects who are knowing participants in your shoot, such as portrait clients or models. When capturing street shots, you’re in a completely different situation. Rather than directing your subject, your job is to sit back and capture the street scenes you come across without interfering with them. Ideally, people won’t even notice you’re shooting. Look through some examples of street photographers on Format and you’ll notice that their subjects are generally going about their days unaware of the camera pointed their way.

street-ideas-6


That’s why the camera, lenses, and gear you choose as a street photographer are incredibly important. The right setup should allow you to be completely discrete and unobtrusive, while still capturing high-quality images. Key features to look for when shopping for a street photography camera or lens are speed, silence, and size. The ideal kit will be small enough that you can easily handle it all day and it won’t stand out to people passing by, quiet enough that people won’t hear your shutter every time you take a photo, and fast enough that you can trust your images will come out sharp and clear. Take some inspiration from the best street photographers on Format then check out our pro-approved list of the best street photography gear out there.


Best Street Photography Cameras

The best street photography camera is the one that you’ll feel comfortable using, so ultimately, whichever body you know your way around that isn’t too bulky and loud can do the job. However, if you’re shopping for a new street photography camera, there are some excellent models out there that are perfectly suited to the unique demands of street photography. Since you’ll likely be less motivated to bring a large camera with you regularly, pros tend to prefer slimmer, mirrorless cameras to DSLRs. 

This is also one of the few types of photography where you might prefer a fixed lens compact camera to one with interchangeable lenses. Read on for our top street photography cameras for gorgeous, discreet shooting.

Fujifilm X100V

Leave the bulky bag of lenses at home and take stunning street shots with the highly praised Fujifilm X100V, a prime-lens compact with a fixed 23mm lens. When you’re capturing street photos, zoom range isn’t very high up on the list of requirements. Instead, you want to be able to shoot from the hip and be confident that the images you’re getting are sharp and clear. You’ll get that with the Fujifilm X100V, all while enjoying a user experience that puts it at the top of many street photographers’ lists. Features include:

  1. Stylish, old-school dial-based controls

  2. Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder

  3. 117-area hybrid phase/contrast autofocus

  4. 11 frames-per-second burst mode so you never miss the shot

  5. Integrated four stop neutral density filter, ideal for shooting on bright days

  6. Small, lightweight build

Ricoh GR IIIx

The Ricoh GR IIIx gets a lot of love in the street photography world, and it’s one of the smallest, slimmest cameras you’ll find that can still produce the image quality you’re looking for. It can comfortably fit in a shirt pocket, but despite its unassuming dimensions, is capable of capturing street photos that could fool anyone into thinking they were taken with a more substantial DSLR.

It includes:

  1. A fixed 40mm lens

  2. Three-axis image stabilization

  3. A maximum Iso up to 102,400

  4. Startup time of only 0.8 seconds 

  5. 24.24-megapixel APS-C sensor

  6. Effortless touch-screen operation

Sony A7 III

Sony has become a leader in the mirrorless revolution, with many well-performing cameras to choose from across a range of prices and features. The A7 III hits the sweet spot for street photographers, with more than enough tech for shooting street snaps, but not so much that it pushes the camera into a higher price bracket. It’s compatible with Sony’s E-mount lens range, so you can pair it with any lens of your choice to achieve the look you want.

Features include:

  1. 24-megapixel sensor

  2. Well priced compared to other full-frame mirrorless options

  3. Sony’s Eye AF technology for easy focusing on human subjects

  4. 5-axis SteadyShot stabilization

  5. 10 frames-per-second burst shooting

  6. Up to ISO 204,800 for low light performance

  7. Dual SD slot for more memory while shooting 

Leica Q2

For most of us, the Leica will have to remain on the wishlist thanks to its hefty price tag. However, if money isn’t an object, the Q2 is an incredible camera that’s very well suited to street photography. Its sleek, unfussy design will appeal to minimalists, while the photos produced by the full-frame 47.3-megapixel sensor are stunning.

This camera includes:

  1. A fixed 28mm lens

  2. Beautiful image quality and colors

  3.  Slim, elegant design 

  4. Built-in crop modes

  5. Full weather sealing for shooting in the rain

  6. Fast autofocus

  7. 10 frames-per-second burst shooting

Canon EOS RP

Canon’s EOS RP is one of the most affordable full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market, and its compact size makes it a worthy companion for street photography. While there are other great full-frame mirrorless options in this range, if you already have a collection of Canon lenses and are looking for the best street photography to use them with, this is a great choice. Features include: 

  1. Small design with comfortable ergonomics

  2. 26.2 megapixel CMOS sensor

  3. ISO sensitivity range from 100-40000

  4. Focus peaking for quick adjustments when necessary 

  5. Touch and drag autofocus

  6. Built-in wifi and Bluetooth

  7. Powerful electronic viewfinder to help you compose the perfect shot

Nikon Z FC

If you love the sound of Nikon’s Z system but don’t want to spring for a full-frame camera at a higher price point, the APS-C Z FC is a powerful alternative to the more premium Z50 and it’s perfectly suited to street photography. Plus, the lens collection you’ll build for the Z FC will serve you well if you plan to grow your collection of  Z camera bodies in the future. Some reasons to love this camera include:

  1. Stylish retro design

  2. 20.9-megapixel sensor

  3. ISO sensitivity range from 100-51,200

  4. Electronic viewfinder for easier compositions even in bright light

  5. Face detection autofocus

  6. Live view for shooting without the viewfinder, ideal when you want to be unobtrusive

Fujifilm X-Pro 3

If you prefer an experience that feels more analog and is reminiscent of past eras of legendary street photography, the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 is the answer to your prayers. It’s designed with a hidden LCD that you have to fold down to access, so you’re encouraged to stay more in the moment while shooting. Consider it a digital camera for those who never really got over the magic of film.

Features that make it a great street photography companion include: 

  1. Both EVF and optical range finder

  2. Classic rangefinder design

  3. Dual SD slots 

  4. APS-C-format 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor

  5. Expanded phase-detection autofocus system

  6. Up to 30 frames per second with electronic shutter and 11 frames per second with mechanical shutter

  7. 4K video capability 

Sony a6600

If the Sony A7 III on this list is more than you’re looking to spend on a camera, but you still want access to Sony’s range of E-mount lenses, the a6600 is a worthy choice. It isn’t the smallest camera on this list and the lenses can add a bit of heft, but if you’re okay with that you’ll love the features and image quality.

It includes:

  1. Electronic viewfinder 

  2. Live view for easy compositions when you don’t want to hold the camera up to your eye

  3. Face detection autofocusing

  4. A tilting LCD screen, ideal for shooting from the hip

  5. Image stabilization to reduce camera shake

  6. Large 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor for superb image quality

  7. Superfast Bionz X processor

Canon EOS R7

Canon’s newest addition to its mirrorless R system, the EOS R7 is an impressive APS-C sensor camera worthy to take on whatever the streets throw at it. It offers maximum versatility for capturing photo and video of fast action, street, portraits, and everything in between. This is a perfect all-around camera for dedicated professionals and aspiring creatives

It includes:

  1. High-speed shooting 32.5 MP APS-C CMOS sensor

  2. 5-axis in-body stabilization up to 7 stops with coordinated control IS

  3. Shoot a fast 15 fps using mechanical shutter and up to 30 fps with the electronic shutter

  4. Compatibility with full range of RF-S, RF, EF, EF-S mounts

  5. High Quality 4K video (oversampled from 7K)

  6. Dual UHS-II SD card slots for redundant image and video capture

  7. ISO 100-32000 Expandable to 51200

  8. Fully Articulating 1.6m-dot LCD Display

  9. No 30-minute video record limit

Best Street Photography Lenses

A number of the pro-approved cameras we’ve looked at have fixed lenses, so you won’t need to buy a street photography lens before you start shooting with one of those. However, there are also several high-performing interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that you might be considering. As a general rule, the best lens for street photography will be compact, quiet, quick, and usually have a wide angel of view. Check out our best street photography lens recommendations. 

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM

If you shoot with a CAnon EOS R System camera, this will quickly become your go-to lens for street photography. It boasts impressively fast and accurate autofocus, and the 5-stop image stabilizer ensures a clear image every time. You’ll enjoy the corner to corner sharpness, and if you want something that can do double duty for macro photography as well, this is your ticket. Lens features include:

  1. Customizable control ring for direct setting changes

  2. Aperture range from f/1.8 to f/22

  3. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm for attractive defocus effects

  4. Optical Image Stabilization at up to 5 stops of shake correction

  5. Full frame format RF-mount lens

  6. Super Spectra coating

  7. Built-in macro feature for 0.5x lifesize magnification

  8. Lightweight and comfortable, all-day lens

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM

This may not be the lightest lens on this list, but its performance, whisper-quiet autofocus, and superb images make it worthy of a spot on the list. As far as Sigma Art lenses go, it is on the compact side, and you can expect beautiful sharpness across your image. It also performs exceptionally well in low light, so if you like to shoot night street photography, you’ll want this in your camera bag. Features include:

  1. Aperture range from f/1.4 to f/16

  2. Floating elements system

  3. Super multi-layer coating

  4. High-quality magnesium alloy build

  5. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm

  6. Hypersonic autofocus motor

  7. Aperture ring allows the aperture to be controlled via the lens

  8. State-of-the-art optical design technology minimizes all types of aberration including axial chromatic aberration, which cannot be corrected in-camera

Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S

If you’re buying into Nikon’s Z-mount system, this 35mm addition is worth a look. You may think the f/1.8 aperture rating could be better, but the tech packed into this lens makes it worthwhile. The optical design includes three aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion elements, which together work to minimize ghost, flare, and a variety of aberrations and distortions. The results speak for themselves. It features:

  1. Impressive sharpness

  2. Whisper-quiet autofocus

  3. Accurate manual focusing

  4. Programmable control ring

  5. Dust and moisture resistant lens barrel

  6. Improved optical formula for virtually zero flare, ghosting, coma or chromatic, spherical and axial aberration, even at the far edges of the frame

  7. 9-blade rounded diaphragm and f/1.8 aperture with large lens mount create stunning bokeh

  8. use a stepping motor for fast, accurate, smooth, quiet autofocus with reduced wobbling- perfect for video work

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Being able to open this lens up to 1.4 is a huge selling point if you like shooting in dimmer conditions but don’t want to sacrifice image quality at all. Even in low light, this Sigma Art lens will perform beautifully. While 35mm is considered the go-to choice for street photographers most of the time, the wider 24mm option will let you capture more of the scene if you’re shooting in tight spaces. Something like a narrow alley filled with market stalls would be more faithfully rendered with a 24mm lens. Features include: 

  1. All-metal barrel and mount

  2. Hypersonic motor for smooth, quiet autofocus

  3. Virtually no distortion, flare, or glare

  4. Fantastic image quality

  5. Thermally stable composite material for shooting in extreme conditions

  6. Designed to minimize aberrations for images virtually free of streaking and warping

Sony FE 40mm f/2.5 G

Prime is the name of the game when it comes to street photography, and this option from Sony is the perfect companion for a full day of street shooting. It’s small, lightweight, and optically stunning like the rest of its G Master series companions. The autofocus is so quick and precise that you’ll rarely miss the shot again, even when shooting a quick-moving subject. Things to love about this lens include:

  1. Rounded 7 blade diaphragm for beautiful bokeh

  2. Two linear motors control the autofocus for capable, quick focusing

  3. Gorgeous close-up performance, ideal if you like to mix detail shots in with your street photography

  4. Dust and moisture-sealed

  5. Fluorine-coated front element for easy cleaning

  6. Ultra-compact fast prime w/ G series lens quality and performance

  7. Three Aspherical elements for corner-to-corner sharpness

  8. Programmable focus-hold button for multiple custom functions

  9. Aluminum exterior ensures a premium finish and durability

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC

Some of the third-party offerings available on the market today are truly impressive and can be purchased at a much more affordable price than many of the big brand lenses. This 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC from Samyang is a capable companion. It can be purchased for Canon, Nikon, and Sony mounts. It’s a manual focus option, so it’s best suited to those who prefer a more hands-on style of shooting. Reasons to love it:

  1. Affordably priced

  2. Bright f/1.4 maximum aperture

  3. Rounded 8-blade diaphragm

  4. Great low-light performance

  5. Precise manual focus

  6. 77mm filter thread

  7. Aspherical lens for minimal spherical aberration and distortion

  8. Minimized Flare and Ghost Effects with Ultra Multi Coating

  9. Smooth manual focus ring

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

While a lot of the most compelling offerings from Canon are now mirrorless, there are plenty of photographers out there still loyal to their DSLR system. If you have a Canon DSLR you want to keep using for street photography, look no further than this lens to do the job. Not only is it reasonably affordable compared to other options, but it also features a versatile focal length, excellent autofocus, and built-in image stabilization. Perks of this camera include:

  1. Bright f/2 aperture suitable for difficult lighting situations

  2. Suppression of chromatic aberrations and distortions

  3. Minimizes shake by up to four stops of Image Stabilization

  4. Pleasing out of focus effects when shooting with a shallow depth of field

  5. Small and light

  6. Compatible with full frame and APS-C Canon DSLRs 

  7. Impressive sharpness

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

If you don’t want to give up on being able to zoom, consider the relatively compact Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8. The zoom will give you more flexibility to compose your shot, and with speedy focusing and built-in stabilization, you can be confident you’re capturing a sharp, clear image. This offering from Tamron is designed to be used with Canon EF mounts. It features:

  1. Bright aperture for consistent brightness through the entire zoom range

  2. Elements designed to limit fringing and chromatic aberrations while improving color, sharpness, and clarity

  3. eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) coating applied to limit ghosting and lens flare

  4. Image stabilization up to 5 stops

  5. Silent Drive autofocus motor

  6. Constant f/2.8 aperture

  7. Rounded 9-blade diaphragm for beautiful bokeh effects

  8. 3 LD (Low Dispersion) elements to minimize axial chromatic aberrations

Best Street Photography Gear

As a street photographer, you probably want to keep your gear selection pretty minimal. Not only do you want to avoid drawing attention to yourself and the fact that you’re shooting, but it also gets uncomfortable to carry a big bag of items that you probably won’t even need to use. Your most important equipment will be your camera and lens, but there are a few other things you might want to consider packing.

Carrier Bags

You’ll want a safe bag for carrying your camera and lenses to your shooting destination and for safe storage during breaks. Whether you prefer a shoulder bag, belt bag, or a backpack is up to you. A backpack might be a bit more comfortable, especially if you’re putting heavy lenses in it. However, a shoulder bag or belt bag is easier to access quickly. Some pro-approved choices include:

  1. Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic

  2. ThinkTank Retrospective 4 v.2.0

  3. ProTactic BP 350

Extra Batteries

The last thing you want when you’re in the zone taking one great photo after another is for your camera battery to die. Street photography can be a bit of a numbers game, so you can go through a lot of clicks in one photo session. Avoid running out of juice by carrying an extra battery with you. You can also carry a power bar for charging your spare battery on the go. Here are some recommendations: 

  1. Champ lite portable charger

  2. Nitecore NB5000 power bank

  3. MaxOak K2 50000 mAh power bank

Memory Cards

Street photographers know that you can never have too much memory. Those memory cards can fill up surprisingly fast, especially when you’re shooting RAW on a camera that has tons of megapixels and produces large files. Here are some trusted options:

  1. SanDisk 65GB Extreme PRO

  2. Lexar 64GB Professional 2000x

  3. SanDisk 128G Extreme PRO

Shoulder Strap 

A good shoulder strap keeps your camera on hand while still giving you a chance to free your hands up for other things. Plus, they give you a little extra peace of mind that if the camera slips out of your hand it won’t tumble to the ground. You can wear it over your shoulder, around your neck, or cross-body, depending on what feels more comfortable for you. Here are our top picks:

  1. Woolnut Leather Camera Strap

  2. Peak Design Leash

  3. OpTech USA Pro Strap

Wrist Strap

If you’re just not a shoulder strap person, a more discrete way to support your camera is with a wrist strap. This is especially handy for some of the very small and slim fixed lens cameras we’ve looked at in this calendar. They may be too small for a camera strap, but a wrist strap can keep them secure in your hand. Try one of these pro-approved choices: 

  1. CordWeaver Cordy

  2. Peak Design Cuff

  3. MegaGear Coon Wrist Strap

Model Releases

You don’t typically need a model release as a street photographer, but if you happen to take a photo and can see yourself wanting to use it for commercial purposes in the future, it’s not a bad idea to have some model releases on hand that you can ask the subject to sign. You can have these set up on your phone ready for use when you need them. 

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

If you feel the itch to shoot when the weather is less than ideal, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. Some of the best opportunities for street photography are when it starts raining because you can get artistic shots of people running for cover, opening up umbrellas, and other photogenic moments. Don’t limit yourself to beautiful days. Instead, stock up on:

  1. Light, waterproof coat

  2. Touchscreen-friendly gloves

  3. A waterproof camera bag

Fuel

When you’re in the moment, it’s easy to forget to eat. But if you don’t take care of refuelling for too long, you’ll run out of energy and likely not have the motivation to keep shooting. Save yourself from paying more for food on the go by stocking your bag with energy-boosting foods and drinks:

  1. Protein or granola bars

  2. Water 

  3. Fruit

Build a strong documentary photography portfolio

Make your stories heard with a portfolio of your best images and start winning future clients.

Create your own portfolio website with Format today.

Plus, get FREE access to our exclusive Photography Business Masterclass Course

Start Your Free Trial