While I firmly believe that the BEST camera is the one you love, some cameras are designed with street photography in mind and simply make the task easier. Instead of replying to the same emails, here’s what I believe are the best street photography cameras & why.
What Makes a Street Photography Camera?
Any camera can be a street photography camera, but like I said above some are better than others at this task. Let me get into what to look for before diving into specific recommendations.
Portability: A good street camera should be portable. You do not want to lug around a few pounds not only because it can hurt your wrist and or neck, it can also make people too aware of you. Usually you want to be unnoticeable and bringing a large camera is the sure way to have people turn around and look at you.
Speed: A street camera should be quick, that means either it is able to let you set hyperfocal distance easely (Basically preocusing manually so that you don’t have to do so anymore) or to be lightning quick. Because things happen fast in the streets and one second is all the difference between a ruined shot and the one you had in mind.
Wide angle: Doesn’t have to be that way, but usually street photographers like their shots made at wide angle, 28mm to be precise.
Sony a7 II
The Sony A7 Mark II features a 24.3MP 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor that delivers clean, nose-free images up to 3200 ISO. It means that you can choose a high shutter speed and get clean images in a fast-moving environment. As for a lens, check out the Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Lens. It is regularly priced at $999.
Fuiifilm X-E2 ($899)
The Fujifilm X-E2 is designed to appeal to those who want a fast, small camera. is is designed to appeal to photojournalists, street photographers, and others who want a fast, inexpensive, fast focusing and unobtrusive camera. Fuji offers to interesting options for street photographers, the Fujifilm XF 18mm R f/2 ($699) and the Fujifilm XF 35mm R f/1.4 lens ($699.99).
Olympus E-P5 (available by special order only)
All of the current Olympus OM-D and PEN cameras are great for street photography (including the Olympus OM-D E-M1, E-M5 II and the E-M10) are great, thanks to their lack of lag time and quiet operation but many street photographers prefer the E-P5 because its control layout puts the aperture and shutter speeds at your fingertips. There are a variety of amazing Olympus lenses to choose from (check out my buyers guide to Micro 4/3 prime lenses here). I’d put a Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 on it because it is one of the best lenses for the Olympus system and is the optimal focal length for street photography
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 System Camera with Lumix G 20mm F1.7 Pancake Lens $1199
With one of the highest-resolution EVF viewfinders available and a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor that produces image quality comparable to some APS sensors, the GX7 is a small but powerful tool. It offers with fast AF but more importantly, it has focus peaking to aid manual focus photographers. Match it with the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.9 pancake lens (which gives you the equivalent angle of view of a 40mm lens) and you’ve got a wonderfully unobtrusive setup.
The latest Fujifilm X100T’s eye-level hybrid optical/digital viewfinder is unlike any other, thanks to a new Electronic Rangefinder. While shooting in optical finder mode (the optical finder now covers 92% of the scene) and using manual focus, an enlarged digital view of the focus area pops up on screen, complete with focus peaking and digital split image options to help you focus manually while still seeing the entire scene. With the same 23mm f/2 fixed prime (35mm equivalent) lens as its predecessors, the highly-regarded Fujifilm X100 and X100S, the X100T features a 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor with built-in Phase Detection pixels. The ISO range has expanded to reach 51200, and the camera offers 1080p HD video and a top electronic shutter speed of 1/32000 sec. No wonder why so many street photographers love this camera.
Ricoh GR II (available by special order only)
Sleek and inconspicuous, the new GR II is a point-and-shoot ready to take on the streets with fast settings adjustments, a narrow profile, and 16.2MP APS-C format sensor that omits its optical low pass filter for ultra-sharp and detailed images. A fixed 28mm equivalent lens, with f/2.8 maximum aperture, is ideal for inclusive street photography and its High-Speed Autofocus system locks on its subject in just 0.2 seconds. Its magnesium-alloy body, with a large, comfortable, handgrip (for such a small body) makes this a very durable, easy-to tote, no nonsense camera
Canon Powershot G16
A favorite of many pro shooters and street photographers, the Canon PowerShot G series has been upgraded with a zoom lens that starts at 28mm (35mm equivalent) and f/1.8. But the biggest upgrade is responsiveness. Canon claims lag time has been reduced while autofocus is faster. The G16 also is the first G-series camera with Wi-Fi. It’s the only camera in its class with an optical eye-level viewfinder. Sure, it doesn’t show the entire image (more like 70 pecrent of it), but it is a helpful compositional tool and it zooms with the lens.
Canon PowerShot G 1 X Mark II
The G1 X Mark II has the big 1.5″ sensor, carried over from the G1 X, and houses a wider and longer 24-120mm f/2-3.9 lens. Its processor was improved, too, so AF and continuous-shooting performance is faster. The camera has a solid rubber grip and is the right size—more compact but not too small for working in the street. Speed is a plus on the Mark II, but the G1 X had an optical viewfinder, which was replaced on the Mark II by an optional EVF, and my favorite feature, the fully articulating LCD, which made discreet waist-level shooting such a joy, has been replaced by a selfie-friendly tilt-up LCD. However, the LCD is now touchscreen capable and the camera features dual control rings around the lens and an adjustable pop-up flash that extends higher than most, above the body.
The D750 stands out as the choice for street photography among full-frame DSLRs. Its 24.3MP CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor are state-of-the-art and ensure high image quality and performance, but its 51-point autofocus system with AF detection and sensitivity down to -3 EV with 15 cross-type points really stands out for its fast and accurate autofocus. The 91,000-pixel RGB metering sensor and the Scene Recognition System provide accurate and consistent exposure and help to maintain focus when shooting high-speed bursts of images. Physically, it is a bit smaller than most full-framers and has a deep, very comfortable handgrip. Also, a tilt-out LCD, a first for a full-frame DSLR, can help in moments when discretion would prevent you from bringing the camera to your eye.
Sony RX 100 III
While several Sony cameras could easily be on this list, including the full-frame RX1 with fixed 35mm lens or even an earlier incarnation of the RX100, I’m going to stick with the RX 100 III, for its ultra-compact form factor and high-performance specs. A 3.0″ high-resolution multi-angle LCD allows odd-angle and discreet shooting, and the camera has a pop-up electronic viewfinder that maintains the camera’s compact form while enabling stable eye-level composition. Its Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8 lens provides a 24-70mm focal length equivalence.
Nikon streamlined its P series flagship compact line, adding a faster 10x zoom lens that starts at 28mm (35mm equivalent) and f/2, an articulated, 3-inch LCD that flips out in all directions, and puts focus and exposure controls at your fingertips via dials. Its 12MP 1/1.7-inch sensor delivers better-than-average image quality for a compact camera. The big news? Nikon has brought back the eye-level viewfinder in this version (it was conspicuously missing from its predecessor) but as a high-resolution EVF.