Street photography is one of the most popular forms of photography because of its accessibility to the masses. Anyone with a mobile phone camera can be a street photographer, and any moment can become an inspired street photography moment. Whether you’re taking a walk in the neighborhood or exploring a new city on vacation, interesting moments, lighting, people, or other elements can inspire the creation of the perfect street photo.

What is Street Photography?

Let’s take a quick moment to revisit the definition of street photography. Street photography is a highly candid style of photography. It is essentially focused on spontaneously capturing people, objects, and moments in public areas. Street photography involves capturing honest moments in their natural environments, which are usually cities and other urban environments.

Image by Felix Irawan

This style of photography involves reacting to life as it happens and capturing images on the fly. The moments you capture are real and unposed, and street photographs allow the audience to feel connected with the emotions and feelings portrayed in the image.

What Cameras Are Best Suited for Street Photography?

Because of the candid and spontaneous nature of street photography, the best camera for street photography should be small, portable, inconspicuous, and versatile.  Some of the most important elements that a street photography camera must meet include:

  • Size: Street photography cameras should be small and easily concealed. This can help prevent your subjects from realizing that they are being photographed and posing, thus ruining the image. Many street photographers prefer cameras that are compact enough to fit in a pocket.
  • Speed: A good street photography camera should be fast and responsive. This will allow you to capture fleeting moments that vanish as quickly as they appear. Your camera should especially be fast in terms of autofocus and burst shooting.
  • Usability: The last thing you want is to waste time scrolling through your camera menus, causing you to lose that perfect moment that was begging to be photographed. An effective street photography camera should thus have intuitive controls that are well laid out.
  • Weight: If you’re planning to wander the streets all day, a heavy camera can be more tiring than you think. A lightweight camera will ensure that you’re focused on finding the perfect shot rather than looking out for a space to sit down for a rest.

[Related Reading: Free Street Photography Masterclass from Nick Turpin]

What Is the Best Street Photography Camera?

Below are some of our recommendations for street photography cameras.

iPhone or Samsung Galaxy

The phrase “the best camera is the one that you have on you” applies to street photography, perhaps more so than any other genre of photography.  For that reason, the best camera for street photography could possibly be your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or other smartphone cameras.  The obvious pro is the convenience, and with better technology in each generation released, the gap between a smartphone camera and a dedicated camera is shrinking.  The biggest cons are inferior low light performance and focus control with creative compositions.  If you’re opting to use your iPhone, be sure to see our iPhone photography fundamentals video.

Sony a7 III

sony a7siii

The Sony a7 III is a mirrorless camera that features a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor. It has 15 stops of dynamic range. It also allows you to take shots that feature a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights. This means that if you have underexposed shots, you don’t have to worry about trashing them and your hard work.

This camera’s autofocus is one of the fastest around, and it captures 10 frames per second continuous shooting. The body is small and compact, and the camera works great at high ISOs. You can pair this with several different lenses. This means that not only is this great for street photography, you can also pair it with a zoom or portrait lens if you’re looking for a camera for other purposes.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

canon powershot g5 x mark iiA highly compact camera that can easily fit into your jacket pocket and weighs only 340g, making it easy to carry around. It features a fast, 5x zoom lens that covers an equivalent focal range of 24-120mm.

It also features a customizable control ring on the lens, which gives you a greater amount of control over your preferred functions. This makes using this camera a highly intuitive experience, making it ideal for street photography.

Ricoh GR III

ricoh gr iiiAnother small and sleek camera that can easily fit into a pocket, allowing for discreet photography. Despite featuring a 24-megapixel sensor, the 18mm f/2.8 lens renders extremely detailed and sharp photographs. The photographs this camera produces have an almost film-like feel.

The near-silent shutter means that you do not have to worry about being noticed while snapping photographs. Furthermore, this camera has been designed so you can use it one-handed, so you can easily snap images on-the-go. The fixed, 28mm equivalent lens offers a wide-angle view. This makes it ideal for photographers looking to capture every element of the environment around them.

Fuji X100V

fuji x100v

The vintage design makes this camera a charming addition to any street photographer’s arsenal. The 26-megapixel sensor means that you can be assured that your photographs will come out phenomenally. You also protect it from the weather by adding a filter to the front of the lens. This means you don’t need to worry about your camera getting ruined due to an unexpected rainstorm.

The silent shutter is great for taking inconspicuous shots, and the camera also performs very well at high ISOs. It comes with a built-in 35mm equivalent lens, as well as 50mm and 28mm equivalent adapter lenses.

Leica Q2

Leica Q2

This camera’s minimalist design means that it is a simple and pared-down tool. You don’t need to worry about spending time figuring out the crazy menus that many alternatives have. It comes with a built-in 28mm fixed lens, which is paired with 47-megapixel full-frame sensor.

The autofocus makes it a great upgrade over the Leica M10-P, and the camera performs well at high ISO. The small size makes it easy to carry around unobtrusively. Overall, this is a versatile camera that you can use not only for street photography but also for travel.

[Related Reading: Best Cameras for Bird Photography]

Other Considerations

These are just five of our favorites in this category.  Other cameras you would want to consider would be each of the other new mirrorless cameras from the manufacturers, including the following:

What are your thoughts?  What is your favorite camera for street photography?  Let us know in the comments below.