The street is a true gem for photographers due to the precious, genuine moments it offers. The challenge about it, however, is how you would capture them in a flash without compromising the quality of the stills. The rights street photography camera can do it.
Nonetheless, is there really a specific street photography camera existing on the market? Well, not really. Yet, any mirrorless, DSLR, and compact camera unit can be considered one. So, what really makes a camera fit for street photography? Spontaneity and speed.
A street photography camera should be very responsive. It should be able to deliver fast actions with just a push of a button in order for you not to miss the specific scene you want to immortalize. In this case, a camera with the best continuous shooting is your friend.
While the concept of delivering a technically flawless and perfect photo is not really the main objective of street photography, a high-class AF system is a must. This will make things more instant for you. The same goes for the placement of buttons and the availability of some features to makes things easier for you.
The size of the camera is also a huge point to consider. When you are on the streets, a small and lightweight camera with good handling will be beneficial. It won’t just let you deliver a shot with just a lift of an arm, but it helps you to be more discreet. The result? More natural content and authentic reactions from subjects.
However, as we said in our previous reviews, there is no such thing as a perfect camera. Instead, it is all about finding the unit with the best set of features. This is why below, we ranked the cameras embodying the important attributes we mentioned above.
And while ticking all the boxes to get the best street photography camera is a good thing, it is also important to consider few things. This includes your skills, the specific features you fancy, and (of course) the cost of the camera.
With this, we rated and ranked the cameras we reviewed below according to how they would benefit most users in this specific category of photography. Check out each of them and do not forget to click on the buttons below to see their best deals now on Amazon.
1. Canon EOS M6 II
119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2 mm
32.5 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
The M6 II surprised the world of photography due to its gigantic features all packed in its compact camera system. It boasts a 32.5 MP APS-C sensor, allowing the M6 II to steal the limelight from Canon EOS R in terms of a higher resolution.
“Personally, I think the M6 II is an irresistible mirrorless that can beat the Canon cameras we all love including the EOS R and EOS RP,” started Summers. “Imagine getting a super-fast burst shooting and more megapixels in a small body.”
According to Summers, due to the facts mentioned above, it is no wonder why more and more street photographers are opting for EOS M6 II.
“The resolution it can leave on stills is pretty overwhelming,” she added. “ If you are someone who eyes on transforming your shots into large prints for a gallery, this is definitely a good choice.”
Further, it can deliver 4K videos. What’s even better about it is that it supports Dual Pixel AF even at the said max resolution while staying uncropped. It has a large AF area which allows its Face/Eye AF to perform quite well. The screen that flips 180° is also a huge help in establishing the focus manually by tapping the focus point. However, comparing to other cameras, its eye detection is frankly not the best in terms of speed and consistency but we love how it does the job.
“It is still far from the perfect camera we are looking for in the category of street photography but all in all,” added Summers, “it is a 5-star cam that remains compact despite all the massive and overwhelming features it contains inside.”
2. Fujifilm X100V
128.0 x 74.8 x 53.3 mm
Hybrid OVF/OLED EVF 3.69m dots
26.1 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4
The X100V is one of Fujifilm’s X series cameras. If there is a specific reason why it drew the attention of street photographers, it is due to its practical updates and new features.
This includes its 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans 4 back-illuminated sensor, which is 2 MP higher than the previous model. And although it is too far from its siblings that take interchangeable lenses, its 35mm equivalent fixed 23mm f/2 lens offers great performance in street photography.
“The fixed focal length lens really matters if you love to capture outdoor sceneries but there are good alternatives for this,” said Summers. “Fujifilm X100V takes the TCL-X100 II tele-conversion lens to get that 50mm equivalent and the WCL-X100 II wide conversion lens to achieve a 28mm equivalent focal length.”
Also, according to Summers, the lens of the Fujifilm X100V appears sharper (only at close range) and has lower distortion. The color of the stills are also impeccable and even in low-light condition, the ISO does an impressive job.
We also appreciate that Fujifilm gave the X100V a new tilting touchscreen. This is important for awkward angles on the street and if you want to capture your subjects at unique positions. Most of all, it is decent enough to capture shots with great focus without missing a single beat.
3. Panasonic Lumix LX100 II
115 x 66 x 64 mm
2.76M-dot equiv. electronic viewfinder
17 MP micro Four Thirds sensor
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is an easy-to-use 17.0 MP camera that will give you full control over your photographs. Due to its plethora of controls and buttons, you can set it up according to your preference in a second or two.
Lumix LX100 II is one of those cameras that will allow you to get into the right settings with just a push of a button or a turn of a dial.
“The camera has a specific switch that allows you to change the aspect ratios (1:1, 3:2, 4:3, and 16:9) instantly without any change in focal length,” said Summers. “There are also designated automatic settings for the shutter speed dial and aperture ring.”
Other handy controls include the Intelligent Auto mode on the top and the ISO options that can be accessed either by the Quick Menu or the navigation button. It also comes with a touchscreen function which saves you from all those button pushings and allows AF point positioning. With all these things, capturing photos and customizing the settings is easier.
4. Sony RX100 VII
101.6 x 58.1 x 42.8 mm
Retractable 2.36m dots EVF
20.1MP 1-in Exmor RS CMOS
Sony RX100 VII is the true master of compact cameras as it has managed to include almost all the major powerful hardware and software inside its small body. But don’t be fooled because despite its size, it comes with a 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS CMOS and Zeiss Vario Sonnar high-magnification 24–200 mm zoom lens. It is also equipped with 357-point focal-plane phase-detection AF and 425-point contrast-detection AF. Even more, with its Real-Time AF tracking, its AF speed can go as fast as 0.02 sec which is truly and considerably fast. This can be both used on human subjects and animals which is the icing on the cake. Nonetheless, there are other things to appreciate about the Sony RX100 VII.
“This camera model is a monster for its specs, yet small in size,” Summers said. “Sony has done a great job not just at giving it with a great sensor and other electronics but so as with great capabilities. Besides the great AF speed and impressive magnification, this cam also excels in video recording with its 4K resolution at 30/24 fps.”
According to Summers, the Sony RX100 VII employs an extremely incredible 921k-dot 3.0-type 3-inch LCD monitor that tilts up appr 180° and down appr 90°. Fortunately, it comes with a touchscreen capability which allows you to do Real-time Tracking with just a touch of your finger. It also offers Touch Focus, Touch Pad, and Touch Shutter.
Further, the unit comes with the famous S-Log2 and S-Log3 video modes of Sony which can assure you of a film-like video. Lastly, we love its 2.36m dots electronic viewfinder which is relatively bright and detailed. The best part is that it pops up when you need it which makes the camera more compact!
5. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
125.3 x 85.2 x 49.7 mm
2.36m dots EVF OLED
20.4 MP MFT Live MOS
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is another compact mirrorless camera that is aimed at enthusiasts and hobbyists. It is more lightweight compared to its predecessor, making it a good option for street photography.
E-M5 Mark III has the 20 MP Four Thirds sensor which contributes to its size. It also has an access to a wide range of lens selections from Olympus and even from other brands. With this, it is certainly a good investment, in case you plan to explore other lenses on the market. The build is also great since it boasts a weather-sealed construction, so you can be sure it can last years of use.
You’ll also be impressed by its max burst that comes at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 15 fps with continuous AF, and 30 fps under the Pro Capture mode. Nonetheless, the real selling point of M5 Mark III must be its improved image stabilization system that delivers 5.5EV shake compensation.
The autofocus performance of M5 Mark III is also decent enough for your needs. Most of the sensor area is covered by the cross-type 121 phase detection on sensor AF points. The result is fast and with the aid of the touch-sensitive screen, you can perform touch shutter action. This will be followed by a beeping sound that assures you of its great responsiveness. Nonetheless, according to Summers, there are still caveats about its AF system.
“While the AF performance of M5 Mark III is acceptable, it performs better if you will just keep the AF zone over the subject,” she said. “Also, although the availability of the Fn lever is good for the fast swapping of AF modes and areas, it doesn’t have a memory for face and eye detection.”
Further, it has a 20 MP sensor which others might find unfavorable, especially when compared to APS-C sensors. Nonetheless, it can deliver almost the same performance when it comes to stills. The colors are truly lively but still look natural.
Best Street Photography Cameras - Buyer's Guide
The size of the camera is a huge factor that can affect your performance on the street. This is why we picked camera models that are relatively small and boast compact camera systems. Most professional photographers that focus on this category know the relevance of this point. With a larger camera, handling can sometimes pose problems and can distract the natural actions of your subjects. Given the fact that street photographers aim for candid shots, a small and discreet camera is much more favorable to use. Compact cameras like Fujifilm X100V and Panasonic Lumix LX100 II are your best choices here.
The autofocus system is as important as the other major features of a camera. Since the shots in street photography should be delivered quickly in order not to miss the perfect scene, the AF system will determine the quality of your shots. This is important, especially if you are aiming for a moving subject. Nowadays, there are new camera models that allow you to establish focus manually using the tap ability of their touchscreen LCDs. This is a good option to get your focus on the subject faster. Some cameras that offer this feature are Panasonic Lumix LX100 II, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, and Sony RX100 VII.
While it is important to have a small camera for your street photography projects, the size of the sensor must still be considered. If you want to publish or print your photos, this is important since the size of the sensor dictates the image quality. One good example is the Canon EOS M6 II with a 32.5 MP APS-C sensor. With this, you can expect reduced noise, a good amount of details, better low-light performance, and a good dynamic range.
Street photography would let you experience the most awkward positions just to get a perfect shot, not to mention you should execute them discreetly. With this, the role of the screen is important. Besides being bright and having the touchscreen ability, getting a screen that allows movements such as tilts will benefit you greatly. Having such a screen will allow you to get incredibly low- and high-angled shots with ease.
Best Street Photography Cameras - FAQs
Yes, you can. However, having a camera with all the appropriate features for the work will result in quality shots. One important factor to consider is the AF system of the camera. If you are planning to have moving subjects and execute shots fast, a reliable AF system is a must.
Mirrorless cameras are much more ideal for street photography due to their sizes and weight, allowing them to be discreet.
A good street photography camera should be small and discreet to avoid distraction to subjects. Most of all, it should have good handling and simple controls. Never go for a camera that has complicated settings, controls, or buttons as you may end up missing your shots. A fast AF system is also a must.
Yes, point-and-shoot cameras can be used for street photography. One example is the Fujifilm X100V that has 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans 4 back-illuminated sensor. It is very responsive and won’t let you miss a shot.