If you’re new to photography, you may be asking yourself one reasonable question. Is a street camera all that different from any other camera? The simple truth is yes. The type of gear that street photographers need to use is distinct from what you might need for portrait, nature, or astrological photography, and if you know that street photography is what you want to do, it’s going to be worth your time investing in the right camera body early. You’ll eventually want to get appropriate lenses and accessories, but a good camera is a great place to start.
Whether you’re an amateur or experienced photographer, our list of the best street photography cameras can help you. Keep reading to learn how you can improve your craft.
- 10 Best Street Photography Cameras
- 1. Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- 2. Leica Q2 Digital Camera (19050)
- 3. Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera
- 4. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera
- 5. Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera
- 6. Ricoh GR II 3″ LCD Digital Camera
- 7. Sony Alpha a7IIK Mirrorless Digital Camera
- 8. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera
- 9. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 V 20.1 MP Digital Still Camera
- 10. PANASONIC LUMIX LX100 4K Point and Shoot Camera
- Street Photography Camera Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Street Photography Cameras
1. Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera
The Fujifilm X-T3 is priced in the camera enthusiast range, but it's also one of the best choices available for street photography. This Fujifilm camera combines the comfortable layout and rich feature set of a DSLR with the lightweight and portable design of a mirrorless model, so you won't have to worry about it weighing you down in the streets. And the inclusion of a truly impressive autofocus system means that you can capture your subjects at the most candid before the moment is lost. It's one of the best choices for capturing moving subjects, and the film simulation modes allow you to apply any number of interesting effects while shooting.
2. Leica Q2 Digital Camera (19050)
Photographers argue fiercely about whether the prohibitively expensive Leica cameras, but they don't argue the craftsmanship that goes into these serious models. The Q2 sports a truly slick design but comes packed with some of the best performance you'll find for a street camera. Whether that's worth the $5,000 entry point is a matter of personal preference. But investing in the Q2 gives you access to a full frame sensor with an astonishing resolution of 47 megapixel sensor. And despite the smaller size of this compact camera, it sports a large and spacious rangefinder style EVF that makes it easier to track your subjects. It's also weatherproofed for protection even in the worst conditions.
3. Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera
DSLRs may be going out of fashion for street photography, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some great models on the market. And with its exceptional autofocus capabilities and potential to capture gorgeous and vivid photos even in exceedingly low light settings, it's one of the most versatile choices you'll find today. And for a digital SLR, it's a remarkably lightweight camera, coming in close to what you could expect from a mirrorless alternative. Images and videos can be shared easily via the Wi-Fi compatibility, seven special effects mods can be applied directly to all of your photos and videos.
4. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera
If you're looking for a great camera for street photography but you aren't comfortable dropping a grand, the EOS Rebel SL2 can comfortably suit your needs. Built with entry level consumers in mind, this digital SLR is the most lightweight and compact that Canon offers, but it doesn't sacrifice quality for portability. The LCD screen is bright, large, and fully articulated, making it easier for amateur street photographers to capture trickier shots, and there's even a feature assistant guide that can help you learn the fundamentals easily. And the inclusion of a rapid 5 frames per second continuous shooting mode gives you more opportunity to capture the perfect photos.
5. Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera
The ability to capture a split second moment of authenticity as it happens is an especially important quality when seeking out the best camera for street photography, and the Fujifilm X100F is especially strong in that regard. The Processor Pro image processor is incredibly zippy and well complemented by the powerful 91 point autofocus system. The ability to capture your subjects in their most authentic moments is further bolstered by the joystick controls utilized for the AF system. The ISO range on this Fujifilm street camera is also above average, giving you the flexibility to get the best shot even when environmental lighting is far from ideal.
6. Ricoh GR II 3″ LCD Digital Camera
Most casual consumers won't recognize the name Ricoh, but that doesn't mean that their models aren't worthy of your attention when looking for a street photography camera. The GR II is one of the most compact cameras on the market, able to fit comfortably in your pocket while still offering some impressive specs that make it clear this is more than just a toy camera. The GR Engine V provides fast imaging with little to no noise, and the anti-aliasing built in really helps this camera get the most out of its 17 megapixel sensor. With this camera, street photography is easy to capture discreetly and without bringing unwanted notice to yourself.
7. Sony Alpha a7IIK Mirrorless Digital Camera
You won't find a better mirrorless street photography camera in the mid 1000s than the Sony Alpha a7IIK. It's a full frame camera that feels too light and manageable to carry a full frame sensor, and it comes with some nice qualities that will appeal to more serious photographers. That includes a great image stabilization system and a significant ISO range that makes it a capable choice for shooting in practically any natural lighting situation. This isn't the first mirrorless full frame that Sony has introduced, but it does come with some significant improvements over prior models that include improvements to the already fast autofocus system and sharper and more dynamic raw photo settings.
8. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera
The OM-D E-M10 by Olympus is reasonably enough priced and easy enough to use for a beginner street photographer, but it offers competent enough image quality and a broad range of features that means it will continue to be a feasible street camera as your skills begin to grow as well. And while this isn't as small a street camera as the industry leading Olympus PEN, it's still a very compact choice. Where this street camera really succeeds is with its speed. This is a fast camera, and that makes it far easier to capture your subjects in their important and most vulnerable moments.
9. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 V 20.1 MP Digital Still Camera
If you don't care much about interchangeable lenses, you won't find a more impressive street camera than the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100. This compact camera offers a whole lot of value for a price well under a thousand dollars. That includes the ability to shoot in 4K video and a respectable 20 megapixel sensor. But where this street camera really stands out is in its speed. It can shoot a continuous 24 frames per second while still offering hybrid autofocus and auto exposure tracking settings. The raw image quality might not be the best, but if you need a fast street camera, you'd be hard pressed to find a better option. And despite coming with a fixed lens, it offers zoom functionality.
10. PANASONIC LUMIX LX100 4K Point and Shoot Camera
The Lumix LX100 has a lot in common with the aforementioned CyberShot. But where the latter's strength is speed, this street photography camera excels in its image quality, and it manages to do so while keeping the price right around $500. The obvious selling point is the Leica fixed lens, which is well regarded as perhaps the best lens manufacturer on the planet. And while the megapixel count on the sensor is relatively low, that lens helps you get the most out of what's available and still deliver excellent photography even in low lighting situations. This is a camera that leans hard into its video settings, offering 4K video that can translate into 4K stills.
Street Photography Camera Buyer’s Guide
At HotRate, our camera coverage has been exhaustive. If you’re looking for tips on how you can improve your general photography game, you can find a lot of resources on our site. from our guide to mirrorless cameras to our guide to cameras for beginners. Because of that, we’ll focus our attention on what you specifically need to look for when seeking out the best cameras for street photography. In lieu of digging deep into the technical aspects of photography, we’ll zero in on the more practical factors that a camera for street photography demands.
Street photography is all about capturing your subjects in their most candid of moments, and that means that finding a fast camera should always be your top priority. Keep a close eye towards the shutter speed of the camera, but also be sure to consider models with high burst mode speeds. Burst mode will give you more opportunities to lock on to the dynamic expressions of your subjects, as those can change more than you might expect even over the course of a second.
Naturally, you’ll also want to prioritize autofocus when looking at a camera for street photography. The less work you have to do focusing on your subject, the more capably you’ll be able to get your subjects in focus without missing the critical moments you’re looking for. A good ISO range will ensure that your autofocus will work even in lower light situations. For street photography, manual focus will be rarely if ever used. In terms of the speed of your shutter, mirrorless and DSLR cameras are always going to beat out compact alternatives. There will be almost no delay when looking to snap that “decisive moment” that’s so crucial in street photography.
If you’re a studio photographer, you have a lot more flexibility to bring with you the gear you need. The freedom to set the lighting and take the time to line up the perfect shot is nearly limitless, but if you’re seeking out the decisive moment that street photographers so favor, you might not have the time to swap out interchangeable lenses, and you certainly don’t have much room to arrange the lighting. For this reason, some street photographers express a preference for compact models. The fact that they’re significantly less expensive is a huge advantage, and they also require you to lug around less gear with you. With the smallest models, you can even carry them in your pocket.
Comfort should be a priority when carrying around a street photography camera. You want something that’s lightweight but still feels good in your hands. That’s another advantage for compact cameras. Many weigh less than a pound, but you don’t need to rule out mirrorless or SLR models entirely. They become more lightweight with each passing year, and while models like the Fujifilm X-T3 weigh in at about three pounds, there are many models that weigh barely a pound. A camera with an APS C sensor is generally going to be more lightweight than a full frame alternative.
That said, going with the most lightweight camera isn’t always the advantage that it may feel like. The Fujifilm X-T3 may be larger and heavier, but it also comes with an articulated LCD screen that gives you a lot more flexibility for capturing shots at unconventional angles. You’ll need to balance the weight and dimensions of your camera against the advantages that come from modern features like an LCD screen.
Getting good at street photography only comes with a lot of trial and error. Learning how to get candid shots out of your subjects requires you to take a huge number of pictures, and even experienced photographers often won’t know what photos are really going to work the best until they’ve gotten home and taken a look at their entire roll. For that reason, you should pay close attention to the life of your battery. The most real moments can take a long time to find, and the last thing you want is to spend all day walking the streets only to discover the perfect opportunity after your camera has already died.
Do you really need a viewfinder? That depends. A DSLR will provide you with an optical viewfinder, and that provides the most natural and organic method for seeing the world around you, but an SLR is also the least practical choice for a street photographer due to the size, heft, and price of these models.
A mirrorless model will make use of an electronic viewfinder. These cameras are more lightweight and less expensive on average, but the big advantage of an EVF is how much information they display. If you want to know the exposure or the dynamic range, a camera built with a good EVF will let you know at a glance. But there are two disadvantages here that street photographers will feel distinctly. Cameras with EVF tend to lag a bit more, and the electronic viewfinder also cuts into the battery life significantly.
Don’t discount point and shoot models that come with an LCD screen in place of a traditional viewfinder. Since these cameras are built with a fixed lens, it doesn’t take much time to get used to the field of vision offered by these cameras. And once you get used to working your way around these cameras, you can take great, candid shots without even having to make use of the screen.
How the camera feels in your hand is going to be a very personal thing, and it can’t simply be defined in rough specs. You want something that fits comfortably in your hand without being too big or too small and makes use of a button layout that gives you natural access to all the features you find yourself using regularly. Finding a camera that feels built for you requires quite a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth going to a store and testing out models. After all, you’re going to spend quite a bit of time with your camera if you take your craft seriously. If a larger model like the Fujifilm X-T3 is what feels right to you, don’t discount its value as a street camera.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity isn’t a necessity for a street photographer, but it is a convenience that shouldn’t be underestimated. These features allow you to save your footage directly to the cloud, saving space on your camera and connecting you immediately to your potential followers. But making use of this functionality isn’t without its disadvantages. Wireless connectivity can quickly sap your battery, and if it comes at the expense of overall quality, it probably shouldn’t be your first priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Camera Setting for Street Photography?
When working with cameras for street photography, the quality you should prioritize is speed, and your settings should be adjusted accordingly. Continuous autofocus mode will allow you to lock on to your subject, We also recommend that you use Program AE mode so you don’t have to adjust your aperture and exposure manually before taking your shot. Shutter speed should be as fast as possible, but the lenses you use can vary depending on what kind of perspective you’re looking to capture.
What Camera Should I Buy for Beginner Photography?
We like the Ricoh GR II. This isn’t the most powerful camera on our list, but its specs are respectable, and its point and click design makes it easy for even the most inexperienced users to learn how to use. The battery comes with a great charge, and it includes a number of convenient and modern functions like Wi-Fi capabilities. And as one of the more affordable choices on our list, there isn’t a high barrier of entry for picking up a new hobby.
Are Mirrorless Cameras Good for Photography?
Due to their smaller weight, less expensive cost, interchangeable lenses, and increasingly rich feature sets, mirrorless cameras are a great choice for shooting street photography. In fact, DSLRs are becoming a rarity in the field, and mirrorless cameras are the standard cameras for street photography. As a result, they occupy a dominant position in our street photography camera review list.
Which is the Best Leica Digital Camera?
Leica cameras are some of the most expensive on the market, but they’ve earned their reputation as premium models. There’s a reason why we highlighted the Q2 on our list. It combines the quality Leica engineering with a whole host of modern features like an LCD screen and Wi-Fi capabilities. It perfectly merges classic craftsmanship with the sort of functionality that photographers of today expect.
While some specs and features are universal regardless of the type of photography you perform, there’s no doubt that street photography cameras are a class all their own. And while we love all of the cameras on our list, these reviews are just scratching the surface of what the market has to offer. Whether you decide to pick one of the cameras from our reviews or use our guide as a jumping off point for your hunt, we’re certain that our guide offers everything you need to shop with confidence.