The BEST Camera for Street Photography

by Eric Kim on August 30, 2010


1x1.trans The BEST Camera for Street Photography

This is the best camera for street photography.

Haha–tricked you. As there is no “best” paintbrush for a painter, there is no “best” camera when it comes to the street photographer. The camera is merely a tool, and there are different tools required for different situations and tasks at hand.

In street photography as well as general photography, photographers can sometimes become more obsessed about camera gear over actually taking photos. Photographers who are obsessed with camera gear often feel that their images are lacking due to their equipment, when their underdevelopment of photographic vision is the culprit.

Therefore many individuals fall into this trap and go on a never-ending chase in the hope that buying more expensive camera bodies and lenses will help them get better images. However most of them are quite dismayed when they realize that when they buy the newest and most expensive equipment, their images don’t get any better. Now don’t get me wrong—nice bodies and lenses can indeed give you images with better sharpness, resolution, and color, but they won’t give one intrinsically better photos.

When it comes to street photography, I like to believe that the best policy is to have the least obtrusive camera and lens as possible. The antithesis of an ideal camera for street photography would be a 1D Mark IV with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L lens attached to it.

Although my knowledge of cameras may be limited when compared to the 20+years plus photo veteran, I will try my best to outline the pros and cons of different cameras that street photographers use, including rangefinders, DSLRS, or compact “point and shoots”.

Rangefinders

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Leica M9, Expensive as hell but gives the photographer the "fully-manual" feel

Rangefinders are glorified for their ability to take images without a battery, being small and unobtrusive, quick in operation, and virtually silent in terms of a shutter sound. Rangefinders are fully manual, meaning that you have to manually focus and manually control exposure through aperture and shutter speed.

The most popular rangefinder (by far) when it comes to street photography is the Leica, especially the Leica M9. It carries all of the fore mentioned characteristics and has a tradition for being built like a tank with superior optics. Shoot—the granddaddy of all street photography (Henri Cartier-Bresson) used a Leica for his entire career.

Taking photos with a rangefinder is much different than many other cameras because what you see through your viewfinder is not necessarily what your photos show up as. There are superimposed grid lines showing the borders of how much your camera will actually capture which many photographers claim that gives them a sense of freedom and seeing entire scenes.

However there are obviously cons with using a rangefinder camera. First of all, rangefinders are fully manual, meaning that one has to learn how to constantly adjust for the changing lighting in an environment with aperture and shutter speed, while modern digital cameras can do this automatically. Although many advocates of using fully-manual settings do not see this as a disadvantage, the aspiring street photographer may have a difficult time constantly adjusting his or her settings.

Furthermore if one decides to get a digital rangefinder (the Leica M8.2, or the coveted Leica M9), they are most likely going to drop a huge chunk of change.

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Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/1000, ISO200, ND filter (via http://blog.yanidel.com/)

DSLRS

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Canon 5D, the DSLR I currently use

It seems that nowadays many street photographers use digital SLRs (DSLRs) to take their photographs. DSLRs are massively popular due to their overall image quality, quick shutter speed, and their ability to interchange lenses, and relative affordability.

However the downside to DSLRs for street photography is that they are relatively large and clunky, and look intimidating to the average person. Furthermore due to the fact that it has a mirror inside, it makes a loud clicking (or clunking) sound when taking photos, which can disturb the serenity of a scene. There is nothing more apparent than the loud mirror-clacking of a DSLR on a quiet subway.

However that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to use a DSLR for street photography. I currently use a Canon 5D for my street photography and in order to make my camera more stealthy, I covered up my “Canon” and “5D” logo with black gaffers tape. I feel the advantage of this is that it converts my “professional-looking camera” into any old generic-looking camera. This makes the camera look less conspicuous in public, and makes people feel less anxious when you are taking photos of them.

Furthermore, DSLRS have great high-ISO capabilities, which make them ideal for shooting at night without having too much noise in the shots. The 5D is infamous for having creating clean images at even high-ISO’s. I never hesitate to shoot my camera at ISO 1600 or even 3200 at night when capturing scenes with faster shutter speeds.

Furthermore, another huge advantage of DSLRs is the ability to interchange one’s lenses. Therefore, one can switch up his or her lenses once in a while if you want to shoot at different focal lengths. I use the Canon 5D (you can check out the Canon 5D Mark II) primarily with my Canon 24mm f/2.8 and Canon 35mm f/2 for my street work, and occasionally the Canon 50mm 1.8. Using different focal lengths helps me strive to be more creative when shooting.

1x1.trans The BEST Camera for Street Photography

"The Corridor" - Shot by me with my Canon 5D in Prague.

Point and Shoots

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Ricoh GRDIV. My favorite point-and-shoot for street photography

There are currently a handful of high-end point-and-shoots on the market that many street photographers use for shooting in the street. These cameras tout larger image sensors, which gives better image quality as well as cleaner images at higher-ISOs. The most notable high-end point-and-shoot cameras are the Panasonic LX-5, the Sigma DP-2S, the Canon G 12, and the Ricoh GRD IV.

The advantages of point-and-shoot cameras for street photography is that they are small, have a virtually silent shutter, and that they are unobtrusive. However on the other hand, many point-and-shoot cameras have shutter-lag, which can make it difficult to capture moving people without getting them blurred out.

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"Sunflower" - Shot by me and my 5-year old Canon Powershot SD600

Micro 4/3rds

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Olympus EP-3

I have yet to do any street photography with the new Micro 4/3rds cameras such as the Olympus EP-3, or Panasonic GX-1. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have done any street photography with a Micro 4/3rds camera, and it could be compiled to fill up this section!

So what do you think? What is the best camera for street photography in YOUR opinion? Leave a comment below and let me hear your thoughts!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/filterpaper/ Albert

    I can share about my experience switching from DSLR to m4/3. It is definitely lighter if you switch to m4/3 with just 1 prime lens. People will be less intimidated as well when you use a wrist strap instead of a neck strap.

    The bad thing about m4/3 however is that the shutter sound is pretty loud and almost close to SLR mirror slapping. So they won’t be inconspicuous like the range finders or point-and-shoots.

    • Froggy

      I have a GF1 with 20mm pancake. The two make a good combination, light weight and good quality photos up to ISO 800. Higher ISO if you post process. The bad: the shutter is pretty loud. I have a Olympus E-PL1 and it seems to have better low light capability than my GF1. (I shoot RAW). However, the E-PL1 shutter is also loud. I’ve gone back to hauling by 5D with 20-35mm USM lens. It is loud also, but has a lower pitched shutter. The 5D is a beast, weighs a ton compared to the GF1 or E-PL1. For the weight trade off, the 5D focuses fast and performs better in low light (quality and focusing). There is a lens profile for the 5D 20-35mm in Photoshop CS5. I’ve debated getting a 17-40L, but the 20-35mm is light and short, and paid for. I’m learning that I can’t figure out what I need unless I get out on the street and shoot. I shoot, I go home, I look through my photos. Every now and then, I find something striking, which gives me a desire to shoot again.

  • http://liliaviles.com Lili Aviles

    Im too curious to know where did you find a Leica M9 for 2500?? In my understanding Leica bodies and lenses don’t depreciate like others do, even if they are used.

    • justin

      wait what Eric?! you got one for $2500??? where do you find these deals!? 5DmkII for under 2k and an M9 at that price?! I need to go camera equipment shopping with you some day

      • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

        Haha you must have read that wrong. You can get a used Leica M8 for $2500. The M9 is still around $7000. I wish it was that cheap, I’d get a couple ;)

  • http://www.tomkaszuba.com Tom K.

    This was a great and informative read.

    The Panasonic GF-1 intrigues me. I’ll bet it’s a fantastic street shooters camera.

    In the perfect world I would use an M9 and a 50 f/1.0. It’s price is crazy though. I mean walking around with close to $20,000 to do street shooting is borderline insane……unless you have unlimited bucks……then…..it’s all good.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thank you for the kind words Tom. I wish I could have 20k to drop on camera stuff too ;)

  • http://www.flickr.com/singhangad angad singh

    An unbiased article – this is something I like.

    For starters ..it really depends on what kind of street photography. Are we talking candid or poised ( 100 strangers etc).

    Talking about size, we also need to keep in view the size of the sensor and ability to handle noise esp so during the late evenings when I dare say a lot of the action happens.

    with micro 4/3rd the sensor is half that of a full frame dslr and makes it really prone to noise. esp when you shoot at 800 iso etc.

    a good option to consider would be the sony mirror less dslr with a pancake lens – would be interesting to use them as they cope with a 1.5 crop factor. however they shoot only 3fps..

    cheers
    a

  • http://www.noorizamsabran.com/ ijam

    I’m shooting street with compact Leica X1. It’s more challenging since its use 36mm fix lens. But it’s really cool. It’s light.

    I like to capture the motion of the people.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hi Ijam,

      I have heard great things about the Leica X1. I love using my 35mm on my Canon 5D, which is about the same focal length that you are doing. I checked out your blog, and your images look great as well! :)

  • http://www.pixadora.com Rasha

    I use a canon50D. It’s a bit bulky (just like your 5D).

    It gets even worse, because I like to shoot streets at night, under low shutter speed, so I also use a tripod.

    And it’s really intimidating for people!
    I try to smile, and that helps.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hi Rasha,

      Yeah, our Canon bodies can be pretty bulky and cumbersome at times. Using a tripod is a bit of a pain, but does pay off with great night images!

      BTW–amazing photos on your blog. I just left a comment! :)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nab/ Vi

    Hi everyone,

    I use a Lomo LCA+ (highly fast and easy to use), plus the camera is almost unbreakable.

    I recently bought a rangefinder Bessa R3A + 40 f1.4 ($1000 for the package new). It’s not a digital camera, but I just love film. ;-) It’s a good alternative if don’t have the money for a Leica M7.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      That is a great point Vi! I love your images with your Lomo LCA+ , do you process your film yourself?

      • Vi

        Nope. But I definitely hope to learn one day. ;-)

  • http://www.gatufoto.wordpress.com Jimmy D

    I think the most important thing is to use gear that makes you comfortable while shooting. Some of my friends have no problem working with quite large equipment on the street. I do, so I´ve settled with the Pentax K-7 and a couple of small lenses from their Limited series. I probably shoot 80 percent of my street work with the DA 21mm Limited – a compact all metal AF pancake lens. Paired with the silent K-7 it makes a very stealthy combo.

    Oh – I shoot with my Iphone as well. The best camera is the one you have with you :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Jimmy,

      The K-7 and a pancake sounds like a killer combo. Don’t know too much about Pentaxs, but your photos prove that you are really comfortable with it :)

      Also diggin that last quote from you. :D

  • http://jab.shutterchance.com/ jabber

    I’m enjoying the site, Eric–thanks. I’ve recently started to use the GF1, and think highly of it, particularly with the excellent 20/1.7 pancake lens. It’s neither as technically advanced nor as fine as my usual Canon 40D + 17-55/2.8 combo, but it’s small, light, and inconspicuous, so I get lots of shots I wouldn’t otherwise get simply by virtue of having it with me. Here’s the best-of my first round of shots: http://www.pbase.com/joshberg/12_days_in_the_usa_with_the_gf1

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hi Jabber,

      I checked our your shots and they look great! I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the diff on the web between your 40D and your GF-1. Your images have me a bit inspired to thinking about investing in one.. thanks! :D

      • http://jab.shutterchance.com/ jabber

        Thanks for looking, Eric. Two other things I would add about the GF1-as-street shooter: the 20mm pancake lens has a 40mm-equivalent angle of view, which is just about ideal, and the fact that one composes with the back screen rather than a viewfinder (though I’m still getting used to this) adds to the rig’s non-threatening qualities. (BTW, an electronic viewfinder is available for the GF1, but I’d only recommend it for really bright conditions when glare makes it difficult to see the screen.)

        • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

          More great advice–thanks a ton! I am quite used to composing with the view-finder, but the LCD def. can open up a ton of opportunities! You are sellin’ me more and more on this…

      • Raoul

        Do it Eric! Ones you go Lumix, you never go back. :)

        • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

          Ahhhhhh! Sounds like the truth

  • http://www.andrewgouldphotography.com/ Andrew Gould

    An interesting discussion. As for me, for almost a year, now, I’ve been using my Canon 500D and its super sharp stabilised kit zoom lens as my lightweight, carry everywhere DSLR. For street work, I usually set it to f5.6 at widest 28 mm equivalent zoom position. I use that aperture, as tests show it to give the best image quality. I set the camera for auto ISO and all focus points activated. I get a lot of depth of field like this, and rarely end up with an unacceptably focused shot. On location, I usually carry the 500D close to my body, strap wound round my wrist, with the lens cradled in my hand, pointing in towards me. With such a small DSLR, not much of it really sticks out, and I can turn it round in a flash, and raise it quickly to my eye.

    Great for those who find themselves able to work within the limits of what a high end compact can do, but for me, the ability to shoot with virtually no shutter lag at up to at least 1600 ISO is a must. I use postprocessing from RAW in Lightroom only to present the scene to as close to how I remember it being. This, though, often means bringing out shadow and highlight detail, so having at least an APS-C size sensor is a big plus as the ISO sensitivity goes up.

    I’ll be one of the first to buy a new APS-C size sensor compact with at least an f2.0, 24, 28 or 35 mm fixed focal length lens, if it comes out in the future. It would have to have a true image stabilizer, excellent at high ISO and be highly responsive, too. There are a couple of APS-C compacts availiable, in one area or another or another, they do not fulfill my needs.

    By the way, I do also have a 40D, but that usually stays home these days. I am tempted by the 5D Mark II, and the even higher clean ISO possibilities that it would bring to shooting, but for now, I’m really enjoying being out in the streets with my 500D.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Andrew,

      Fascinating feedback. There are definitely strong benefits to your DSLR, and it sounds like you are usually it optimally for your work. I think that a camera with a new APS-C size sensor with a fast lens would be amazing–but who knows how long it will before technology gets that good.

      Glad to hear that the 500D is working out so well for you too. At times I miss the portability of my Rebel XT, although I do appreciate the full-frame of my 5D

  • http://www.photopatzer.com PhotoPatzer

    Eric,

    Great site… I’d like to throw out there that the best camera that I’ve found for street photography is the Ricoh GRD III. The fixed 1.9 is an amazing lens for a point and shoot. Its small, easy to cary and non intrusive. The ergonomics are second to none.

    If you ever get a chance to use one, you’ll fall in love instantly.

    keep shooting.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/exi87/ Jaap Barnhoorn

    Ricoh is a very interesting brand for street photography indeed.
    The Ricoh GX200 is also very cool.

    Anyway, I shoot with a Nikon D5000 with 35mm prime lens. It’s ergonomics are great for me. There is enough camera to hold on to, but together with the prime it’s very light.
    I also like the quiet shutter sound and it even has a more silent “Quiet-Mode” which is a blast to use. Very useful to give you slightly more confidence to take the close shot. :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Love your feedback and input Jaap!

  • http://photography.ramkarran.com Nikhil Ramkarran

    I would love to have a review from a street photographer who uses something like the Canon S90/95 or the Panny LX3 or 5. Something small and unobtrusive, but also un-intimidating. People here see me coming with my Pentax K7 DSLR and they think they are going to be in the newspapers (only photojournalists here tend to walk around the streets taking pictures).

    But something clearly “amateur” like a small point & shoot may cause less fear in potential subjects. What I’d like to know is if the S90/95 type cameras are fast enough. The small sensors give you lots of depth of field, so you don’t have to fight too much with focus issues, but shutter lag can be a killer in street photography.

    • Calle Z

      Right now I´m using the S95 and a G11 for my street photography. They are fast enough if you know how to tweak them right. The trick is to reduce the load on the processor which in turn will reduce the pre-shutter lag. Therefore, use “Auto” as little as possible. Preset focus (hyperfocal distance), WB, ISO and use center weighted metering. Save this in a custom setting and your P&S are street ready.

      /C.

      • Flikmy

        I believe the LX5 is also able to do this and on top of that, if you set it to manual focus/hyperfocal distance, the pre-shutter lag is almost null compared to the S95.

        I agree with you that using these high-end PnS cameras with fast lens also help with street photog as their DOF is much larger and you can then shoot at much lower apertures.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/baaloul2/ Iontrop

          Just as Flikmy said, the lX5 is great for shooting on the streets. If you use the hyperfocal, then you can shoot really quickly. If you shoot in raw, then it slows down the camera because of the saving time.
          Eric, thanks for this great blog !

  • Jack

    In an Ideal world, I would use the Leica M9 with a 28mm wide angle. But that is not happening! At the moment I use the Olympus OM-10 which is a brilliant old SLR. It is aperture priority so everything that needs manually changing for the shot is on the lens. it is so quick to focus, expose and click the shutter. I have covered up the Olympus symbol with duct tape and painted most of the silver surfaces black to avoid unwanted attention… i love my camera and Its taken some pretty good photos as well. at the moment I am jst restoring a Ricoh FF-1 which is pretty much the smallest 35mm film camera i’ve ever seen. The lens is a 35mm wide-angle. I dont know whether it works yet but the shutter is virtually silent and it is absolutely tiny so its perfect for street shooting!

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Jack,

      Glad to hear how you can compensate! (not having the M9). I love my 35mm lens to death as well. Do you have any images of your photos?

  • http://www.flickr.com/xandin/ Alexandre

    I really love my prime lenses set… I have a EOS 1000D with a 18-55mm IS (kit), 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 100mm f/2.8 macro. I use with very often the prime lenses and leave my zoom at home. For quick photos, my canon G10 produces very good photos with high quality. But I think that the S90 is a REALLY GOOD choice indeed, same as EOS 5D, but I can’t afford it for now. =)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/piotr_golebiowski/4714066299/ Pigon

    Hi Eric, greetings from Poland!
    I found your website through your article in the DPS website (http://www.digital-photography-school.com/10-tips-for-the-aspiring-street-photographer). All of your tips are very useful for all of us already trying to do street photography :)

    The best camera for street photography is the one you have with you! I think this tip is most useful for all of the street photographers. Always be ready and have your camera ready to shoot, because those “decisive moments” just happen, they don’t ask you to take your camera out of your bag and prepare the shutter :) I love street photography and make street shots with the Olympus E-P1 micro 4/3rds camera so I thought I’d add a comment on that. The gear is not that important, but I found out that smaller cameras like the E-P1 help me to remain unnoticed while being close to photographed people.

    You can see my images here (I had a 2 months break in posting my images to Flickr, but I hope to start again soon):
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/piotr_golebiowski/

    The E-P1 is quite sluggish when it comes to focusing, so the main trick when shooting with this camera is to prefocus on the similar distance your subject is gonna appear in the frame (it requires a bit of planning the shot in advance and anticipating of the future events, but after a while it gets quite easy). I shoot with the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens on this camera (and sometimes with the Olympus 17-40 kit lens too). I wish it was a bit more wide angle, but 40 mm equivalent to full frame camera is still not that bad (the micro 4/3rds cameras have the x2 crop factor).

    I also like doing the street photography in motion from the car (from the passenger’s seat of course), tram, bus. It allows me to take photographs on my way to work and the additional background movement in the frame in my opinion adds some dynamics to the photographic compositions. It requires precise panning while shooting, but again with practice and after a lot of spoiled shots it’s worth trying! It also allows me to shoot from quite close distance while being unnoticed – I like capturing that kind of frozen seconds in the regular lives of people around us. Please take a look at these 3 images that illustrate this technique:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/piotr_golebiowski/4646592893/in/set-72157622529958626/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/piotr_golebiowski/4709091882/in/set-72157622529958626/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/piotr_golebiowski/4115444716/in/set-72157622529958626/

    What I like the most about shooting with the E-P1 and similar micro 4/3rds cameras is that they are small :) and produce great image quality. I tried to shoot in the streets with a DSLR at the beginning but that camera was simply to heavy and bulky to carry around everywhere I went. I think that the small size of micro 4/3rds is the biggest advantage for street photographers, while in my opinion being unnoticed is the first and most important step to capturing great, natural facial expressions of people.

    Thanks for your great posts on street photography and good luck in your photographic life. I keep fingers crossed for your Beirut adventure :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Pigon,

      Wow your comment was truly a wealth of knowledge! You have truly amazing images, and great techniques as well. I will be sure to try out that motion blur one!

  • http://turismenteng.tumblr.com nugra sutowo

    I’m using my Canon G10, and I must say I’m quite amazed with all the result. But then again, with the canon g10, the focal length it’s very limited, and if I used higher ISO, the pictures will be filled with noise. but you can check out my website, and see the result with canon G10 :)

  • http://nikhil.deviantart.com Nikhil

    This is indeed a very fascinating read.

    I usually shoot with my set of prime lenses 28mm, 50mm and 135mm and when not carrying these I end up with the 18-55 on my 450D… and I totally agree with Pigon, the best camera for street photography is the one you have with you, unless of course, you have a leica… :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thanks for the feedback Nikhil. Leicas are overrated anyways ;)

  • http://www.shotbyandrewturner.com Andrew Turner

    Thought I would pitch in here with a few comments about the GF1, which I have been using for about 4 months now. It’s a great little camera, I used to use a Leica M6 back in the old days and the GF1 in terms of it’s portability feels a little like this. The one problem with it, and it’s perhaps the reason I might get rid of it, is the fact that it does not have a viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder is a waste of money, I bought one and used it a couple of times but it’s a non starter. I also tried the optical viewfinder made by Olympus for the EP1. That’s marginally better but still not great.

    My problem is I wear glasses, I am short sighted. When I have my glasses on I can see perfectly, but what I can not see clearly is the display on the back of the camera, in order to see it I have to remove my glasses, then of course I can not see the subject. This is really annoying but I have not found a way around it.

    If the GF1 had a viewfinder in the same way a Leica M9 has (I know it’s not technically possible) it would in my opinion be THE camera for street photography for those that can not afford the Leica!

    So I am anxiously awaiting the release of the Fuji X100 – if it’s priced right this could be the camera for me.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks a ton for the feedback and sharing your experiences with the GF1. I am waiting ont he Fuji x100 as well :)

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/cosmicsausage David William Jackson

    Thank you for this cordial and informative thread. After not shooting for 30 years, I got back into it after coming here to China (after all, there’s something of note almost round every corner). I currently shoot with a tiny little ixus which is great for stealth, but not so good for IQ :). I’ve been following the genesis of the m4/3rds saga with interest and have been tempted by a few of the recent offerings. However, I’m going to hold fire until we see what the specs of the forthcoming 2011 Olympus high-end compact: http://news.cnet.com/2300-17938_3-10004900-7.html?tag=mncol. In the happy event that the lens is fast enough, and the sensor big enough, then, with its sleak and stealthy black minimalist looks and zuiko pedigree, I for one might be mighty interested in acquiring one. For what I shoot, I don’t need a zoom anyway: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cosmicsausage. What do you think? Plus, will canikon offer something similar in the near future do you think?

  • http://www.larissaphotography.com/blog TJ McDowell

    That first camera cracks me up. You’d definitely stick out in a crowd. If Canon thought their white lenses made it obvious what kind of equipment you’re using, having a multicolored camera would be even more obvious!

  • http://jacknovakzarate.tumblr.com/ Jack

    The recently announced Fuji x100 seems like it will be a great street camera. A fixed 23mm f2 lens and APS-C sensor.

    Plus, it looks pretty damn cool!

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1009/10091910fujifilmx100.asp

    Btw, your blog/photos/advice rocks. Thanks for putting such awesome stuff out there.

  • http://www.simongarnier.com Simon Garnier

    Hi everyone,
    I’ll give here my impression on the GF1 that I own now for about one year (was the Christmas gift to myself last year :-) ).

    The first thing I can say is that in one year, I took as many (or almost) pictures with it than with my former DSLR during the previous 3 years (just made the count, I was kind of shocked). I think the main reason to explain this situation is simply because this camera is so compact (especially with the nice 20mm f1.7 pancake lens, but the 14-45mm is great too) that I can carry it everywhere and everyday with me, even when I have to carry my sport bag and my computer with me. As a result, I always have it with me to take a picture that I would not have been able to take with my DSLR. And this makes a big difference in my photographic habits. Also the picture quality is excellent so I don’t feel I’m missing my DSLR when it comes to capture a nice scene.

    Of course, this camera is not perfect. As Andrew Turner said above, the viewfinder can be problematic, especially the days I decided to wear my glasses instead of my contact lenses. I have a hard time to manually focus with it, so I mostly rely on it to compose the image and I cross my fingers for the autofocus to do its job (never failed so far though). I would also have appreciated the shutter release button to be more on the front part of the camera to facilitate its use with a hand strap. And two separated wheels for the shutter speed and the aperture would have been great too.

    But to be honest, these are spoiled kid problems (I’m the spoiled kid here :-) ) and I’m very happy of this camera so far. After one year of “testing”, I can tell it was the best choice for me (until I win millions in the lottery and can buy a Leica :-) ).

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thanks for your thorough review Simon! The GF-1 is definitely a beast of a camera. I want to get one for myself–if it wasn’t for the FujiFilm FinePix x100 coming out :)

      • http://www.simongarnier.org Simon Garnier

        The x100 is already on my amazon wish list and I started saving some money for it :-)

  • Pingback: Disposable Camera Street Photography by Eric Kim — Eric Kim Street Photography - Los Angeles

  • http://turismenteng.tumblr.com nugra sutowo

    hey eric, do you have any suggestion for camera?

  • http://www.olhares.com/viniciusunicamp Vinicius Carneiro

    Unfortunatelly, camera is becoming less important than a computer.
    The question is not only which camera, but how do you do your post production.
    I mean, 90% of photographer uses lightroom or/and photoshop. I’m not against it, but all the light and benneficit of a good camera and good techniques are beeing lose by the excess of photoshop use. Most of the pictures today are totally artificial.
    I use the lightroom to convert my pictures to B&W and to adjust contrast, but I try to not use it in excess.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      This is definitely a great point you make Vinicius. Thank you for bringing it up :)

    • Gilbert Pool

      Too true Vinicius. I have published 4 photo coffee-table books, shooting only in Jpeg. But then I come from the school of analogue photography, and I put all my energy in light and composition, and what I get from jpegs is what I actually shot, so why “fix” it to get something you didn’t shoot unless you want to something arty?

      • michelle

        I think it’s important to make the distinction between photo processing and photo manipulation (aka “Photoshopping”). I would argue that there is plenty of post-processing that happens in analog photography to enhance images as well. Dodging and burning are the first things that come to mind.

        Shooting in JPEG just means the camera’s built-in “computer” (so to speak) processed the image for you, vs. you taking the RAW file and processing it yourself in Lightroom. The camera is essentially doing what Lightroom does: applies contrast, sharpening, saturation, noise reduction, etc. Whether you pull the JPEG straight from the camera or process a raw file in Lightroom, the image is getting processed one way or another.

    • mrtrik71

      The camera will live forever and the street fotographer even longer

  • http://www.foto-rhetoric.org/ Nacho

    Great responses and post. Eric, I am with you on the Panny GF-1 — it sounds, and looks, by the look of the various images I see, quite nice. I handled one here recently and it seemed quite nice to me. Unfortunately, Panasonic did not do as well with the GF-2 (in my estimation). I’m looking forward to trying the supposedly upcoming new Fuji X100. Not an interchangeable lens camera, but it sounds very nice on paper (23mm f2 Fujinon lens — equivalent to 35mm).

    I shoot primarily with a Nikon D300 or with my iPhone (a different challenge), but my preference would be something compact and quite capable in terms of AF. A couple of small lenses (like the Panny 20mm 1.7, or similar) and voila! I’ve had the experience of pulling my camera with a relatively mid-size lens (I was dressed with my gear, Think Tank camera hip-bag, etc.), only to have a person run away from me at a social protest event. He thought I was with the authorities.

    But key, in my experience, is knowing what kind of street photography you are going to do, and/or what kind of street photographer one might be. If the photographer likes, or wants to get, close, more intimate, images that give a sense of being close-up with the subject, then a short focal length might be the answer. That decision however comes with its own constraints and it is not for those who feel a bit unsettled when pointing the camera up close at strangers. There is more to consider there (for instance, Prime or Zoom, etc.).

    For a short while I had a nice Nikon D40 that was small, unobstrusive, quick to deploy, and very simple to operate. coupled with a cheap 18-70mm, or an 18-55mm was great. The zoom gave great flexibility, the total package was small and light, and the whole thing was pretty inexpensive. Quality was not bad either, but one needed to know how to coax the best images out of those lenses (shooting RAW is key). On the other hand, too cheap a lens will make you suffer. This past summer I used an inexpensive 17-50mm 2.8 as a walk-around lens while in China. Yikes! Between humidity, usage, change of temperature from hotel to outdoors, etc., the lens really had trouble keeping up.

    Thanks again,

    N

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Hey Nacho,

      You always have wise words. Thanks again for your insight into street photography :)

  • http://www.photoblog.com/pambudi Shadowmasochist

    Lumix LX-3 is also the best one for doing street photography….;)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thanks for the input! :)

    • Mmmmark01

      I have the leica d-lux 5 (essentially the same as panasonic LX5) and it is fantastic. I really like using the viewfinder though, in contrast to the above post.

      All in all – a much better camera for street and travel than my nikon d90 with 24-70 f/2.8. Hopefully I can one day upgrade to an M9-P

  • Todd

    I’d like to make a modest case for the iPhone as decent street camera. I know… I already know what you’re all going to say. Of course it’s a woefully inadequate, automatic novelty toy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used to capture genuine moments, and dare I say, fleeting beauty. What it lacks in manual control and image quality it makes up for in inconspicuousness and availability (I’m never without it and no one sees it coming).

    As an experiment, I’ve been using my phone to snap pictures on my short foot commute to and from work in downtown Austin, TX. When I get home in the evening I look at the day’s bounty and process the keepers with the free application Instagram. If you’re not familiar, it basically let’s you crop and slap on a filter to generate a little extra interest. It’s gimmicky, I realize, but I take it for what it is. An exercise in photographic vision and also perhaps boldness and the “action habit.” This daily exercise (now more like a ritual) has unquestionably made my manual photography better.

    Anyway, I’ve done this every day for the past few months. The results can be viewed here for those interested. Every shot was done “from the hip” with an iPhone 4:

    http://instagram.heroku.com/users/wisemania

    Great blog entry. Thanks.

    • Andre

      Todd, the interesting part about using the iPhone is that one can forget about sharpness (IQ) which is so revered by almost everyone and concentrate on the subject and composition.
      Andre D

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/ADickensonView Alisha D

    I currently have a digital Cannon SX10is powershot. I was wondering if this would be a good camera to use for my first try at street photography, and can i set it to what is called “zone focus”? Just wanted some tips before i try this style, I love to see street photography pics!
    Thanks

  • http://turismenteng.tumblr.com nugra s

    so do you think fujifilm finepix x100 worth it?

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Can’t say for sure because I haven’t shot with one, but on paper it seems like the ideal camera for street photography :)

  • http://www.taphousephotography.com Jonathan Taphouse

    Great article ^_^

    i love your recent blog on disposable camera street photography!!

  • http://www.photoblog.com/pambudi Shadowmasochist

    I was selling my Lumix LX-3 and got the GF1 two weeks ago and after that I have been doing street photography with this beast camera. The only reason is that I was intoxicated while reading this blog and worked well…;) Thank Eric!

  • http://russellcavanagh.me.uk Russell

    I don’t obsess about equipment but the shutter-lag issue is a real one. So I’m moving from my Fujifilm point-and-shhot to the hybrid Finepix S200. It’ll be interesting to see how people respond to a more substantial bit of kit being pointed at them.

    Thanks for this nice and informative review. 8-)

  • http://web.me.com/jayavant Greg Williamson

    I just discovered your blog. Interesting and informative reading here.

    I shoot in the street with medium format; I have even shot with large format.

    To me one of the best cameras for candid photography is a twin lens reflex like a Rolleiflex. The image on the ground glass is viewed from above, allowing one to hold the camera against the chest or even at waist level and sight down onto it. One’s head is free to scout around. The shutter is whisper quiet, and the camera itself doesn’t even look like a camera. People don’t notice you because you are not holding anything to your face.

    I did some street shooting recently with my Mamiya 7: a 6×7 rangefinder with aperture priority metering. It handles as easily as a Leica and the results are sharp as can be.

    I have done some street shooting with an ancient Graphlex Speed Graphic 4×5. The light had to be good and I had to estimate distance quickly and of course I had to carry a lot of film holders. The results were so-so, but I did get some interesting looks. One dSLR chump yelled out at me – “Why don;t you get a real camera!” – which I thought was rather ironic…

    Anyway – don’t forget medium format street shooting – esp the best candid camera of all, the twin lens reflex.

    • http://www.benwilhelmi.com ben wilhelmi

      yes! Rolleiflex and other vintage are so challenging, brain demanding and rewarding to use.

      one digital chump also teased me one day and I answered that I still had a functioning brain I could use and enjoy such a vintage (and real camera indeed) beauty.

  • bhavesh bolinjkar

    hi ..
    i m currently using nikon d3000 with its kid leans 18 – 55
    and recently i got sigma 70 – 300 4-5.6 dg apo macro
    i mostly like doing street and people photography
    and I live India and here people is good subject for clicking
    i just wanna ask is this a good gears for street photography ?

  • http://www.photographerskent.co.uk lawrence

    Im with the lego camera, point it at ppl and when they look just say ..yeah im taking pictures, you gotta problem then youre gonna have to chase me….oh and when the police ask to take it off you because they have nothing better to do…..you can throw it on the floor in a temper tantrum…Lego Cameras rule!

  • http://www.davidjm.com David Moscovitch

    After 5 years of a Nikon D200 and a sore neck, shoulder and back, lugging heavy lenses on trips and on the street, I moved to an Olympus E-P2. I’ll never go back. I have never had such perfect color right out of the camera, I was astonished. Much less work now in Photoshop. I use Panasonic lenses, as they seem to be a step up from what Olympus offers. The 20mm f1.7 is a dream, and the 14-45 is excellent. I just got the 45-200mm. It is inexpensive and just okay, and does not have the quality I had hoped for. Although the camera is small and unobtrusive, it does get a lot of comments from people who want to know what it is. On travels, I can walk all day and never feel the burden of my old Nikon.
    Yes, the shutter is a bit noisy, and I can’t rattle off a dozen shots very quickly, but that is not the style of street photographers. I’m waiting for a few improvements down the line, but
    until then, this is the perfect camera for me. The micro 4/3 market will grow and grow as technology makes smaller better, and the DSLR will become the studio camera of years gone by.

  • RS

    I use a Leica D-Lux 5 (i.e. a re-branded Lumix LX5). It has a very sharp 24mm equivalent, and you can get a wide angle adaptor that keeps its f2.0 maximum aperture even with these ultrawide view. Focusing is fast, and the small size of the camera is not intimidating. In the past, I’ve used Nikon DSLRs and Leica M2. I’d love a digital M-Leica, but the D-Lux 5 fulfils the function of a fast, small camera that’s great for street shooting.

    • RS

      p/s in terms of noise, the D-Lux 5 (LX5) has a setting where you can turn off the electronic sound of the shutter. It is virtually noise free. I am not kidding. There is virtually no noise when you take the picture.

  • http://www.pointlesslyshooting.com Jess Baumung

    I shoot most of my street photos with a Panasonic Lumix LX5 and I find it has been the best camera for me personally. The shutter lag is very minimal compared to other cameras I have tried which is a major factor for me.

    It is also so quiet that I had to turn on the shutter sound at the lowest volume just so I could hear when I had taken a photo.

    Feel free to check out my blog at http://www.pointlesslyshooting.com to see some of my street photography.

  • http://www.pointlesslyshooting.com Jess Baumung

    I shoot most of my street photos with a Panasonic Lumix LX5 and I find it has been the best camera for me personally. The shutter lag is very minimal compared to other cameras I have tried which is a major factor for me. I also really love the stepped zoom function which makes it feel like you have a full set of primes at your disposal.

    It is also so quiet that I had to turn on the shutter sound at the lowest volume just so I could hear when I had taken a photo.

    Feel free to check out my blog at http://www.pointlesslyshooting.com to see some of my street photography.

  • RightBrainedCPA

    I’m really liking my Olympus XZ-1 as a constant carry weapon. Fast lens (f1.8), totally silent when you tell it to be and a good balance between preset and manual settings. Chunky, but still fits in hand. Picture quality is outstanding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.herbon Andy Herbon

    I have a Canon 60D as my “main camera’, but I’ve fallen in love with my Olympus E-PL1 micro 4/3rds as my “street camera” or the camera I use when I want to travel light.

    It was a gift, and I even thought about exchanging it for more glass, but decided to keep it, and am very glad I did.

    The few downsides are that the there’s just a wee bit of shutter lag as the autofocus tries to zero in, but that’s not really an issue in manual. The menus take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re used to using a DSLR.

  • Disraeli Demon

    I’ve been doing a lot of shooting with both the Panasonic LX3 and more recently the GF-1. Despite the odd problem with seeing the rear screen (on both cameras) in certain bright conditions, I prefer the rear screen to a viewfinder as it gives you a much less threatening profile when shooting (also, wearing a black shirt helps!). The ability to hold the camera at arm’s length while still being able to frame shots (again, with both cameras) really helps with getting in close. You can also compose with (either) camera held above the head or down at the waist, though I’d be happier if both cameras had a fold-out screen like the Canon G12 or Panasonic G2.

    The GF-1 naturally has better dynamic range and ISO/noise balance than the small-sensor LX3, but has a much louder shutter (not quite as loud as an SLR, but maybe a bit louder than a Leica rangefinder). On the street, it’s not really an issue though.

    With the beeps turned off, the LX3 is damn nearly silent – shutter noise is absolutely not an issue in even quiet public places, in fact the noise of the lens extending when you switch the camera on is more likely to be obtrusive (though it’s still very quiet and hasn’t been a problem in practice).

    In reasonable noisy environments, you can shoot almost creepily close with both cameras without attracting attention, especially because both allow the focus point to be moved to the edge of the frame, enabling you to focus on a subject while apparently looking past them.

    My one bugbear with the GF-1 is what I consider to be the poorly thought-out manual focus implementation; put simply, it’s really difficult to shoot using pre-focussing.
    There’s no focus scale either on the G-series lenses themselves or the camera interface, making depth of field calculations a bit tricky. You can put the camera in manual mode and focus on something a set distance away, but the moment you switch the camera off (or it auto powers-down automatically to save the battery), focus settings are lost – when you switch on/power up again, the focus distance is reset to near infinity, even in manual focus mode.
    This is pretty disappointing, since the LX3′s manual focus implementation is excellent – you get a distance scale (choice of feet or meters), the focus indicator on the scale gets thicker or thinner to indicate depth of field depending on aperture/zoom extension, and you can set the LX3 to resume manual focussing at the same distance when it’s switched off and on.

    While the distance scale/depth of field display may not be practical on the interchangeable-lens G-series (I don’t know what information the lenses communicate to the camera bodies), I really wish Panasonic would give us the LX-series “Lens Resume” focus distance retention in a firmware update. It seems perverse that a camera so well suited to pre-focus type shooting (with the smaller m4/3 chip, you get wider depth of field at all apertures than with 2/3 or full-frame SLR’s) fights you every step of the way when it comes to pre-focussing.

    Against that, the contrast detection focussing of the GF-1 is very fast and positive, and in most lighting conditions can be relied on for grab shots, especially with the 20mm pancake; it’s only in really dim light that I run into problems.

  • edin

    In two separate areas you state that Rangefinders are “fully manual” and state that they require setting of shutter speed and aperture as well as focus. You then list some rangefinders – just about all of which are semi-automatic (ie. have an aperture-priority mode) not fully manual !! I’ll let the “manual focus” part slide even though there are cameras which are autofocus and which are technically also “rangefinders”.

    • Edin

      PS You state that a “huge advantage of SLRs is their ability to change lenses” ?? Can’t this be done on most rangefinders too ?

      • Edin

        High-end point and shoots have “larger image sensors” than DSLR’s and Rangefinders ??? No way ! What you should have said is that there are high-end point and shoots which have larger sensor areas THAN OTHER POINT AND SHOOTS.

        • Edin

          No such camera as Richoh GR III – you mean the Ricoh Gr Digital III, which is often shortened to GRD III

          • Edin

            The Canon 5d is INFAMOUS for having good high ISO (“notorious” means “known for in an unfavourable sense” – surely having good high ISO is favourable).

          • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

            Thanks for the edit Edin–changed it!

          • Alessandro Sbarra

            infamous and notorious are synonymous. both imply an unfavorable association. i would say a more appropriate word here would be “renowned”. i know this is a photo blog, not a grammar blog, but if you’re going to call the guy out on his syntactic errors at least do it correctly.

          • http://twitter.com/citizen_zombie citizenzombie.

            This, coming from the person who couldn’t be bothered with the simple task of capitalizing his “I’s,” whilst composing a reply.

  • Huw Jones

    I recently used an Olympus E-PL1 for some street photography.
    Results here:
    http://firstpressoftheshutter.blogspot.com/

  • (/)artin

    I am a ENG-cameraman for Dutch national television and during my work I shoot pics with a iPhone 3GS 3.2Mpix cam as you can see in the pics below. Not very sophisticated indeed. The phone is very unobtrusive, however the shutter-lag is a drag and the little plastic lens is next to nothing.

    Since a few days I have a Leica M8.2 with a 2,8/28 Carl Zeiss (that approximates a 35mm lens on full frame), and I’m very happy with the Thumbs Up EP-1.

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  • Gabriella

    any news on the Fuji X100? I have heard that the auto-focus does work badly. Not good news thought for SP.
    Any experience? Please let me know.
    Thanks Gabriella

    • Raymondmasse

      I had experienced this little camera since about a month. I carry both my M6 and Fuji X100. I must say that I am pleased for the autofocus, as long as I can have enough time to compose. Otherwise, it is better to use it on manual exposure, hyperfocal way ( lens closed down to F11 – F16) – and make sure it will cover the subject. On the other hand, it is faster to focus manually with the M6 …

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  • Luis Gomez

    The GF1 and LX5 are excellent equipment for doing street photo. I use the GF1+20mm 1.7 most of the time. Lately I’ve been playing with the Nikon P300, an excellent piece of P&S, no RAW but I don´t care never use RAW.

  • Pingback: The Benefits of Shooting Street Photography with a Leica (or rangefinder) — Eric Kim Street Photography

  • Jindaphommavongsa

    I jumped on the GF1 back in 2009 because it seemed to have all the great attributes of a Leica downsized into an affordable compact fixed lens camera. Affordable being a huge factor. I’ve been happy with the GF1 and im honestly sad to see it’s functionality and design dumbed down with it’s predecessors to accommodate your “average joe” consumer.

    It does have it’s pros. Fast focusing, much better than any point’n'shoot camera i’ve ever own and i’ve had the gamut. The lens is sharp and the f1.7 stop helps so much in the lens “bokeh” department. I shoot exclusively with the EV finder and that may be my only gripe. Coming from a more old school mentality i prefer to look into a frame to compose my shots. I feel it’s more discreet to briefly hold a camera to your eye than it is to hold it in front of your face, albeit a matter of inches. Holding a camera to your eye allows for a more stable shooting position. Viewing a LCD and shooting requires you to hold the camera up and away from your body and in low-light situations that can mean the difference between an in focus image and one that’s not. Below are some samples made with my GF1. There some more images made with the camera here: http://photovongsa.com/

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  • Adolfwolfer

    HI
    I now use Leica D-lux4 and i think id vera well camera. Small, god image, portable.
    By

  • Jr

    I just bought Sony Nex 5n (silver) w/18-55mm lens. Is it good for street photography?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/diverso/6304144832/in/photostream/ Eduardo

      Of course is good. Since I have my 5N I hardly use any other of my cameras for street photography.

    • Andre

      The Sony NEX is a good camera for street photography but it lacks a good pancake lens that would keep it pocketable, perhaps a 24mm F 2.0.
      I’m using a NEX 7 with the LA-EA2 lens adapter and the Alpha 35mm F1.8, a very nice setup that gives me excellent photos. I also use a Canon S90.

  • timetraveller

    Erick, you left out of the article a very important kind of cameras for street photography: The MOBILE PHONES!!!

    I use an iphone fot some of my street photography (www.framed.es/iphoneography), and I find it to be a very useful tool: discreet, fast, and very important: connected to the internet for sharing in Instagram, tumblr and other communities)

    If you’re serious into street photography, it’s a “weapon” that you shoudn’t dismiss.

    It has of course some downsides, the most obvious is the IQ, but you’ll be amazed if you see what an iphone 4s camera can do…it’s perfectly comparable to a premium compact like the S95, XZ.1 and similar cameras. Another downside is its battery life.

    But I find that nobody looks at me when I’m taking pictures with my phone, they think I’m choosing a song ,or checking my mail. And I take pictures VERY CLOSE, at 2feet or so…

  • Fernando Cipriani

    The best camera is small, inexpensive, viewfinder and manual control absolutely. In my case it is a Caplio GX100

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  • Cameron Ehmig

    Lately, I have been using the Nikon D3000 (on manual, only through the viewfinder) with a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (manual focus), or even a Lensbaby Muse. The D3000 is a very small DSLR, and is PERFECT for me. It is not terribly loud, and the small appearance does not fright people. I use only manual controls, mainly because the light meter on the camera does not suit me, as I like to do more creative exposing. The fifty focal length is perfect for street photography, as it a small lens, and can reach people perfectly, is sharp to capture them fully, is great in low light (I also shoot inside of some of the places in the streets), is lightweight, and is wide enough to capture both the person and the background/ surroundings. The Lensbaby Muse can bring an entirely new dimension to the streets, which is something that I want to do when I go shooting.
    Sometimes, I use my old Pentax film camera to shoot, which is an entirely different monster. Film is unpredictable, and exciting. There is no way of knowing if you got that amazing frame, no way of predicting what the frame will turn out to be. It is more like giving birth to a photograph, one that could change your view, or the view of another person.
    I also tend to shoot at night, doing night street photography. The light during the day does not suit me, there is barely a challenge. The night brings the challenge of capturing that shot and exposing it correctly. I take either a 50 (or Lensbaby) or a wide angle lens with a tripod. The night is best captured with a wide angle lens, but if you are shooting people , a 50 is perfect. People at night are fascinating. They lurk around, nearly like zombies, and enjoy the night life, completely unaware of any teenager taking a photograph of them.
    Take some primes, a small DSLR, and you have an adequate street photography kit.

  • Dyjital

    I shoot everything with my M4/3 camera. I use a Panasonic GH1 and it produces some gorgeous shots!!!

  • Van C.

    Canon 7D + Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5 !
    With playful stickers on the body instead of boring black tape. :)
    People become more eased by the non-threatening stickers.

  • gusto

    Hi,

    HCB, the King of SP, is fairly overrated for his use of Leica. When he started shooting in the 1930′s there simply weren’t any alternative cameras available! When a Nikon F Photomic hit the shelves, HCB already had 30+ yrs of experience and skill with his Leicas and was unwilling to change his workflow.

    Robert Capa used a Zeiss Ikon IIa, a real PITA to use in our days (I own one…).

    When I’m out shooting in the streets, I always have either a Oly Pen E-PL3 or a Canon S90 with me. They’re unobtrusive enough to make my day.
    From dusk till dawn, I’m carrying a massive (by comparison) Canon 5Dc with a fast fixed lens. ISO 3200 performance is unbeaten to date, the large pixels are way better an image stabilizer then “IS” or “VR” and in the relative dark a DSLR appears far less obtrusive then in daytime.

    Happy shooting !

  • OliMonster

    TLRs are my preferred camera on the street, if nothing else for the added subtlety of taking a pic with ‘em. If needs be, you’ve got the sports finder for my equivalent of a “from the hip” shot, for all the control the sports finder gives me, but I do tend to literally shoot from the hip with the top-down viewfinder. You can get a very interesting perspective on things like that, I’ve discovered. Besides, to the uninitiated it just looks like you’re fiddling with some knackered old contraption with more lenses than they’re used to. Not only that, but my D5000 daily user looks a whole lot scarier than the Yashica when pointed at someone. It lends itself to the subjects carrying on as they were without being intimidated by, or even noticing, some pratt waving a camera. Surprisingly, the Yash proves more often than not to be a conversation piece if I’m caught and confronted, which is nice. After suffering grievous personal space invasion, the Nikon is usually sized up by the subject for how much damage it could cause me if I were hit with it.

  • Paul Richardson

    Actually, the lego camera can produce good images 8-)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX76k-chflo

  • http://www.welive2care.com/ lead generation services

    I totally agree with you, it’s not really about the camera. It’s about creativity.

  • Talnae

    Konica-Minolta A200 or A2 can be useful street camera. Tilt screen also help in prefocus and lateral shots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/framton.goodman Framton Goodman

    I’m using a Canon Powershot A620. Why? It’s one of only two cameras I have. The other is an old Kodak Easy Share CX7525 that I’ve had for years. I can’t high-end gear! I’m here, by the way: http://framtonstreet.wordpress.com/

    • http://www.facebook.com/asingson Angelina Singson

      I’m using the Canon Powershot A560. I find the manual mode, and it does the job.

  • Mike Avina

    I’ve tried everything from film rangefinders to digital SLRs to toy cameras. I love my digital point and shoot–the small sensor gives a relatively vast depth of field that makes zone focusing easy and lets me grab shots that a film rangefinder or SLR would miss because either 1) AF is too slow or 2) the field of in-focus objects is too narrow because of the larger sensor and shallower depth of field. I only like zone focusing on film or SLRs at f8 or above. I still shoot film for portraits and for tough light but there is nothing like an Oly or Panasonic point and shoot for street, IMHO.

  • Msweet

    Ricoh GRD wins every time for the streets. Cannot be beat!

  • Bardofly

    Best Camera Hands down for Street and everyday would be a Ricoh grd,,,Fast,Silent,Small,built like a Sherman.
    Great for Night Shooting as well.

  • http://twitter.com/folioparker Lesley Parker

    I recently tossed up between the Canon G1X and the Nikon P7100 Coolpix and it was a tough choice in light of the excellent reviews of the Canon. In the end I went Nikon for two reasons: I have a D90 and I figured ready familiarity with the buttons and dials can only be a plus in street photography; and because travel was a big factor in my choice the WEIGHT went against the Canon, which was decidedly heavier.
    Back from a 3-week trip in America, I’m very pleased with my choice. I lugged my Nikon D90 DSLR the entire way as well, just in case (I hadn’t had time to really get to know the P7100 at that stage), and I never unpacked it (though it will still have a role at home in Australia).
    The quality of the images was nice, and it was a dream to use. In fact I quickly became comfortable with using the live screen instead of a viewfinder (it has one, but as with all cameras at this level the viewfinder was inaccurate and partially blocked by lens barrel when extended).
    The live screen allowed unobtrusive shooting, by pointing the lens one way but looking at the articulated screen another way – folded out to 90deg, the screen allowed me to look as though I was shooting elsewhere.
    The only improvement would be to increase the range of articulation…the G1X I now know has a much fuller range of articulation. Perhaps that would have outweighed the weight and familiarity… perhaps. But no regrets…

  • 35mm

    I just bought an olympus trip 35 which I know is’nt the best camera in the world but I’m finding it really good for my street work…just point and click.

  • Salsa

    I own a 5D and an Olympus E-PM1 (micro four thirds) yes the olympus is far less intimidating, but due to such a small sensor size, the noise is horrible. Some cases, I had to bump my noise to 6400 when I was shooting 800 (or 640) on my 5D. Otherwise, i think the micro four thirds system would be great at street photography. Especially since it’s so discreet, yet has great software support behind (like fast auto focus). but for me, I still prefer my 5D with my nifty fifty over the olympus.

  • Koby Rennie

    I have used it for couple of times…
    its not only good for street photography but also for capturing night shots.

  • TopherCarlton

    What do you think of the Fujifilm X10 (ten), versus the X100…Seems like a nice starter at half the price. Thoughts?

  • TopherCarlton

    What do you think of the Fujifilm X10 (ten), versus the X100…Seems like a nice starter at half the price. Thoughts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/reichel.peter Peter Reichel

    I love my D3s, but it’s big and expensive camera. So in some kind of situation I miss any smaller one. I stil have not found alternative. I have had olympus pen and fuji film x100 for a while, but in vain. Speed and “visual acuity” missing. I still have not found what I am looking for. I am considering to shoot with any film rangefinder, but I prefer aperture priority, and it’s property of expensive ones. Do you know any suitable one, except expensive ones like leica, bessa, contax, ricoh and nikon?

    • OliMonster

      A Minolta CLE would work wonders for you, by the sound of things. The problem comes with the lenses though. They only have 28, 40 and 90mm framelines, but the M-Rokkor lenses aren’t bad at all, and Voigtländer does a nice 40 as well… If you want to go a bit higher-end, then it’s a standard M-mount, and you could always zone focus and use an external finder. The Voigtländer Kontur is an amazingly cool, and useful, contraption!

  • http://twitter.com/FLAMEDidea rafael john

    guys what do you think about the canon powershot g15?

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  • Gilbert Pool

    You’ve missed a great street photography camera Eric. I am loving shooting with my iPhone 5 using the 6×6 App. I even shoot people on the roadside whilst driving in slow traffic!

  • Analog

    I think the Leica R6.2 (that is an all metall and all-mechanical SLR camera) is the best I can have in my hands for taking pictures. I still dont get the feeling whit plast electronics or digitals tools. And I want my self diced everything when I take pictures and not that an automatic-machine makes the work.

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    This was helpful for me and it really gave me allot to think about. Thanks for this!

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  • Steven Sutterby

    I think this article is great. I have used a Lumix bridge camera for my photography which led me to doing street photography, it was quick, supper zoom but the image quality did lack. I did a natural upgrade after months of reading reviews etc to a Canon G1x mainly based on size, senor size and manual functionality. As a web surfer I look at other cameras lots, I am a camera pervert. So I keep looking at other cameras mostly due to the G1x slow AF but I have decided to stick with it and work with the cameras strengths and floors. Part of the problem today is we are to well informed about what works, how well it works and what works better to the point that if we don’t have the most recent and best we are made to feel this is what is cutting our photography short. Thanks for the article, I take some great photos with it. The other huge factor with a camera is its not yet a human eye ;-) it cannot adjust as quickly to light, speed and other factors, we have to work within constraints. Many great Street Photographers have worked with less advanced kit on manual settings becoming the masters. Keep shooting, keep working, keep enjoying. Steven Sutterby

  • NancyP

    The best street camera is the one in your hand.

    Lightroom, Sigma Photo Pro, and other RAW developers are the modern darkroom – how you use them is up to you, you can do a default conversion or change what you like. In digital terms, you can add a B&W filter after the fact.

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