The Street Photographer’s Ultimate Christmas List

So Christmas is around the corner and you have been a good boy/girl this year. So you want to buy a new camera and/or some new lenses? Sure we know that it is the street photographer, not the camera that makes his/her photos amazing. But hey– it is always fun to experiment with new cameras and lenses as well.

I have gotten many questions from aspiring street photographers–asking what lens or body to get next. Read this list and pass it onto your loved ones (hopefully they love you enough to buy you some stuff in this list).

Also please note that these are my personal recommendations. If you don’t agree with this list, please leave a comment below and let me know whats up!



  1. Canon 5D (used)
  2. Canon Rebel XSi
  3. Nikon D3100 (update by Ironside Photo)

If you are interested in purchasing your first DSLR, I would highly recommend a used Canon 5D. You can get them used for only $1200, and they are full-frame, meaning that the lenses you get will show their true focal length. It is also phenomenal at low-light high-iso situations.

A bit short on cash? Check out the Rebel XSi or the Rebel XS (a bit cheaper). Both are small, and give great performance as well. Oh yeah, also heard great things about the Nikon D3000 as well.

Micro 4/3rds

  1. Panasonic GF-1
  2. Olympus EP-1

If I was in the market for a new camera, it would definitely be for a micro 4/3rds. They are small, inconspicuous, and give fantastic image quality. Definitely the best “bang-for-the-buck” imho. I tried out Thomas Leuthard’s Panasonic GF-1 and instantly fell in love with it. Super-responsive auto-focus, and great image quality. I also heard that the EP-1 gives great image quality as well, but the autofocus is painfully slow.

Point and Shoots

  1. Canon S95 (or S90)
  2. Ricoh GRIII (update thanks to Dan Patzer)

Out of all the point and shoots for the street photographer out there, the Canon S95 (or S90) blow all the competitors out of the water. It is one of the smallest point and shoots out there, but offer great control with the front and rear dials–and has a super fast f/2 lens. Don’t consider anything else.

Update: If you have a little extra $$$ to spend, check out the Ricoh GRIII. It has a beautiful fixed focal 28mm 1.9 lens and with its “snap-focus” function, it has practically zero shutter lag (while the Canon S95 has a slight shutter lag). Also its built like a tank with its alloy body, and feels great in the hand as well. A worthy (but more expensive) competitor.


  1. Leica M8

If you are interested in getting a digital rangefinder on a budget, check out the Leica M8. Sure it is not full-frame, but it will give you the true “rangefinder experience” without having to shell out $6900 on a Leica M9.


Primes (Canon)

(For full-frame)

The Canon 35mm f/2 is my lens of choice on my full-framed 5D. Small, inconspicuous, and sharp– it is the perfect walk-around lens for a street photographer. I personally like the 35mm focal length, as it is wide enough to capture a background, but at the same not too wide. Also note that the 35mm focal length is my preference, although many street photographers out there such as Markus Hartel prefer the 28mm focal length.

  1. Canon 35mm f/2
  2. Canon 24mm f/2.8
  3. Canon 50mm f/1.8 (or 1.4)

(For crop)

For 1.6 crop bodies, the problem about primes is that they are often too close. Therefore you are good getting a 20mm 1.8, which will translate into roughly a 32mm (close to a 35mm).

  1. Canon 20mm f/2.8
  2. Canon 24mm f/2.8
  3. Canon 35mm f/2

Primes (Nikon)

  1. Nikon 24mm f/2.8
  2. Nikon 35mm f/2

Additional Equipment:


  1. Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0


  1. Handstrap (any cheap one on eBay)

Don’t Miss Out on Free Updates!

If you want to stay in the loop with my travels, upcoming workshops, free e-books and presets, join my street photography newsletter below:

  • Dan – PhotoPatzer

    I just might have to fly to LA and personally walk around with you all day while you play with my Ricoh GRD III. Then you could put that little s95 in second place! :P just play’n with ya! I love christmas lists!

  • olli

    The S95’s a great camera but ‘Don’t consider anything else’ is very bad advice. As well as the Ricoh add in the Panasonic LX3/LX5 (I chose the LX3 over the S90 for its far superior build quality and its 24 equivalent f2 lens as opposed to the Canon’s 28 equivalent) and the Samsung EX1.

  • Kenneth N
  • Chris Blackhurst

    Eric! Where’s the analogue love!? Its certainly conspicuous by its absence – where’s the Leica M6/7/P or the Bessa R*M/A? For shame!

    • Eric Kim

      Great idea Chris! I’m going to email you about this ;)

  • Chris Blackhurst

    And the glass!! What about the Nokton 35 1.2 or, the Noctilux, dammit! lol

  • Dan – PhotoPatzer

    Eric! You totally just made my day!!! :)

  • Will

    E-p1’s painfully slow AF compared to GF1?? They’re both as bad as each other, the GF1 is more responsive all around (menu’s, liveview, etc) but the AF is one in the same, I have an E-P2 and of course wanted the best for my buck at the time so I waded through all the gossip and tested them, also you can see for yourself on YouTube clips for direct comparison. The advantage the Oly’s have is IBIS and about the best EVF one can get for perfecting 10x manual focusing which also tilts 90 degrees. GF1 is a great cam, especially in the looks department, they’re all great cameras.

  • TJ McDowell

    So at least the 5D, and probably the Rebel you recommended, include video mode. Do any of you guys who are big into street photography even care about video? I guess to me it almost seems like video and street photography are not all that related. I can’t remember seeing video in a photo gallery, which is kind of how I perceive street photography. What do you think Eric?

  • Greg Williamson

    I’ll echo Chris’s request for film gear (though the term “analogue” is a pet hate of mine).

    I was in Seoul, South Korea, in the New Year and bought myself a late Christmas present in the wonderful secondhand camera market there. It’s a beautiful Mamiya 7, with an 80 and a 65mm lens. The 80 is a pretty good street shooting lens.

    Still pining for a Leica one day though. I’ll probably go for the MP or even an M3.

  • Pingback: Christmas Came Early! Hands-on with the Leica M9 « Professional Photographer « Professional Photographer()

  • Pingback: Hands-on with the Olympus EPM-1 (and other thoughts about cameras) « Professional Photographer « Professional Photographer()

  • Pingback: The Leica M9: The Ultimate Street Photography Camera or Just Hype? My Practical Review « Professional Photographer « Professional Photographer()

  • Pingback: Buy Books, Not Gear « Professional Photographer « Professional Photographer()

  • gaiss

    You made some decent factors there. I appeared on the internet for the problem and located most people will go together with with your website.

  • View More

    70774 296124Hello! I could have sworn Ive been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized its new to me. Anyways, Im definitely happy I found it and Ill be book-marking and checking back frequently! 943318