There is no “perfect” camera for street photography. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.
If you want a small, compact, and affordable camera for street photography, I recommend the Ricoh GR II (read my review here).
Also remember that money spent on traveling and experiences is always a better investment than buying new gear (if you don’t need it). Some articles I recommend you to read:
- Sensor Envy
- More Megapixels, More Problems
- 10 Practical Tips to Fight G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
- How to Overcome G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
- What is the Perfect Camera For You?
- Disregard Differences, Notice Similarities
- If Your Camera Isn’t Good Enough, Your Camera isn’t Expensive Enough
- What to Consider When Buying a Camera for Street Photography
- 8 Ways How Money Can Buy Happiness in Street Photography
- How to Be Grateful For What You Have
- Having No Choices is the Ultimate Freedom
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
If you’re not feeling inspired in your photography, I recommend you to buy books, not gear. Need some recommendations for street photography books? Check out a list of Inspirational Street Photography Books You Gotta Buy.
My favorite camera for street photography
There is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. My favorite camera for street photography is the Ricoh GR II.
The Ricoh GR II is the best bang-for-the-buck camera for street photography on the market. It has an APS-C sensor (DSLR-sized sensor), a super-sharp 28mm lens (no anti-aliasing filter), and literally fits into your front pocket. It retails for ~$590 USD.
The Ricoh GR II is pretty much the same as the prior Ricoh GR, except it has Wi-Fi built in.
Why do I recommend the Ricoh GR II?
First of all, for street photography you want the smallest, most compact, and inconspicuous camera (that you can always carry with you). I find that with other digital cameras, you end up never carrying them with you 24/7, simply because they are too big. The Fujifilm X100T and digital Leica’s are fantastic tools, but honestly even those cameras are too big to fit in your front pocket.
In street photography, the size of the sensor is also not very important. In-fact, having a non-full frame camera is generally preferable, because you have more depth-of-field in street photography, which is beneficial to “zone-focusing.”
When I shoot with the Ricoh GR II, I generally keep the camera on “P” mode, ISO 1600, and center-point autofocus. I treat it like a point-and-shoot: I simply point and click. This makes me have to think less when shooting, and spend more energy focusing on the composition, framing, and capturing emotion in the photos.
Many photographers bemoan the fact that the Ricoh GR II doesn’t have a viewfinder. Honestly, I feel that viewfinders are a bit overrated — the LCD screen helps you be more creative with your compositions (shooting super-low angle, or a super-high angle), and also helps you photograph your subjects closer (putting a small compact camera close to someone’s face is less intimidating than putting a big DSLR lens into someone’s face).
Also if you want, the Ricoh GR II has a fantastic “snap mode” which allows you to pre-focus to a certain distance (1 meter, 1.5 meters, 5 meters, infinity), which is like zone-focusing on a rangefinder camera. This means when you’re shooting on the streets on a sunny day, you can set your pre-focus to 1.5 meters, ISO 1600, aperture-priority mode in f/8, and take photos that are all sharp and in-focus.
In addition, the Ricoh GR II has the simplest yet comprehensive menu out of any digital camera I’ve used. You can change the function buttons, you can change whether the power lamp is on or off, and everything in the menu is easily searchable. I believe the Ricoh GR II was designed by photographers, not simply by engineers.
Also at around ~$590 on Amazon the camera is extremely affordable, which means you can save all your hard-earned cash on buying experiences, not stuff. Use that money to travel to a country you’ve always wanted to travel, to buy photography books, and to invest in photography-education (workshops, classes, seminars).
Furthermore, you can charge the camera via USB, which means you don’t need to travel with a bulky battery-charger. As long as you keep the camera off while you’re not shooting on the streets, one battery should last you a full day.
If you end up buying the camera, I recommend picking up a 3” LCD screen protector, shooting in RAW, and using my free Lightroom film simulation presets (you can download below).
- Read my review of the Ricoh GR II
- Review of the prior Ricoh GR (which has the same sensor, just no wifi).
After the Ricoh GR, I recommend the new Fujifilm X70 (has the sensor of a Fujifilm X100T). I still prefer the ergonomics and the feel of the GR II over the X70, but technically the X70 is the superior camera (at least in specs). It retails for ~$700 USD.
Best value camera for street photography
The best “bang-for-the-buck” camera for street photography is probably the Fujifilm X100T. It has incredibly-fast autofocusing capabilities, an optical/electronic viewfinder, a 35mm f/2 “full-frame” equivalent lens. If you have ever lusted after a Leica– the X100T is truly the “poor man’s Leica”. There is honestly nothing wrong with the camera, I highly recommend it if you prefer a bigger camera for street photography. It retails for around ~$1100 USD.
“Henri” Neck Strap by Eric Kim
I am very excited to announce the new edition of the “Henri” Neck Strap (Mark II). This new version is made from a darker-leather, similar to the color of dark mahogany wood or a good cup of coffee. This strap is ideal for street photographers who want both a functional and fashionable strap. You can pick up the straps below on Amazon:
- Order the “Henri” Neck Strap (Mark II) for $79.95 on Amazon >> (USA Orders Only)
- Update: International orders currently sold out! If you want to be updated for the next batch, register intent >>.
- If you have any questions about ordering, contact Cindy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
These straps are all hand-made from our good friend in Saigon, who is a leather-maker, singer, and entrepreneur. Cindy did all the final touches and packaging in Berkeley.
We hope the “Henri” strap will be a friend that can accompany you in all of your life’s journeys– and we hope this is the last strap you will ever need for your camera. Not only that, but over time, it will grow and age with you, and show “beautiful imperfections” over time.
If you’re tired of carrying around messenger bags and having sore shoulders, I highly recommend picking up the ThinkTank Perception 15— my favorite camera photography backpack. I personally bought one (by chance) in France, after my old North Face Backpack got stolen– and I have been in love ever since. Small, compact (fits under a plane seat), and carries my laptop, camera, and books.
Lightroom RAW Film Simulation Presets
If you love the gritty, visceral feel of film (yet shoot digital), use these free Lightroom presets. They work on all versions of Lightroom, and are “optimized” to be used on a digital Ricoh GR II camera. However they should work decently well on all RAW camera files.
- Eric Kim Portra 160
- Eric Kim Portra 400
- Eric Kim Portra 800
- Eric Kim Tri-X 1600
- Eric Kim Neopan 1600
How to Install:
- Open up Lightroom
- Go in the “Develop” module (hotkey “D”)
- Under the “Presets” drop-down menu (bottom-left) right-click (or on Mac, control+click) and click “Import…” and then select your presets from your “Downloads” folder
- Apply to your image