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.
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:
- 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
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 100+ Inspirational Street Photography Books You Gotta Buy.
My favorite digital camera for street photography
There is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. However my favorite digital camera for street photography is:
#1: Ricoh GR II ($549.95)
The new 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.
# 2. Fujifilm X100T ($1295)
My second favorite camera for street photography is the Fujifilm X100T. It is probably the best value camera for street photography, with a 35mm f/2 lens, rangefinder styling body, and super-fast autofocusing.
At the end of the day, I prefer the Ricoh GR II because of the size, compactness, and ability to carry it with me everywhere I go.
But if you prefer a camera with a viewfinder, I recommend the Fujifilm X100T.
Film camera recommendation for street photography
#1: Leica M6 (~$1400) and 35mm f/2.5 Voightlander lens ($409)
The Leica M6 is definitely the best bang-for-the-buck film Leica you can get. It is has a meter, all the frame lines you need, and is quite compact and light.
In terms of the lens, the Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 lens is the best bang-for-the-buck lens you can get ($409). It only costs a few hundred bucks, is one of the smallest lenses I’ve used, and is very sharp as well.
For buying any film cameras, I highly recommend Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter). I get all my stuff from him, and I love the peace-of-mind he gives me (he personally makes sure all the cameras work properly and are in good condition). You can also check out eBay or Craigslist.
#2: Contax T2
For a great value point and shoot film camera, I recommend the Contax T2. It is a beast of a point-and-shoot film camera, has aperture-dials on the front lens, and a super-sharp 38mm lens (and integrated flash).
The perfect carry-around camera.
Lens Recommendations for Street Photography
I generally recommend around a 35mm full-frame equivalent in terms of focal length for street photography. I also don’t advocate for zoom or telephoto lenses. Depending on your camera, I would recommend getting the smallest and most compact (close to) 35mm full-frame equivalent.
I recommend the Fujifilm 27mm f/2.8 lens (around a ~40mm full-frame equivalent) for any X-series cameras. It is small, cheap, and compact– and very sharp (and a great focal length for street photography).
I recommend the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, a great pancake lens that has manual-focusing capabilities (and scale focus) directly on the lens.
If you have a full-frame Canon DSLR, I highly recommend the Canon 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens.
If you have a crop-sensor Canon DSLR, I recommend the Canon 24mm f/2.8 Lens (roughly a ~38mm full-frame equivalent).
If you have a full-frame Nikon DSLR, I highly recommend the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 Lens.
If you have a crop-sensor Nikon DSLR, I recommend the Nikon 24mm f/2.8 Lens (roughly a ~38mm full-frame equivalent).
Bag: ThinkTank Retrospective 5 ($144)
When shooting street photography, it is important to have a small and light bag that isn’t very conspicuous. This is why I recommend the thinkTANK Retrospective 5 ($144), as it is small and discrete–while being able to carry all of your street photography gear. It is perfect for those who shoot with Leica’s, micro 4/3rds, or even those with small DSLR’s.
If you want a slightly larger bag that fits an iPad, I recommend the thinkTANK Retrospective 7 ($162).
Check out the “Street Strap” — one of my favorite straps for my Leica. It also works well for Fujifilms, Micro 4/3rds, and other smaller cameras.
If you own a DSLR, I recommend the Custom SLR Glidestrap.
If you own a point-and-shoot (or prefer a hand-strap), I recommend the Gordy Handstrap.
Flashes for Street Photography
If you are interested in using a flash for street photography, here are some options:
If you shoot with a Leica, I recommend the Leica SF 20 (if you shoot film) or the Leica SF 24D (if you shoot digital). They are both discontinued, I’d recommend trying to find a used one on eBay.
The difference between the both is that the Leica SF 24D allows TTL mode on digital Leicas. You can still use the Leica SF 20 on a digital Leica, but you won’t have TTL mode.
The Leica SF-series flash is great because it is compact, powerful, and recharges extremely quickly. They also run on CR 123A batteries which last a long time.
If you shoot with a Fujifilm X100-series camera, I’d just recommend using the integrated flash. For most cases, it is strong enough.
If you want a stronger flash, Fuji makes an external flash (EF-X20) which is small and compact, and allows you to use either TTL or manual. I tried using it and it worked quite well. The TTL mode is accurate and there are nice dials to control it manually. I found one small annoyance is that it only accepts AAA batteries. Not only that, but the recharge time was a bit slow and the batteries die relatively quickly. But still the best bang-for-the-buck flash for a Fuji.
If you shoot street photography with a DSLR, I just recommend using the pop-up integrated flash in “P” mode. Why? It is generally powerful enough, and gives good “pop” to your subjects.
If you want an affordable flash, I recommend the YN 560— which I used to use on my old Canon 5D.
Film for Street Photography
You don’t need a specific film to shoot street photography. But I generally do recommend shooting at least an ISO of 400 — so your shutter speed is quick enough.
For color, I personally shoot Kodak Portra 400, which has great saturation, contrast, and skin tones.
Black and White Film
For black and white film, I shoot Kodak Tri-X 400. It is the tested classic, and used for decades. The grain, contrast, and sharpness is unparalleled. I personally recommend pushing the film to ISO 800 or even 1600 if you’re shooting without a flash.
#1: Epson v800 ($657)
If you shoot film, I recommend investing in an Epson v800, which scans 35mm, medium format, and even large format. Great sharpness, speed, resolution, and a good “all in one” solution for all your film needs.
#2: Plustek Opticfilm 8200 ($380)
The Plustek is another more affordable option, which only scans 35mm. The Plustek actually gives higher-quality 35mm scans than the Epson v800, but it is a lot slower (you have to scan with the Plustek one-at-a-time). But you can’t beat the Plustek for the value.