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Ultimate Best Buys For Street Photography

With Christmas just around the corner we take a look at the best buys for street photography, including euipment which would make the perfect gift for the photographer in your life, including yourself of course!

Ultimate best buys for street photography

We consider which are the best cameras under £500 for street photography in 2020 going into 2021, including affordable compact cameras as well best lenses and focal lengths. We also recommend some superb camera accessories which can make the process quicker and easier when capturing street scenes, cityscapes and candid street portraits. Finally we’ve also added some inspirational links to street photographer galleries and our own specialist reviewer Gareth Evans videos with some top notch shooting tips.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Five Mirrorless Camera Kits For Street Photography Under £500
  3. Five Of The Best Compact Point and Shoot Cameras For Street
  4. The best focal lengths for street photography
  5. Best buys for street photography under £100 (bags, straps, tripods and accessories)
  6. Inspirational photography links and galleries

Introduction to Street Photography

Believe it or not street photography has been around since the 1850’s, not long after photography was first invented. Photographers have always been drawn to documenting moments in time from their surroundings and street scenes are one of the most dynamic and interesting environments available to us. There’s a brilliant article on the origins of street photography here at the Britannica website which gives a lot of insight into the history of this genre. Today we have a lot of technology at our disposal compared to those times when film was used.

Bus portraits candid street photo

What makes a street photograph interesting is subjective, however photographers strive for the same elements to all come together in one image, as with all genres of photography:

  1. An interesting subject
  2. Interesting light which supports the subject
  3. Suitable composition

Other elements which become important particularly with street scenes are more subtle and might include:

  • Is there a social element?
  • Does the image challenge us?
  • Is the image honest and not staged?
  • Is it innovative in some way?
  • Is it simple to understand?

Continually challenging ourselves to make more interesting images is part of the fun of photography and the passion which drives photographers to continually improve. We hope our customers enjoy this post and the recommended products to support their passion!

City street photos

Which is the best camera for street photography?

Typically street photographers opt for a fast, light, intuitive and discreet camera to capture the best images possible.

  1. Fast refers to the amount of light which a lens can capture as well as the ISO speed and frames per second for burst shooting.
  2. A lighter system is preferable for all-day shooting. Often street photographers will be out for hours walking, searching and capturing scenes, so the lighter the better.
  3. Intuitive means an easy system to work with quickly and efficiently with easy to use modes. Spontaneous moments come and go in the blink of an eye so a photographer should be as familiar as possible with the camera they use and it should be easy to operate.
  4. Discretion is often preferred as waving a huge telephoto lens, massive gripped DSLR and bright camera straps are typically off-putting to the public! Typically photographers want the subjects in their street scene to behave naturally and not even notice our work, unless we are asking prior to making images.

The choice of camera and lens can contribute advantages between a good and a great photo, along with focal length (see below) and other features such as image stabilisation and speed. When working in low light the ability of the camera and/or lens to provide extra stabilisation can make images in low light sharper and allow the photographer to shoot at lower ISO’s for cleaner images. Good technique is also essential when shooting handheld in lower light.

Budget is also of course a consideration for a camera, along with whether the photographer wants to be able to change lenses in the future, or have a lightweight point and shoot for spontaneous and quick captures.

Check our feature comparison table below for various street photography camera options to suit different budgets at under £500. All of these are capable of creating superb images even in low light situations.

Composing a street scene

Interchangeable Lens Cameras

The advantage of a camera which can accept different lenses is photographers can adapt their style of shooting with a different lens at any time. Park Cameras stock new lenses and used lenses of all types for all systems.

Five Mirrorless Camera Kits For Street Photography Under £500

(Apart from one which is just over)

Camera

Megapixels / Sensor

Lens (35mm equivalent)

Frames P/S

Stabilisation

Price at time of writing

Fujifilm X-E3 and XF 18-55mm lens

24.3MP APS-C

27-84mm

14fps

YES

£579

The Panasonic Lumix GX880

16MP MFT

24-64mm

30fps

YES

£349

Olympus PEN E-PL9 and 14-42mm EZ lens

16MP MFT

28-84mm

8.5fps

YES

£429

Sony A6000 And 16-50mm Lens

24.3MP APS-C

24-75mm

11fps

YES

£499

Canon EOS M50 and EF-M 15-45mm IS STM Lens

24.1MP APS-C

24–72mm

10fps

YES

£599

These five camera and lens kits from all of the major manufacturers boast excellent features suitable for street photographers. All five are interchangeable lens cameras and come with a suitable zoom lens with wide to standard focal length, ideal for street photography. All options are fast enough to capture any moment and all but one are under £500! We put the higher priced Canon into the list as it has such an exceptional AF system with the latest Dual pixel CMOS Face and Eye detect. Watch our own EOS M50 review below:

Five Of The Best Compact Point and Shoot Cameras For Street

Compact cameras can be a terrific starting point for any type of photography and these models we compare have the ideal lens and camera combination for street photography. The advantage of a point and shoot is everything is all-in-one with no lens changing required. They are obviously compact, light, discreet and can be extremely competent cameras. In fact our most expensive compact point and shoots are well over £4000 and crammed full of technology!

The disadvantage of a point and shoot camera is the inability to change lenses. What you buy is what you will always have. This is both a pro and a con if the photographer ever wants to try subjects which the lens isn’t suitable for, such as wildlife or sports photography. That said many compacts come with zoom lenses, sometimes with extra long focal ranges so there is definitely flexibility to shoot a broader range of subjects.

In our shortlist there are two models with fixed lenses and coincidentally they are the more expensive cameras in the list. A fixed lens on these larger APS-C sensor cameras will typically yield better quality results than superzoom cameras, but are of course less flexible.

Camera

Megapixels

Lens (35mm equivalent)

Stabilisation

Price at time of writing

Canon IXUS 185

20MP 1/2.3 type

28-224mm

YES

£99

Panasonic Lumix TZ70

12.1MP MFT

24-720mm

YES

£219

Sony DSC-WX350

18.2MP 1/2.3 type

24-720mm

YES

£279

Fujifilm XF10

24.2MP APS-C

28mm

NO

£399

RICOH GR III Street Edition

24.2MP APS-C

28mm

NO

£899

The Ricoh is designed specifically for street photography and comes with a bunch of extras including spare batteries (spare camera batteries are a must for all-day shooting) as well as a case and unique body design. This excellent video shows the GR3 out on the streets of Paris.

Two of the point and shoot cameras in our list have fixed focal length lenses, which typically provides better quality results. A fixed focal length certainly challenges the photographer to get into the right position to frame the perfect composition.

Ready to shoot with the right gear

What is the best focal length for street photography?

Customers sometimes ask what the best focal length is for street photography during our photo walks and workshops (which make a great gift or day out in themselves). There is no one answer, however we do recommend thinking about which type of images suit your style and which photographs you are most interested in capturing.

Often street photographers want to be quite near their subjects, whether that is a city scene, candid portrait or something happening on the road. In those cases a wide to standard focal length is preferable. Using a long telephoto is not only larger and less discreet, but also creates a style of image which is less intimate, more compressed and arguably more lifestyle rather than documentary style. Our eyes see at around 50mm equivalent and this is often around where many street photographers will work; between 24mm to 50mm.

Fixed Length Prime or Zoom Lens?

A prime lens (fixed focal width) will challenge the photographer and make them move around more, whilst a zoom lens provides more flexibility to frame the shot. Often street photographers will opt for a prime as they tend to be smaller and lighter with faster apertures. A fast aperture allows more light to enter and gives more control over the depth of field. Every major manufacturer makes incredible lenses of every focal length.

Ricoh are fans of street photography

Best Buys for street photography under £100

Here are some of the best camera accessories for under £100 which any street photographer needs and loves, to get the most out of their passion. These would make for a perfect Christmas gift, stocking filler or gift for any occasion.

Extra SD memory cards and camera batteries - Every photographer needs more of each of these to allow them to shoot for longer when out on the streets. Almost all come in at under £100 and are worth every penny!

A comfortable camera bag - A great compact bag is another ‘must have’ when carrying photo gear all day. Depending on what the photographer is bringing the perfect gift could be a larger backpack for more gear or a shoulder bag for less gear and more discretion. Here are our top five most popular camera bags for under £100:

  1. The Lowepro Adventura TLZ 30 II £27 lets the photographer simply grab the camera out of the case whenever needed. This bag is compact, light and fits a camera and lens.
  2. Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 10 Pewter Shoulder Bag £30 - This is a personal favourite for moving fast and light. It holds a camera, lens, spare lens and an assortment of small extras (batteries and cards for example) yet still looks like a regular bag so it is safe and secure, fast and light.
  3. Manfrotto Advanced2 Shoulder bag Large £45 will fit all the camera equipment needed including a spare lens and also comes with a handy rain cover and it is very stylish too.
  4. Lowpro Tahoe BP 150 currently £54. This backpack has it all in a robust, compact way. It will fit all the equipment needed for a day-long shooting excursion as well as a tablet and other extra accessories. It is one of our most popular camera backpacks for good reason!
  5. The Vanguard VEO GO 46M (£58) is on par with the Tahoe and comes with a rain cover, fits a 13” laptop and holds several compact lenses with the camera, yet only weighs 1kg. this model is very nice and very discreet too.

Black and white street example

Three Awesome Replacement Camera Straps

An upgraded camera strap can provide more comfort and durability than the one enclosed in a new purchase from the manufacturer. All of these models are tried and tested with great reviews from real world customers.

  • Peak Design New Slide Lite Camera Strap This is stylish, comfortable strap and suitable for small DSLR cameras or mirrorless bodies with a lens.
  • The Peak Design Cuff Charcoal Wrist Strap is a simple camera wrist strap which is ideal when you don’t want a bigger neck strap drawing attention. It also allows the photographer to feel confident their gear won’t get dropped or be misplaced whilst roaming the streets.
  • One of the ultimate camera straps is the Black Rapid Curve Breathe if you need luxurious all day comfort and the ability to carry your gear hands free. Carrying never felt better!

Tripods

A compact tripod can be a real bonus for shooting architectural street and city scenes during low light or at night time. City lights can really bring an image to life as dusk falls so a compact tripod can also make an excellent addition to the street photographers arsenal to get longer exposures. Whilst not essential, we think a tripod allows for a lower ISO resulting in cleaner images in the right situations. None of these choices pack much extra weight and are useful particularly if going for special effects like slow motion blurring.

  1. Benro Slim Carbon Fibre Tripod Kit With Ball Head can support up to 4kg at up to 146cm high, yet weighs just 1kg, perfect for pounding the streets.
  2. The Joby GorillaPod 3K MiniTripod with Ball Head Kit is a lightweight professional tripod for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras with 3kg carrying capacity. Joby tripods are synonymous with compact, clever, flexible tripods which weight next to nothing yet allow complete flexibility when shooting. We give this a big thumbs up for anyone who shoots stills or videos during the day or night and it weighs less than 300g including the ballhead so won’t weigh anyone down. This 3K options falls in the middle of the series with a lighter GorillaPod 1K ball head kit and heavier GorillaPod 5K with ballhead for more or less weight allowance.
  3. The Manfrotto PIXI EVO 2 section Mini Tripod supports up to 2.5Kg making it ideal for mirrorless cameras and lighter DSLR cameras. It’s so small and discreet yet allows for a while new world of longer exposures with virtually no weight penalty and includes a simple head.

Street photography image and video Inspiration

The Lens Culture Street Photography Awards 2020 winners gallery is an inspiration for any up and coming photographers. This gallery features artists from around the world with each photographer having a series of images which tell their particular story. Often documentary street style images are released as a series to tell the unique story according to the photographer’s viewpoint.

5 Tips for Shooting Cityscapes Video

We headed out on a photo walk with Ron Timehin around London so what better time than to run through five tips for shooting cityscapes?

As part of our gift buying guide series of blogs why not take a look at:

We hope you found this post useful and look forward to answering any questions our customers might have. Stay happy safe and shoot more!

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By Nick Dautlich on 08/12/2020

Trade in your old equipment

Fast and easy trade in service ensures your old gear is collected efficiently and you are paid quickly! It's very simple to trade in your unwanted photography gear. Just head over to our dedicated Sell or Part Exchange page, fill out the details, and we'll get back to you with an offer for your old gear. Take the cash, or put it towards the cost of your new gear. It's up to you! Find out more