What is the best camera for today’s street photography?
So many excellent options exist today. When you try out new gear, the technology can sometimes get in the way. Despite this, when you shop for a new street photography camera, try out a few simpler models first, to see if they fit your style. If you love your iPhone, than it is the best street photography camera for you.
We’ll get to my two top street photography picks below, but first, here’s the thing. You will of course buy a camera you can afford, but in addition to the economic piece, there are 3 other pieces of the puzzle, to ponder: Ergonomics, Likeability, and Long Term Quality.
ERGONOMICS OF YOUR STREET CAMERA:
You want your camera to fit your hand like your best pair of pants. A street camera can be so well-designed, you want to pick it up. It does not have to be colored red, or be so flashy that it stand outs in a crowd. In fact, these are qualities you may want to avoid in a street photography camera.
Weight is just as important as price. Can you carry it around for at least 5 hours? If you purchase a camera and it is too heavy, you won’t use it. Small, plastic, lightweight cameras are great, but build quality in the long term will bring you more satisfaction, so look for a machine that finds a happy medium between sturdiness and lighter weight.
The camera that you are fond of will be the one you use. The best camera for street photography is the one you can’t wait to pick up. It’s better to try many models in the store, over time, without buying, until you find one you truly like and can live with its drawbacks, than it is to buy one brand and switch every year or every time a new model comes out.
I believe that switching camera brands often does not help you improve your photography.
LONG TERM QUALITY:
In street photography, quality and ease-of-use go hand in hand. Although today’s cameras offer so many features, no single model is a Swiss Army Knife, because if it was it would be way too heavy. When thinking of the long term quality of your street photography camera, look for:
Fast, accurate auto-focusing. This is essential.
Ease of Use of all controls and menus.
A smooth download process to back up the images.
Ability to shoot a fast shutter speed like 1/250th and 1/500th of a second.
My TOP TWO CHOICES:
1. Ricoh GR (about $800 USD) The full press snap focus, snap focus and manual focusing options of the Ricoh GR are features that are great for street photography. This is because good street photographs are made quickly, with fixed focus distance at the right aperture.
This is correctly called the Zone of Focus and is also known as the Depth of Field. The newest GR is beloved by many, and draws its lineage from a line of classic street photography film cameras by Ricoh over decades.
2. Fuji XPRO 2 ($1700 USD and more). The XPro2 weighs about a pound. Apart from a its tough- to- change ISO dial, the XPro2 is has a good build. It focuses fast, is the right weight, and well constructed. A handy feature is that the XPro2 has two Secure Digital (SD) card slots for memory, and one of them is a UHS-II slot. This is an ultra high speed rate of getting your pictures from the time of the shot to the memory chip.
3. BONUS: Olympus E-M10 Mark III. If you are new to photography, be sure to take a close look at the micro 4/3rds Olympus E-M10 Mark III. It is fast, reliable, with a good OFV (optical view finder) and 5-axis image stabilization, which allows 1-second hand held exposures with a 25 mm lens
About the Author: Austin’s street photographs involve faces, but also what we do with our hands. Jim is a photographer, a long time Apogee Columnist, a Photo Educator, and you can see his books, calendars and photography courses at Jimages.com