Street Photography – What Camera, What Lens

There seems to be a lot of interest in Street Photography currently. With that comes lots of advice on what camera you should use and what lens.

From my previous article on whether you are a fisherman or hunter, the other main consideration is your lens and camera choice which can make a big difference.

Coffee Time

The definitive camera for Street Photography has for a long time been the Leica M film camera, pre-focused its silent and deadly.

Today many would say the Ricoh GR with its small form factor and its snap focus ability is one of the top contenders and certainly if you can accept the lack of viewfinder its certainly up there. The other top contender is of course the Fuji X100, with its optical viewfinder and fast f/2 35mm equivalent lens, its another top choice.

Farming Tools

But why not an SLR, well there are easily spotted and mark you out as a ‘photographer but one of the smaller bodies and a pancake lens is an option, the other option is of course a long lens and picking your subjects off from a distance.

Leica M8 50mm Summicron
Leica M8 50mm Summicron

The current mirrorless cameras with their tillable rear screens are also another good potential, allowing waist level composition and not alerting your subject as you raise the camera.

Leica M4, Summicron 35mm Ilford Delta 400
Leica M4, Summicron 35mm Ilford Delta 400

But what about the lens?

Olympus OM-D E-M10 14-150mm
Olympus OM-D E-M10 14-150mm

Well the above shots were taken with 24mm, 35mm and 50mm on a Leica M8 or a film full frame Leica M4, and a superzoom on an Olympus OM-D E-M10; the shot below was taken with a Nikon V1 with a fixed 10mm (28mm equivalent) lens.

Nikon V1 10mm f/2.8
Nikon V1 10mm f/2.8

While a telephoto zoom can be useful especially when combined with a waist level viewfinder ie the tilt rear lcd screen, traditionally a fixed length wideangle or 50mm standard has been the one to go for.

If you use a fixed length prime for any length of time you get to instinctively know the angle of view and can then take pictures that much quicker. With a camera with fast autofocus or decent manual focus and the ability to manual prefocus.

So what should you use, well once again its down to you.  Do you have an affinity with the longer lens or a wide angle.  Does the thought of getting in close with a 28 or 35mm thrill you or terrify you.  Do you like to rely on autofocus, or manual zone focus.  Finally the body, SLR, rangefinder, mirrorless what best suits you?

Leica M8
Leica M8

In my case I most enjoy a Leica rangefinder with 35mm lens, but I possibly get better results from a mirrorless camera with either a fixed wide angle or telephoto zoom.  If I look through my back catalogue of photographs you will find that the majority of good Street Photography was taken with the Leica but that is just because I generally carry the Leica with me more often and that is possibly the most important point.

Its the camera with you that gets the shot, and which camera do you prefer to carry? for some thats an SLR for others a mirrorless, for me a Leica and for many looking at flicker that would be an iPhone.

Going Shopping, Nikone D200 SLR
Going Shopping, Nikon D200 SLR

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