The best camera is the one that’s with you and this should put the iPhone or android device on top of this list.
Let’s ignore the phones for a moment and take a look at the latest digital cameras particularly suitable for street shooting. The term street photography these days lacks clear definition.
More after the break
Traditionally, street photography is the type of candid photography as defined by the the pioneers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, to mention a few. Ideally, it represents the relation ship between photographer, his environment and subjects, observed from an emotional and subjective point of view, recorded without staging, interfering, or disrupting the scenery or flow of events. The final photograph can be cropped to emphasize and clarify the photographers point of view with no further digital alteration to the image (no cloning or removing of unwanted objects in the picture).
Street photographers and social documentary photographers are closely related, the main difference being the very subjective point of view and lack of commercial value in the street photographer’s work. Traditionally street photography falls in the fine art category.
I strongly favor cameras mimicking the rangefinder design from the film era.
This preference defines what I am looking for:
1 silent shutter
2 unobtrusive, relatively small
3 zero shutter lag
4 option for hyper focal distance settings or snap shot settings, instantaneous AF speed
5 lots of depth of field as opposed to shallow depth of field
6 high frame rate large raw buffer
7 smallish high quality lenses to cover the most popular focal length for street photography
from 24 to 50mm (full frame or equivalent)
8 excellent OVF and LCD, preferably articulated and easy to view in bright daylight
9 low light performance
10 good to very good image quality, raw a must
Note that low light performance and image quality are at the end of the list. I consider point 1-4 much more important for street photography.
#1: Fuji X100T, Fuji X100s
The good: Silent shutter, unobtrusive, classic 35mm f2 pancake lens, fast to very fast af, hybrid finder, option to add 28mm and 50mm conversion lens, option to work with hyper focal distance settings, high frame rate, large buffer, good low light performance, good image quality
The not so good: hyperfocal distance setting cannot be locked, accidental turn of the focus ring can mess up your distance settings and ruin your images, minor shutter lag even in mf mode
LCD not articulated
Amazing Fuji X100s deals here on ebay
Fuji X100t here on ebay
#2: Ricoh GH
The good: Very small and unobtrusive, silent shutter, snap shot mode, zero shutter lag in snap mode, option to change focal length to 35mm equiv crop mode, option to attach high quality 21mm attachment, excellent image quality, extremely sharp lens
The not so good: useless af for street shooting (too slow) , optional OVF not great, lacks articulated LCD
good deals on Ricoh GR here on ebay
#3: Sony A7s
The good: Silent shutter, relatively small and unobtrusive, hyper focal distance settings with mf vintage lenses, zero shutter lag in mf mode, fast af speed (just) with the Zeiss Fe 35mm, great EFV, very good articulated LCD, incredible low light performance, excellent image quality
The not so good: af speed could be faster, DSLR like hump for EVF
excellent deals on the Sony A7s here on ebay
#4: Panasonic gH4
The good: silent shutter, beyond class leading, incredibly fast af speed, no need for hyper focal distance settings due to af performance, very small high quality lenses, good EVF and articulated LCD
the not so good: not as small and unobtrusive as the rest
The Panasonic GH4 here on Ebay
#5 Panasonic LX100
The good: small and unobtrusive, silent shutter, beyond class leading, incredibly fast af speed, no need for hyper focal distance settings due to af performance, good EVF, great lens covering everything one needs for street shooting and slightly beyond
The not so good: LCD not articulated, lens “erection” when “turned on”
I have used all these cameras over an extended period of time, except the LX100, which I borrowed for a weekend snapping approx 400 images. I love them all, each camera has its strength and weaknesses. I settled for the Sony A7s, not because it’s the best street camera but because I use it for everything, except when I need high mp files. Having one system to shoot assignments of all sorts, be it stills or video AND personal work is quite liberating.
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