best dslr for street photography

What makes a camera specifically well suited for street photography? what is the Best Dslr For Street Photography, affordable street photography camera and best film cameras for street photography? Good questions. In a genre that appreciates the gritty, the spontaneous, the accidental, the mistake, you can pretty much use whatever works for you. If you are comfortable with a camera and can operate it with acuity, the resolution, ISO sensitivity, dynamic range, and all the relentlessly discussed quantifiable factors are much less important than the way you interact with people, understand the rhythms of the street, and recognize the qualities of light. However, there are a few camera features that do jibe well with street photography and, in general, stealth, speed, and dependability are key elements. Features like the LCD screen, viewfinder, AF speed, continuous shooting speed, lens’s focal length and aperture, and even onboard flash should be considered important. This is not to say that sensor type and ISO capability aren’t factors in street photography, but not necessarily more so than in any other type of photography.

Below is a select group of digital cameras that I think make solid street performers; they’re chosen from the DSLR category.

best dslr for street photography

Canon Powershot G1 X Mark III

best camera for street photography canon powershot g1 mark iii

Canon’s Powershot G1 X Mark III is an interesting compact camera that brings to the table features that are typically found in cameras with changeable lenses. This high-end camera comes with a 24MP CMOS sensor and a 24 – 72mm zoom lens. What makes the Powershot G1 X Mark III special is the fact that it has a DSLR-sized sensor – making it an ideal companion for street photographers who don’t mind it’s slightly larger size.

You should get the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark III if you love to have;

  • A DSLR-sized sensor within a compact body.
  • Flip screen with touch controls.
  • Remote control using your smartphone.
  • Weatherproof sealing
  • Good image stabilization
  • Inbuilt ND filter

Downsides of the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark III

  • Relatively weak battery life,
  • Slow lens. Lens has limitations in terms of creativity.
  • Lacks a microphone port; not exactly built for video production,
  • Poor zoom ability.


Nikon D750

best camera for street photography nikon d750

Nikon D750 is a DSLR camera that works both in the context of street photography and in the context that DSLRs are traditionally used (more “formal” photography). Although DSLRs aren’t the preference of most street photographers, the Nikon D750 is an exception. The Nikon D750 stands out because it’s relatively light compared to other DSLRs, making it a good compromise camera for those who want a full featured DSLR but don’t want the burden of lugging a heavier  camera everywhere.

Why pick the Nikon D750?

  • Built-in optical viewfinder
  • Tilting screen (quite useful for shooting in various angles and positions)
  • Large sensor (makes it pretty handy in low light conditions)
  • Live view option if you don’t feel like using the viewfinder
  • Weatherproofed body
  • You have the option of changing the lens as desired
  • Very good battery life
  • Smartphone remote control
  • Very fast shutter speed – 6.5fps for burst mode.

Cons of the Nikon D750

  • Heavy body; might not be easy to carry around all day.
  • Due to its size, it draws a lot of attention when used on the street.
  • No image stabilization.


Sony RX100 VII

best camera for street photography Sony RX100 VII

This camera is quite small and very light. If you are searching for a camera that can make you feel like you’re not carrying around anything, or a camera that’s unintrusive to others when you’re shooting, then Sony’s RX100 VII is a good choice for you. This camera is packed with a number of nifty features and has the ability to deliver top notch images. With super-fast autofocus and a 24 – 200mm zoom lens, the Sony RX100 VII is a really good camera for street photography.

Pros of the Sony RX100 VII

  • High-speed shooting
  • Fast and reliable autofocus
  • Can fit comfortably into pockets
  • An incredible zoom range for such a compact camera
  • Tilting screen with touch controls
  • Has a built-in electronic viewfinder
  • Supports 4k video shooting

Cons of the Sony RX100 VII

  • No shoe for external flash
  • Poor battery life
  • Touch controls are limited
  • It can be very slippery in to hold
  • Quite expensive when compared to cameras in the same class.


Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

best camera for street photography Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 a is an advanced point-and-shoot camera that offers interesting manual controls despite its fixed lens. This sleek compact camera comes with a 24mm Leica lens that is super-fast. With a large image sensor, quick autofocus and a wide aperture range, the Lumix LX100 solidifies itself as a pretty good choice when it comes to the best cameras for street photography.

Why get the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100?

  • Very fast autofocus
  • Really good ISO performance
  • A sharp and reliable electronic viewfinder
  • Easy to use with a nice layout of controls
  • Wide aperture range and a large image sensor

Drawbacks of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

  • Quite expensive
  • Can feel a little bulky when held
  • No built-in flash
  • Fixed LCD screen

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’


Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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