10 best street photography cameras [Updated 2020]

If you are interested in street photography, you will of course need a camera. So what is the best street photography camera to start shooting? In the list below I have compiled the best recommendations from 10 years of experience as a streetshooter with all camera brands.

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The best street photography camera is the Ricoh GR III.
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What cameras do street photographers use?

Street photographers use the cameras they have, but a few of them are actually designed for street photography in mind, the rest have really great features that stand out if you want to shoot street. Here's what they use:

What is a street camera?

Any camera can be a street photography camera. Some people use their large DLSR for street photography and do fine with it. But like I said above, some cameras are better suited for the task. It's like a swiss-army knife: If you needed to cut something, sure you could use the scissors it has built-in, or you could use a dedicated pair of scissors that make the task easier.

And if you have ever used a swiss-army knife's scissors…you know what I mean.

So, before getting into the best street photography cameras, let's look first at what makes a camera great for street photography…

Portability: Portability is paramount for street photography for two reasons. First people react to you differently if you have a large DSLR in your hands, or a harmless looking camera. People are extremely aware of the camera, and if your camera screams “photographer” then you will stick out from the crowd. That's neither a good thing nor a bad thing.

The second reason for portability is weight. If your camera is too heavy you can seriously damage your neck. It happened to my Inspired Eye co-conspirator Don Springer. He had a large mirrorless and a monster lens on and it almost screwed up his neck really bad. Even if you don't lug your camera around your neck…you still want a portable one. Why? Because when you start spending hours in the streets, your hands will get tired. That's the reason for smaller cameras: More stealthy, and lighter load.

Speed: A street camera should be quick, because things happen fast in the streets and one second is all the difference between a ruined shot and the one you wanted to make. That doesn't necessarily mean it has huge frames per second, but it does mean that the camera allows you to shoot quickly because you can twist and turn it easily, and more importantly change settings easily.

Lens: Most street photographers prefer a wide angle lens when shooting. But if you are not 100% dedicated to street photography, a zoom lens might be better. A fast lens is also recommended, especially if you want to shoot cinematic street photography or street photography at night.

What is the best focal length for street photography?

The best focal length for street photography depends on the tastes of the photographer. Most photographers, including me prefer the 28mm focal length. But some like it a little less wide, from 35mm to 50mm. And some like it even wider, from 15mm to 21mm.

Best street photography cameras of 2020

Now that we have seen what makes a camera great for street photography, let's see what the BEST street photography cameras are for this year. The first 3 in this list are the highest recommendation, the numbering afterwards is more relaxed and more a matter of tastes and specifications you are looking for.

1. Ricoh GR III

The Ricoh GR III Is by far the best street photography camera

👍 PROS

  • Made for street photographers
  • Smallest ASPC camera
  • Sharp lens
  • Snap Focus mode
  • Pocketable
  • Amazing handling

👎 CONS

  • For dedicated street photographers
  • Fixed 28mm lens

If there is one camera designed ONLY with the street photographer in mind, it's the Ricoh GR. It's now on it's third revision, so the best street photography camera is the Ricoh GR III.

It has a fixed fast 28mm f2.8, is one of the smallest APSC sensor cameras, and has a feature that you will not be able to live without as a street photographer: Full press snap. The Ricoh GR can focus like any other camera by half pressing the shutter but if you set up full press snap, if you squeeze the shutter release (without half pressing it) it will set the focus at 1m (or 1.5m, 2m) and make the shot. This feature is not available in any other camera.

Ricoh GR III street photography camera Sample image
Ricoh GR III Shot by Don Springer

One of the questions in our street photography magazine asks about gear. And the name that keeps popping over and over is the Ricoh GR. The handling of this camera is one of the best, it will allow you to change settings on the fly, and you can twist and turn your hand to get the shot without worrying if will slip from your hands.

Amazing image quality because of the large sensor. The only thing to know about this camera is…it's for dedicated street photographers only, or at least if you are used with the 28mm. So it's for street photography, but what it does, it does VERY well.

2. Fuji X10F

👍 PROS

  • One of the smallest APSC sensor cameras
  • Great dials and controls
  • Metal body

👎 CONS

  • For dedicated street photographers
  • Fixed 28mm lens
  • Not as small as the GR
  • No viewfinder like the X100 line
  • Slower than the discontinued X70

In the beginning was the Ricoh GR, but then Fuji came along and made the X70 designed to compete directly with it. The X70 being discontinued, Fuji released a budget version, the X10F. It is a bit larger than the GR, has a large APSC sensor and street photographer-minded digital zoom (read: it crops).

Basically this has a 28mm, and when you twist the front, it will give you a 28mm, 35mm and 50mm focal length. All of these 3 are the focal lengths of choice of street photographers and this is the best street photography (because it's the ONLY direct alternative) to the Ricoh GR. It's less portable but offers a bit more options if you chose not to focus on street photography 100%.

3. Fuji X100v

👍 PROS

  • One beautiful camera!
  • Amazing hybrid viewfinder
  • Goes to 28mm / 50mm with adapter
  • Great handling

👎 CONS

  • 35mm fixed lens, not 28mm
  • Adapters are expensive

If you can live with the 35mm, the Fuji X100 is the camera of choice of many street photographers. Beautiful camera, a viewfinder that needs to be seen to be believed (it can switch between LCD and see trough with a switch) and a sharp as heck lens.

The X100 is the original model, it's been followed by newer and better models like the x100s and x100t. And now there's x100x. Who comes up with these names?

It's nowhere near pocketable as the Ricoh GR is, but it makes up for it with a camera that feels more substantial in your hands than the point-and-shoot feel the Ricoh GR offers. The 35mm makes this a much better rounded camera if you don't want to focus 100% of street photography.

Since it's less wide, it's much better suited for street photography portraiture but it still stands as one of the best street photography cameras available.

Fuji x100s street photography Sample image
Fuji X100 by Tranquilin Stepane

4. Leica Q2

👍 PROS

  • Full frame sensor
  • Amazing sensor & lens
  • Very fast f1.7 28mm lens
  • Wonderful controls

👎 CONS

  • Expensive
  • Fixed 28mm lens, for dedicated street photographers

Leica is no stranger to street photography. Lots of past street photographers used Leicas for their street photography. The Leica Q takes the Leica M cameras and glues a fixed 28mm lens to it. Add to that a beautiful viewfinder and you have a photographic experience unlike any other. This baby is perfect for night street photography.

5. Panasonic LX100 II

👍 PROS

  • The best all-in-one camera
  • Perfect for street photography
  • And other genres
  • Great zoom range

👎 CONS

  • “only” 4/3

If street photography is not the only genre of photography you want to do, the Panasonic LX100 is in my opinion the best deal in cameras. It has about a 4/3 sensor, has a viewfinder integrated and killer 24mm-75mm f1.7 to 2.8. Amazing lens for such a package. This camera is great for landscapes, portraits, events, street, etc thanks to that versatile lens. It evens does amazing videos in 4k, has wifi and does timelapse, etc.

Panasonic LX100 street photography sample image
Street Photography sample image with the Panasonic LX100

That versatility unfortunately comes at a price, it does not have a focusing scale, meaning you don't know if you are focused at 1m or whatever distance. This is important to many street photographers who like to pr-focus. It does have focus peaking, so you can eyeball how much of the world is in focus as it becomes more and more highlighted. The transition from a Fuji is painless at it handles pretty much the same way with a dial on top and even has click stop aperture ring.

It is a great compact camera, and is perfect for those who do NOT want to deal with lenses. The focal length offered is simply pretty awesome if you do not want to do street photography all the time. The lx100 has been refreshed into the LX100 II

6. Best interchangeable lens: Pen F

👍 PROS

  • Amazing camera all around
  • One of the best looking ones too
  • Many street-centric lenses available
  • Great handling

👎 CONS

  • Not metal body

If you want an interchangeable lens camera for street photography, this is it. The camera body itself is of a great size. If you put in a small lens with it, it's a perfect street kit. It is an absolute joy to use and to hold, the viewfinder is large and bright. I've never used a better interchangeable lens camera in years.

The PEN F Is amazing for all genres of photography

In all the previous 4/3 cameras I owned, I could always tell that it was made on a 4/3 sensor, not this one, Image quality rivals ASPC and is practically indistinguishable.

If I had to nitpick it, the only problem with it would be that it's not really a metal body although it looks like one.

6. Sony RX100 vii

👍 PROS

  • Small and versatile
  • Perfect for street photography
  • And other genres
  • Pop-up viewfinder

👎 CONS

  • A bit on the large side
  • Expensive for that sensor size

The Sony RX100 is one of the most amazing POCKET cameras on this list. The best way to describe it would be a 1inch sensor DSLR. Sure it doesn;t have all the dials, but it has a viewfinder, incredible zoom range if you don't want to be stuck at wide-angle and is surprisingly capable as a serious video camera.

Sony RX100 street photography camera

Everything crammed into a small pocket factor is amazing, but it is also pricey. You can get a larger sensor camera for the amount that you get for just a one inch sensor in the RX100 VII. The good news is, there's always the previous models to be had.

7. Sony A7r

👍 PROS

  • Full frame
  • Outstanding ISO
  • Uncompromising image quality
  • Pretty much a “small” DSLR

👎 CONS

  • Larger than most cameras on this list
  • Bulkier
  • Full-frame price

After Sony released the NEX cameras, they introduced one of the first mirrorless full frame cameras, the Sony A7. It's pretty much THE best camera on this list because it's an absolute no-limit type beast.

The Sony A7 is perfect for all occasions

It's just so powerful in many ways, from image quality to that great grip. For street photography, if you want that full-frame look and interchangeable lenses you can't go wrong with the A7.

8. Sony RX1R

👍 PROS

  • Full frame
  • Outstanding ISO
  • Uncompromising image quality
  • Pop Up Viewfinder
  • Fast 35mm f2 lens

👎 CONS

  • Full-frame price
  • Fixed 35mm

If your idea of the best street photography camera is full-frame in small package, and you don't mind the 35mm, then this is it.

Sony RX1 Street Photography by Michael Wayne Plant

It's a fixed lens, which might be a bit uncomfortable for some because it is after all full frame and full of megapixels, but hey, there's always the A7.

9. Canon G9x

👍 PROS

  • One of the smallest 1 inch sensor
  • Great to slip in pocket
  • Great fast zoom

👎 CONS

  • Oldie
  • A bit sluggish
  • Not consistent zoom aperture

This is one of the older cameras on this list, but still a goodie. Unlike most of the others it's a 1inch sensor, one of the smaller cameras with one. It's not well known but a great alternative to the Sony RX100. Since it's a bit older it is slower and the lens is not a constant aperture. It's a fast f2.0 on the wide end but slows down to a 4.9.

9. Canon G1x mIII

👍 PROS

  • Larger than the 4/3 sensor
  • Fast 2.8 lens
  • Long range zoom
  • Great controls
  • Smaller than it looks

👎 CONS

  • Fixed lens

The Canon G series used to be a staple in serious compact cameras. Smaller sensors but great controls and viewfinder. The G17 never happened but the G1x did.

Canon G1x

It took a lot of chances, and offered a larger than 4/3 sensor and a host of new features. It's an underrated camera that didn't get much love. But Canon re

Best Street Photography Camera Conclusion

Any camera can be a street camera, but lugging a huge DSLR around your neck around for a few hours will teach you the hard way, some cameras are better for certain task than others. THE street camera to get because it's probably the ONLY one designed with the street photographer in mind is the Ricoh GR and therefore is my highest recommendation.

Most of the images on this page have been processed with these street photography presets.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments! Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.

Your camera is only as good as you are

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in getting a street photography camera, awesome! But what's next after you get it? Your camera is only as good as you are, so if you want to make the best use of your gear, check out my free street photography guide. Or if you want a step-by-step blueprint how to craft stunning images, check out this street photography course.

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54 thoughts on “10 best street photography cameras [Updated 2020]”

      1. I use a Leica 111 made in 1935, with a 3.5cm f3.5 Summaron lens and a home made wrist strap made out of thick cord. Film is Ilford XP2 Chromogenic, rated at 400 iso. Focus is set to 10 feet using the Hyperfocal Distance method. In use, I keep the camera in my pocket, wound on. I saunter along, looking for my shot. When I see it, camera comes out, up to my eye, click and back in my pocket. And I carry on walking. No trouble with police, security guards, nosy old bags etc.

        1. Your method is similar to the master’s, Cartier Bresson, the king of street photography. Same type camera. How do you frame your shots (with the tiny viewfinder?) and do you process and print yourself? If not, who does it?

  1. Nice article. loving my GR. dog photo got to me as I have the twin found on the street. Still wondering the breed. Ha, I have a street camera and street dog 😉

  2. Glad you included the Panasonic LX100 (or its Leica counterpart). This one is often overlooked by many street devotees. Ideal classical street range 24-75. A zoom that is as fast as a prime. A zoom that starts at 24. For less than price of a comparable zoom in terms of range and speed, you also get the camera in a discreet (always important on the street), compact package. And it is a zoom, not a fixed lens. And Leica glass at that. A Cartier-Bresson wet dream. EVS can show you the image in black and white. And you can specify rectangle ratio.

    1. I think it’s a STEAL for what it offers in terms of versatility, getting a lens like this on another camera is probably worth more than the LX100! Dunno if it’s Leica Leica glass, I’m not too much into gear, I THINK it’s Leica designed glass and Panasonic does the rest. Again I might be wrong on this, doesn’t detract the fact that it’s an awesome lens!

      1. I think it’s designed by Panasonic, verified by Leica. The only Panasonic compact with a lens designed by Leica themselves, as far as I know, was the Digilux 2 (Panasonic equivalent LC5, if I’m not mistaken).

    1. Sir Madam
      I have had dust issues with the GR digital 3, It is really not a problem, the dust is only visible when the apeture is stoped down. Post processing can remove it if your a perfectionist. I find smacking the bottom of the camera on a hard surface a few times drops any dust off the sensor. And no it doesnt break the camera. I have also got the LX100 but always take the Rico. I will be buying the GR2 in the near future.

  3. A really useful, nuanced article. Thank you. Of all these, I am most tempted by the Ricoh GR (but would like to hear you say more about the “small sensor look” on the GR IV). I have a Fuji X100S, but by the time you add a converter lens, it’s not small, and I prefer to work with my Leica X Vario – not small either, but lovely to set up in advance. It doesn’t have a tiltable viewfider either, which both my NEX cameras have and which I regard as a must for discreet shooting in many circumstances.
    To Vidal Centeno: What is the “recurring sensor dust issue” with the GR? i’ve not seen that mentioned elsewhere.

    1. To John Nicholson, if you just look up “Ricoh GR sensor dust issue” on your search engine the topic will show up. Having said that I’m speaking from experience. My GR had to be serviced twice in less than my first year of ownership. I’m not hard on my cameras, yet this problem occurred twice. I received a refund from Amazon and then purchased the Fuji X100s and I couldn’t be happier. Fixed lens cameras that feature motorized retractable lenses run a greater risk of taking in dust. Then there’s the question of faulty seals. There’s even a video on YouTube of a photographer who step by step took apart his Ricoh GR to clean the sensor. I’m not by any means recommending this course of action but it’s revealing, no pun intended. I think it has more to do with quality control or the lack there of. If this problem could be addressed and resolved, the Ricoh GR could be a great street camera, especially if you prefer shooting monochrome.

    2. Hehe I added a note about the dreaded dust issue, forgot about that. Another way to clean it besides ripping it apart (crazy!) is the Vacuum cleaner method. Simply clean the vacuum cleaner head real well and turn it on, put the lens of the GR (turned on) inside it and slowly make circle movements with the camera, that should take care of it.
      Co Inspired Eye creator Don showed me this and it worked for me and might for you!
      There is a HUGE difference in my opinion between portable camera and pocketable camera. The latter pretty much is always with you so you shoot more

  4. I am not able to say which is the best (probably the perfect camera does not exist) I am satisfied with my X100 and X30 small.
    I own this and try to exploit them as best I can.
    I’d like to try those you listed, especially the Ricoh, it has to be very practical.
    Best regards
    Fabio

  5. how do i preset focus in the focusing scale of the fuji x100s? one of my biggest frustrations with that camera is the slow focusing. sounds like i just have some new things to learn about how to use it properly.

    1. Shoot x100 in manual focus mode between f4 and f8. Set focus to about 7 feet (2m) and shoot away. It might be better to prefocus on an object rather rely on the scale which isn’t always accurate.

      Rob

  6. Nice Article. Are you talking about the Voigtlander 15 mm Asph Mark III (III) ?
    The other lenses Mark I and Mark II are in suspect of corner smearing and
    strong vignetting on the Fuji XE1 or Fuji X Series.

      1. coolpix A può mettere a fuoco in manuale impostando la distanza su scala metrica. In questo modo può essere anche più preciso di snap shot. Finchè la macchina è accesa rimane fissato il valore impostato manualmente sulla scala metrica

  7. Well, it’s your fault, Oliver. That I went out a while ago and bought a Ricoh GRD IV. And it is wonderful… perfect, I think, for street photography. Thanks for your Inspired Eye… I look forward to getting your e-mails! Have fun in Korea, I’ve heard it is a nice country.

  8. Ricoh gr is great but mine died after 2 years with a stuck shutter+ dust – IMHO they are not cameras built to last- though I loved it. I wouldn’t risk getting another.
    Love the x100t but I really wish they had made manually focusing easier- I use it with a 3d printed focus tab thing and it works well, but they should implement a permanent one next time and a physical scale on the lens (or snap feature) and it would be near perfect for street. The buttons are too easily touched though, and the Q button is badly implemented compared to the ricoh for switching quickly between custom settings.

  9. Pingback: The best Street Photography Cameras (&why) | Olivier Duong

    1. Achilles Petrides

      I’m no expert by any means but I’m very happy with my Olympus EP-5. Any experience with it Olivier, or any one?

  10. The Nikon V1 should be in here. 1″ sensor, superfast autofocus. I shot mine with either the native 10mm pancake (28mm equiv.), or 50mm C-Sonnar ZM on an adapter (135mm equiv.). Really nice, organic looking images. The J1 and J2 lack the EVF but have the same sensor — with the 10mm they make for compact 28mm shooter, with interesting video features as a bonus.

    I would skip the later ones, which all have different sensors and batteries (with shorter and shorter battery life with each iteration). Makes staying in the series a pain. The latest J5 is also particularly well-reviewed, by those who have used it.

  11. Pingback: Panasonic LX100 long term review: Probably one of the best camera packages ever - INSPIRED EYE

  12. I totally agree with your first two criteria for the ideal street camera although with the focal length issue I tend to subscribe to the Henri Cartier Bresson school of thought, so I prefer a 50mm equivalent focal length. My “fav” choice: the Fuji X-T10 with the Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 lens. I also like to use a Fuji X-A1 with the Fujinon XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens ’cause it’s so tiny and discreet.

  13. I just had to ask about the Sony mirrorless cameras for street shooting….particularly if you’re using a prime lens…how would you compare it to the others you recommend? (Especially against the Fuji). If you have already covered this somewhere I would love to see the link. Thank you! Speaking of Sony A7RII or A7SII, etc.

    1. Quite frankly, any camera would do, I think I said that above. Sonys are really great, the A7 is amazing, the only downside I would see is maybe the size. The grip is great so would allow for some odd angles I think 🙂

  14. I have two Voigtlander lenses, 40mm f2 (with focal reducer,) and 21mm f3.5, that I use with an A6500. I find them superb in every way. I’ll keep my eyes open for a 15mm f4.5. For AF, I’m enjoying the Sigma DN 19mm, 30mm and 60mm. Thanks for article!

  15. I looked at the Ricoh GR but ended up going for the the Fujifilm X70 – the lightest X-series camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It is a fraction bigger than the Ricoh because it has an articulating screen that enables extra-stealthy shooting (and – if you like – even selfies).

    The X70 offers different ways to focus, including tapping on the screen, which in my mind also made it better than the Ricoh.

  16. Hello ppl,
    I love street photography and I’m looking for a small camera that I can keep it in my suit pocket, so I can use it when I’m on my way to work. It must be a slim camera, otherwise I can take it with me all the time. Any ideas? Thankx

  17. Thanks for an amazing article. You have peaked my interest on so many levels but the one I’m really rattling around in my head is the idea of shooting on smaller sensors. This goes so counter to everything written and yet you make so much sense. I love gritty high contrast black and white and today’s modern cameras try their best to remove all the grit that makes those photos so great. I love the work of the great Japanese street shooters and even the 35mm black and white work of celebrity shooter and director Anton Corbin and unless I reinvest in film, I can get that anywhere. I saw a Ricoh GRD iv on ebay for a meager $200 that I’m thinking of purchasing. Why not!?

    I dig your contrarian thinking!!

    1. Thanks man! The job of most modern cameras is to give you the straightest image as possible. Great for studio, landscapes and a lot of other genres, but for me and a bunch of others it’s all about the grit. 200 is a steal, these things aren’t made anymore and are going up in price!

  18. I got excited to know that i needn’t go for the almighty Sony a7riii and could spend less on a camera that was specifically designed for street photography.
    That was until I found out that it was a 35mm equivalent. Still looking for a portable, quality, 28mm equivalent, telatively afforadle (no Leica Q) alternative…

  19. Pingback: BETAALBARE camera’s en objectieven om te beginnen met STRAATFOTOGRAFIE – leren fotograferen

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