Street photographers are always searching for the best street photography camera. Luckily, there are always new cameras developed and released on the market.
So, what is the best camera for street photography? It depends on what you are photographing. Candid images are going to be challenging to capture with a hefty DSLR camera. Architectural images won’t have the high dynamic range they deserve from a point-and-shoot.
But the camera isn’t the only important factor for great images. A stunning photograph comes from a multitude of areas. You need a usable camera and a quality lens, of course. But patience, planning, and confidence are just as essential.
Our top pick combines exquisite looks and build quality, with a compact unobtrusive body.
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
What Is the Best Street Photography Camera Today?
Before looking at some of the details of our recommended cameras, let’s have a look at all our suggestions.
- Long-exposure presets
- Plenty of autofocus (AF) points
- Nice, uncropped 4K video capabilities
- Dual memory card slots (UHS-II)
- Excellent value
- Solid 4K video quality
- Fully articulating screen is helpful for capturing video
- Compact body for a DSLR
- Insanely good battery life
- Incredibly sharp images
- Beautiful, classic design
- Clear physical controls
- Accurate optical focusing
- 26 MP sensor provides good noise reduction and fast readout
- Sharp JPEGs with low noise
- 15 quality film simulations
- Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
- Tilting touchscreen
- Excellent 4K Ultra HD video
- Small, lightweight camera
- Astonishing autofocus
- Terrific battery life
- Silent shooting
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization reduces camera shake
- Affordable full frame mirrorless option
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Nice 4K video performance
- Built-in macro stacking and time-lapse
- Convenient Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Powerful 32.5 MP APS-C sensor
- Rapid 30 fps burst mode
- Uncropped 4K video with full AF
- Compact and lightweight body
- Accurate AF with face and eye detection
- Large 24 MP APS-C sensor
- Impressive, sharp image quality
- Fast 40mm (full frame equivalent) fixed prime lens with a f/2.8 aperture
- Minimum focus distance of 6 cm
- Handy touchscreen shows bright and vivid images
- Beautifully-made all-metal body
- Superb built-in flash
- Silent operation
- Very neat and compact
- Great image quality
Now, starting with our top pick, let’s see some more detail about these cameras.
1. Fujifilm X70
Very similar in size and handling to the GR III, Fujifilm’s X70 is another advanced point-and-shoot. It has all the advantages of Fujifilm. Things like beautiful colors, film simulation modes, retro layout, and a beautiful, durable body.
Its autofocus is quick and snappy, utilizing on-sensor phase detection. A 28mm-equivalent, f/2.8 lens projects clear and colorful images onto the 16 MP APS-C sensor.
It’s cheaper than the GR III, but it’s also one generation older. Both are designed and best used for street photography.
2. Nikon D780
The 24 megapixel D780 is a fresh update to the well-known D750. It’s relatively inexpensive and has all the advantages of a typical full frame DSLR.
This includes a wide dynamic range, lens options, great control surfaces, and two card slots. So, if you ever want to use it for something else than street photography, it won’t fail you.
It also features a new EXPEED 6 image processing engine. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity and an unbelievable ISO capacity of 204,800. Besides these, Nikon recently started using backlight illuminated sensor technology to ensure that your images will be tack sharp and detailed.
It’s a workhorse camera, that’s for sure, and a great choice for street, too. A sturdy and reliable model that’s likely to impress.
3. Canon EOS Rebel SL3
Canon’s best cameras for street photography are no longer their DSLRs. But when it comes to less expensive choices, one still stands out.
The SL3 is one of the smallest and lightest DSLRs ever made, yet it’s packed with powerful features. First, in Canon’s Rebel series, it shoots 4K video. Its 24 MP APS-C sensor produces nice images throughout the day. But don’t expect a revelation in low light.
Its autofocus system is quite outdated in viewfinder mode. But Dual Pixel autofocus is accurate in live view mode. It tracks subjects well. A flip-out screen helps composition from unusual angles. Wireless connectivity options make it a great choice for on-the-road sharing.
Pair it with a 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens for a compact, affordable and expandable DSLR camera setup for street photography.
4. Leica M (240)
The Leica M (240) Digital Rangefinder Camera is one-of-a-kind. The 240 is bigger than its older brother M model. However, it has a very quiet shutter action. This is perfect for close-ups and candid street photos.
It has live view capability through its 3″ LCD screen. The rangefinder is a treat for all those who miss it from the newer generation of cameras.
ISO runs all the way to 6400, yet only minimal noise comes even from the 3200 ISO setting. It has a full frame sensor with a resolution of 24 MP. The image quality of the jpegs is amazing, but it is a Leica we are talking about.
It is the most expensive camera here, coming in at well over double the price of other cameras. You pay for the brand and the feeling here. If that’s something that inspires and motivates you, the 240 won’t fail you.
It is a powerful camera for street photographers as long as you’re not afraid to take it out.
5. Fujifilm X100V
Fujifilm’s new fixed-lens rangefinder camera is similar in feel and handling to a Leica. Its price is quite high, but you get what you pay for.
Its brand-new, 23mm f/2 lens produces razor-sharp and colorful images. Paired with the 26 MP APS-C sensor, the X100V promises excellent detail and dynamics.
It’s weather sealed (if you add a UV filter), and it’s built from high-quality metal. Durability won’t be an issue. Straight-out-of-camera tones (especially skin tones) are beautiful. If you can justify this price for a fixed-lens camera, you’ll love the X100V camera for street photography.
6. Sony a6600
Sony’s fantastic new crop sensor camera promises a lot for street photography. Its blazing-fast hybrid autofocus system and high burst rate make sure that you’ll rarely miss any shots.
Its grip, while still not giving the same feel as a large DLSR, is comfortable to hold for longer periods. Yet, the body is still small. If you pair it with small or medium-sized lenses, you’ll get a stealthy street combo.
7. Canon EOS RP
Canon’s tiny and cheap full frame mirrorless is also an excellent option. Its 26 MP sensor offers solid full frame performance in terms of image quality.
Its Dual Pixel autofocus is fast and accurate, even in dark conditions. A recent firmware upgrade fixed many issues that earlier reviews criticized.
In a kit with the RF 35mm f/1.8 lens, it’s a fantastic deal for street photography.
8. Canon EOS M6 MkII
Canon’s flagship APS-C mirrorless is a mini power station. It has a 32 MP sensor and incredible tracking capabilities. Yet, it still fits in a similarly sized body as the A6600.
The issue with Canon sensors’ dynamic range is finally gone. The M6 MkII (like the 90D) is now up there with the competition. One downside is that it doesn’t have a lot of native lens options. The EF-M mount is not a widespread one.
But if you pair it with the EF-M 22mm f/2 lens, you have a small, lightweight kit. It’s perfect for capturing candid street moments.
9. Ricoh GR IIIx
The Ricoh GR III is tiny, fits in my pocket, and allows me perfect spy-like images. A 28mm-equivalent, f/2.8 lens extends off the camera body but folds back when the camera is turned off.
Thanks to its phase-detection-based autofocus system, locking in on subjects is quick and accurate with the GR III. Its magnesium-alloy body makes this a very durable, easy-to-tote street photography camera.
Its 24 MP APS-C-sized sensor produces dynamic and colorful (RAW) photos, with low noise levels. Ricoh omitted its optical low pass filter for ultra-sharp and detailed images. We love that!
What About Your Smartphone?
It’s a common saying, but true—the best camera is what you have with you.
This is particularly relevant for street photography, where your aim is to capture everyday scenes. You need to have your camera ready for that.
You most likely have a usable camera on your phone. It will be more than enough for shooting street photography with good image quality.
Most smartphone lenses are around the 24-28mm effective range. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, their sensors are getting better every day. Even for low-light performance. That’s what I recommend for street photography anyway!
What to Look for in a Street Photography Camera
There are a few things your camera will need for capturing street photography. No matter what your focus is, shooting in RAW is a must. It gives you more play when editing your images.
A system that allows you to change your lens is a plus, but not a necessity.
What is the best focal length for street photography? You’ll get the best, most inclusive shots with a medium-wide lens. Around 28mm is best, in my experience.
Portability is also essential. You may find yourself traipsing far and wide over a city capturing all it has to offer. You don’t want to have a camera that is too bulky.
Speed is essential in capturing those moments that happen in a blink of an eye. A high burst rate is really useful. It will allow you to have more chances to snap an image at the perfect moment.
A large, bulky camera is easily spotted a mile off. This can stop you from catching those candid shots. It will not fit in your pocket for discreet, spy-like captures. A poorly designed camera body also means more time to navigate through those buttons and settings.
DSLRs are not for every type of street photography. If you want powerful sensors, high frame rates, and other fancy features, you’ll pay a lot. And the camera will be big and heavy. If you want a smaller, cheaper package (say, under $1000), you have to make sacrifices on other fronts.
But for some, a DSLR camera is still the preferred type for street photography.
Each one of these cameras has a specific area that makes it shine. The DSLR captures the meat and majority of your work, due to lenses and settings.
The mirrorless systems are not far behind. They let you move more freely and get more shots. They are also lightweight, meaning you won’t be fatigued from carrying the camera around.
Our top choice combines neat portability and excellent image quality, in a really attractive body.