This article was updated in November 2023 with contributions from Simon Ringsmuth and Jaymes Dempsey.
Choosing the best camera for street photography doesn’t have to be difficult, but the huge number of cameras on the market – combined with the number of flashy features – can make the task overwhelming, especially if you’re only just getting started as a street snapper.
Fortunately, most of the latest camera models are highly capable, so it’s tough to make a truly bad choice. On the other hand, there are a handful of street photography cameras that rise above the rest thanks to a unique combination of features. While street photography can be done with almost any camera, from mobile phones to medium format models, there are a few key characteristics to look for when making your purchase, including a compact body, easy-to-use manual controls, a quiet shutter, and a fast response time.
Other features like a tilting screen, a built-in ND filter, a bright viewfinder, and weather sealing are nice to have, but they’re not deal-breakers for most photographers. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide what’s important to you and choose accordingly; if you’re not sure where to start, this list should be of use.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 11 best street photography cameras in 2023!
(Regarding our rankings: The top three picks are listed in order; after that, every camera is about equally good, followed by four honorable mentions that don’t quite make the cut.)
1. Fujifilm X100V (The best street photography camera)
Back in 2010, Fujifilm released the original X100, a point-and-shoot model featuring a groundbreaking set of features including a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder and an APS-C sensor. It quickly became a runaway hit.
The X100V is the fifth iteration of this camera, and over the years Fujifilm has steadily refined its street photography capabilities. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation settings each have their own control dials, so they’re dead simple to adjust on the fly. The hybrid viewfinder lets you shoot with an OVF, an EVF, or even an old-school rangefinder display, while the flip-out touchscreen makes it easy to compose from low angles.
Other benefits for street photographers include a 23mm fixed lens mated to an APS-C sensor, which results in a 35mm equivalent field of view that’s perfect for street photography. The lens is sharp and bright with a maximum aperture of f/2, so you need not worry about missing shots due to poor light. The built-in leaf shutter makes photography virtually silent, which is great if you value discretion.
The X100V is small but not quite pocketable, and it has a full suite of customizable buttons and dials to suit your style. If you want a virtually no-compromises camera designed from the ground up for street shooters, the Fuji X100V is a fantastic option; it is, in my opinion, the best camera for street photography today.
- Stellar image quality
- Easy-to-use controls
- Hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder-style viewfinder (the only one of its kind among all the cameras on this list)
- Beautiful JPEG files with a wide variety of available film simulations
- Weather sealing requires the purchase of an adapter ring for the front of the lens
- Autofocus isn’t as fast as some of its peers
- Expensive, especially for casual photographers
- No image stabilization
2.(The best budget street photography camera)
Theline of cameras has been a favorite of street photographers for years and with good reason. The third iteration of this venerable camera series continues the tradition; it’s small in size but packs quite a punch, and it offers nearly everything a beginner or intermediate street photographer could want.
An 18mm lens mated to the APS-C sensor results in a 28mm field of view; this is a bit wider than the Fujifilm X100V (above) and more like what you might get on a mobile phone. Some people like the wider approach, and if that’s you, then the GR III will be a good fit (though I must admit that I find the 35mm field of view much more pleasing and versatile). Image quality is outstanding, and high-ISO shots look great. Lots of photographers swear by the Ricoh black-and-white JPEGs, so if you like to take monochrome street shots, this may be a good option.
The Ricoh GR III has plenty of buttons but not as many dedicated controls as the Fujifilm X100V (and other cameras on this list). It’s not quite as easy to rapidly change settings, but many custom functions can be mapped to specific buttons to make things simpler. The maximum f/2.8 aperture isn’t top of the line, but the camera compensates with built-in image stabilization; this makes low-light street photography a bit more practical as long as you are shooting still subjects. A non-tilting touchscreen makes composing shots a cinch, but the lack of a dedicated viewfinder is certainly something to consider if you prefer composing your shots by bringing the camera up to your eye.
- The small size makes it easy to carry in a pocket or handbag
- Much more affordable than the Fuji X100V and some other options on this list
- Excellent image quality
- Built-in image stabilization
- The f/2.8 lens is not as bright as the competition
- The lack of a built-in viewfinder means photos must be composed using the rear LCD screen
- Battery life isn’t great, so you might consider carrying a spare
3. Sony RX100 VII (The best Sony camera for street photography)
The Sony RX100 line has been around for many years and has gone through myriad iterations to adapt to the demands of photographers. The most dramatic change in recent years is the lens, which used to have a much narrower focal range but now goes all the way from 24mm to 200mm (in equivalent 35mm measurements). This makes the RX100 VII an outstanding camera for many genres, including street photography.
While the lens isn’t nearly as bright as the glass on the Fuji X100V or the Ricoh GR III, its maximum f/2.8 aperture (on the wide end) is great for daytime street photography. This quickly shrinks to a maximum f/4.5 aperture as you zoom in, but most street photographers typically shoot wide as opposed to telephoto, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The 1″ sensor in the Sony RX100 VII is what enables this camera to have such a versatile lens. And while it’s no match for its APS-C and full-frame siblings’ image quality and high-ISO performance, Sony makes up for it in terms of sheer technological prowess.
The RX100 VII camera is packed to the gills with features normally found on expensive mirrorless cameras. Autofocus is snappy and reliable and includes subject tracking and eye AF, video recording is outstanding, and the pop-up viewfinder will certainly be appreciated by street photographers. A rear touchscreen, a relatively robust set of manual controls, and several customizable buttons mean you can set the camera to suit your preferences. At the end of the day, the reason this camera earns a spot on my list is due to its unique combination of features and size; no other camera offers so much in so small a body.
- The small size makes the camera extremely portable and pocketable
- Incredible technology, including 4K video and fast, reliable autofocus
- Versatile lens with a 200mm focal length at the long end
- Optical stabilization helps you get sharp shots of still subjects in low light
- f/2.8 aperture is only available at the widest end of the focal range
- The small image sensor results in less depth of field and inferior high-ISO performance
- The pop-up viewfinder isn’t instantly accessible
4. Panasonic Lumix LX100 II (The best Panasonic camera for street photography
While the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II isn’t as feature-packed as other cameras on the list, it’s still an excellent street photography model thanks to its intuitive ergonomics, solid image quality, and compact size.
The LX100 II is easy to use and packs fast autofocus and responsive controls, including dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation. The built-in 24-75mm lens is great for wide-angle shots as well as tighter crops, and the bright f/1.7 aperture is perfect for low-light photography, though it does shrink to f/2.8 when zoomed to 75mm. Street photographers will love the small size of this LX100 II, though the lens does stick out from the body, so I don’t recommend letting the camera rattle around in a pocket or handbag.
Panasonic packs a lot of technology into its cameras, and the Lumix LX100 II has a range of high-tech features that’ll please street photographers. The AF points cover nearly the entire frame so you can focus almost anywhere, and various built-in crop modes let you frame your shots in a handful of different aspect ratios.
The touchscreen makes focusing a breeze, and the electronic viewfinder is great for composing your photos on the fly. Street photographers will also appreciate the aperture ring, which gives you full control over the aperture without requiring a trip to the camera menus.
- Manual control dials for shutter speed and aperture
- Built-in zoom lens covers a useful focal range for street photography
- Small size
- Image quality isn’t as good at higher ISO values
- f/1.7 aperture is only available at the widest end of the focal-length range
- The viewfinder isn’t as sharp and crisp as others on this list, which makes composing some shots a little frustrating
5. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III (The best Canon street photography camera)
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III combines the best of compact cameras and their larger-sensor DSLR/mirrorless brethren; as a result, it’s an imaging tool that is well-suited to many types of street photography, including fast-action street snapping, thoughtfully composed street scenes, street portraits, and more.
The G1 X Mark III’s overall appeal is a bit hampered by its size as well as some limitations of the built-in lens, but anyone looking into a first street photography camera would be wise to consider it. The large APS-C image sensor on the G1 X III makes for superb shots in a variety of lighting conditions, and a long list of impressive technical specifications makes this camera great for nailing split-second moments on the streets.
Composing is simple with the rear LCD, and Canon goes one step further than most by offering a fully articulating touchscreen. Autofocus isn’t particularly noteworthy, especially when tracking moving subjects, but that’s usually not a primary concern for street photographers (depending on your style of shooting, of course).
The 24-72mm (35mm equivalent) focal range of the zoom lens means you can capture a mix of wide shots and tighter street portraits, though the aperture range on the lens is definitely less than ideal. The f/2.8 maximum aperture (when zoomed out) is respectable, but the f/5.6 aperture when zoomed in severely limits this camera’s functionality at telephoto focal lengths in low light.
However, high-ISO shots look great, and street photographers will love using the abundance of control dials and function buttons to access commonly used settings. The electronic viewfinder is crisp and sharp, and while it may not be as nice as the EVFs built into Canon’s high-end cameras, it’s certainly good enough for street photography.
- Excellent image quality, especially compared to some cameras on this list with much smaller sensors
- Leaf shutter lets you use very fast internal flash sync speeds
- Built-in neutral density filter lets you explore more creative possibilities
- Small maximum aperture limits the usefulness of the built-in lens, especially when zoomed in
- Battery life is not great
- The lens isn’t as sharp as others on this list
6. Nikon Z5 (The best full-frame street photography camera)
The inclusion of the Nikon Z5 on this list might seem a bit strange – after all, it’s not a dedicated street photography camera – but hear me out. While the Nikon Z5 isn’t specifically designed for street photography like the Ricoh GR III or Fuji X100V, and while it’s larger and heavier than most of the other cameras on this list, it has one standout quality for street photography: it is currently the cheapest Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera on the market. So if you’re a street photographer who values image quality above all else, the Nikon Z5 is definitely worth considering.
Plus, the Nikon Z5 has plenty of other features that’ll make street photographers sit up and take notice. The flip-out touchscreen lets you work from all sorts of unique angles, and it has plenty of manual controls and customizable settings for improved efficiency when shooting. It features a bright viewfinder, fast autofocus, built-in image stabilization, and an (optional) fully electronic shutter for discreet street snapping.
The Nikon Z5 can be paired with Nikon’s Z lenses, many of which are outstanding for street photography. Bear in mind that the Z5 is expensive, heavy, and downright cumbersome compared to the nimbler models featured elsewhere on this list – but for photographers desiring a full-frame camera, it’s one of the best options available.
- Exquisite image quality and autofocus performance
- Dual memory card slots
- Built-in image stabilization helps you get great shots with slower shutter speeds
- Larger than almost every camera on this list
- Very few small Z-mount lenses
7.(The best Olympus street photography camera)
The Olympus PEN series has long been beloved by street photographers, and while it’s not quite up to the standards of some of its peers, thedefinitely holds its own in key areas. It sports a powerful Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensor, which sits comfortably between the 1″ sensor of the RX100 series and the APS-C sensors offered by cameras such as the G1 X Mark III and Fuji X100V, and it strikes a nice balance between size and capability.
Like the Nikon Z5, the PEN E-PL10 does require a separate lens, but MFT glass is much smaller than its Nikon/Canon/Sony counterparts. For example, the 14-42mm lens (28-84mm equivalent) shown in the photo above makes the E-PL10 about the same size as the Fuji X100V when the lens is at its widest. And there’s a huge variety of MFT lenses, many of which are great for casual street shooting.
The PEN E-PL10 isn’t as feature-rich as some of its more pro-oriented siblings, but it has a full complement of manual controls so you can confidently capture the shot you’re after. Some street photographers might lament the lack of a dedicated viewfinder, but the articulating rear touchscreen makes composing photos easy and enjoyable.
The E-PL10 also stands out thanks to built-in image stabilization and fast, reliable autofocus. And the PEN E-PL10 is much less expensive than other cameras on this list, which makes it a great option for people looking for a starter street photography model.
- One of the smallest interchangeable lens cameras on the market
- Excellent manual controls and built-in image stabilization
- Inexpensive, even when factoring in the cost of a lens
- An MFT sensor means high-ISO shots aren’t top-notch
- No dedicated viewfinder
- Serious street shooters might quickly outgrow the feature set
The cameras listed below are all well-suited to street photography, but while they are all worth considering, each is limited by some important factors. Therefore, I would generally recommend one of the initial seven cameras on this list over one of my honorable mentions.
However, if affordability, size, and access to the latest technology are not your primary concerns, then do take a look at the models listed below; maybe you’ll fall in love!
8. Leica Q2
The Leica Q2 is a no-compromise street photographer’s dream. Everything about this camera is ideally suited to street photography, from its full-frame sensor to its exquisitely sharp 28mm f/1.8 lens to the excellent optical viewfinder, durable construction, and weather sealing. Unfortunately, the Q2 is also insanely expensive, so it’s out of reach for most beginner (and even professional) photographers.
But while you could buy several Fujifilm X100Vs and a Ricoh GR III for the same price as a Leica Q2, you would be making some compromises and tradeoffs in the process that you simply don’t have to think about with the Leica. So if money is no object and you don’t mind a massive lens protruding from the camera body, the Leica Q2 is my top recommendation.
9. Sony RX1R II
If you’re searching for an ideal street photography camera but can’t afford the Leica Q2, then the Sony RX1R II should be at the top of your list. It’s similar to the Leica in many ways, with specs that surpass almost every camera at the top of this list, even if it doesn’t quite reach the same soaring heights as its German-made counterpart.
If the Q2 sits at the top of the podium, the RX1R is a very close second place. It’s expensive but not quite as much as the Q2, and its 35mm f/2 lens isn’t as wide or bright as the Q2’s lens, either. While it has a viewfinder, this pops out like a periscope instead of being elegantly embedded in the camera body. And while the rear screen flips out for greater versatility, the camera sacrifices weather sealing as a result.
In short, the Sony RX1R II is an outstanding camera, but it’s generally not one I would recommend for casual street shooters.
10. Sony a6100
The Sony a6100 isn’t designed for street photography, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a small, well-rounded, full-featured APS-C camera that also serves the needs of street photographers surprisingly well.
Everything you would expect in a proper camera is here: manual controls, a bright viewfinder, great autofocus, and a flip-out rear screen. It’s small enough to tote around but not as pocketable as the Ricoh GR III or Sony RX100 VII. I would recommend pairing a6100 with the 20mm (30mm equivalent) f/2.8 pancake lens, which essentially transforms it into a Fujifilm X100V.
Strictly from a street photography perspective, I prefer the X100V – but some might appreciate the technology and the ability to change lenses offered by the a6100.
11. Fujifilm X-E4
It almost doesn’t seem fair to relegate theto the bottom of my “Honorable Mentions” category. In many ways, it’s a great street photography camera – but while this model has an extensive list of features that appeal to street snappers, I can’t recommend it over the Fuji X100V.
The X-E4 and the Fujifilm X100V share many common elements, from the sensor size to the flip-out screen to manual controls and even a built-in viewfinder. But while the X-E4 is newer and less expensive, it doesn’t come with a lens, and by the time you add one that is suited to street photography, the price is almost the same as an X100V.
And the X100V boasts a wide-aperture lens, better manual controls, and a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder that will appeal to a lot of street photographers. As a small, capable, interchangeable lens camera, the X-E4 is great. But for street photography, the X100V is the better choice.
How to pick the perfect street photography camera: 5 key characteristics
There are five basic features you’re going to want with any street photography body. While finding them all in a single camera can be tough, depending on your current lens lineup and preferred system, I’d recommend getting a camera that offers as many as possible.
And if you can find a camera that includes all of these features, you know it’s going to be a great street shooting option.
1. A compact body
When you look for a street photography camera, the very first aspect you’ll want to consider is size.
Because here’s the thing about street photography: The less that people notice your camera, the better.
As soon as people start to see your camera, they get nervous, you get nervous, and photography becomes uncomfortable.
And while it’s inevitable that your camera will be seen, the smaller it is, the less this will happen.
That’s why I recommend you get the most compact camera you can find. Or, at least, a camera that offers a small form factor.
(Another advantage of a compact body is that they’re easy to carry around. You can take a Fujifilm X100V with you wherever you go so that you never miss a shot!)
So start your search by looking for a small body, and only then should you consider the rest of the features on this list.
By the way:
It’s not just the camera that should be small; you’ll want small lenses, as well. One of the best ways to ensure you have plenty of small lenses to choose from is by working with a Micro Four Thirds camera (which is offered by both Panasonic and Olympus).
These systems have unusually compact lenses, thanks to their smaller sensor size.
2. A high continuous shooting speed
If you’re planning on doing lots of street photography, then you’re going to need a camera that shoots fast.
Why? The best street photos tend to involve a convergence of elements. Three people are perfectly aligned with a building, a person makes a sudden strange expression, or a biker passes in front of an interesting facade.
And you’re going to miss out on these moments, unless your camera can fire off a burst of shots in quick succession.
I’d recommend a continuous shooting speed of at least five frames per second, and more is better. For me, the 8-10 range is ideal, which you can find on quite a few cameras these days.
And honestly, anything more than 10 FPS is overkill for most street photography purposes. You’ll run through your memory cards ridiculously fast, and end up with a huge amount of unnecessary shots.
You’ll also want to get a camera with a decent buffer. There’s no use in being able to shoot at 10 fps if you can only capture 15 frames. So I recommend you look for a camera with a buffer of at least 25 RAW files (and more is better!).
3. Excellent autofocus with strong eye detection
As I said above, street photography happens fast, and you’re often reacting to moments that come and go instantly.
That’s why the best street photography cameras have lightning-fast autofocus and, ideally, face/eye detection.
I’m talking about systems that can nail focus instantly, as well as track a subject through a complex array of objects without losing focus.
Now, it is possible to do street photography with a less AF-adept camera. But you’ll frequently struggle, especially when trying to lock focus for spur-of-the-moment shots.
You’ll also want good AF for situations when you’re shooting from your LCD or from the hip. If your camera can grab focus with ease, you’ll end up with quite a few keepers, even if you’re firing the shutter without looking!
4. A silent shooting mode
Getting a camera that can shoot in silence was a real game-changer for my street photography. Finally, I could shoot without people realizing it, and it made me feel so much less anxious.
And the truth is that most street photographers feel anxious at one time or another, and a loud shutter sound just makes that anxiety worse.
(If you’re a street photographer who never feels uncomfortable, please share your secret in the comments!)
In fact, I almost quit street photography. It was only once I had a camera that could do true silent shooting that I was able to resume and feel better about what I was doing.
That’s why I recommend you get a street photography camera that has some sort of silent shooting mode. Ideally, it has an electronic shutter, one that allows you to shoot in total silence (though any silent shooting mode is better than nothing at all).
You’ll want to be careful, though:
Some cameras can be restricted when using a silent shutter. For instance, my Sony a6300 can only shoot bursts at about 3 frames per second when silent, and this can be extremely frustrating. So I’d suggest looking for a camera that can maintain both silence and fast continuous shooting speeds.
That way, you can capture bursts of action without dealing with the chatter of a camera shutter!
5. A tilting screen
This feature is a bit more optional, but it’s still useful in quite a few situations.
You see, there will be times when you want to shoot from the hip (i.e., keep your camera held down low and fire off some shots).
I do this while walking past people on busy streets because I don’t want to bother them with the sight of my camera. And I also like the low-angle look that it creates!
Of course, you can do this blindly, and you’ll end up with some keepers.
But if you have a tilting screen, you can look down at the camera while you walk to ensure perfect focus and composition!
Note that you don’t need a fully articulating screen, as you won’t need to shoot from ultra-strange angles. A screen that tilts up 90 degrees will do just fine.
And since we’re talking about screens, I’ll mention that a touchscreen can be pretty useful in these situations, too. If you can tap to set focus, you can quickly choose a subject while looking down at your LCD, then fire off shots as they come closer.
The best camera for street photography: final words
Street photography is all about capturing the candid everyday moments that make up the world around us. And almost every camera can capture those shots, including mobile phones, pocket cameras, and DSLRs with big lenses.
There’s no rule that says the camera you already have won’t work for street photography. And your only limitations are the ones you set for yourself. But if you’re looking for the best camera for street photography, I hope this list gives you plenty to think about!
Street photography camera FAQs
Mobile phones are great for street photography – as long as you have plenty of light. When the lights go down, photo quality decreases dramatically, especially if you’re shooting moving subjects. (Night Mode on mobile phones almost always requires your subjects to be very still.)
This one is largely a matter of personal taste, but anything between 25mm and 35mm is generally ideal for street photography. Much wider than 25mm and people start to look a bit distorted. Much narrower than 35mm, and you’ll have trouble fitting everything into the frame.
While traditional DSLRs can certainly be used for street photography, I don’t recommend them when there are so many excellent mirrorless options available. DSLRs are large and conspicuous, and Live View shooting often uses contrast-detection autofocus (which is highly unreliable for dynamic street photography scenarios).
Unless you are shooting in extreme weather conditions, you probably don’t need weather sealing. It’s nice to have for peace of mind and I wouldn’t recommend against it, but as long as you’re careful not to let your camera get soaked with rain or covered in dust, you’ll probably be fine.
Many street photographers enjoy shooting manually, which is very simple thanks to focus peaking on modern mirrorless cameras. However, autofocus works perfectly fine, and there is nothing wrong with using it for street photography.