Street Photography Gear Guide
We all know that the person behind the camera is the most important aspect of any photography. In street photography, the rules are no different, in fact, I think this particular one is 3x as important. It's truly the person behind the camera that creates the images, it's about composition, exposure, and most importantly the story behind the image or series. I truly believe that you could be a frontrunner in street photography with any device that can capture time, I also believe that there are certain pieces of equipment that can make this task easier. I always like to point out that gear doesn't matter, I learned the lesson the hard way, but focal length and familiarity does play a big part in capturing the decisive moment. Here are the cameras I recommend you get familiar with.
The Fujifilm X100T is a camera like no other, if I could recommend one piece of equipment to anybody it would be this camera. I won't get too deep into details, but the camera is a street photographer's dream. It comes equipped with a 23mm f/2 lens (35mm FF eqv.), optical/electronic viewfinder, wifi a silent electronic shutter and it's all packed into small lightweight form factor. The camera comes with a $1300 price tag, but I still think it's the best bang for your buck when it comes to shooting in the streets.
Click here for my "First Impression" of the Fujifilm X100T
2. Ricoh GR II
I've never used the Ricoh GR II, but I did own it's predecessor, honestly not much is different between the two systems, besides the addition of wifi. The first thing I noticed was it had a ton of options, there were several ways to customize it, which is perfect for street photographers, but a bit overwhelming for the average consumer. The camera's snap focus mode is probably it's biggest advantage, the ability to pre-focus your camera and shoot away is huge! Another benefit was its tiny form factor, something that caught the attention of most street photographers early on. The focal length is a bit wide, so make sure you're comfortable or willing to shoot at 28mm. I'd personally pick this over the X100T based on it's price and form factor. The Fujifilm X100T I always kept on my wrist, the Ricoh GR II I could actually fit in your pocket. Not too many cameras with this level of performance are capable of that.
If you're looking to save money the Ricoh GR is another great option, it doesn't have wifi, but it almost replicates the GR II for $200 less used.
3. Fujifilm X30
For every list I want to try and to give buyers a budget option. The Fujifilm X30 comes in at $500 with a plethora of options. Though I'm not a fan of compact zooms, or zoom lenses for that matter I know there are shooters who are, this one offers a 28-112mm f/2-2.8 focal length, as well as Fuji's X-Trans II sensor, a flip out screen, and most importantly, the ability to shoot through a viewfinder, something most compact cameras have left out. In terms of price, performance and versatility, this is the best deal on the market right now. Recently rumors stated the the X30 and this line of the Fujifilm camera would be discontinued, so picking them up used is probably your best option.
Above you can see the compact cameras listed all come equipped with lenses. If you decide to go a different route (interchangeable lens camera) then the options are further expanded. Initially, I wanted to give you body options, but honestly, the camera body doesn't matter too much. Every camera is capable of taking the proper street image, the smaller the size, the less obvious, the bigger, the more intrusive. Lenses are what really matter here, and the focal length is huge. And while we all have a preferred length, I think we can agree that the 35mm is the most popular amongst them all. However, sometimes due to price or size that option isn't always practical. Below are my favorite lenses for each system.
Regardless of what type of body you have the strap I recommend the most is the Peak Design "Leash" Camera Strap. The strap itself is lightweight, simplistic and beautiful, but the thing I like about it the most is the ability to use the quick release anchor system the company has invented. It makes it super easy to disconnect from the camera strap itself and attach to other Peak Design accessories, I go back and forth between the "Leash" strap and "Cuff" wrist strap so this system makes it super easy to change between the two.
The bag is one of the main components on the streets, it can honestly make or break your flow. When I shoot I recommend the "One Camera, One Lens" approach so I tend to purchase bags that are small, compact and offer some type of protection if the weather gets bad. Everyone's going to have their own personal preference, some prefer a backpack, while others prefer a shoulder bag. I own both, as situations can always present themselves, but for the most part I use the shoulder bag. To me it's more incognito, it's not as obvious as carrying some overpacked backpack, it's also very lightweight so it doesn't bother you as much. And for those rare moments where you need to put your camera up, or switch your lens (for those who defied my rule) then you're able to without removing your bag or exposing the contents of it to the world. Currently I use the Retrospective 5 from Think Tank, it's perfect for my Fujifilm X-T1 and up to 3 lenses (one on body), if you have an iPad or smaller Macbook Air then the Think Tank Retrospective 7 may be a better fit for you.