The 3 Best Cameras for Street Photography Right Now (2018-2019)

An article with the top 3 best street photography cameras for 2019.


Without a doubt:

Street (candid) photography is a beautiful form of art, with the element of spontaneity.

And it certainly is a great way to unleash your creativity.

Now…

If you want to document everyday life as you see it, I created a list of the 3 best cameras for street photography (across various budgets).

When choosing which cameras to put in my top 3 list, the following were taken into account:

  • experts’ recommendations
  • personal experience
  • user reviews
  • certain features (size and IQ)
  • price

Without further ado, here’s what to expect in this post:

Top 3 Street Photography Cameras (2018-2019)

  • Fujifilm X100F – Best large sensor compact camera for street photography today.
  • Ricoh GR II – Legendary among street photographers. Best bang for your buck.
  • Panasonic LX100 – One of the best photography deals for street shooting in 2018.


Look…

In my opinion, there are 3 main things you need out of your street photography camera:

  • good image quality
  • easy to use (no complicated settings)
  • light weight and compactness… in this case size matters 😉

Alright, let’s get started.


The Best Camera for Street Photography Today


Fujifilm X100F

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 469 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 200-12800 (expands to 100-51200)

Truth is:

The features that Fuji X100F offers makes it one of the best large sensor compact cameras on the market.

Now…

If you specialize in documentary/street photography, then this Fuji certainly is a solid option for you.

The features you’ll love:

  • lightweight and compactness,
  • unique hybrid viewfinder,
  • amazing image quality (even at high ISO),
  • great background blur and a slightly wide focal length,
  • full HD video at 60 fps,

… Just to name a few.

A lot of people also love the retro design (I know I do!).


Fujifilm X100F for Street Shooters (Video Review)


Check out Pablo’s video review below as well as some images made with X100F. You’ll also understand why this large sensor compact is a solid option for street photographers.


Answering the Questions (You Might Have)


Q: What’s so special about its viewfinder?


Earlier I mentioned that Fujifilm X100F offers a unique hybrid viewfinder. What it means is that it can work both in OVF and EVF (at the same time).

And it’s made easy:

Basically you have a switch and you turn the Hybrid OVF into a full fledged EVF.

Unique hybrid viewfinder in Fujifilm X100F for street photography.

Now…

The electronic viewfinder (EVF):

  • Displays the image with the same brightness and color that you’ll see on the photo.
  • Keep in mind: There’s a possibility of a bit of digital noise when shooting in low light.

The optical viewfinder (OVF):

  • Provides a bright and clear image in any shooting conditions, though it’s impossible to track the correct exposure and white balance on it.

Q: What can you say about the lens?


Camera’s main feature is its 35 mm equiv. f/2 fixed lens, which has:

  • great rendering,
  • insane macro ability,
  • amazing sharpness,
  • smooth background blur (bokeh),

… And it’s awesome.

And guess what?

This focal length is sort of a benchmark for street and documentary photography because 35mm focal length most closely resemble the perspective of the human eye.

Now:

The fixed lens might upset some photographers, but for others it might be the decisive factor because they don’t have to worry about the dust on the sensor or about buying different lenses.

As for zooming in, you’ll just have to do it with your feet 🙂

Bottom line:

Fuji X100F is one of the best cameras for travel and street photography right now.


Q: How’s the image quality?


Honestly, it’s fabulous.

You’ll be impressed by the level of quality that this “pancake” lens produces, be it the sharpness, the bokeh, the saturations or anything else.

And yes, the images are great both in JPEG and RAW format. 

Great image quality and bokeh in Fujifilm X100F (sample image).
23.0mm · ƒ/4.0 · 1/140s · ISO 200

It gets better:

This baby will produce quality photos in any lighting conditions (which is one of the main reasons I listed it as my #1 choice vs. Ricoh GR II).

Point is…

All the hype about its IQ is justified.


Q: How’s the autofocus in Fuji X100F?


Without doubt:

The start up time and autofocus are a lot better than in the previous camera models.

You’ll have 49 phase detect AF points and 325 focus points in total. For quick selection of AF points, there’s a joystick.

(Choosing the 91 point option is the sweet spot, IMHO.)

In my experience, the autofocus in X100F is a bit slower than in Fuji X-T2 (despite having the same sensor and processor) but it’s still great.

And if you’re used to Ricoh GR, you’ll certainly feel the difference (it’s a lot faster on X100F).

Anyway… 

AF is quick, decisive and fairly quiet. You definitely won’t miss that awesome shot because of AF.

Important

Some say that there are autofocus misses sometimes but I think it has to do with the preview of the image. Try turning it off (Image Preview —> OFF) if you encounter this issue.


Q: What about its low-light performance?


As I mentioned earlier, X100F has a great low light performance.

(Usable at 12800 ISO units.)

So…

If you’re doubting between this compact vs. Ricoh GR II for street photography during evening hours, then go for the former.

Anyway:

I think many will agree with me here that Fujifilm X100F is the best camera for night street photography right now.  


Q: How portable is it?


When it comes to size and weight, you’ll love it. I mean you can carry it around for hours and hours.

Also easily pocketable in a jacket pocket.

Street photography with Fujifilm X100F (one of the best large sensor compact camera)
33.0mm · ƒ/2.0 · 1/90s · ISO 3200

Now…

If you want a super light and small compact, Ricoh GR II might be a better option for you.


Q: Is it weather-sealed?


Unfortunately, it’s not.

Yeah, I know it’d be great to have it environmentally sealed given that it’s a street photography camera but I guess you’ll have to be careful using it on a rainy day.

Alternative option:

Fuji X-Pro 2 with the 23 mm f/2 lens has that advantage but it’ll definitely be more of a hassle to carry it around.

A lot of travel and street photographers love this Fuji. 


Q: How’s the battery life?


X100F has NP-126S battery (shared with X-T2/X-Pro2) and it’s pretty good. 

But I always recommend to have a spare battery handy, especially if you love walking around for hours.


Q: What are this camera’s serious drawbacks?


Like anything else in this world, X100F isn’t perfect.

The main drawback, in my opinion, is its fixed screen.

I mean for street and travel photographers, having an articulated screen sometimes is a big deal.

Here’s the thing:

We don’t always use the viewfinder, but also shoot from the hip, or perhaps taking shots at ground level.

And this is when the fixed LCD might start to annoy you.

And still…

This camera is great.

Note:

It’s pretty expensive. So, if you’re on a small budget, consider Ricoh GR II instead. 


Q: Fujifilm X100F vs. Ricoh GR II for street photography?


While it was super hard for me to choose which of the two to place as my #1 choice, I went with X100F because of it’s great low-light performance.

But Ricoh GR II certainly is a legendary camera among street photographers for many reasons.

Bottom line:

If you can’t afford Fuji, then I absolutely recommend going with Ricoh. (Scroll down to read more about it).

Fujifilm X100F for Street Photography (2018)


X100F certainly is my #1 pick and if you ever hold it in your hand, you’ll understand why.

Remember this:

It offers a 23 mm lens (35 mm equiv.) which is great for street photography but isn’t wide enough for architecture (for example).

And you’d have to “zoom in” with your own feet.

Either way…

X100F is one of the best large sensor cameras with outstanding image quality.

If you:

  • love shooting street photos,
  • want a camera with great low light performance, and,
  • don’t want any hassle with the interchangeable lenses,

… then this Fuji is a great option.



The Most Affordable Street Photography Camera


Ricoh GR II

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 251 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.7 x 15.7 mm)
  • Resolution: 16 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 100-25600

Truth is:

Ricoh GR II has been sort of a legendary compact camera for street photographers for years.

(And it still is).

There are a number of reasons why you should consider this camera.

Specifically:

  • fast autofocus,
  • great image quality/sharpness,
  • small, light, pocketable, inconspicuous camera,
  • high ISO performance and amazing B&W images,
  • it’s easy to use, all controls are where you expect them to be.

Best of all?

It’s one of the best budget street photography cameras right now.

(Often under $500 on Amazon).


Ricoh GR II for Street Photography (Video Review)


The video below will give you 5 reasons on why it’s a great camera for this genre.


Answering Your Common Questions


Q: What can you say about its lens?


First of all, Ricoh GR II has a fixed 28 mm equiv. f/2.8 lens.

(Since it’s a fix, there’s no optical zoom and you’ll have to zoom with your feet.)

When shooting wide open at f/2.8, you’ll have a nice bokeh effect.

It also has a built-in ND filter that can be activated, deactivated, or switched to Auto mode in the menu. (It allows you to reduce the amount of light when shooting very bright scenes.)

Point is:

This camera has a nice sharp prime lens which gives great image quality and fantastic black & white photos.


Q: How’s the image quality?


Images are ridiculously sharp.

If you are a fan of street photography in black & white, you’ll especially love Ricoh GR II.

Now…

For most users, JPEG format will be enough. But if you need more flexibility and versatility, if you want to “squeeze” your photo as much as possible, then you can shoot in RAW.

(Keep in mind that the built-in photo filters do not apply to RAW images.)

Another thing:

It is also worth noting that the noise reduction function in the camera works quite well. Yes, it softens the image a bit, but it’s still very sharp.


Q: How’s the focus system?


While its auto-focus is not as fast as in its Sony competitors, it’s still pretty decent/accurate.

Useful focusing modes:

  • Infinity, and,
  • Snap focus.

Infinity mode allows you not to think about focusing at all, just point the camera at the object and press the button (you just need to take into account the minimum distance).

Snap focus mode allows you to determine the focus distance in advance and the camera will focus on this distance.

See image below:

Focusing system and shooting menu in Ricoh GR II (for street photography).

(Snap focus mode makes focusing easier.)


Q: What about its low-light performance?


I’ll be honest:

If you’re looking for a little monster in low-light conditions, this isn’t your camera.

I mean it’s OK but you might experience digital noise even at low ISO.


Q: How portable is it?


Without a doubt, Ricoh GR II is one of the lightest cameras on the market.

If your jeans aren’t tight, you’ll be able to fit it in your pocket.


Q: Is it weather-sealed?


Nope.

Considering that this compact was specifically designed for street shooting, it makes me wonder why it isn’t weather-resistant.

*face palm emoji*


Q: How’s the battery life?


Honestly, it’s average.

I suggest you have a spare DB-65 battery handy.


Q: What are this camera’s serious drawbacks?


Well…

If we’re honest about it, I will mention a few:

  • no viewfinder,
  • fixed screen,
  • poor video capabilities,
  • average low light performance.

Keep in mind though, that Ricoh’s “competitors” might not have all these options too.

Let me add this:

Despite the aforementioned drawbacks, Ricoh GR II is a great choice for travel shooting.

And it certainly is one of the best cameras for street photos currently available on the market.


Q: Fujifilm X100F vs. Ricoh GR II for street photography?


Truth is:

Fujifilm X100F and Ricoh GR II are the most highly rated large sensor cameras among street photographers.

Here are my thoughts to help you make a decision.

So…

Choose Ricoh GR II if you:

  • are on a smaller budget (this camera costs less than $500),
  • love B&W shots,
  • want lighter/pocketable/more conspicuous camera.
  • if street photography is your main genre.

Choose Fujifilm X100F if you:

  • have the means to spend more than $500,
  • often shoot in low-light conditions,
  • want better image quality overall,
  • need a camera not only for street photos, but travel and anything else.

IMHO.

If you know what you need in your camera, making a choice will be easier.

Best Budget Street Photography Camera in 2018


Here’s the deal:

If you’ve never had experience with Ricoh cameras, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

This rather modest-looking camera offers a lot, especially for street photographers:

  • it’s highly responsive,
  • produces great coloured and B&W images,
  • and is very easy to use.

Rich customization options let you customize the camera to your taste and get real pleasure from street shooting.

Truth is:

Ricoh GR II is one of the best budget compact cameras with APS-C sensor, that’s always in your pocket.



Top Rated Point & Shoot Camera for Street Photos


Panasonic LX100

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 393 g
  • Sensor size: MFT (17.3 x 13 mm)
  • Resolution: 13 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 200-25600 (expands to 100-25600)

Here’s the thing:

Every street photographer’s dream is to have a small compact camera with a large sensor and a good zoom lens that can produce masterpiece photos anytime, anywhere.

One of the cameras that gets close to it is Panasonic Lumix LX100.

If we consider all things combined such as…

  • micro four-thirds sensor,
  • its price tag,
  • the high quality of images and videos,
  • versatility,
  • camera’s compactness,
  • its very nice time lapse settings,

… It then can be argued that Panasonic Lumix LX100 with a fast f/1.72.8, 2475mm zoom lens is one of the best photography deals you’ll find on the market right now.

I will say more:

Its fast Leica DC zoom lens and a MFT sensor are a steal.

Why?

For comparison purposes, the price of Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens ALONE is twice as much as the entire LX100 camera.

Now…

Lumix LX100 has a rather challenging menu system so just give it some time and eventually it’ll really grow on you.

And if you ARE familiar with manual controls, you’ll see just how amazing this compact is.


Awesome for Travel Photography As Well (Video)


Truth is:

This camera is awesome only for street photos but also for travel and daily photography.

Moritz Janisch, a filmmaker from Germany, shared his experience with LX100 and why it’s his favourite 4K travel camera now. Let’s have a watch:


FAQ About Lumix LX100 for Street Photography


Q: What can you say about its lens?


The most important feature of Lumix LX100 is its Leica lens.

Unlike other large sensor compacts, this one managed to place an optical system with 3.1x zoom and high aperture (f/1.7-2.8) while still keeping its modest dimensions.

I won’t get into all the technical details but the construction of the lens sure is complicated.

Point is…

The way this lens was built ensured that in such a small camera you get:

  • shallow depth-of-field,
  • low noise level, and,
  • a nice bokeh effect.

I’ll say this:

Just a lens alone is worth the money.


Q: How’s the image quality?


Many will agree with me that the IQ is very nice, especially considering that it’s a point-and-shoot camera.

(Even in low light situations).

Street photography image sample with Panasonic Lumix LX100
34.0mm · ƒ/2.8 · 1/1600s · ISO 2500

Now…

You should keep in mind that it’s still a 4/3 sensor camera, so it can’t be pushed too much. I’d say you can go up to ISO 3200 without seeing much noise.

In any case, I think it’s the best street photography camera under $1000 that you can find right now.


Q: How’s the focus system?


Here’s the thing:

Speed and accuracy of autofocus is something that Panasonic cameras can usually boast about.

(Indeed, the autofocus is fast in both mirrorless and compact cameras.)

So, LX100 point-and-shooter showed an amazing 0.14 seconds when testing according to CIPA standards.

Now…

This number would be normal for a compact camera with a small sensor but Lumix LX100 has a larger (MFT) sensor, which means that the depth of field is smaller and so the adjustment needs to be an accurate one.

Point is:

While you shouldn’t expect the AF accuracy be on the par with high-end full-frame cameras, it’s still pretty good.

Note:

If you like video-shooting, you might not be as happy with the AF tracking in video mode.


Q: What about its low-light performance?


Let’s be straight:

Not only speed is important, but also the ability to focus in difficult conditions, particularly in low light, especially when it comes to compacts.

Image sample by Panasonic LX100 in low light.
34.0mm · ƒ/2.8 · 10/1250s · ISO 200

The f/1.7 Leica lens helps to have good low-light shots but as I said earlier, since it’s a micro four-thirds sensor it can’t be pushed too much.

You might see some loss in detail at high ISO if you zoom in (not as noticeable at low ISO).


Q: How portable is it?


It certainly is “portable” but I wouldn’t say it’s “pocketable” since it might be a little too large for your pockets.

Though if you wear cargo pants, it’ll fit.

(Sony RX100 IV, for example, is more pocketable.)


Q: Is it weather-sealed?


It’s not.

But then again, neither are it’s competitors (Fujifilm X100F and Ricoh GR II).


Q: How’s the battery life?


You can shoot about 300-400 pictures or record approximately 150 minutes of video (may last up to 3 days).

If you use the flash and a viewfinder, it’ll have a significant impact on the battery. Using LCD screen doesn’t drain it as much.

Suggestion:

Just as with most compact cameras, I highly recommend that you have a spare battery handy.


Q: What are this camera’s serious drawbacks?


I will mention a few flaws you should know about.

  1. Slow start up time when you turn it on, so you might potentially miss a moment.
  2. Might encounter errors of auto exposure in artificial lighting.
  3. No external mic jack.

Now…

I also want to address the important question on dust issue.


Q: How common is the “dust on sensor” problem?


Here’s the thing:

You might be OK with anything else about this camera but now you’re scared to invest your money on a “risky investment” because of its potential dust sensor you’ve read online.

First of all, many photographers actually don’t seem to have this issue, especially if they are careful.

Here’s what Dan has to share about this:


A comment on the dust issue in Panasonic LX100 cameras.


Note that his comment was recent (on March 23, 2018).

So, why does this happen?

The thing is that this camera isn’t sealed and and what happens is that the retractable lens sucks the dust in right through the sensor.

Suggestion:

Try not to expose your camera in an environment where there’s a lot of dust. (Or use the zoom function for that matter).

Funny thing is that it isn’t much of an issue with the lens wide open, you’ll realize the problem when stopping down. (For example, when shooting bright scenes at f/16.)

What to do if you DID end up getting dust?

The good news is that Panasonic can clean your sensor for free (within warranty).

Generally speaking, they do it fast and offer a great pickup and dropoff service.

So…

I hope this answers your concerns.


Great 4K Compact for Most Photography Genres


Truth is…

Panasonic Lumix LX100 is great not only for street photos but also:

… Just to name a few.

Point is:

It has a highly versatile lens and there’s really very little this point-and-shooter can’t do. 

And if you’re looking for 1 travel camera that…

  • doesn’t include interchangeable lenses,
  • works for most situations,
  • and is affordable enough,

…then LX100 is for you.

In any case, this Panasonic might be one of the best photography deals on the market right now.



Choosing Your Camera for Street Photos in 2019


So:

In here, I’ve listed the 3 very best cameras that you’ll love as a travel/documentary/street photographer.

I chose these 3 mainly because they:

  • are compact,
  • have large sensors, fixed lenses and great AF speed,
  • offer awesome image quality,
  • are portable (and even pocketable), and,
  • easy to work with.

Just to name a few.

(I will also update this article in early 2019 with more options for you.)

Now…

I’d like to hear from YOU:

  • Is street photography your main genre?
  • Which camera would you choose from this list and why?
  • If you are experienced in street shooting, which compact would YOU recommend?

As always, any questions, suggestions and/or concerns are welcome in the comments!

Click here to jump straight to comment form.


The 3 Best Cameras for Street Photography Right Now (2018-2019)
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