Best lenses for street photography

By Kevin Carter - Friday, January 10, 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Street Photography with Compacts | Street Photography with Micro Four Thirds | Street Photography with Sony NEX | Street Photography with Canon | Street Photography with Nikon

Street photography is an appealing genre for many photographers, and has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the proliferation of small high quality digital cameras and lenses. We’ve put together a concise round up of moderate wide-angle and telephoto lenses from each of the major camera systems. Read on to see which of the models we’ve chosen and what to expect from them in terms of image quality.

Combining a wide range of traditional genres such as portraiture, abstracts, candids and even fashion and architecture in one broad category, street photography has become a very popular category in its own right  for photographers.

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Old Town, Shanghai photograph © Ciril Cincet. Moderate focal lengths are a good choice for street photography. They provide a more natural perspective that’s closer to the human visual system than more extreme models. Nikon D700 with AF Nikkor 35mm f2.0D.

 

Although there are no hard and fast rules, moderate focal lengths tend to work best for street photography, due to their portability and discreet size. In fact a moderate wide and short telephoto are generally all you need for most general-purpose photography.

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Photograph © Ciril Cincet. Street photography, like ‘candids’ aim to depict the subject as it is, and a moderate focal length allows you to shoot from normal distances. Nikon D700 with AF Nikkor 35mm f2.0D.

On that basis we’ve chosen to bypass zooms this time, looking at fast (but not ultra high speed) primes in a focal length range of around 35mm to 40mm and 85mm to 100mm, though it’s fair to say there will be photographers that prefer either slightly wider or longer, or even faster focal lengths than this. We’ve also chosen models based on a combination of their small size and imaging performance but, not exclusively so. Inevitably, there are compromises.

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Photograph © Ciril Cincet. Moderate focal lengths such as the 35mm lens used here provides a slightly wider angle of view than a normal lens to capture people in their surroundings. Nikon D700 with AF Nikkor 35mm f2.0D.

Street Photography with compacts

Street Photography with Micro Four Thirds

Street Photography with Sony NEX

Street Photography with Canon

Street Photography with Nikon