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MPB used kit challenge: Get a superb, sensibly priced street photography setup

MPB used kit challenge: street photography
(Image credit: James Artaius)

We all know that photography is a pricey endeavor. It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking photos for your own pleasure, or you’re shooting a brief for a client – if you want the right tools for the job, it’s going to mean spending a chunk of change.  

It doesn’t have to break the bank, though! By looking at used gear rather than buying everything new, you can add fantastic kit to your bag without making your credit card sweat. It doesn’t matter if you only need a lens or if you’re getting a whole camera setup – there are many more options available, and at a much better price, if you look at used equipment. 

In fact, by buying used instead of new, you can often get a shooting setup that’s even better. Modern kit is more affordable, and legacy kit isn’t just cheaper – it’s often much better suited to the task than the latest models on the market. 

We're putting this to the test with MPB, the world’s largest digital photography gear resale platform, and every month we'll be putting together our dream setup for shooting specific areas of photography for a fraction of the price of buying new.

We're putting this to the test with MPB, the world’s largest digital photography gear resale platform (opens in new tab), and every month we'll be putting together our dream setup for shooting specific areas of photography for a fraction of the price of buying new.

This month we've assembled a stellar street photography setup – and just to show that luxury needn’t be a pipe dream, we’re proving that even legendary Leica kit is within reach when you buy used!

Leica M10

(Image credit: Jon Sparkman)

New price: £6,000
MPB price: £4,199 (condition: excellent)

Leica is one of the most desirable, luxury brands in the world – and arguably the most coveted brand in the world of photography. That little red dot comes with a prohibitively premium price tag, but buying a used Leica means that suddenly the astronomical becomes affordable. And when you get one in your hands, you realize why Leica is the camera of choice for some of history’s most iconic photographers – including the pioneer of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Cartier-Bresson only ever used Leica rangefinders, so we’ve opted for the Leica M10 – a beautifully hand-assembled body, boasting a stunning 24MP full-frame sensor. The unique rangefinder manual focus takes some getting used to, but with practice it becomes second nature – and you can always compose using the rear screen, with assists like focus peaking. 

Leicas are considered the ultimate street cameras for good reason. The M10 is small, nimble and incredibly reactive; unlike mirrorless cameras with laggy viewfinders, and DSLRs with shutter lag thanks to the mirror mechanism, rangefinders respond instantly, so you never miss the decisive moment. And the M-mount unlocks over 66 years worth of lenses, featuring some of the greatest glass ever made.

Zeiss ZM 21mm f/4.5 C Biogon

(Image credit: Jon Sparkman)

New price: £909.99
MPB price: £654.00 (excellent)

While 35mm is the classic street photography focal length, you quickly find that you often need a wider angle. Sometimes it’s because your location demands more scope, other times it’s because you’re working in alleyways or cramped streets where you ‘just can’t get far enough back’, no matter how much you smush your shoulders into the wall behind you.

A 21mm lens is perfect – and 21mm lenses don’t come much more perfect than the Zeiss ZM Biogon. We actually prefer it to the Leica Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 ASPH! It’s incredibly sharp, producing pictures with plenty of bite, and the distortion is remarkably well controlled – perfect for the geometry and brickwork that’s so often a part of street shooting. It’s positively pocket-sized, too, meaning it’s perfect to stash in your jacket for quick access.

Leica M10 with Zeiss ZM 21mm f/4.5 C Biogon (1/4000 sec, f/8, ISO1600) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Leica 35mm f/2.4 Summarit-M ASPH

(Image credit: Jon Sparkman)

Leica price: £1,350
MPB price: £1,189 (like new)

If you only buy one lens for your Leica, it should really be a 35mm. And the Leica 35mm f/2.4 Summarit-M ASPH is a brilliant choice – it’s as capable as it is compact, giving you superb center sharpness without the bulk (or the price tag!) of other 35mms. Its aspherical design doesn’t just keep the size down, though – it also delivers images that are virtually distortion- and aberration-free.

The smooth manual focus ring features a protrusion with a contour for your thumb, enabling pinpoint precision even on such a small optic. And the rectangular hood doesn’t just look great – it’s invaluable for shooting in unpredictable street scenes, where errant light sources and sunshine always seem to hit your lens at the least opportune moments. 

Leica M10 with Leica 35mm f/2.4 Summarit-M ASPH (1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO1250) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

(Image credit: Jon Sparkman)

New price: £1,800
MPB price: £999 (excellent)

We believe that a street kit should consist of three prime lenses (zooms can be great but, since they encourage you not to move, they generally impede rather than improve street shooting). And while it’s always tempting to go for a nifty fifty, in urban environments a light telephoto option is far more useful. 

The Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M gives you the extra reach to shoot slightly distant subjects or settings, and also enables you to capture stunning street portraits. It continues our trend of minimal distortion (invaluable, if you shoot around attractive architecture) and sharp rendering. And of course, the focal length and fast aperture gives sumptuously soft depth of field that you can’t achieve with wider lenses, making this a kitbag essential.

Leica M10 with Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M (1/400 sec, f/11, ISO600) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Stunning shots at streetwise prices

(Image credit: James Artaius)

Street photography setup

New price: £10,059.99
MPB price: £7,041
Total saving: £3,018.99

For a fraction of the price of buying everything new, not only have we put together a stellar street photography setup – we’ve demonstrated that the dream of owning and shooting on a Leica can actually become a reality. It proves that buying the best kit doesn't always mean buying new kit; shop sensibly and you can own your fantasy camera gear! 

So whether you're looking to pick up an extra lens to complement your existing system, or you want to build a whole shooting setup from scratch, make sure to check the wealth of used options available from MPB (opens in new tab) to get great results and great savings.

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