Skip to main content

The best camera for street photography in 2022

Included in this guide:

best camera for street photography
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Picking the best camera for street photography is something we could debate all day. There are loads of great camera models out there with features suited to the particular art of street photography, and which one you end up choosing will depend on your individual needs and tastes. 

Many of the best mirrorless cameras and best compact cameras will have a lot of great features but won't necessarily be the perfect choice for street photography. But what defines street photography?

Street photography is the practice of taking candid photos of unsuspecting individuals. Often they are taken in urban environments but that isn't always the case - you could do street photography in a village or small town too. 

More than anything, a street photographer is an observer, documenting the daily life of people. They could depict anything from funny outfits to ironic coincidences or even just moments of pure joy. While their images may not always be technically perfect due to the nature of this style of photography, street photos are always raw and real.

Some of the most highly respected street photographers include big names such as Bruce Gilden, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier or Daido Moriyama. They rose to fame by capturing honest and sometimes even unattractive photos of people going about their day. 

Best cameras for street photography 

So what makes a good camera for street photography? Firstly, it's got to be small and unobtrusive so that the photographer can be as discrete as possible. The last thing you want is a big camera with a telephoto lens that will draw attention and maybe even change the scene you're trying to capture. 

It also needs to be fast and responsive as you'll be shooting on the fly and will need to be able to compose a shot and focus quickly. A fast burst mode is also super-handy so you can capture multiple images of the same shot and choose the best. 

The controls should be intuitive and well laid out which is why any camera with external dials is a yes from us. You don't want to miss any golden moments by having to play around in complicated menu systems. Finally, weight is really important when it comes to cameras for street photography. Chances are you'll be carrying it around all day so you'll want something light that is comfortable to keep around your neck or on your shoulder. 

There are a few different types of cameras to consider so we've split our list into two groups - fixed lens compacts and interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. While the former is great for anyone who only really wants to do street photography and doesn't want to think about what lens to use, the latter is ideal for anyone who might want to expand into wildlife, portrait or landscape photography.

The last factor we’re taking into consideration for our street photography list is style – because, after all, street photography has such a rich tradition in the history of photography. We like cameras that evoke that classic journalistic style, and not just because of the way they look, but because they were designed with that kind of shoot-from-the-hip philosophy in mind.

So let’s get to the cameras!

Compact cameras for street photography

When picking a compact camera for street photography, it pays to make sure the lens is somewhere around the mid-range, neither too long nor too wide. Whether this is a zoom or a high-quality prime, it also pays for the lens to be fast (i.e. have a large maximum aperture) so that you can use high shutter speeds as much as possible.

Best camera for street photography: Fujifilm X100V

(Image credit: Fujifilm X100V)

A fixed lens camera that delivers super-sharp images

Sensor: 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4
Lens: 23mm (equivalent) f/2
Burst rate: 11fps
AF points: 117-area hybrid phase/contrast AF
LCD: 3-inch, 1.62m-dot tilting touchscreen
Viewfinder: Hybrid OVF/OLED EVF, 3.69m dots
Dimensions: 128.0 x 74.8 x 53.3mm
Weight: 478g (including battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Sharp lens, great sensor+Tilting touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-No stabilisation-Fixed focal length (no zoom)

Bags of style, backed up with serious imaging tech – the Fujifilm X100V has it all. The fifth in a line of prime-lens compacts, the X100V eschews zoom range in favour of a catch-it-all focal length and supreme image quality. One of the most enjoyable cameras that’s ever been made, the X100V has evidently been put together with street photographers in mind. Its dial-based controls hark back to the old days of street photography, while its hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder is one of the best examples of its type on any mirrorless camera, full stop. All of this does come at a price, but if you can justify the expense, it’s worth it.

Read more: Fujifilm X100V review

Image 1 of 3

Best camera for street photography: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

(Image credit: Panasonic)
Image 2 of 3

Best camera for street photography: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

(Image credit: Panasonic)
Image 3 of 3

Best camera for street photography: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Best camera for street photography: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

(Image credit: Panasonic)

A larger sensor and faster lens make this a great choice for street portraits

Sensor: 22.1MP Four Thirds CMOS (17MP effective)
Lens: 24-75mm (equivalent) f/1.7-2.8
Burst rate: 11fps
AF points: 49-point contrast detect
LCD: 3-inch, 1.24m-dot fixed LCD
Viewfinder: 2.76m-dot fixed EVF
Dimensions: 115 x 66 x 64 mm
Weight: 392g (including battery)
Reasons to buy
+Dial-based handling+Multi-aspect sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed LCD screen-Clunky wireless transfer

The Four Thirds sensor of the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is interesting in a number of ways. For a start, it’s a multi-aspect sensor, allowing you to quickly switch between different aspect ratios of images. The camera’s controls also make this easy to do, which encourages experimentation with different types of composition. The Four Thirds sensor is larger than those you’d find in many comparable compacts, which makes it easier to produce images with a shallow depth of field – a task further aided by the maximum lens aperture of f/1.7. This makes the LX100 II a really great choice for street portraiture, allowing the user to capture dynamic images that really pop.

Read more: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II review

(Image credit: Canon)

Small enough to fit in your pocket but powerful enough to take stunning pictures

Sensor: 20.1MP 1-in stacked CMOS
Lens: 24-120mm (equivalent) f/1.8-2.8
Burst rate: 30fps (full auto)
AF points: 31-point contrast AF
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: Pop-up EVF, 2.36million dots
Dimensions: 110.9 x 60.9 x 46mm
Weight: 340g (with battery and SD card)
Reasons to buy
+Fast 5x zoom lens +Customisable control dial
Reasons to avoid
-Unexceptional pop-up EVF-Crude, blunt noise reduction

In Cartier-Bresson’s day, it was unthinkable that a powerful camera could be so small it’d slip into a jacket pocket, but so it is with the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II. An excellent all-around compact, the G5 X Mark II improves on its predecessor with a fast 5x zoom lens that covers an equivalent focal range of 24-120mm – perfectly pitched for street photography. The customisable control ring on the lens can be set to the user’s preferred function, allowing you to fine-tune the handling to your preferences, making shooting with the G5 X II as intuitive an experience as possible.

Read more: Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II review

(Image credit: Ricoh)

With a larger APS-C sensor this camera is great for low-light street photography

Sensor: 24MP APS-C CMOS
Lens: 28mm (equivalent) f/2.8
Burst rate: 4fps
AF points: 9
LCD: 3-inch, 1.037M-dot fixed touchscreen
Viewfinder: Optical (optional)
Dimensions: 109 x 62 x 33 mm
Weight: 257g (including battery)
Reasons to buy
+Small to hold+Big APS-C sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed screen-Viewfinder costs extra

Like four-hour board games and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Ricoh GR cameras have acquired something of a cult following. Their fans will extol, to anyone who’ll listen, the virtues of their slim build and large sensor, a feature combination that does make the most recent model, the GR III, a great option for street photography, so much so that it even comes in a dedicated "street edition" with a pop-on viewfinder and natty yellow stripe included. And with impressive features like three-axis image stabilization, a high maximum ISO of 102,400, and a lean start-up time of just 0.8sec, the GR III has the imaging cred to back up its looks.

Read more: Ricoh GR III review

(Image credit: Sony)

A tiny, multi-faceted powerhouse, but expensive unless you need it all

Sensor: 20.1MP 1-in Exmor RS CMOS
Lens: 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5
Burst rate: 20fps (90fps short burst mode)
AF points: 357-point phase AF, 425-point contrast AF
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921k dots
Viewfinder: Pop-up EVF, 2.36m dots
Dimensions: 101.6 x 58.1 x 42.8 mm
Weight: 302g (with battery and SD card)
Reasons to buy
+Extremely high-speed shooting+With fast AF to match
Reasons to avoid
-Small, cramped and fiddly-Pricey

A camera doesn’t get seven iterations unless the idea was good to begin with, and the Sony RX100 VII is the latest in a line of terrific tiny compacts. Pairing a 24-200mm equivalent Zeiss-engineered lens with an extremely sophisticated autofocus system and enviably fast burst shooting is a winner in anyone’s book, and all this makes it right up the alley of any street photographer. All this tech doesn’t come cheap however, and one could argue that the RX100 VII is a wee bit aggressively priced for a camera of its size (and sensor size). The good news, though, is that if the asking price is too dear for you, the preceding RX100 models are still largely in production, so by all means have a look and see if one better suits you (our RX100 comparison guide will come in handy there).

Read more: Sony RX100 VII review

Mirrorless cameras for street photography

If you’re picking an interchangeable-lens camera for street photography, we’d recommend a mirrorless camera over a DSLR – they tend to be smaller and faster, both of which are a plus. You want something with a decent range of fast lenses – we’ve got you covered with our five top picks.

(Image credit: Nikon)

Tremendous value for money, and a good future investment system

Sensor: 20.9MP APS-C CMOS
Lens mount: Nikon Z
Burst rate: 11fps
AF points: 209 phase detection points
LCD: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
Dimensions: 126.5 x 93.5 x 60mm
Weight: 395g (body only)
Reasons to buy
+Lots for your money+Small and nippy
Reasons to avoid
-One card slot-Below-average battery life

A perfect choice for those tempted by Nikon’s full-frame Z system but a little put off by the price of the cameras, the Nikon Z50 seems to have been priced with forensic precision to undercut its main APS-C rivals. It’s also stuffed with features, so while you don’t get full frame, you do get a whole lot else – a generous AF system, wide dynamic range, solid high-ISO performance and more. While the Z system of lenses is relatively new, it promises to expand greatly in the future, and this makes the Nikon Z50 even more of a bargain at its current price. By all means, get in on the ground floor.

Read more: Nikon Z50 reviewBest Nikon Z lenses

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

For the pure, unadulterated street experience, this is the best you can get

Sensor: 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Burst rate: 11fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic (30fps with crop)
AF points: 91 Intelligent Hybrid (contrast and phase detection)
LCD: 3-inch tilting “fold-down” touchscreen LCD, 1.62m dots
Viewfinder: Hybrid OVF and OLED EVF (3.69m dots)
Dimensions: 140.5 x 82.8 x 46.1mm
Weight: 497g (including battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Unique, absorbing experience+Beautiful image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Takes getting used to-Not cheap

Let’s be honest – shooting with modern, screen-equipped cameras is nothing like the street-photography experience of decades gone by. Fujifilm, in a stunning display of daring, used its X-Pro3 to push back at this a little, designing a modern digital camera designed to be used like a classic rangefinder. Its “hidden” fold-down LCD is designed to discourage “chimping” and keep you in the moment, and while you have a choice between a modern EVF or an optical-style rangefinder, it’s clear which one Fujifilm would prefer you use. All this presents a pretty steep learning curve, but when you master its quirks, shooting on the X-Pro3 is a transcendental experience.

Read more: Fujifilm X-Pro3 reviewBest Fujifilm lenses

(Image credit: Canon)

Fast and responsive, this is Canon's latest EOS-M model

Sensor: 32.5MP APS-C CMOS
Lens mount: Canon EF-M
Burst rate: 14fps continuous, 30fps RAW burst mode
AF points: Dual Pixel CMOS phase detect, 143 / 99 points (depending on lens)
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: No
Dimensions: 119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2 mm
Weight: 398g (body only, with battery and SD card)
Reasons to buy
+Impressive 32.5MP APS-C sensor+Formidable burst shooting
Reasons to avoid
-No in-body stabilisation-Limited native lenses

If you’ll pardon our French for a moment, the EOS M6 II represented the kick up le derrière that the EOS M series desperately needed, and for its price it’s one of the best Canon cameras and mirrorless cameras around. Pairing a seriously impressive APS-C sensor with super-fast burst shooting and a beast of an autofocus system, this pocketable camera is more than just suited for street shooting, it excels at it. And given that it’s packing more megapixels than the majority of Canon bodies, it’s also a great choice if you’ve one eye on printing your images big.

Read more: Canon EOS M6 Mark II reviewBest Canon EF-M lenses

Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Compact and lightweight Fujifilm mirrorless

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Screen: 3-inch, vari-angle touch screen, 1.04M dot resolution
Viewfinder: 2360k dots
Lens mount: Fujifilm X mount
Autofocus: 117 selectable AF points
Maximum stills burst speed: 8fps
Video resolution: 4K at up to 30fps
User level: Beginner - intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Great image quality+Large high resolution LCD+Great for vlogging
Reasons to avoid
-No eye level viewfinder-No body integral anti shake

There might not be as many external controls on the X-S10 as there are on the Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T4, but it's so small and lightweight it'll still make a great camera for street photography. It also has in-body stabilization which will help capture sharp images plus a fully-articulated screen make it easy to shoot discretely from the hip. Paired with the Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2 or the Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 depending on whether you want a 50mm or 35mm equivalent in full-frame, it makes for a perfect street photography setup. The Fujifilm X-S10 might just be the best APS-C camera on the market right now in terms of performance, build quality, and price point. There are also plenty of official Fujifilm lenses and third-party lenses to choose from in case you want to experiment with other styles of photography. 

(Image credit: Olympus)

Making the case for Micro Four Thirds, with amazing in-body stabilisation

Sensor: 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
Burst rate: 10fps mechanical shutter, 15/30fps Pro Capture
AF points: 127 phase detection AF points, all cross-type
LCD: 3-inch, articulated touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: EVF OLED, 2.36m dots
Dimensions: 125.3 x 85.2 x 49.7mm
Weight: 414g
Reasons to buy
+Small but powerful+Exceptional stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life-Small sensor

The Micro Four Thirds lens system has its sceptics, with many photographers spurning the cameras for their small sensors (compared to APS-C), but the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a triumph for the entire line. That mount gives you access to loads of lenses from Olympus, Panasonic and more, and the camera itself is a lightweight but powerful tool with a huge range of features. It’s got weather-sealed construction, super-fast Pro Capture mode, seriously impressive in-body stabilisation, and plenty more. It’s the kind of camera that’s a lot of fun to delve into a get to know – it feels like you’re always discovering something new about it.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review

(Image credit: Leica)

11. Leica M10

It's the Chanel of the camera world and while incredibly sought after it comes at a price

Sensor: 24MP full-frame CMOS
Lens mount: Leica M
Burst rate: 5fps
AF points: None
LCD: 3-inch fixed LCD, 1.036m dots
Viewfinder: Optical (rangefinder)
Dimensions: 139 x 39 x 80mm
Weight: 660g (including batteries)
Reasons to buy
+Exquisitely engineered+Impressive dynamic range
Reasons to avoid
-Only one card slot-Requires selling a kidney

If it weren't for the high price tag, the Leica M10 would appear much higher on our list. Leica has stripped back everything you'd expect to find in a modern camera such as autofocus and a standard viewfinder. Instead, it offers a pure rangefinder experience which can take some getting used to but once mastered, is incredibly satisfying. Leica is very much a Marmite brand, people either love them or hate them but whichever camp you fall under, there's no denying the image quality is exceptional. Despite lacking certain features, Leica has included things like Wi_fi connectivity for easy connectivity and image sharing, so I guess you could argue it isn't completely gone back to basics. If the M10 is in your budget range, we can't help but feel slightly envious but there's no denying you'll love using it and won't look back.

• See also Best Leica M lenses

Jon Stapley

Jon spent years at IPC Media writing features, news, reviews and other photography content for publications such as Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera in both print and digital form. With his additional experience for outlets like Photomonitor, this makes Jon one of our go-to specialists when it comes to all aspects of photography, from cameras and action cameras to lenses and memory cards, flash diffusers and triggers, batteries and memory cards, selfie sticks and gimbals, and much more besides.  

An NCTJ-qualified journalist, he has also contributed to Shortlist, The Skinny, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, The Guardian, Trusted Reviews, CreativeBLOQ, and probably quite a few others I’ve forgotten.