These days, there are a ton of cameras capable of producing great street photographs.
I’ve compiled the best cameras for street photography here without regard to price, but I’ve included some budget options as well.
There really is no best street photography camera because everyone has there own preferences and style, but I’ve done my best to provide what I think you should consider here.
1) Leica Q3
28mm compact high-resolution digital camera with excellent build quality.
The Leica Q3 is the best street photography camera currently on the market in my opinion. It combines everything I look for in a camera for street photography: great image quality, a durable/weather-sealed build, a nice screen that flips up and down, all in a relatively compact package.
The 28mm f/1.7 lens was carried over from the Q2, but the Q3 has a nice resolution bump to 60mp. This sensor/lens combo makes for some of the most pleasing image quality out there. I’m a really big fan of using 28mm lenses for street photography because they’re wide and versatile.
With its phase detect autofocus, it’s basically as fast and accurate as you could ever need for street photography. Speaking of autofocus, it’s nice that this camera has it, because Leica’s M rangefinder camera line doesn’t have autofocus. Many street photographers like using manual focus, myself included, but it’s nice having both options like you get with the Q3. Leica’s M series is nice because you get to change lenses, plus those lenses are very small because of the lack of autofocus. Just a few things to keep in mind.
I like how Leica included what I consider to be the proper screen for stills photography; one that you can angle up and down. The Leica Q2’s screen was fixed, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they included an adjustable screen for the Q3.
It’s nowhere near a must-have for street photography, but it is convenient that they built wireless charging into the camera and you can charge it with a charging pad from Leica.
The image quality this camera produces is beautiful, and the camera itself is beautiful as well.
For me, all I need is a 28mm or 35mm lens for street photography, and I’m good to go, so this camera is basically a perfect fit for me. If you’re not a fan of the 28mm focal length though, this wouldn’t be the camera for you, as it’s a fixed lens camera.
- Excellent image quality
- High resolution
- Good autofocus
- Flip screen
- Built like a tank
- Non-interchangeable fixed lens
2) Leica M11
Digital rangefinder with 60-megapixel resolution and an excellent selection of manual focus lenses.
The Leica M11 is another incredible camera by Leica. Leica has made cameras that have been favorites of street photographers for a century now, and the digital M cameras have carried on that tradition, still using the same mount all this time.
Like the Q3, the M11 has a 60-megapixel sensor, but it’s rated at 15 stops of dynamic range compared to the 14 of the Q3. In other words, the M11 has great image quality and captures a ton of detail and color and retain valuable information in its files even in high-contrast scenes.
The M11 has a very stripped-down and simple button layout. Other manufacturers tend to have a ton of unnecessary buttons and dials that can be overwhelming and distracting, whereas Leica keeps it very straightforward. This is particularly nice for street photography, as you really don’t need access to much else other than shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
For Leica’s M cameras, you have to like manually focusing/zone focusing/using hyperfocal distance, because it’s your only option, as there’s no autofocus. When you get used to setting your focus manually, you realize autofocus isn’t the end all be all and manual focusing can be very fast if you know what you’re doing.
Like all Leica cameras, the M11 has the highest build quality you’ll find in a camera.
- High resolution, 60-megapixel sensor
- Exceptional build quality
- 15 stops of dynamic range
- Simple, straightforward controls
- High cost
- No autofocus
3) Ricoh GR III
Very compact pocketable digital camera with a sharp fixed-focal length 28mm-equivalent lens and 24-megapixel resolution.
The Ricoh GR series goes back to the film days, and they’re the best compact cameras for street photography. The image quality you get out of these cameras is actually insane for how small they are.
The Ricoh GR III has an 18mm lens, which is a 28mm full frame equivalent. What makes this camera so impressive is how sharp its lens is considering its tiny size.
This camera can easily fit in your pocket. It’s wider than a cell phone, but smaller than your typical cell phone otherwise. Its compact size makes it so easy to take with you as an everyday camera. It’s also great both for not drawing attention to yourself and you can easily put it in a pocket if you’re going through an area where you don’t want to have a camera out.
The Ricoh GR III has really nice image quality and very malleable files. You have a lot of manual control with the settings on this camera, especially for a point-and-shoot-style camera.
- Very compact
- Has a very sharp 28mm-equivalent lens
- Great colors and overall image quality
- Nice manual controls
- Autofocus hunts in low light
- Lack of durability
- Fixed focal length
4) Fujifilm X100V
Compact, 35mm-equivalent fixed focal length lens digital camera with a great screen and weather sealing.
The Fujifilm X100V is a compact, 35mm-equivalent fixed focal length lens camera. In my opinion, a 35mm lens is all you need for street photography, and this camera gives that and they were able to keep it small because it’s a fixed focal length lens camera.
A big appeal of this camera is that it has manual tactile dials, which is what Fujifilm is known for.
The X100V is the first camera in the line that has a tilting screen, which isn’t always necessary in street photography but can be really useful when you need it.
While this is a fixed focal length lens camera, Fujifilm does have conversion lenses to make it 28mm or 50mm, which are also great options for street photography, depending on your preferences.
Overall, the Fujifilm X100V is a great street photography camera because of its focal length, small size, tilting screen, and build quality. I chose it as my number one pick in my article on the best Fujifilm cameras for street photography.
- 35mm-equivalent lens
- Nice image quality
- Has a great flip screen
- Has all the manual controls you need, plus customizable buttons
- Weather sealed (when using a lens filter)
- Autofocus can be hit or miss in low light
- Not quite small enough to be pocketable
- Fixed focal length
- Constantly on backorder, Fujifilm isn’t able to keep up with the demand
5) Fujifilm X-Pro3
Rangefinder-style APS-C interchangeable lens digital camera with hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is a polarizing camera because of its screen (the back screen is hidden by default and can only flip down), but is a good street photography camera otherwise.
This camera has a 26-megapixel camera, which is one generation behind the current 40-megapixel found in the Fujifilm X-H2 cameras. Regardless, it’s a great camera body for street photography, as it has all the manual buttons and dials you could need plus a nice build quality. There is a caveat to that though, because the flip down screen of the camera has been known to fail.
Problems aside, this camera performs great for street photography.
- Nice form factor
- Manual controls
- Can shoot up to 11 frames per second with the mechanical shutter
- Has Fujifilm’s film simulations
- The back screen is hidden by default and you can only flip it down
- The screen has been known to fail
6) Sony A7CR
Compact, high-resolution full-frame digital camera with weather sealing.
Sony is not really all that closely associated with street photography, but the A7C R is a great street photography camera in my opinion. It has the capabilities of the A7R V, but in a smaller package. I place a lot of importance on the size of my gear in street photography, so I’ll take a camera as small as it gets.
It has the same or very similar sensor of the Leica Q3, but it comes in a body of less than half the price, although it’s still got a hefty price tag. One advantage over the Leica Q3 is that it’s an interchangeable lens camera. It’s also a lot more affordable when you compare it to a modern Leica M setup.
The Sony A7CR shoots at 8 frames per second, which is faster than I typically shoot for street photography. It does have some weather sealing.
The one major drawback I see in this camera is that it has a screen that flips out to the side, which is better for video. You would think Sony would know to put a screen that tilts up and down in this because it’s obviously more of a stills camera, so this was a strange decision by them.
- High resolution, 60-megapixel sensor
- Rangefinder-style form factor
- Interchangeable lens camera
- Has weather sealing
- Screen flips out to the side rather than up and down
- Only has a single memory card slot
7) Nikon Zf
Classic SLR-styled digital camera with 24-megapixels, manual controls, and durable build quality.
The Nikon Zf combines the old and the new. Its retro controls provide a tactile experience reminiscent of the film days while offering some very new tech.
Its image stabilization allows it to capture sharp images at slow shutter speeds, which is nice for any handheld photography. Low light is not a problem for the Zf’s autofocus, offering subject detection, face recognition in tight spaces, and utilizing the rear display as an alternative to a joystick.
The manual dials encourage a deliberate approach, but the convenience of customizable settings ensures adaptability. Like with Fujifilm cameras, you get easy access to film simulations with the Z f. In a nutshell, the Nikon Zf is a sleek, capable companion for street photographers, blending form and function effortlessly.
- Beautiful retro looks
- Nice full-frame image quality
- Nikon colors look great
- Manual controls
- Lack of lens options
8) OM SYSTEM OM-5
Compact interchangeable lens camera with IP53-rated weather sealing and image stabilization.
If you’re looking for a compact interchangeable lens camera, the OM SYSTEM OM-5 is worth considering. With OM System, you have a ton of high-quality lenses to choose from, and the image quality and colors you get out of this camera are surprisingly great for it being a micro four-thirds sensor.
This camera has IP53 weather sealing, so it’s built to take a beating in harsh conditions. It also has image stabilization rated at five stops.
- Very robust weather sealing
- Lots of lens options
- Smaller sensor size means lower dynamic range
- Lower resolution compared to other options
What I Look For In a Camera For Street Photography
There’s a combination of factors I look for in a camera for street photography:
- Image quality
- Speed of use
- Control layout
- Build quality
- Weather sealing
I like to get the best image quality and resolution within my budget, so that’s one of the first things I look at. Street photography really does not require the best possible image quality, though, so if your budget doesn’t allow for a super high-resolution camera, I don’t think you should feel like you can’t do street photography. Early street photographers had far less technological camera gear than what we have available today, and they produced iconic work with it.
Having a small and light setup is really nice in street photography. I find that I’m more likely to take smaller gear with me, as it’s just less cumbersome to do so. I also like to go as unnoticed as possible, and people tend to notice you less with a compact camera.
I prefer quick and intuitive cameras with all your relevant street photography camera settings at your fingertips without having to dig into menus. That’s partly why I like Leica cameras; their controls are so easy to access.
Street photography involves being outside and on the move, which is why I also prioritize solid build quality and preferably weather sealing.
I hope this has been helpful for finding a camera for your street photography pursuits. If you need a lens to pair with one of these cameras, I also put together a piece on the best lenses for street photography.