Street photography is versatile and exciting, with no shoot being the same as the last!
One day you could be taking pictures of passersby’s in the street, while the following day you could find yourself capturing vibrant graffiti art on the side of a building.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ lens when it comes to street photography. So, for that reason, picking the best type of lens to bring your street photography to life can be anything but simple.
When searching for a lens that will elevate your street photography, the best types will be responsive and intuitive, allowing you to react to your environment with ease and capture different types of events without missing a beat.
In this article, we’re going to be going through our top five lenses suitable for catering to all kinds of street photography, as well as including a helpful buyer’s guide at the end to help you make the most informed decision possible.
Compact in size but big on performance, the Canon RF 35mm is a great choice for all levels of street photographers.
It features an innovative stepping motor autofocus system that will be able to focus in on the subject without you doing anything, while its wide-angle view and 0.5 magnification ratio will be able to capture even the smallest of details with fantastic clarity, making it a great choice for street photographers interested in macro photography.
For reliable performance you can count on, this lens has a close focusing distance of 0.56 ft/0.71m for clear and bright images (no matter how far or close you are from the subject) while the 5 stop image stabilization feature will guarantee clear and striking images free from blur, distortion or shaking.
As well as this, its fast and clever 12 pin communication system accelerates autofocus and IS (including much more) for a consistent and fuss-free shooting experience, while the large 54mm diameter ensures incredible sharpness across the entire image.
Plus, thanks to an added control ring, you will be able to intuitively adjust numerous settings across the lens barrel for easy operation that won’t require you to peel your eyes away from the lens and lose the subject that you’re capturing.
Close focusing feature allows you to capture details with clarity and depth.
Very compact, making it ideal for throwing in a lens bag and taking with you everywhere.
A 5-stop image stabilizing feature for fantastic image quality and clear, crisp lines.
If you’re on a budget and want a quality lens that will be able to capture all the action of street photography without breaking the bank, we recommend the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.
This lens features an impressively wide aperture of f/1.8 that is able to let in 8x the amount of light than other types of standard zoom lenses to result in clarified images free from the effects of motion blur.
The wide aperture also lowers the chances of flash needing to be used in dimly lit conditions, making it great for nighttime use as you will still be able to capture the atmosphere.
Its whisper-quiet STM (stepping motor) technology is able to focus extremely quickly when shooting your photos, giving you the ease to quickly respond to your environment and perfectly capture fleeting moments and subjects.
Plus, thanks to a clever lens arrangement and coating will be able to minimize ghosting and flare, as well as providing exceptional color balance.
For a more convenient user experience, this lens features an improved focus ring that will make all types of manual focus adjustments a breeze, while its compact and convenient design will make traveling with it easy.
It features circular 7-blade design for a beautiful Bokeh effect on your images.
Compact and lightweight, making it excellent for the street photographer always on the go.
Effectively counteracts the effects of ghosting and flare Near-silent AF (autofocus) system to allow you to capture moments quickly and with crystal clear results
If you’re a professional street photographer or you simply feel like treating yourself to a premium quality lens, you won’t be disappointed with the Nikon Z 35mm f/1/8 series lens.
Though it comes with a higher price tag than other street photography lenses, it is extremely high-tech and comes ready to go with Super Integrated Coating and a Nano Crystal Coat to effectively minimize flare and ghosting.
The stepping motor autofocus system is silent and quick to allow for precise and effortless manual focusing, while its built-in control ring will allow you to adjust different settings without losing your stride or having to pry your eyes away from the shooting subject.
Ideal for capturing the versatile nature of street photography, this lens from Nikon comes with an impressive wide-angle lens that will be able to capture the entirety of a scene without compromising on the depth – so you can have confidence that each aspect of the image will be showcased with detail and sharpness.
For extremely fast focusing, its larger Z mount will be able to deliver more light to your camera’s PDAF system for quick and accurate subject focusing, while its sealed exterior is able to protect the lens against dust and moisture, making it suitable to be used outdoors.
Its dual detect 5 axis image stabilization system will reduce the effects of shakiness and blur
Its clever control ring will allow you to adjust settings such as the aperture control and manual focusing system.
Fast, accurate and silent AF.
Higher price point than the average street photography lenside-angle lens
Sigma are one of the leading manufacturers in the photography industry and, though their lenses can sometimes feel a little bit bulky or on the heavier side, the Sigma 35mm HSM lens does not follow this trend, making it a convenient and compact choice for budding street photographers and professionals, alike!
Just like other Sigma prime lenses, this too features a quick and silent ultrasonic autofocus system to ensure you capture your subjects quickly and with accuracy.
However, if you do prefer manual focusing, you can rotate the focus ring to allow for precise and fine adjustments.
To ensure high-quality and consistent performance, this lens features two aspherical elements including one fluorite-grade low dispersion element, as well as four special low dispersion elements.
Thanks to these, the optical path will be able to eliminate all types of spherical aberrations for vivid, clear, and detailed images, time and time again.
As well as this, this lens from Sigma is also able to retain unparalleled sharpness and will be able to ensure edge to edge clarity across the frame, while also minimizing any color fringing or barrel distortion.
Last up (but certainly not least) is the Rokinon 16mm F2.0 lens. If you’re looking for a lens that is suitable for all types of street photography situations, you won’t regret adding this lens to your camera bag.
This 16mm lens from Rokinon is a manual wide-angle lens that provides an impressively wide 79.5 angle of view, smooth focusing, as well as a fast maximum aperture of f/2.0. For this reason, it is suited to street photographers that like to shoot after dark.
Plus, with two aspherical lens elements and one low dispersion element, you can enjoy images free from chromatic aberrations to allow for sharp, vivid, and accurate images, whiles its UMC lens coating facilitates leveled light transmission to reduce the effects of ghosting or flare.
Perfect for capturing a city at night or adding a touch of blur to the background of your images, this lens features 8 rounded blades that will add a dream-like quality to your images by subtly softening the background and creating a sense of dimension by focusing in on the subject.
The 8 rounded blades allow you to create a beautiful Bokeh effect
The Nano Coating System is able to minimize flare and ghosting for vivid and clear images
Suitable for use both during the day and the night
Just like we were saying earlier, there’s a lot of choices when it comes to picking a lens for street photography.
So, to help you out, here are some great tips to keep in mind while searching for the right one, as well as some advice for when you decide to go out and shoot:
Tip #1: Deciding between a zoom or a prime lens
When on the hunt for the perfect street photography lens for you, the two most common types you will encounter are what are known as ‘zoom’ lenses and ‘prime’ lenses.
In general, zoom lenses allow you to manually change the focal length, while the prime lenses come with a fixed focal length.
Zoom lenses tend to be a lot more affordable than prime lenses, as well as being easier to use. All you need to do is twist the lens to capture both wide and close shots with clarity and detail.
Another advantage of using a zoom lens is that they are more versatile and usually tend to be the equivalent of around 3 prime lenses, so you won’t always find yourself needing to swap it out for a different lens.
However, some photographers do find that zoom lenses can sometimes compromise on perspective, especially if you find yourself zooming in on a subject during street photography. By doing so, you compress the image and lose out on the depth.
On the other hand, prime lenses tend to be smaller and compact than zoom lenses, making them a popular choice for street photographers who often find themselves adventuring from place to place.
They tend to have a much wider aperture which allows them to be used in all types of lighting conditions without compromising on the ambiance of the image. The large aperture also usually means that you can use Bokeh in the background of your images for a soft and dreamy finish.
A disadvantage of choosing a prime lens is that their fixed focal length do not allow you to manually zoom in on a subject, meaning that if you want to take a close-up, you have to physically get closer to it (which can be frustrating for some photographers).
They also tend to be difficult for beginners to get the hang of, as well as being significantly more expensive than zoom lenses.
A prime lens might be best for you if you are a professional photographer or want to work on building a portfolio as they tend to produce a much higher quality of images.
However, if you’re a beginner or just wanting to take pictures for fun, you might get on better with a zoom lens.
Tip #2 – Aperture
Aperture is an important feature to consider when it comes to street photography. If you’re wondering what aperture is or would just like reminding, it refers to the opening of a lens’s diaphragm through which the light will pass.
A lower f/stops give more exposure because they are able to represent larger apertures, while higher f/stops give less exposure because they represent little apertures. When it comes to street photography,
When it comes to street photography, we recommend using an aperture of around f/5.6 because this will be able to soften the background of the image just enough to pull the attention of the viewer to the main subject without taking away the details of the background (such as shapes, buildings, and signs)
Tip #3 – Low Light Ability
Another feature that you should keep in mind when searching for a lens is whether it is able to offer brightness and clarity in low light situations. The lens you select should be comfortably able to capture images just as well at dusk night as it can in the day.
As a side note, if you are planning on shooting in lower light conditions, we recommend going for a fast lens as these end to offer a combination of a wide aperture and mid-range focal length that is able to capture images in the dark with brightness and vibrancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best lens for street photography?
Realistically speaking, you can use just about any lens for street photography – you can even use your iPhone camera! However, one of the most popular choices for street photography is a 35mm lens for a full-frame camera.
This is because they are able to provide a comfortably wide viewing angle, as well as a natural perspective without any distortion, As well as this, another type of lens that is widely seen as a suitable choice for street photography is a manual focus lens because it allows you to set the focus distance in advance and then shoot quickly and effortlessly without any fear of autofocus delays which may cause you to miss the shot.
Nevertheless, most cameras nowadays are able to autofocus with remarkable speed, so don’t worry too much if your camera doesn’t offer manual focusing.
Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates
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