Street photography has to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding genres of photography. You can spend hours pounding the pavement in search of inspiration, but when that moment happens, you’ve got a frame to be super proud of. Many believe the only camera for street photography is the one with the red dot, but the truth is there are plenty of alternatives to Leica that offer great features and are easier on the wallet.
Although the diminutive premium compact camera was launched back in 2018, the GRIII still has plenty to offer street photographers and has built up a cult-following of fans who love the discreet, simple approach this camera delivers. Despite its tiny dimensions, with the GRIII tipping the scales at just 257g and measuring 109x62x33mm, the Ricoh is built around a APS-C sensor that delivers a whopping 24-megapixels of resolution. A fixed focal length of 18.3 (27mm in 35mm equivalent) proves perfect for street photography, although the GRIII does allow for a 35mm or 50mm cropped mode at the expense of a few megapixels.
Images can be composed using the 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD and the camera is designed so it can be used one-handed to capture those important fleeting moments that occur with street photography. Low light shots are catered for thanks to a vast ISO range of ISO 100-102400 and despite that small size, the GRIII also includes a three-axis Image Stabilisation system that offers up to four-stops of compensation to keep shots sharp. Other features include a AA filter simulator for reducing false colours and moiré, built-in storage just in case you have forgotten the SD card and a built-in ND filter that can be used to balance exposure or even introduce movement into the frame during a long exposure.
Olympus cameras are arguably as synonymous with street photography as Leicas and the Micro Four-Thirds system offers street shooters a number of benefits, with the main one being the huge choice of affordable optics. The E-P7 features a 20-megapixel Micro Four-Thirds sensor which, while not as beefy as other cameras in this article, can still deliver a file size big enough to make prints up to A3. A fast focusing system that boasts 121- Contrast Detection AF points will lock on quickly to subjects and as the E-P7 is part of the Pen range, it even offers that classic retro-chic design that has proven so popular with street photographers.
Olympus has always invested heavily in In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) technology and the E-P7 features a five-axis system that offers up to 4.5-stops of compensation. Street photographers spend a lot of time pounding the pavement and it should come as good news that the E-P7 can be charged on the go via a USB connection – just plug it into a portable power bank and you’ll be sorted. Low and high compositions are made easier thanks to the 3-inch LCD that features a tilting design. Should you need to fire of a burst of images to capture an action sequence on the street, the E-P7 has you covered with a 8.7 frames per second burst rate and for autofocus, Olympus has added an advanced continuous Auto-focus and Face Priority/Eye Priority AF algorithm from the professional OM-D series models to automatically detect and continuous focus on eyes and faces, which should when shooting portraiture.
The Sony a6600 may not be the first camera that springs to mind when the genre of street photography is mentioned, but the compact mirrorless camera has a lot to offer street shooters. First up, look at the design of the camera, which has fairly plain black styling and this will actually prove to be useful when out on location, providing photographers with a discreet camera that won’t draw attention away from those candid moments. Built around a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, the a6600 delivers a maximum file size of 6000 x 4000 pixels; enough to make prints in excess of A3 or to crop in on frames without overly compromising image quality.
Because the a6600 is Sony’s flagship crop sensor mirrorless camera, it boasts a high level of weather sealing, which should mean street photographers can continue shooting in poor weather rather than needing to run for shelter. The a6600 is a fast camera with a very advanced focusing system – in fact it can fire off up to 11 frames per second and boasts no less than a whopping 425 AF points. What’s more, the a6600 includes Sony’s acclaimed Real-Time Eye AF for Humans and animals.
An ISO range that stretches from 100 to 32000 (50-102400 expanded) is backed up by a 5-axis optical stabilisation IBIS system offers up to 5-stops of compensation to help photographers out in low light conditions. Build quality is further enhanced by a magnesium alloy body construction and the shutter mechanism is rated to withstand 200,000 actuations. The a6600 also uses Sony’s NP-FZ100 high-capacity battery that was previously introduced with many of the brand’s full-frame cameras and offers 2.2x the capacity of a standard battery. Although not the smallest or lightest camera on test, the a6600 won’t weigh you down and tips the scales at only 503g.
With the design of a classic analogue camera but the cutting edge features that today’s street photographers expect, the X-T4 is one of the most complete cameras on the market. Built around a high resolution 26-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 image sensor, the Fuji delivers a maximum file size of 640 x 4160 pixels – the highest figure in this group guide and certainly more than enough resolution to produce huge prints.
When it comes to lining up images, Fuji covers both camps as users can opt for the Electronic Viewfinder or the 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD that boasts a vari-angle design making it easy to get awkward compositions right. Make no mistake, this is a frighteningly quick camera and can fire off burst rates of up to 15 frames per second meaning you shouldn’t miss any split-second moments.
Tipping the scales at 607g and measuring 135x93x84mm, the X-T4 isn’t the smallest of cameras but is still a lightweight option when compared to heavy DSLRs and even full-frame mirrorless options. The camera is weather sealed at no less than 63 points to protect against dust and moisture and in temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C), making it suitable for professional use. When it comes to battery life, the X-T4 impresses again, offering 500 shots on a single charge or 600 when used in Eco mode. An advanced IBIS system offers users up to 6.5-stops of stabilisation when used with a IS-enabled lens or 5-stops without.
For those street photographers who like to get creative in-camera, you’ll be pleased to hear the X-T4 features are the latest Fuji Film Simulation modes that allow photographers to capture stylised imagery without the need for any post-processing work back at the computer. The X-T4 also allows for a heavy degree of tonal adjustment in-camera as Highlights and Shadows can be tweaked by as little as half a stop at a time.
Nikon Z fc
Nikon caught photographers by surprise when it launched the Zfc in June 2021 and the tiny mirrorless can best be described as a retro chic version of the crop sensor Z 50. Built around a 21-megapixel APS-C sensor, the classic styling is a nod to Nikon analogue cameras of yesteryear, although it’s worth pointing out that Nikon did try a similar approach with the retro-styled Df full-frame DSLR, which was launched back in 2013.
Unlike the Z 50 which features a tilting LCD, the Zfc has a more practical vari-angle design and despite features a quality build that includes alloy parts, the weight is kept down to a respectable 445g. Creative street photographers will be pleased to hear there are no less than 20 in-camera Creative Picture Controls and these include a number of mono options that are sure to be popular with street shooters. The advanced autofocus system includes Eye Detection AF, which should make locking onto human subjects in your scene a lot easier and the Zfc proves it is no slow coach as there is a rapid burst rate of 11 frames per second.
If you want to share your street photography, the Zfc has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, so you can connect to a smart device such as a phone and upload your image to image sharing platforms such as Instagram. Street photographers are sure to love the top plate of the Zfc especially as it features a raft of physical control dials and a top display panel too.