- A Street Photography Kit is Nothing Without Lenses
- Is Your Street Photography Kit Lacking the Right Camera?
- Street Photography Kit 2020: Backpacks Are Out, Sling Bags Are In
Photo by Dương Trần Quốc on Unsplash
I love to travel and I love to take photos, and I have the perfect bag set-up for both. There are so few moments in our day that only belong to us; why spend these precious moments trying to haphazardly slap our equipment together?
My street photography kit includes everything I need to wake up early, pull on my running shoes, and immediately hit the streets.
While it’s true that no photographers can agree on which street photography gear is best, we can all agree that having the right resources is important.
Since your street photography kit will either make or break your experience, you should probably look into streamlining that process. Here’s the kit that’s helped me do just that.
Table of Contents
A Street Photography Kit Is Nothing Without Lenses
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
There are two major debates raging amongst street photographers when it comes to lenses. The first is telephoto lens vs. wide-angle lens vs. standard lens.
The second is whether you like to shoot with a prime lens or a zoom lens.
We’ll break down both.
Photo by dhe haivan on Unsplash
There are some major pros to shooting with a telephoto lens, particularly that you can take photos of people without them realizing it, and while this may seem creepy, genuine photos of real people going about their daily lives is sort of the essence of street photography. Plus, you can always ask their permission to use the photo after you’ve taken it.
Also, the telephoto lens does something that most street photography lenses can’t do, which is provide you time to wait for some action from your subjects. With any other lens, it would be apparent you were staring at someone and waiting for them to smile or frown or show any other emotions.
But, where there are pros there are cons too - carrying a big, heavy telephoto lens around all day is certainly one of them.
Additionally, it’s not like you can be discreet with a 300mm lens on your camera!
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Standard lenses are a top choice for street photographers because they allow you to capture a scene pretty much exactly how you saw it with your own eyes.
If you’re the type of street photographer who views street photography more like photojournalism, then this is the perfect street photography lens for you simply because of that fact.
Standard lenses are often quite small, too, so they have the discrete component that telephoto lenses lack.
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
Wide-angle lenses are a personal favorite of mine because you can capture the whole street in one photo, which is most realistic to me.
There’s no cropping in real life, and sometimes I enjoy street photography that echoes this chaos.
Sure, the wider you go, the more distortion you’ll find in your images, but that doesn’t bother me at all. For some, it does though, which is understandable. For those folks, standard lenses are the way to go.
Zoom vs Prime Lenses
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
On the one hand, zoom lenses give you a level of versatility that prime lenses simply cannot provide. With the flick of the zoom ring, you can shoot wide to short telephoto with many zoom lenses, which gives you loads of options for framing up your shots.
The problem, of course, is that zoom lenses tend to be larger and heavier than prime lenses, so you might miss out on being discreet, as discussed above.
Another thing to consider is that zoom lenses typically aren’t as sharp or fast as prime lenses.
Photo by Alexandru G. STAVRICĂ on Unsplash
Prime lenses, on the other hand, are usually small, lightweight, and easy to maneuver - three characteristics that are certainly important for street photography.
What’s more, many prime lenses have very large apertures, which allows you to shoot in low-light conditions with greater ease. Having the ability to open the aperture, minimize the depth of field, and blur the background is a bonus as well.
There’s something to be said for how prime lenses force you to move around to frame the best shot. Without a zoom, you have to “zoom with your feet” and find the best framing, perspective, and angles for the shot. This can help you develop your creative eye, and that’s a good thing!
Where to Buy Lenses
Lensfinder is a personal favorite of most of the crew over at PhotographyTalk.
We like that you can find almost any lens you could need, from antique lenses to lenses that just dropped.
Plus, whenever you use a lens marketplace like Lensfinder, you know you’re getting quality glass from photographers. You can ask questions about your lenses and actually get answers directly from the sellers
But, my favorite thing is that all of the fees are upfront, which is my biggest qualm with eBay. And those fees are only for sellers, and are minimal, so if you have gear you need to unload, Lensfinder is a great choice!
Is Your Street Photography Kit Lacking the Right Camera?
Photo by Jonathan Wards on Unsplash
What do you look for when you’re looking for your street photography camera? My street photography camera is lightweight and nondescript, because it’s never fun to get yelled at by angry people in public.
But it also features a vari-angle lens to take shots from waist-height (again, to not allow my subjects to know they’re my subjects). People are always so camera shy, so the best way to get them to continue to be themselves is to camouflage your street photography camera.
A good example of a camera that has all of these traits and more is the Sony a6400.
Not only does this camera have a lightning-fast autofocus acquisition of 0.02 seconds for quick shots, but it also has real-time Eye AF and real-time tracking features. It shoots at up to 11 fps (8fps in silent shooting mode), and offers 4K UHD video recording. Not bad, right?
You can get all the details on the a6400 in the video above by iJustine.
Street Photography Kit 2020: Backpacks Are Out, Sling Bags Are In
I used a backpack as my street photography bag for years, but with the resurgence of sling bags in the past year, I started looking into them.
As it turns out, sling bags are much more useful for street photography equipment because you can easily access all of your equipment without digging through a bag due to the zipper structure.
Also, it’s lighter than a backpack, which means traveling miles and miles on the streets will be much easier, and good sling bags, like the Hex Ranger, keep your camera gear incredibly organized and safe inside faux-fur lined pockets.
The construction of this bag is next-level awesome, too.
Not only is it well made, but it’s cleverly designed. For instance, there are collapsible interior dividers that allow you to customize the interior space to fit different kits. These dividers are also removable in case you need to pack the bag flat for traveling.
It’s also compact at just 1.3 pounds and 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H, and it sits comfortably on your body. In fact, it hugs your body and stays close to you, unlike some sling bags that swing out as you walk.
This bag fits a ton of gear, yet has a small form factor. It’s unassuming, built like a tank, and offers you tons of functionality. In other words, it’s the perfect addition to your street photography kit!