How to Choose a New Camera for Street Photography

If you’ve fallen in love with street photography you may have a nagging feeling that you need to buy a new camera to help you get better shots. What happens next?

The next step is to start gathering information. My favourite strategy is to spend a lot of time examining and comparing sample photos from all the cameras on my short-list. This is therefore No.2 on my list of strategies, after first creating the short-list!

1. Create a Short-List
I’m assuming you know roughly what kind of camera you want in terms of image quality, portability, and price. It’s good to keep an open mind on these issues, because, as you gather more information, you may need to change your mind. You can add to the short-list as you read reviews and news announcements, but don’t let it get too long. Make a Top Ten list, for example. Ten is a good, round number.

Here’s an idea! Read my latest article on PhotoStartSheet.com, called “The Best Camera for Street Photography 2019.” In this article I’ve drawn attention to all the outstanding features and possible drawbacks of using twelve of the best cameras for street photography. You may be able to omit three or four cameras from the list because of price, weight, etc., so maybe add one or two of your own choice, and you’ll have a short-list of 10.

2. Compare Sample Photos
It’s much easier to compare sample shots a few months after a camera’s launch when there are plenty of photos to see. At launch date you have only the manufacturer’s sample shots, then a week or two later come the hastily taken shots on major review sites. These images are often highly unsatisfactory and give only a vague idea of each camera’s capability. So, this leads me to the next point, which is “Wait a While.”

3. Wait a While
Unless you’re buying a camera that’s been on the market for at least a few months, I think it’s best to wait until at least a few hundred people have used the product in real-world situations (not just in typical outdoor or studio tests). Once you seen what a skilled photographer can achieve with a camera on your short-list, you’ll have much more confidence in the product. However, you must still read all about it to see if it’s likely to meet your needs.

4. Read the Reviews
In fact, it takes a while for in-depth and carefully considered reviews of the latest cameras to appear online. Of course, there’s always a rush to be first, but I never trust those early evaluations. They’re often written before users find the bugs!

Yes, new cameras often have bugs which don’t get picked up during testing. We’ve had light leaks through the viewfinder, banding in low light, unwanted artefacts caused by the on-board processor: all kinds of faults which get ironed out eventually.

The latest bug: a wobbly control dial on the Ricoh GRIII (below, surely one of the most desirable of recently announced cameras for street photography). “We’ll fix it free of charge,” says Ricoh, in an April announcement.

Ricoh GR Three camera

5. Try Before You Buy
Nothing beats actually having the camera in your hand, plus the opportunity to take a few shots in the style you intend to use. The best solution is to invest in a day’s hire of the camera, but I appreciate that this can add several percentage points to your total expenditure. At the very least you should take your own SD card to the camera store and persuade the salesperson to let you take a few shots outside.

So there’s my 5-step process. If you’ve paid for rentals, feel free to shop around for the best price when you come to purchase. Otherwise, support your local camera store if they’ve been especially helpful in letting you try the product. My local branch of the London Camera Exchange has been brilliant in this respect.

Ready to build that short-list? Here again is the link to: “The Best Camera for Street Photography 2019.”

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