Street photography is an art that requires a good eye, a little discretion, and a camera that you can take anywhere. There's a saying in photography that the best camera is the one you have on you, but while your smartphone can capture interesting moments in a pinch, a dedicated camera can take your street photos to the next level. A good street photography camera has to be lightweight and portable, with easy-to-adjust settings, a relatively fast lens, and effective autofocus to capture fleeting moments.
For those reasons, we've geared our list toward compact cameras. Depending on your needs and preferences, an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera can also fit the bill, especially when paired with a small prime lens. To that end, we've included some of the best mirrorless options as well, which you can find listed beneath our point-and-shoot picks.
We've bought and tested over 80 cameras in our lab, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for street photography. If you're interested in urban landscape photography, you might also want to check out our picks for the best cameras for landscape photography. Or, if you want to take street photos while traveling abroad, you can check out our recommendations for the best travel cameras or the best compact cameras.
The RICOH GR III was made for street photographers, and if you're looking for something pocketable, this is the best camera for street photography. Its minimalist design isn't the sexiest—you won't find a viewfinder or tilting screen here—but you can't beat its small, unassuming form factor for discretion and portability. Despite its compact size, it uses an APS-C sensor, so you still get excellent image quality and solid low-light performance.
While the GR III doesn't have the fastest or most reliable autofocus, it comes with a unique 'Snap Focus' feature that's ideal for street shooting. With the press of a button, the camera 'snaps' the focus to a pre-set distance, which is incredibly convenient for quick, discreet shots when you can gauge your distance to a subject. The wide-angle 28mm full-frame equivalent focal length is common for street photography. If you prefer a more standard field of view, you can opt for the RICOH GR IIIx, which is a tad pricier but comes with a 40mm equivalent lens.
Fujifilm's X100 series has long been a favorite among enthusiasts and street photographers. The Fujifilm X100V is the latest iteration, improving upon a tried-and-true formula to become one of the best premium point-and-shoots on the market. It may not be the most compact choice, with a notably bulkier design than the RICOH GR III, but Fuji has managed to pack in everything you'd want in a premium carry-around camera. With a sleek vintage-inspired design, the X100V evokes the classic rangefinder cameras favored by street photography legends of the past. Aside from just looking the part, it's built around an excellent APS-C sensor that captures stunning photos straight out of the camera.
Best of all is its unique hybrid viewfinder, which you can toggle between an optical viewfinder for an unfiltered view of your subjects and an electronic viewfinder to preview your final image in real time. The improved built-in lens is nice and sharp, and its 35mm full-frame equivalent focal length is perfect for street photography. Finally, its dedicated exposure dials let you easily change settings on the fly. Put all that together, and you've got one of the best street photography cameras for enthusiasts.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with a bit of zoom range, the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II is the way to go. Like the Fujifilm X100V, it comes with dedicated exposure dials that make it easy to adjust your settings on the go. However, unlike the Fuji or the RICOH GR III, it uses a smaller multi-aspect Four Thirds sensor. By only using a portion of the sensor, it lets you change the aspect ratio without affecting your field of view, which is neat but also makes the camera less suitable for low-light than the larger-sensor options above.
Still, its built-in lens has a fairly versatile 24-75mm equivalent focal length range. This means you have a bit more flexibility with framing. It's well-suited to capturing wider street landscapes but works well for portraits or close-ups. It also has a good battery life for a compact camera. While it isn't as portable as the RICOH, it's still small and even has a small viewfinder, which is nice to have on sunnier days when it's harder to see the screen.
While you can't beat compact cameras for portability, some people may prefer the versatility of an interchangeable-lens camera. Thankfully, some excellent mirrorless options come in relatively portable form factors. The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is one of the best among those for street photography. Like the Fujifilm X100V, it has a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder offset from the center of the body and uses the same high-resolution APS-C sensor. This means you'll get the same great image quality, but with the option to use different lenses and focal lengths.
It's also uniquely designed with a reverse-tilting screen to encourage you not to rely on the camera's screen and engage more with your surroundings, making it a great fit for the intrepid street photographer. It's also got a sturdy, weather-sealed body and dual SD card slots for expanded memory or to keep your files backed up on the go. Though it isn't as portable, the hybrid viewfinder and similar Fuji handling, complete with dedicated exposure dials, make this a fantastic interchangeable-lens alternative to the X100V.
Last but not least is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, one of the best budget mirrorless cameras we've tested. It uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor, meaning it isn't as well-suited to low-light settings as an APS-C option like the Fujifilm X-Pro3. That smaller sensor makes it incredibly portable. Compatible lenses will also be smaller, making this a good choice if you want portability but the versatility to switch out lenses.
On top of that, it's one of the few cameras in this price range to offer in-body image stabilization, making it easier to get clear handheld shots at slower shutter speeds. The ergonomics are also solid, especially for such a small camera. However, it doesn't have the most reliable autofocus system, and the build quality isn't quite as good as more expensive models. If you're looking for a more portable camera kit, the Micro Four Thirds system is a great, more affordable choice.
Apr 04, 2023: Restructured article and renamed picks to better align with user needs; removed the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 and added the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II; moved the Fujifilm X-T30 II to Notable Mentions.
Jan 31, 2023: Replaced the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II with the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 as the 'Best Budget Camera For Street Photography' and removed the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II from Notable Mentions.
Dec 02, 2022: Brushed up text for clarity; no change to recommendations.
Oct 05, 2022: Restructured article for clarity and to better represent user needs.
Feb 18, 2022: Ensured that all main picks are still available and represent the best fit for user needs and expectations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the top street photography cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our point-and-shoot and interchangeable lens camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.