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, however, an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera can also fit the bill, especially when paired with a small prime lens. To that end, we've also included some of the best mirrorless options, which you can find listed beneath our point-and-shoot picks.
We've bought and tested over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our top tested 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 a relatively large APS-C sensor, so you'll still get excellent image quality, with solid low-light performance to boot.
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 also well-suited to street scenes, giving you a lot of coverage and room to crop in if needed. If you prefer a slightly narrower field of view, you can opt for the RICOH GR IIIx instead; it's a tad pricier but comes with a 40mm equivalent lens.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with a bit of zoom range, the Sony RX100 VII is the best camera for street photography with a built-in zoom lens. It's similar in size to the RICOH GR III, though it uses a smaller 1-inch type sensor, making it less suited to low-light shooting. Despite that, it's still an excellent sensor for its size, with a stacked design that allows for incredibly quick 20 fps burst shooting. Beyond that, its built-in lens has a versatile 24-200mm equivalent focal length range, giving you more flexibility with framing.
Despite its compact design, the camera also comes with useful extras like a small pop-up EVF that comes in handy on sunny days and a tilting screen that's great for waist-level shots. Physical controls are somewhat limited, so if you'd prefer more of an old-school feel with manual exposure dials, the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II is a great alternative if you can find it. However, it's been discontinued and has a shorter zoom range than the Sony.
Fujifilm's X100 series has long been a favorite among street photographers, and we still think the Fujifilm X100V deserves a spot on this list. That said, it's hard to recommend because it's become almost impossible to find. If you're determined to own an X100V, you can try to get on a waitlist at your local camera shop, though stock shortages have also inflated its price significantly. But with a new model rumored to be on the horizon, you might be better off waiting for its follow-up.
Still, if you can get an X100V, it's one of the best premium point-and-shoots for street photography. It may not be the most compact choice, being notably bulkier than the RICOH GR III and the Sony RX100 VII. But it has everything you'd want in an everyday carry-around camera, and its sleek vintage-inspired design evokes the classic rangefinder cameras favored by street photography legends of the past. Aside from just looking the part, its high-resolution APS-C sensor can also capture stunning photos straight out of the camera. Best of all is its unique hybrid viewfinder, which toggles between an optical viewfinder for an unfiltered view of your subjects and an electronic viewfinder to preview exposure settings in real-time.
While you can't beat compact cameras for portability, an interchangeable lens camera gives you more versatility. The Fujifilm X-T5 is one of the best street photography cameras with an interchangeable lens design. Like the Fujifilm X100V, it has old-school Fujifilm exposure dials that make it easy to adjust your settings on the go, and it brings back the three-way tilting screen from older models in the X-T series, so you can capture shots from almost any angle. The camera is also relatively compact and has an excellent battery life for a mirrorless model.
The X-T5's 40-megapixel sensor is one of the highest-resolution APS-C sensors on the market, capturing a greater level of fine detail and giving you more flexibility to crop your images, which comes in handy if you prefer to shoot from farther away and crop in. If you're more of a photography "purist," you might enjoy the design of the Fujifilm X-Pro3, which is a great alternative to the X-T5. It uses an older-generation sensor with a lower resolution, but its hybrid viewfinder and reverse-tilting screen are meant to encourage more engagement with your surroundings, which is a big plus for street photography.
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, so you won't get as much dynamic range or fine detail as you do with the high-resolution APS-C sensor on the Fujifilm X-T5. But the upside of that smaller sensor is that it's a much more portable camera system with smaller lenses that make for a highly portable kit.
It's also one of the few cameras to feature in-body image stabilization at this price point, 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 its build quality isn't as good as that of more expensive models. Still, if you're looking for a compact camera system that won't cost you a fortune, the E-M10 Mark IV is a great choice.
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.