A superzoom lens like the Tamron 18-270mm (for Nikon and Canon) is ideal for street photography, and never more so than when photographing a protest like Occupy Wall Street. While down at Liberty Square (officially Zuccotti park) I found this lens more useful than just about anywhere else.
If you can only get part of the crowd in your shot, you can’t really show how big the movement really is. Being able to zoom out to 18mm is really great when you have police dictating how far back you can go or you’re walking in the midst of a march you can’t possibly get in front of.
Conversely when the crowds surge around someone giving a speech or the drummers wildly keeping the energy high, you may not be able to get close enough to get a portrait. Never fear, 270 mm will get you plenty close enough to get the shot without having to worry about where your body can be.
While you can never be really discreet with a DSLR like you can be with a large sensor mirrorless camera like the Olympus PEN or a Fuji X100, the new line of superzooms are a lot more compact than older ones were. If all you have available to you is a DSLR, using a superzoom might just give you that combination of distance and size to get a shot of someone that might be a bit camera shy if you get right in their face.
Use a Hard Lens Hood and a Sturdy Camera Strap
I always recommend using a hood anyway, but in a situation like this you not only want to have a hood on your camera, you want it to be a hard one. These are busy crowded places and the situation can be very fluid. A hard hood like the one that comes standard with all Tamron lenses will help keep your lens a bit protected if things get messy. You can also look at a selection of lens hoods to find what works best for you. Similarly a good camera strap like the Black Rapid will help make sure that if that happens you don’t drop your camera or find it yanked out of your hands before you can even figure out who did it.
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