How To Choose The Right Street Photography Lens For You

Street photography, much like landscapes, nature and wildlife is generally a solo hobby niche for photographers. You can go out on the streets and just enjoy snapping images and documenting the city around you. It can be a fun way to enjoy photography while decompressing from a long day at your 9-5. But how does a photographer choose the right street photography lens for them?

If you are thinking about getting into street shooting but want to know what sort of lens you should be investing in then you have come to the right place. By the end of this post, you should have a good grasp on the sort of lens that will work for you and the street photography you want to enjoy.

What Style of Street Photography Do You Like?

There are many styles of street photography, and a key to knowing what sort of lens you need is to decide on what sort of style you are looking to take part in. Some photographers like to set up in one spot and covertly capture people walking through a point in their frame. Some photographers like to walk around and just shoot what they see directly surrounding or approaching them. Others like to be farther away and capture their subjects from a distance while out and about.

There is no right or wrong way, but you should know what style appeals to you most before you start thinking about lenses because different lenses will be more ideal for each situation. You also need to take into account that you will be carrying this around on the street, so big, heavy gear isn’t ideal. Primes are your best bet, and choosing an appropriate focal length for your vision is the key here.

Manual focus or Auto Focus?

Manual Focus has always been a favorite past time of great street photographers, so lenses with good manual focus aids like distance scales and such are a thing to look out for. As well, many lenses being made these days are adopting focus by wire systems and these are not nearly as smooth or effective for manual focus as they are for AF. So knowing what sort of focus systems your lenses have will be key in determining what lens you want to invest in.

Weather Sealing?

Unless you live in a tropical paradise and your climate is generally warm and dry, chances are when you are out on the street the weather can change in an instant. If you are out in the elements without a lens that has weather sealing then you will be risking your gear and the money invested in it.

We always recommend going with a lens that has weather sealing if you are stuck between two lenses and one has it and the other doesn’t. But that said, it’s not live or die if you pass on a lens with weather sealing. You can always buy rain covers or other accessories to protect your kit, but we recommend weather sealing if you have the option.

When will you be out?

Lighting is constantly changing, but if you know you will always be out shooting during the day you can stand to pick up a slower, more affordable lens. However, if you will be out in the early hours of the day or into the late evening, then investing in a fast lens to capture lots of light will be key.

How do you feel about flare?

This is not something many will consider, but since you will be out shooting in a situation where you will have little to no control over the light, you need to be prepared for light hitting your lens at weird angles, causing flare.

Some lenses handle flare better than others, so decide how you feel about flare and look into lenses that fit within your artistic vision – be that tons of flare or no flare or somewhere in between.

Some Recommendations

Ready to look into some lenses? Here are our picks for some great places to start your search…

  • Fujifilm 23mm F2 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KNXOCO8′ text=’Fujifilm 23mm F2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8b502f5e-3bef-11e7-8a46-592b29d6bc7e’]
  • Sony 35mm F2.8 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB79KU’ text=’Sony 35mm F2.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’91ab3ae4-3bef-11e7-bb56-875b1cb44ad2′]
  • Tamron 35mm F1.8 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAEQ4′ text=’Tamron 35mm F1.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9759b306-3bef-11e7-bcce-f7a7328958ad’]
  • Fujifilm 27mm F2.8 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B00DCM0DUU’ text=’Fujifilm 27mm F2.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d713c22f-3bf2-11e7-ac40-8dff5ab9e35e’]
  • Sony FE 50mm F1.8 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ text=’Sony FE 50mm F1.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’df04d6fc-3bf2-11e7-8595-4b2988361b6a’]
  • Tamron 45mm F1.8 (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAFJA’ text=’Tamron 45mm F1.8′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e6896d79-3bf2-11e7-9b88-675d895aa105′]
  • Nikon 50mm F1.8 G (Our Review): [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Y1AYAC’ text=’Nikon 50mm F1.8 G’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f5676e49-3bf2-11e7-b414-5bc2e0132f53′]

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.