The Best Full Frame Cameras for Street Photography

Personally speaking, I’d reach for an APS-C camera from Fujifilm for street photography. But lots of photographers only want to go for full-frame options. Guess what? We’ve tested loads of them for just that. So when we say that these are the best full frame cameras for street photography, we really mean it. You’re not going to find anything better than these. They’re the best balance of so many different things.

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How We Chose the Best Full Frame Cameras for Street Photography

Here’s some insight into how we chose the best full frame cameras for street photography in this roundup:

  • Our Editorial policies don’t allow us to discuss products we haven’t tested. Luckily, we’ve used every camera on the market. With that said, we can say with certainty that these are the best full frame cameras for street photography. All the sample images and product images were shot by our staff. And in each section, you can find more about the cameras in our reviews.
  • The Leica M11 is one of the best full frame cameras for street photography because of the way you’re supposed to use a Leica. That and its image quality reminds us of the older Leica M9 with its chrome film look.
  • The Sony a7s III is one of the best full frame cameras for street photography because of its insanely fast autofocus. But more than that, it also lets you raise the ISO really high up and shoot with ease during the day. High ISO is pretty mandatory for street photography.
  • The Canon EOS R is one of the best full frame cameras for street photography because of how light and affordable it is. But what’s more, Canon’s face detection is really great. Plus, since this has the Canon 5D Mk IV’s sensor, the colors are fantastic.

Leica M11

Pros

  • Leica M9’s colors have returned!
  • Extended dynamic range as the megapixels go down
    – Aluminum version and Brass version.
    – Brass version has some nice heft to it
    – Maybe it’s just that my unit isn’t busted but the viewfinder is wonderful
    – New Leica Fotos update
    – Integrated USB port for charging and all other applications like tethering
    – I’m assuming this is the Sony a7r IV’s sensor, which is fine because the autofocus on that camera annoyed me. And Leica is giving this the M9’s color, so I honestly can’t complain.
    – If you have a lens that won’t resolve this sensor then you can use the lower megapixel options. This is also the best camera I’ve used with the 7Artisans 50mm f1.1. At the highest resolution, this lens can resolve the sensor.
    – Editing the files even feels like Slide film!
    – Capture One does a slightly better job of editing the RAW files for dynamic range while Lightroom gets better colors; at least that’s the case for the pre-production firmware version we’ve tested. Update: the raw files sing in Capture One as of February 2022.

Cons

  • $8,999
  • I don’t know how I feel about the removal of the traditional bottom plate.
  • In Adobe Lightroom, the dynamic range isn’t all that great at high ISOs. If you shoot like you’re shooting slide film, this is just fine. But I can see how folks will think this is traditionally a “con” vs a “pro.”
  • You lose a lot of dynamic range at high ISOs and 60MP settings. All of it comes back in droves at the lower megapixel settings
  • Sunny 16 metering is a tad wonky.

In our review, we state:

“Image quality from the Leica M11 is part of what makes this camera so exciting. In our meeting with Leica, they said that the colors are supposed to mimic Kodachrome. That told me that the Leica M9’s colors are back. And in reality, yes, I can confirm that this is true. However, it’s only valid in the auto white-balance mode. With manual white balance, my preferred method, you won’t get the same look. Though at times and with the right lens, you can get a similar halation look that you would from CineStill film.”

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Sony a7s III

Pros

  • Nice feel in the hand
  • Good build quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Fantastic autofocus
  • The 9.44 million dot EVF is simply gorgeous
  • A new touch menu system! Hallelujah!
  • Despite only having a 12MP sensor, the image quality is great
  • Sony finally added a tilty, flippy screen
  • Decent battery life when being used for stills
  • Not a bad price ($3,498)

Cons

  • The LCD is on the small side, and it hinders the new menu system
  • The EVF can lag in low light situations, even when on its highest refresh rate settings
  • Colors take on rather strange tones at very high ISOs

In our review, we state:

“Many will tell you that a 12MP sensor is not enough to create great images. We’ve become brainwashed by Megapixel hype, and that’s a real shame. The pictures from the Sony a7s III are fantastic. Are they filled with detail? You bet! Are the colors produced pleasant? Yep! Can you crop and still retain detail? Absolutely. I have cropped several images to 100%, and they are fine. Dynamic range? Yes, that’s great too. Unless you need to print big, the 12MP sensor will give you no issues. But if you need to print big, you’re not looking at this camera anyway. The photographers/hybrid shooters who want to use the Sony a7s III as a stills camera will have no issues whatsoever. Sheesh, we haven’t even talked about the high ISO performance yet. Just wait. Perhaps you’ll see that 12MP can be enough.”

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Canon EOS R

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Weather sealed like crazy
  • Autofocus is good
  • Protects the sensor when off
  • Canon’s menu system is still simple
  • Ergonomics feel nice
  • With a lightweight lens, it feels just as nice as a Sony camera
  • These are some of Canon’s best RAW files in years
  • Good battery life
  • Fast Wifi transfers, though not as simple as Sony’s

Cons

  • Needs Dual SD cards
  • Needs a joystick
  • The magic touch bar is odd and could use refinement
  • Optimizing the way the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed dials work, such as the automatic remetering for ISO, not cool
  • Canon needs to improve or change their face and eye detection
  • Bigger than Sony, but the L lenses are about on par with their G Master glass

In our review, we state:

“In most situations the Canon EOS R is fast and accurate. In fact, in my entire time using the camera, it probably only missed focus a few time in low lit situations where I was using face detection and one time when I was using the wide horizontal autofocus area and trying to track a moving dancer at f1.2 or stopped down a bit. But even so, that’s difficult to do. However, I have to admit that the Canon EOS R was still able to deliver enough usable images in every situation.”

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The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.