Every photography type requires a specific gear. Those who practice macro need close-up lens, expansion tubes and macro lens; panoramic photographers wide-angle lenses and tripods, etc. And so does street photography. This article will look into the indispensable equipment you need for this photography type.
This is the most important debate among street photographers – telephoto lens, wide-angle lens or standard lens? In addition, some of us prefer fixed lens and zoom lens.
Each of these has different advantages and disadvantages:
• Telephoto lens: its main advantage is the possibility of taking closer shots to people without getting physically closer to them. On one hand, this may be particularly interesting for those who may feel uncomfortable by taking photos of strangers. Furthermore, telephoto lens allows you to capture details in people as they don’t realize you`re taking a shot. On the other hand, this means a lack of involvement in the picture by the photographer.
• Wide-angle lens: I really like using these lens because they can catch the whole environment in one shot, capturing the street`s happenings and inviting people to participate in the situation. I owe three wide-angle lens – a 28 mm fixed, a zoom 10-20 and a 8 mm manual. However, due to its size and practicality I usually use the 28 mm and sometimes the 8 mm.
• Standard lens: they reflect in the shot exactly what we see with our eyes. Therefore, by using a 35 mm (for APS-C) or a 50 mm (for Full-Frame) we`re photographing what we see without any change. This is the reason why many photographers consider this lens as the perfect for street photography.
Fixed or zoom?
Another debate is whether we should use zoom lens or fixed-focus lens. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages:
• Fixed lens: There are three main advantages about this lens: firstly, you must move to get a good framing, different and new angles, and this means you must innovate; secondly, knowing our lens will allow us to know how the shot will be before taking it, which will save us a good amount of time; finally, they are smaller and brighter than a zoom lens, which means carrying less weight and hiding the camera easier, and allows the photographer to take shots with less light.
• Zoom lens: its main advantage is its versatility and comfort. It can be used as a wide-angle lens to a small telephoto lens, which provides a good control over the situation, allowing us to photograph any subject, no matter its distance. Its disadvantages are that they are rather big, heavy and the lack of light and quality in comparison to fixed lens.
What’s the best option, then?
It is a matter of personal preference. If you are a beginner interested in the discipline, my recommendation is to acquire a zoom lens. They will allow you to experiment through the different options and once you decide which you like the best, you may buy a fixed lens.
As for focal lengths, It’s a personal preference. I do prefer standard lens and wide-angle. My favorites are 28 mm, 35 mm and 8 mm. why? Because I like taking photos capturing the general scenery and get involve with the different parts of it. However, if you prefer to look for details from the distance, you should use a telephoto lens.
There’s no point on talking about brands, or sensors, or if it should be reflex, without mirror o compacts it holds no relevance in the street photography field.
However, if you plan to acquire a new camera, here are some points to take into consideration:
• Firstly, it’s important to consider its weight. As street photography requires a good amount of walking, it becomes a factor to consider. Furthermore, the smaller the camera is, the easiest to go unnoticed by people.
• High speed burst shooting. It’s essential to capture the exact moment in this type of photography. If the camera takes more than 2 seconds to shoot, our target will probably be gone. What’s more, using burst mode can be very beneficial given we can later choose from numerous captures. Also, it`s important that the memory card is high-speed.
• Lastly, having a flip out screen – although it’s not fundamental- can be absolutely practical to take shots without looking through the visor and to dissimulate our real target.
3. Backpacks and shoulder bags
As well, you should consider how you’re going to carry all your photography gear. Now only is it important to protect it and carry it conformably but also unnoticed. Some options are:
• Backpack with direct access. That allows us to take out without changing the bag`s position.
• Shoulder bag that conceals our equipment at plain sight.
4. Other accessories
As it may take you a long time to get the shot you expected, you should never forget to carry extra memory cards and batteries for your camera.
Other accessories such as tripods, monopods or flashes might be used though not frequently.