The perfect camera must have a full frame sensor. This is not really a problem nowadays and there are already a lot of brands which have that. Another important factor is the ISO performance. High ISO values are something common on the street. You should be able to shoot concerts with your street camera. If you are not able to do that, it is not a suitable camera. It’s not only the ISO value but also the maximum open aperture which counts towards this requirement.
The lens of the perfect camera would be a prime lens. The maximum open aperture of a prime lens is wider than any other lens on the market. You need as much light as possible on the street. With a kit lens you will not be successful. While walking down the streets I often take a lot of shots. Sometimes I shoot 500 times or even more. This is battery consuming and if your camera cannot handle that, it is not worth buying it. That sounds a bit hasty but I don’t want to end up going home because my battery dies. I also don’t want to carry more than one spare battery with me.
A good photo has nothing to do with an expensive camera or manual settings. A good photo has soul. It has something you cannot see, something you cannot buy, something you cannot touch, something you cannot learn. A good photo will contain everything of your experience as a photographer; it will be the result of all of your shots taken so far and it will be the perfect moment captured in a fraction of a second. This moment cannot really be planned, setup or fabricated. It will just happen and when you are ready, you will be able to capture it.
What I want to say is that there are so many factors relevant for the perfect photo. I would even say that you cannot take the perfect photo on the streets but you can try to and you should always try to. It should be the reason why you go out with your camera. There is only one way to get closer to the perfect shot and that is by practicing. No amount of money will give you an advantage over practicing. You could have the best camera, read all the books, attend all the workshops and know all the old masters of Street Photography and it will not help you to get better photos.
“It’s the shutter count that counts, not the value of the gear.” Thomas Leuthard
When I say ‘shutter count’, I mean the experience you get from every shot, especially from every missed and every bad shot. From the missed opportunities you can learn the same amount as you can from your bad shots. Stop reading articles about new gear, get out and increase your shutter count.
You may ask a lot of people and you will get a lot of different answers about which camera is the best for street photography. You can also buy a new camera every year as there is a big industry telling you that you should buy new equipment. But if you remember the old days, the masters of photography, did they have good equipment? Not really. Compared to today’s features they had nothing. But with this “nothing” they made incredible artwork. Never ever think that you can do better photos with a better camera. This is absolute nonsense.
There is only one thing that makes a difference in street photography which is your eye. If you have a good eye, you will see the relevant things. If not, you will have problems seeing the relevance. It sounds simple, but you just have to train your eye to become a better Street Photographer. “The best camera is the one that is with you…” – Chase Jarvis
A lot of people care more about cameras, lenses, equipment, file formats and other technical things. Forget all about technology and camera settings. You have to train your eye first, before you can think about capturing a scene.
Too many people think a good photo has something to do with manual camera settings. The settings are not really relevant to a good photo. Today’s cameras are good enough to set everything themselves. So why not try focusing on the composition and leave the camera working on the exposure.
Whereas I use a full frame camera, the best lens would be an 85mm. Most important is that I perfectly know my lens and that my settings are optimized for it.
Regardless of which camera you choose or which camera you simply have, you can make fantastic photographs. There is one thing that will prevent you from making excellent photographs however and that is if you don’t know how to operate your camera. You must know your camera. In today’s climate of buy buy buy when it comes to gear, too many photographers struggle with their cameras because they are unfamiliar to them. After all, they have a new one every few months. You need to know how to operate your camera fast and, even more importantly, know how to predict its results. Know your camera. Make it your slave. Digital is the way to go for the majority of your work. It will allow you to shoot more and that alone, will provide you with more winning photographs. With digital you can shoot more and, by numbers alone, end up with more lucky shots.
Another common debate in the street photography forums centers on the issue of focal length. Which focal length is ideal for street photography? 28mm, 35mm, perhaps a normal 50mm or 85mm? What about long lenses? My answer is merely my opinion. You may disagree, you’re entitled to your own opinion as well. Good photographs tell stories. So how do you get a photo to tell a story? One major part of the answer is to selectively decide what to include in the photo and what to leave out. This, necessarily, involves the issue of focal length. If you are shooting with a lens that is too wide, say 16-20mm, you will likely have too much information in your photo. Although these kinds of photographs can be good, they are usually limited to subjects like landscapes or architecture. If we think about street photographs we rarely desire to see a scattering of people and cars and trees and busses and dogs and so on. The shot is too wide. There is too much information. There is a lack of focus. In contrast, if we shoot the street with fixed-focus lens like, for example 50 mm or 85mm and up, we risk cutting too much information from the image. . We migh t get a nice tight shot of a woman’s face, but of what value is this image? She is, after all, just a stranger and therefore, although the picture may be a great portrait, it is of little value as public documentary – as a street photograph. We need context, we need peripheral information to add the “story” to our image. My advice: You know, the old saying, if your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough!