What Lens is best for Street Photography?

December 10, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The MetroThe MetroCommuters waiting for the Metro in Washington DC. Hey Everybody! I hope this day finds you well and Happy!  Today's subject on what lens is best for street photography is one that I'm struggling with myself.  First I'll start with a disclaimer that I am not a street photographer but very envious of the ones I see on YouTube or have studied. This will just be my thoughts on the subject and I welcome you to comment and give me your thoughts on the subject.  Now all of that said I'd like to let you know my setup.  Normally for all of my landscape and travel photography I use a crop sensor camera and 3 zooms that will take me from 15mm to 525mm relative focal length to full frame.  So why don't I use this set up.  First when I think of street photography I think of dark corners of some city and using bokeh (blurring of the background) to separate a subject from the chaos of a busy street scene.  A crop or small sensor is not best for this I think of a full frame sensor will best suit this.  So I use a full frame camera.  Its an older one that is smallish and lightweight and has sensor stabilization. Stabilization is one of my must in any camera I'm getting older and a steady hand is not always available. LOL. And when I think of Bokeh I think of prime lenses.  These lenses are usually small, lightweight and not as  _MSP2682_MSP2682 intimidating to someone as a large zoom would be. Of course a zoom lens would pretty much solve the problem of what lens for street you could carry a 24-70mm and it would cover the range that you need but to get good bokeh you would need a maximum aperture of 2.8.  A full frame 2.8 lens is large and heavy two things that I don't want to mess with. I think that maximum aperture of 1.8 is the sweet spot for bokeh and not being too heavy of a lens.  You can get larger apertures of 1.4 or even 1.2 but these are very expensive and large and heavy.  So I have a full frame camera and 4 prime lenses to go with it.  I know , I know 4 lenses isn't that heavy? Actually the 4 lenses I have if I decide to carry all of them would be lighter than a 24-70 f2.8 lens would be and I only plan on taking 2 of them at any given time one long and one wide and let my feet make up the distance in-between. So let me take you though the lenses I  have.

24mm f1.8-  This is my widest of the Prime lenses I have.  It is great for tight places where I'm really up close to my subject. I imagine a busy market in some Asian country where your elbow to elbow.  Let's face it I'm probably not going to see this again although I have been there in my younger years in the service. But I recently took this lens to a Eastern MarketEastern MarketEastern Market in Washington DC, A good place to photograph. transportation museum and I ended up using this lens more than any other of my lenses because it gave me perspective of everything in the scene.  It worked out great.

35mm f1.8- This lens is a little tighter and is probably the most popular for street photography.  I think this is great for normal ordinary streets and for street portraits and environmental portraits where you have the subject and what they are doing in the same scene.  This is a fantastic lens and would be a great choice for anyone.

55mm f1.8- This is almost like the 35mm but a little tighter and great for street portraits.  You can never go wrong with a 50ish lens.  35mm and 50mm is considered the normal focal length as how we see as humans.

85mm f1.8 - Probably the least used but really great as a small telephoto length lens it can compress the scene and draw your subject closer to the background.  This lens is the smoothest of my lenses.  When it take photo's its like butter!  Thats the only way I know how to explain it. I really love this lens.

So which lens is the best for street.  Well your not going to like my answer. It depends.  I think it depends on the situation you're in.  And how you see things.  We are all individuals and we see things different.  Maybe you like to look at things wide with everything in the photo or maybe you Isolate subjects and like to see only one thing without any clutter.  I think to truly know what lens to use takes a lot of shooting with different focal lengths , so much that when you see a scene you can see what it would look like without the camera.  You see in 24mm or 35mm or whatever focal length.  Then you minds eye will let you know what lens is best for the situation you're in.  Shooting in Seatle would be different than shooting in New York or Chicago. Or your local city or town.  This is where I'm at at street photography.  Learning how my lenses see the scene and then deciding which ones to take with me.

So there is my answer or at least my thoughts on the subject.  I hope this helps.  So until next week get out and shoot!


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