Best Lens For Street Photography

I’ve been shooting street photography for a while now and I can say with complete conviction that there is such a thing as the perfect lens for street photography.

A lot of people will tell you that any lens will do, but this isn’t true. Street photography requires an intimate perspective, capturing scenes from the ground level; this is achieved by squatting or laying down, which means you’ll need a wide angle lens to fit everything in. And depending on your style, the perfect lens for street photography may be a different focal length that what most people would recommend.

busy city street

[The Main Museum is supported by readers like you. Some links are affiliate and we earn a small commission when you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. As always, all recommendations are based solely on performance and value to you]

The perfect street photography lens should have a focal length that is comfortable to use and having a focal length between 25-55mm is ideal. A lens that has a wide angle in the range of 15mm-25mm is a good start for street photography. But again this isn’t strict as you can always move the camera closer with more or less distortion.

Having an aperture of f/3.5 or higher is preferable but, just as important, it’s essential to have a stabilization system that works at all times. A zoom lens is a great option for street photography as you can move it up to the desired focal length without the need for a tripod.

Prime or Zoom Camera Lens?

For a lot of people, deciding between a prime lens and zoom lens to use for street photography is an impossible choice. There’s no clear-cut winner here as both types of lenses have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The best thing you can do is experiment with both different types of lenses to see which one you prefer and what type of photographs you like achieving with them. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s all up to your personal preferences.

But read on for some insight that will help you decide which to start with.

Pros and Cons of Using Zoom Lenses

city street at night

Zoom lenses are a great option if you want to get close to your subjects and have a lot of flexibility as well. They can be a bit more expensive than prime lenses but they do offer much wider field of view.

The only problem with using zoom lenses for street photography is that you should be careful about the minimum focus distance values; the lower the value, the greater the distance at which your subject will not be in focus. This can lead to blurry images, especially when shooting at wide angles.

Pros and Cons of Using Prime Lenses

black and white image of people walking on crowded city sidewalk

The first thing you’ll notice about using prime lenses for street photography is that they’re a lot smaller in size than zooms. This makes them a good option for traveling or carrying around, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense for a lot of people if you are shooting street photographs without any kind of tripod.

However, beginners may find it difficult to recognize the differences between f/3.5 and f/2.8 when trying to shoot streets, especially if they have been using a zoom lens for a while now.

I’m not saying that one is better than the other, that depends on the kind of street photos you’re trying to shoot. I use both prime and zoom lenses for street photography but I tend to spend more time with my prime lenses as they are easier to use.

The Best Focal Length for Street Photography

Best focal length for street photography is 27-30mm

This focal length gives an immense amount of flexibility since you can shoot both wide angle shots and tight street photography portraits here. You can even get a bit more creative with the tighter focal lengths but I don’t recommend shooting anything tighter than 50mm for street photography.

If you’re curious about the best 50mm lens for street photography it is excellent as well. Their minimum focus distance values are also quite good, ranging from 0.25m to 0.

Best Lens for Street Photography

I recently had the opportunity to test a bunch of different lenses that I believe are great starts for people looking to shoot street photography. The first thing you’ll notice is that they all have fast minimum focus distance values of around 0.25m; this is important because it means they’re quick to focus and won’t distract you while shooting.

I would advise you to check out the lens overviews in each of the links below. I’ll add a brief description of each lens as well to help you decide.

Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 STM

The Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 STM lens is one of the best 50mm lenses for street photography due to its compact size and how good the images are when you use it for street photography.

It’s a good lens option if you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the more expensive, professional versions. It comes in at under $100 which makes it very affordable and easy to own, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on gear.

Why We Love It: Amazing sharpness and crystal clear images at all f-stops due to the use of STM technology, a new system that can help you achieve better focus. The wide aperture allows you to shoot with a much faster shutter speed in low light conditions. Very affordable price range which makes it a great choice for people with small budgets. Comes bundled with a lens hood, which is usually sold separately with other brands.

What You Need To Know: The minimum focus distance values are a bit on the lower side for a 50mm lens at 0.25m, however, you can still shoot with this lens even in low light conditions because of the fast aperture and shutter speed.

Check current price and customer reviews

Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 G

The Nikon 50 mm f/1.8 G AF-S Nikkor is another good option for street photographers. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the more expensive, professional versions, this is an option for you.

Why We Love It: Good sharpness at all f-stops and gets even sharper as you stop down further. Extremely simple to use which makes it a good choice if you’re not much of an advanced user with photography gear. Comes bundled with a lens hood, which is usually sold separately with other brands.

What You Need To Know: The minimum focus distance values are a bit on the lower side for a 50mm lens at 0.25m, however, you can still shoot with this lens even in low light conditions because of the fast aperture and shutter speed.

Check current price and customer reviews

Sony FE 35 mm f/2.8

If you’re looking for a high-quality lens that is very simple to use and won’t break the bank, then this is a great option for you. It’s a good choice if you’re a beginner photographer with little experience in photography gear.

The images produced with this lens are sharp and crisp. It can help you achieve professional results even if it’s your first time using it. You also don’t need to adjust the focus of the lens since it has a fixed f-stop value of 2.8.

Why We Love It: This lens works great in low-light conditions with a wide f-stop value of 2.8, which allows you to capture images with a much faster shutter speed. Additionally, it has a pleasant bokeh which is important when shooting portraits and street photography. Its compact size helps you easily carry the lens around while you shoot.

What You Need To Know: The minimum focus distance value can be a bit on the lower side at 0.25m, although it’s not a problem for shooting portraits or other close-up shots.

Check current price and customer reviews

Fujifilm XF 35 mm f/1.4

Fujifilm’s 35 mm f/1.4 lens is perfect for street and documentary shooting. The lens has an aperture diameter of 1.4 which creates a shallow depth-of-field effect, enabling you to blur out your background while your subject is sharp.

This lens is designed to be extremely resistant to flare and ghosting, making it great for photography in high-contrast situations. It’s also weather sealed, allowing you to shoot without worrying about the lens fogging up from inclement weather.

Plus, the 35mm focal length is a great choice for street photography because it makes your subjects pop out from the background.

Why We Love It: This is one of our favorite lenses to use for documentary, street, and lifestyle shooting. The lens’s 1.4 aperture works well with many types of lighting conditions and creates beautiful bokeh. We also love the weather resistance of this lens because it’s reliable for shooting in all types of weather conditions.

What You Need To Know: This lens is made specifically for Fujifilm APS-C sensors and not compatible with full-frame cameras. It also has a fairly shallow depth of field which makes it perfect for portraits or street photography.

Check current price and customer reviews

Sigma 35 mm F1.4 ART DG HSM

Sigma 35 mm F1.4 ART DG HSM is an excellent third party lens option

If you’re on a budget but still want to shoot some high-quality images without breaking the bank, the Sigma 35 mm F1.4 ART DG HSM is one of the best lenses to use for shooting street photography.

This lens has a very fast f-stop value of 1.4 which means you can shoot with shutter speeds as high as 1/8000th of a second and still produce amazing images that are sharp and crisp.

Why We Love It: The 35 mm focal length is great for capturing images of street scenes. The wide aperture of f1.4 means that you can shoot in low light conditions and still produce amazing bokeh. It’s also extremely durable and waterproof, making it a great choice for shooting outdoors in inclement weather or while on vacation.

What You Need To Know: If you are looking for the best manual aperture f1.4 lens in the 35mm focal length it’s this one. It’s also made for full-frame or APS-C sensors and not compatible with Fujifilm or Sony full frame cameras.

Check current price and customer reviews

Nikon 24-85 mm f/2.8-4 IF AF-D Nikkor Lens

Nikon 24-85 mm f/2.8-4 IF AF-D Nikkor Lens is one of my favorite lenses

Up until recently, the Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4 IF AF-D Nikkor has been my favorite lens for shooting landscapes and street photographs. The images produced with this lens are sharp and crisp, making it a great choice for those looking to take high-quality landscape photographs.

It’s also an excellent option for shooting street photography because of its fast aperture value of f/2.8 which helps you capture images in low light situations. The minimum focus distance is a bit on the lower side but it’s not a problem for shooting portraits or other close-up shots.

Why We Love It: This lens is extremely versatile and can be used for more than just street photography. It has a very sharp lens, making it perfect for shooting landscapes. The f/2.8 aperture value enables you to shoot with faster shutter speeds even in low light conditions, producing amazing photographs that are sharp even when using a wide aperture value.

What You Need To Know: The minimum focus distance values are a bit on the lower side at 0.25m, although it’s not a problem for shooting portraits or other close-up shots.

Check current price and customer reviews

Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens

If you’re looking for a third-party lens to shoot street photography with, the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens should be at the top of your list. It’s one of our favorites to use because it can handle almost any type of lighting condition.

This lens performs well in low light situations, especially when shooting at f/2.8 aperture values. The optical image stabilization on this lens helps you achieve a fast shutter speed, even in low light conditions.

Why We Love It: The Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is certainly the best choice for evening out the contrast in your images and shooting in low light conditions. It’s also weather resistant which means that you don’t have to worry about damaging your lens while shooting outdoors.

What You Need to Know: The minimum focus distance values are a bit on the lower side at 0.25m, however, it’s not an issue for shooting portraits or other close-up shots.

Check current price and customer reviews

Conclusion

If you are shooting street photography, you have different lens options available. Many people go with the 50 mm prime lens, but if you want more flexibility, the Tamron zoom lens is a great choice. Each of the lenses above gives you the opportunity to take crisp photos. They are lightweight and easy to carry along in your camera bag or as your primary street photography lens.