This is a guide covering the best lenses for street photography.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:
- Best Canon lens for street photography
- Best Sony lens for street photography
- Best Nikon lens for street photography
- Pros and cons
- Important features
- And more
Let’s dive in.
9 Best Lenses for Street Photography
Click/tap on each lens name to jump to that section. At the end of each section, there is also a link to jump back to this table to make it easy for you!
Street photography has become popular over the last decades. From fixed lens rangefinders to DSLRs, street photography has produced raw photos of people in places doing their usual mundane routines.
Street photography brings in an element of storytelling that can only be captured using the right camera and lens.
So what is a good lens for street photography?
Different photographers have different preferences when it comes to the camera that they are using.
This is why we’ve come up with 9 of the best lenses for street photography from Sony, Nikon, and Canon.
|1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L |
BEST CANON LENS
|– Can produce beautiful bokeh|
– Practical and low light conditions and in broad daylight
– Produces sharp images
|2. Sony – FE 50mm F1.8 |
BEST SONY LENS
|– Highly versatile|
– Wide aperture
– High-quality images
|3. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G |
BEST NIKON LENS
|– Wide aperture and good bokeh|
– Useful for shooting landscapes and portraits.
|4. Canon EF 35mm f/2 ||– High-quality image|
– Fast and accurate autofocus
– Wide-angle lens capable of shooting landscapes and also portraits
– Wide aperture
|5. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 ||– Takes sharp photos|
– Has a durable design
– Versatile focal length
– Fast and accurate focusing
|6. Sony 16-50mm ||– Choose from a variety of focal lengths|
– Perfect for shooting in broad daylight
– Can minimize blur shots
|7. Sony Distagon 35mm f/1.4 ||– Resistant to dust and moisture|
– Fast and precise focusing
– High-quality images
– Wide aperture
|8. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ||– Allows you to shoot wide shots|
– Can be used for close up shots
– With vibration reduction capability
|9. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G ||– Highly versatile lens for different functions|
– Fast AF
– Sharp images
What is the Best Canon Lens for Street Photography?
1. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L
If you feel that you want a wider aperture for your 35mm lens, might as well go for the Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II USM Lens.
With well-constructed optics that can give you sharp photos and lively colors, this has become a favorite by those who love street photography.
It is one of the best lenses for street photography given its versatility. You get to enjoy a beautiful bokeh as you get to focus on a subject’s face.
However, unlike the 50mm portrait lenses that are solely focused on a person’s face, you can still compose with a background.
It made use of Subwavelength Coating that can help to significantly reduce lens ghosting and flare.
This also has a stepping motor that is known for its fast and quiet performance. Using it in broad daylight or even at night isn’t a problem.
Though it has a large aperture, there are some things that can still be improved by Canon.
What you might not like about this lens is its vignetting and not to mention you need steady hands because it has no stabilization feature.
What is the Best Sony Lens for Street Photography?
2. Sony – FE 50mm F1.8
There is no denying that you can’t have a list of the best lenses for street photography without including a standard 50mm prime lens.
We’ve decided to have the Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Standard Lens simply because it is a highly versatile option. It is the right lens for those who love to shoot portraits on the street.
And on top of that, 50mm also doesn’t fail when it comes to shooting cityscapes. The Sony FE 50mm Standard Lens is designed for those who don’t have the budget to spend to invest a lot into a lens.
For not much money, you get something reliable for many situations. It is also compact plus it has a double-gauss configuration that is known to minimize field curvature and distortion.
So what’s not to like about the Sony FE 50mm Standard Lens? Though it is definitely one of the best lenses for street photography, autofocus isn’t its best ability.
It made use of a DC motor which is known for a lot of pulsing before it gets to focus on the right subject.
But other than that, it’s a good option for everyone who loves to do street photography.
What is the Best Nikon Lens for Street Photography?
3. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
If you think that a small budget won’t get you a good lens, think again. The Nikon 35mm f1.8 AF-S DX Lens is the perfect example of the best lenses for street photography that don’t have to cost an arm and leg.
And since it is a wide-angle lens, you get to compose the portraits better and even opt to include the background even more.
It is a good street photography lens simply because it offers a wide aperture and a wider perspective than your average 50mm lens.
And to top it off, you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
It has been designed to minimize lens aberration and improve the overall quality of its shots.
What’s not to like with this lens?
It has no image stabilization feature which might affect the shots of those who tend to not have steady hands.
4. Canon EF 35mm f/2
If you ask pros about their preferred street photography best lenses, they’d most likely describe something close to the Canon EF 35mm f2 USM wide-angle lens.
Though it doesn’t have an aperture as wide as a F1.4 or even an F1.8 version in the market, this can get the job done in most situations for many reasons.
For one, many are doing street photography in broad daylight and you can survive even at just f/5.6.Next, the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM wide-angle lens provides a quiet stepping motor that can focus on your subject without fast allowing you to not miss out on moments.
You can also switch easily to MF by just using the switch by the side of the lens. The images produced by the lens are considered superb.
You might not want this lens if you’re only a starting street photographer.
5. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
The third Canon lens in our list is the Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens.
Why do we consider this as part of the best lenses for street photography when 50mm feels a bit limited when it comes to composing wide-angle shots?
For starters, 50mm is the closest focal length to the human eye.
With the right amount of practice, it is possible to create stunning street photography shots.
You can even use this to shoot regular portraits if you find some interesting subjects on the street.
It has a stepping motor that focuses accurately and quietly perfect for shooting discreetly.
For other photographers, the Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens is at the top of the best lenses for street photography if you account for all of its features.
However, it is still not a perfect lens. There are some things that you might not like.
For starters, it might look a bit soft at the center.
And you might notice that it doesn’t accurately focus if you open the aperture at 1.4.
6. Sony 16-50mm
Street photographers love carrying two cameras. The usual set up is to have one camera equipped with a 35mm prime lens and another camera with a 50mm prime lens.
This can be a bit heavy especially if you are shooting the entire day. The Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens is a good option for those who tend to love both 50mm prime lenses and 35mm prime lenses.
You get to choose the right focal length for your shot. And on top of that, you can even go wider than 35mm and choose down to 16mm.
Many consider this as a good option especially if you opt to shoot in broad daylight.
However, because it doesn’t have a wide aperture, you will have to deal with its limited functionality once it gets dark or when you are shooting indoors.
It has fast and accurate autofocus making it ideal even for photographers who like capturing raw emotions of people as their subject.
It also has an image stabilization feature that can minimize blurry shots.
7. Sony Distagon 35mm f/1.4
The Sony SEL35F14Z Distagon T FE 35mm f1.4 ZA Standard Prime Lens is an E-mount lens.
Having a wide aperture 35mm lens attached to your camera gives you the freedom to shoot beautiful portraits while still being able to compose wide-angle shots.
The Zeiss quality lens offers great contrast and resolution which is something that makes this a favorite lens even by pros.
And if you opt to shoot in harsh conditions, you also won’t find any trouble with this lens given its dust and moisture resistant design.
It also has a direct drive SSM that offers quick and precise focusing.
8. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G
If there’s a single lens that fits all your needs, that would be the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens.
This lens is easily one of the best lenses for street photography given its ability to zoom close to your subject or provide you with wide shots.
Though it doesn’t have a wide aperture and is most likely only useful during broad daylight, it is still something that you should consider if you are a Nikon user.
This lens has vibration reduction capability allowing users to have fewer wasted shots.
It is also known for having high-quality images perfect for pros.
9. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
The list of best lenses for street photography won’t be complete without a Nikon 50mm prime lens that comes with an F1.4 aperture.
The Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm F1.4G lens is a good option if you wish to take portraits, shoot landscapes, or even do macro photography.
It is an all-around lens that is perfect even for street photography. Though it doesn’t allow you to have a wide shot, you simply can’t go wrong with a 50mm lens.
It has an ultrasonic AF motor that can minimize the time needed to focus on the subject.
And when you prefer to take full control, you can easily switch to manual focusing immediately.
It also gives you great colors for the images thanks to its superior quality optics.
And though it does offer a wide aperture, a lot of photographers prefer the 50mm F1.8.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best focal length for street photography?
What is a good lens for street photography if you can choose from a variety of prime lenses? The ideal focal length is either a 50mm or a 30mm lens. Each has its pros and cons. However, if you have plans of using both, you either have a zoom lens or bring two cameras. One can have the 50mm prime lens while the other has a 35mm lens.
Why is 35mm so popular?
What makes 35mm the ideal lens for many users? Since it is considered a wide-angle lens, it allows photographers to capture picturesque landscapes and cityscapes. And also, it can still be used as a good portrait lens. The main difference with the 50mm prime lens is that you get to include more background.
Should I buy a 50mm or 35mm lens?
For most photographers, they prefer their street photography best lenses to either come in 50mm or 35mm focal length. If you can choose one, you first need to determine what you want to achieve. Do you plan on capturing people’s faces rather than cityscapes and landscapes? Or perhaps, you also want to get the background and other surroundings involved with your subject? If you prefer having more background involved in your street photography style, then definitely stick with a wider 35mm lens. On the other hand, if you want to capture raw emotion from people’s faces, then 50mm is the best option.
Hope you enjoyed this buyer’s guide on the best lenses for street photography.
Also hope that you find the perfect lens for you and your photography style!
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Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.