Best Lenses For Street Photography – 2019 Ultimate Review

Street photography is about capturing the fleeting moments of life. It is candid and unplanned; the photographer needs to be in the thick of the action and be sharp to capture the perfect picture.

There are a lot of things that factor into taking the best street photography. Choosing the right lens is arguably the most important factor.

What makes a lens right for a particular picture? What should you invest in? These are the questions we will try to answer with some suggestions for street photography lenses. 

Comparison of the Best Lenses for Street Photography

PRODUCT
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Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM

  • Has a focal length of 35mm
  • F1.4 maximum aperture, F16 minimum aperture
  • HSM (Hypersonic Motor) and inner focusing system make it the best overall
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Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II

  • F3.5 maximum aperture, F5.6 minimum aperture
  • Lens construction comprises 16 elements in 12 groups
  • 18mm to 55mm focal length versatility makes it the runner-up
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Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM

  • F1.4 maximum aperture, F16 minimum aperture
  • Lens construction includes 15 elements in 11 groups
  • Produces first-class results at a lower price which makes it the best for the money
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

  • Best Canon lens for street photography
  • Lens construction has 6 elements in 5 groups
  • Has F1.8 maximum aperture and a 50mm focal length
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

  • Has an F1.8 maximum aperture
  • 50mm focal length is equal to 75mm on DX-format cameras
  • Compact FX-format makes it the best Nikon lens for street photography
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Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R

  • Best Fuji Lens for street photography
  • Has F1.4-F16 aperture and a 23mm focal length
  • 1 lens group consisting of 3 cemented lens elements and 1 aspheric lens element
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Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8

  • Has a maximum aperture of F1.8
  • Equipped with a focal length of 35mm
  • Non-Zoomable lens and is the best Sony lens for street photography
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Are All Street Photography Lenses the Same?

Every photographer has their own way of composing a scene. Some prefer more context; some want to just focus on the subject while others go for a more creative look. To achieve these different designs, you need different kinds of lenses.

They vary depending on their focal length, aperture, design, whether they are prime or zoom, and your camera, among other things. 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM, for example, is a non-zoom or prime lens with a maximum aperture of F/1.4 and a minimum of F/16. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM provides the same aperture but with a wider angle. Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II, on the other hand, is a zoom lens. It allows for lower shutter speed. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is a prime lens with less aperture compared to the Sigma lenses.

The differences in lenses also depend on the manufacturer. Every company has its own design and standards. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G have the same focal length and aperture, but Canon has minimum focus distance for 0.35m and Nikon has a minimum focus distance of 0.45m.

Just like a painter, a photographer is an artist, and the lens is their brush, each one different from the other.

What to Look For When Buying a Street Photography Lens?

Some factors that make for a great street photography lens are: 

Prime or Zoom Lens

These are the two main types of lenses. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, which means that it has no moving parts and fewer mirrors. All of these qualities make it lighter and unobtrusive. Due to fewer mirrors, the image quality is much improved compared to zoom lenses.

This is because light has to move through fewer mirrors, which results in less degradation and sharper images. Because of the nature of street photography where you have to capture fleeting moments, a fixed focal length is better because you might lose the shot while trying to adjust the zoom.

All that said, a zoom lens also has its advantages. Some zoom lenses allow for an 18-300mm range in one piece of equipment. This makes them very versatile.

Lighter/Smaller

The size and weight of your equipment matter a great deal in street photography. This type of photography does not have a single set or script. You have to move around a lot while carrying your equipment to get the shot. If your camera is heavy, you will get tired easily.

Another thing to consider is whether your lens is subtle or too obvious. Huge lenses draw people’s attention to you, which might interfere with your work.

Wide Aperture

The aperture of a lens is the opening through which light passes. A wide aperture is very important for night shots as it allows more light to go through. If you have a wide aperture, you don’t have to increase the ISO factor, which results in poor image quality. You also don’t have to slow down the shutter speed, which can cause motion blur. It is something that can become a problem in street photography as people move a lot quite fast. 

Quick Take - Best Lenses for Street Photography

Before we dive into our review, here are the best lenses for street photography:

  1. Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM
  2. ​Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
  3. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Review of Best Lenses For Street Photography

What constitutes the best lens varies greatly for all types of photography as well as photographers. Street photography requires fast, light, and large-aperture lenses. Keeping that in mind, these are some lenses in the market that are best suited for street photography.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon

PROS

  • Promises great value for money
  • Has an aperture of F1.4 to work better in different light conditions
  • SLD and FLD glass elements help correct both axial and chromatic aberration
  • Floating focusing system promises superior optical performance with closer subjects
  • Compatible with the Sigma USB dock and Optimization Pro software to adjust and fine-tune focusing parameters

CONS

  • A bit on the large side
  • No weather sealing; you have to clean for dust between the lens and camera mount

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the users give this lens a perfect score. They find that it provides the most aesthetic and sharp images with the perfect blur effect. For this reason, it is the most suitable to be used for portraits. Even amateur photographers find that it’s easy to use and takes their image quality to the next level. Overall, users love the results it produces.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What makes this great is that it can be used with both full-frame and APS-C sensors. Its inner focusing system provides for fast auto-focus. One of the great things about this product is its compatibility with Optimization pro software that can allow you to fine-tune the image according to your preference

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is perfect for those who want to capture great night-time pictures as it has an aperture of F1.4. A 35mm lens is the most used lens in street photography. If you are the kind of street photographer that likes to be in the thick of things, then this would be perfect for you. Plus, as mentioned earlier, it’s great for beginners too.

Bottom Line

The Sigma 35mm lens is the best overall for a reason. It provides for a lens that is neither too wide nor too long and also a wide aperture. Even if you are a novice, you can easily get the hang of this lens. So, if you’re particularly into street photography at night, this model is your best bet.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Lens

PROS

  • More versatile because of the zoom
  • Four stops shutter speed promises excellent results
  • Circular aperture renders out-of-focus backgrounds
  • Produces a top-quality image throughout the zoom range
  • Provides aspherical lens element that corrects for aberration

CONS

  • Not great for manual focusing.
  • Aperture is not as wide as Sigma’s lens.
  • Zoom element is mostly considered to be a negative point in street photography.

What Recent Buyers Report

Some users find that it has been made obsolete due to newer versions, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great lens to invest in. It’s not perfect for moving objects or low-light areas, but it is ideal for capturing graffiti, buildings, and other street photography elements. It is a good beginner lens as. While it takes longer to focus, people still prefer to use it for videos and close-up pictures.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What makes this lens stand out is its unusually low shutter speed that compensates somewhat for a higher aperture of F3.5. Despite being a zoom lens, it can capture some pretty shots in the daytime. Plus, its ease of use and the top image quality it promises to make it different from the others.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is for those lazy photographers that like to take pictures of all kinds from a single spot. It has a great range of 18-55mm, which covers about every great street photography focal length. Due to its range, it’s suitable for just about any kind of photography and photographer. Of course, as mentioned earlier, it’s ease of use makes it suitable for beginners.

Bottom Line

This lens is second only to the best because of its versatility. Its amazing range of 18-55mm provides the photographer room to experiment with all kinds of photography. Zoom lenses are generally considered to be not best suited for street photography due to their fast-changing nature; however, this one promises excellent results

Best for the Money:
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF

PROS

  • Comparatively very cheap, making it easier to afford
  • Has an aperture of F1.4, making it great for low-light photography
  • Sigma 24 millimeter Art shows compatibility with USB dock for customization  
  • With premium FLD and SLD elements, distortion and aberrations are kept to the minimum
  • Has a multi-layered coating, which minimizes lens reflections and improves the clarity of vision

CONS

  • A bit on the heavy side
  • No rubber gasket or wheatear sealing

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of the users give it a perfect score. People find it’s focusing to be a bit slow, which is why they usually used it for wider shots. They further state that it might not be the best lens for beginners. Apart from that, they find that it works great for night sky photography. Overall, buyers have been very glad about their purchase and loved the results it produced for street photography.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you are clumsy and often fear dropping your camera, this model might be your savior. It has multi-layer coatings that protect it, making it great for rough working conditions. Moreover, it creates more context as it includes more background in your picture. All of these reasons make it stand out from the crowd.

Who Will Use This Most

This is another great lens for low-light photography. It requires you to be close to the subject as it has a focal length of 24mm. This might not be for you if you are an unobtrusive photographer or if you’re a beginner. However, it is perfect for photographers that prefer to be in action.

Bottom Line

This lens provides professional quality on a budget. Its 24mm lens is coated with a multilayered coating, making it quite durable. The only thing you might find on the wrong side is the lack of weather protection. You are going to have to clean between the lens and the camera. Other than that, it is a sound investment.

Best Canon Lens for Street Photography:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

PROS

  • Has a good aperture of F1.8
  • Very cheap compared to others
  • Extremely easy to capture fleeting moments
  • Very lightweight (5.6 ounces), which comes in handy in street photography
  • The near-silent STM technology focuses extremely quickly when shooting photos

CONS

  • Bokeh can be harsh.
  • Simple built quality, which professionals might not prefer
  • Has slow autofocus, so there are chances of missed shots

What Recent Buyers Report

Users find this lens to be perfect for low-light, portraits, and close-up pictures, making it highly suitable for street photography. They find it to be a bit heavier than the older versions because of the metallic focus rings. Apart from that, they find it to be a very versatile and sharp lens with the perfect picture quality.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There are multiple features that make this lens stand out. First of all, it features STM for capturing moving objects perfectly, which is the essence of street photography. Plus, the STM also allows you to react suddenly to capture the fleeting moments. Apart from that, it’s very lightweight, which makes carrying around easier.

Who Will Use This Most

This product is very light and has the perfect combination of 50mm focal length and F1.8 aperture, which is ideal for street photography. It is also great if you are working on a budget as it is very cheap. Its long focal length removes any distortion you might get with a wider lens. It is, therefore, great for geometric pictures.

Bottom Line

This lens has the perfect combination of 50mm focal length and F1.8 aperture, which street photographers love. It might not be the best pick for professionals because of the slow autofocus, but beginners can definitely experiment and learn on this lens. It is well known than Canon produces some of the best quality lenses, so you cannot go wrong here.

Best Nikon Lens for Street Photography:
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Has a good aperture of F1.8
  • Produces beautiful bokeh for the perfect shots
  • Lightweight; this comes in handy in street photography.
  • Has a shallow depth-of-field, which allows you to focus on the subject
  • Aspherical lens element eliminates coma and aberrations, even when with the widest aperture

CONS

  • Has a higher price, making it hard to afford for beginners
  • Chromatic aberrations are slightly noticeable when using sub-frame D300s

What Recent Buyers Report

Users find this to be a great investment as it is low priced and delivers great results. It takes great night-time photographs and creates a crisp picture and a perfect blur. They also find this lens to produce beautiful creamy bokeh and great contrast. Overall, they hardly have any complaints regarding it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This model uses SWM (Silent Wave Motor) that is super-quiet and produces high-speed autofocusing. It allows virtually no lag time for switching between manual and auto-focus. It also uses the aspherical lens for reduced aberrations so you can increase the aperture to the maximum without distortion. All of these make it a great, unique pick.

​​Who Will Use This Most

It has all the features for a perfect street photography lens. These include the 50mm focal length, F1.8 aperture, non-zoom, and low weight. Therefore, it is best for those that want to take architectural photographs or geometric-styled photographs. However, since it’s highly-priced, it might not be the best for beginners.

Bottom Line

This lens has 50mm focal length, which seems to be a favorite with street photography. Its aspherical lens allows you to work at maximum aperture without any aberrations. Apart from street photography, it can be used for real-estate photography, making it versatile.

Best Fuji Lens for Street Photography:
 Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R

Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R

PROS

  • Promises a beautiful and creamy bokeh
  • Has a great aperture of F1.4, to allow in more light
  • Has high-speed autofocus for better and quick shots
  • Compact and lightweight, making it ideal for street photography
  • Lens distortion has been reduced to using only optical rather than digital correction

CONS

  • No image stabilization.
  • Higher price, limiting the buyers

What Recent Buyers Report

For this particular lens, users find that in spite of its huge aperture, the size and weight of the lens are very low as compared to those made for APS-C or full-frame cameras. At the same time, it is capable of maintaining similar performance. It is a bit pricey, but users find that its sharp image quality and perfect bokeh effect is worth the trouble.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Primarily, it stands out to us because its F1.4 aperture produces optimum quality low-light pictures. It has a fast auto-focus and aspherical lens, as well. Moreover, it has a unique feature of digital correction, which greatly reduces any lens distortion, which can occur in low focal lengths.

Who Will Use This Most

This product has a wider range due to its low focal length of 23mm. This is perfect for street photographers that like to get up close to their subject and add a lot of context and story in their picture. However, beginners might have to look for some other options since it is relatively expensive.

Bottom Line

If you are a Fuji user and a street photography enthusiast, then this is the lens for you. Its great aperture makes it suitable for night shoots. It also produces a shallow depth of field, which results in amazing bokeh. It is compact and lightweight, making it perfect for street photography.

Best Sony Lens for Street Photography:
 Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8

Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens

PROS

  • Has a good aperture of F1.8
  • Has high-speed autofocus to not miss out on any shot
  • Compact design makes it suitable for carrying it around
  • Produces smoother, more natural defocusing due to circular aperture blades
  • Aspherical lens design dramatically reduces spherical aberration while also reducing lens size and weight

CONS

  • Higher price, making it difficult to afford
  • Has no weather protection for durability

What Recent Buyers Report

Users of this lens find that it is perfect for any purpose and requires minimum editing. It produces great professional photographs. Due to its wider aperture, users can create a shallower depth of field, which is great for the bokeh effect. They also find it to be super-light and easy to carry.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a compact lightweight lens with built-in image stabilization. It also has manual focus if you want more control of the picture. However, there are other features that make it further stand out. For instance, the lens features an aspherical design that reduces the aberration, promising greater results.

Who Will Use This Most

The 35mm lens is the most used lens in street photography. It comes very close to the human vision and therefore produces very pleasing pictures. It is perfect if you want to get neither too close nor too far from the subject. Again, it has a great aperture of F1.8 for night-time photography.

Bottom Line

This 35mm lens hits a sweet spot between too wide and too long. It is the most used lens for street photography. Plus, it is designed to be compact and durable. If the lack of weather protection is not a big issue for you, then this is a sound investment.

Advantages of Investing in a Quality Street Photography Lens

Some major benefits of investing in a quality lens for street photography are:

Durability

A camera model is subject to a lot of change, while lenses can go years without any upgrades or significant changes. Lenses are also compatible with many different kinds of models. It is, therefore, wise to invest in a quality lens without fear of losing money as it will last you for years.

Professional Results

A good quality lens will give you the perfect picture that requires little to no editing afterward. If you play around with the settings a bit, you can get any desired results and take your creativity to the next level. This can be especially helpful if you are just starting out as a photographer because the lens takes care of almost everything. All you have to do is find the right frame and composition.

Lenses Effect the Picture More Than the Camera

While choosing the right camera is important, the thing that really matters is the lens. It is what captures the light and, with it, the image. If it is not built right, your camera cannot do much to fix the distortions caused by it. The lens is the instrument that determines what you can see in the frame; it can make the picture crisp and colorful or blurry and dull. It is, therefore, extremely important to choose the right lens, and spending a bit extra on it will never lead to regret.  

Conclusion

The lens you end up choosing really depends on your individual preference and style of photography. Of course, with that, some things need to be kept in mind like aperture, size, focal length, etc. If you are a good photographer, you can experiment with any type of lens and end up with amazing results. It all really depends on what you are comfortable with. The products in this article give you a wide range of lenses to choose from, catering to every need as well.

People Also Ask

Street photography is not as common as weddings, sports, or other kinds of photography. So, of course, you’re going to end up with some questions. If you are still confused as to which lens to buy, these might be of help.

Which Focal Length is Best for Street Photography?

The competition of best focal length for street photography is mainly between 35mm and 50mm. Choosing either one depending on your style is acceptable. The two are not wildly different. You can get the same shot; you just get a lot closer to the subject. It gets more things in focus.

50mm, on the other hand, allows you more space. It is most flattering for taking pictures of people and is very light.

Is 50mm Good for Street Photography?

Depending on who you ask, the answer might change. There are great street photography legends that prefer this lens, like Henry Cartier-Bresson and Elliot Erwitt. It has very little distortion and is perfect for architectural or geometric themed pictures. If you are a photographer that likes to keep their distance and not be too obtrusive, then this will be the choice for you.