The story of my street photography gear

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The story of my street photography gear

Post by fips »

I've been enjoying street photography for a couple of years now. You can check out my work here, or on Instagram under @street4fips. Over the years, I've been trying out different camera systems on streets, and I'll talk about those a bit in the below paragraphs, mostly as a tribute to the cameras. Those are listed in a chronological order based on my personal experience.

1. Sony RX100 III
This camera sparked my real interest in street photography, mostly due to its compact body size, tilting screen, pretty wide, sharp and fast lens (Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm (in 35mm equivalent), F1.8-2.8) and built-in ND filter. Despite having just a 1-inch sensor this camera is capable of delivering stunning images in the right conditions, also a smaller sensor gives greater depth of field which is often desirable in street photography. On the other hand, image stabilization makes this camera somehow usable even at night, which was proven during my Tokyo night shooting. Although the camera controls are a bit cramped, a big plus is that this camera can be operated one-handedly. Also it has survived rain shooting and other abuses and it is still working fine after many years of using.

2. Fujifilm X100F
Had this camera for almost a year and absolutely enjoyed every bit of this fixed 35 mm (in 35mm equivalent) F2 APS-C stylish snappy gem for street shooting. Unfortunately it broke on me during my Tokyo trip (it had suffered from the so called sticky shutter button problem, so it got serviced after returning home and the whole top plate must have been replaced). What's missing in this camera is a tilting screen, image stabilization and perhaps its body is on a rather bigger side, but these are really just nitpicks. Some of my best street shots were taken with this camera.

3. Sony RX1R II
Got this camera used during my Tokyo trip as a replacement for my broken Fujifilm X100F. Acquiring the camera was a great experience by itself as I found a great deal in Map Camera in Shinjuku, and I was lucky enough to get one with an English menu, which was pretty hard to come by. This camera is equipped with a 42 MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor, and a pretty unique fixed Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm F2 lens, with beautiful out-of-focus transition. This is just a stunning compact camera (probably the only contender to Leica-Q2 on the market, but in a smaller package). The missing bits for this to be a perfect street photography camera are: no image stabilization, slightly hunting auto focus (especially in low-light and at the frame borders), poor battery life (especially in a cold weather), a rather slow startup speed, and the fact that the camera does not recall the focus distance after a power cycle (the distance gets reset to infinity), which makes it rather useless for consistent zone focusing, although there is a trick to preserve the focus distance by abusing the manual macro switching ring. On top of that, the camera unfortunately suffers from a couple of known reliability issues, which is kind of unexpected in such a premium product (the lens started to wiggle a bit, the electronic focus ring stopped working altogether, and the left camera strap anchor accidentally came off! so I had to disassemble the camera to fix that, based on internet search these seem to be pretty common issues with this camera), but still this is a unique piece of equipment and It's been great experience shooting it.

4. Fujifilm X-T30
Some time after getting rid of my Fujifilm X100F I was really missing that Fuji experience. So I was looking around and decided to pick up Fujifilm X-T30, mostly due to its reasonably compact size, ergonomics and up to date tech. When used for street photography I tend to pair it with either Fujinon XF16mm F1.4 R WR (24 mm, in 35mm equivalent) or Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R (~85 mm, in 35mm equivalent) to complement my other compact camera I carry. This is a pretty snappy camera with fast and flexible auto focus. Because this camera system is not equipped with a leaf shutter as my other cameras are, I mostly shoot it with electronic shutter which luckily does not suffer from rolling shutter under most conditions, so it's perfectly usable, and the shooting experience is completely silent as a bonus.

5. Ricoh GR III
I could not resist to try out this pocketable king of the street and I'm lucky I did! This camera has gradually become my favorite one (not only for street shooting), mainly due to its compact size, overall one-handed control structure and great ergonomics. It's equipped with a sharp 28mm (in 35mm equivalent) lens, which is wide enough and pretty universal, F2.8 combined with image stabilization is reasonable and gives nice results even in low-light situations. The button customization is well-thought-out and allows things like binding different focus modes (auto focus, pinpoint focus, snap focus) to dedicated toggle buttons for instant override, also the touch screen is very responsive (like on a smart phone) so it is the only camera I've experienced so far where I'm comfortable switching focus point's by touch. The auto focus is not among the fastest but I tend to zone focus with this camera anyways when it comes to capturing quick street action, actually using exclusively the snap focus in those situations is very liberating.

6. What's next?
After I got tempted but eventually ruled out the recently released Fujifilm X-E4 which I was going to pair with Fujinon XF27mm F2.8 R WR (~40 mm, in 35mm equivalent), and got the Ricoh GR III instead, I will be now very carefully watching the just released Ricoh GR IIIx, which has also a 40mm (in 35mm equivalent) lens - bravo Ricoh!