This passion isn’t about walking around, randomly pointing your camera at unwitting passers-by or the occasional hapless shopkeeper who happens to cross your path. The best street photographers are those who shoot with intention, those who observe patterns, predict events, and have their camera ready at the right moment.
For shots like this, one needs a camera that’s fast, reliable, and snappy. It needs to survive a full day on the streets, be light enough to save your shoulders, and ideally, tough enough to survive a fall or a splash.
Some might argue that you need a small, inconspicuous camera that will not intimidate the public, while others will argue that speed and reliability are more important. Both arguments have merit.
An inconspicuous camera will let you surreptitiously snap a pic or two, but a speedy camera with a long lens could get you those epic close-ups that will make your career. Both arguments have merit and we’re not here to argue the pros and cons of either option. Some requirements, however, are universal.
|Image||Product Name||Features||Check Price|
|Canon EOS 90D|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark II|
|Canon EOS 3000D|
|Canon EOS 250D|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV|
Before starting off with reviewing the above-listed models, let us tell you how we selected them. To curate the best street digital camera in the market, we filtered them through a short but important checklist as discussed below:
- Battery life: If you’re out on the street the whole day, you need a camera that will last you the whole day. Small cameras are great, but what’s the point if its battery dies right when you need it the most? Here, DSLRs have the edge over mirrorless cameras. If you don’t mind the bulk, we’d recommend opting for a battery grip. At the very least, a camera that supports charging via a USB-C power-bank would be useful.
- Speed: If you’re serious about street photography, you need a camera that’s fast, a camera that will respond instantly to the press of the shutter button, and fire away in a fast burst mode till the moment has passed. Again, DSLRs tend to respond faster than mirrorless cameras here, and they also tend to focus faster and more accurately, even in burst mode.
- Lens selection: If you’re just starting out with street photography, we’d suggest starting out with the kit lens that comes with your camera. These usually have a focal range of 18–55 mm (28–90 mm in full-frame parlance) and cover the entire range you’ll need for most photos.
- The Best DSLRs for Street Photography in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Canon EOS 90D
- 2. Best Runners Up: Nikon D7200
- 3. Best Under 2500: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- 4. Best For Low-Light: Nikon D5
- 5. Best Lightweight Option: Canon EOS 3000D
- 6. Nikon D500
- 7. Best for Vloggers: Canon EOS 250D
- 8. Best Battery-Life: Nikon D850
- 9. Best With GPS: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- 10. Budget-Friendly Option: Pentax KP
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best DSLRs for Street Photography in 2021
Ultimately, what you need is a camera that matches your photography style, not something that’s forced on to you by convention or public opinion. And that’s exactly what we’ve focused on when choosing cameras for this list. Factoring in inputs from accomplished street photographers, and accounting for an assortment of budgets, here are our picks of the best DSLRs for street photography.
1. Best Overall: Canon EOS 90D
The Canon EOS 90D is the successor to Canon’s most important video-shooting workhorse of yore, the 80D, and also happens to be the best street photography camera. With effective face-tracking and a great live-view system, the 90D is the all-rounder camera that has a little something for everyone.
Now this isn’t the fastest camera you can get your hands on, but a 10fps burst mode (7fps in LiveView) is nothing to scoff at. However, it is paired with a remarkably quick AF system that supports face and eye tracking while shooting bursts or in live view, which ensures that you’ll never miss a shot. That 32.5MP CMOS sensor will capture images at up to ISO 25,600, allowing you to employ fast shutter speeds without hesitation.
The rear features a 3-inch 1040k-dot tilt-flip LCD and more buttons than you’ll know what to do with. The top features a smaller, monochrome LCD that allows you to quickly glance at settings. Additional buttons and dials all over the camera give you all the control you need for your shots.
The stand-out feature of this camera has to be its AF performance though. Being a DSLR, AF is already good, but the inclusion of capable face and eye AF tracking is a huge plus in a mid-range camera body like this one.
Another useful feature of this camera is that the body is weather sealed. It’s not waterproof of course, but having dust and splash-resistant camera that can shrug off a bit of rain is useful when you’re out on the streets shooting.
This 1.55 lbs camera isn’t that heavy, and with a battery life rated for 1,300 shots, you’re virtually guaranteed a full day’s use. As a bonus, this camera also shoots 4K video and 120fps FHD video, making it a great option for street videography as well. Paired with that flexible 18–135mm lens, the 90D is a great mid-range starter kit for the wannabe street photographer.
- Great battery life
- Vari-angle LCD
- High-resolution sensor
- Weather-sealed body
- 4K video mode a bonus
- Burst mode could have been faster
- Can’t be charged via USB
2. Best Runners Up: Nikon D7200
The Nikon D7200 might be half a decade old at this point, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. This camera once sat at the top of Nikon’s APS-C camera lineup, and with good reason. Even by today’s standards, and in a world filled with mirrorless cameras, the D7200 holds up by offering a fast AF system and superb images in just about any kind of lighting.
As a good, general-purpose DSLR, the D7200 is hard to beat, especially at this price. And paired with both the 18–55mm kit lens and 70–300mm zoom, you really won’t be missing many shots.
Yes, a 6fps burst mode isn’t that great, especially when it falls to 3.7fps in live view mode, but this is, today, an entry-level camera with top-notch image quality and an ISO range that will put many modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to shame. 24.2MP is also more than enough for any kind of shoot.
Since the D7200 was designed as a high-end APS-C DSLR, it comes with features you’d expect from a high-end devices, including dual LCD displays, a plethora of buttons and dials placed on just about every surface, and dual SD card slots for either backup or overflow.
It’s a good design and one that you won’t find on any beginner-friendly camera that you might pick up today. Do note that the main LCD display does not tilt or flip, which, depending on your sooting style, may or may not be a problem.
When it comes to the actual business of capturing images, the 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor is paired with a fast, 51-point AF system that can focus down to -3 EV. You can also boost ISO to 25,600 for some high-speed or low-light shots, and if you’re really in the mood for it, you can even push ISO to 10,2400, but only if you’re comfortable shooting in black and white because the camera can’t handle color images over ISO 51,200.
All things considered, this 1.48 lbs camera, especially with the dual-lens kit we’re recommending, is a great trainee camera for someone who wants to learn photography without spending too much money on expensive gear.
- Dual SD card slots for backup
- 60fps FHD video support
- Hits ISO 102,400 in BW mode
- Time-lapse support
- 1/8000 sec max shutter speed
- Screen doesn’t tilt or flip
- Low burst rate, especially in live view
3. Best Under 2500: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The Canon’s EOS 6D might not be the fastest camera around, but it happens to be one of the cheapest full-frame DSLRs you can get your hands on. It’s also not as bulky as the 1Dx, and you get a tilt-flip screen to help with shot composition.
Photographers have described the 6D Mark II as having “extraordinary technical image quality,” which is exactly what you need if you’re looking to take street photography seriously. The 26.2MP full-frame sensor promises glorious bokeh with the right lenses, and the DIGIC 7 image processor coupled with the camera’s high ISO range — 25,600 regular and 102,400 in the H2 mode — make this camera hard to beat at any price.
The design is the standard DSLR fare and it is a large camera. That being said, it’s small for a full-frame system, and whatever else one might complain about, having all the controls handy should make for a satisfying shooting experience.
Coming back to image quality, if you’ve so far been used to shooting on smartphones, or even on cheap mirrorless cameras and entry-level DSLRs, the images from a full-frame sensor really need to be seen to be believed.
A full-frame sensor of the type you’ll find in the 6D Mark II offers a much better depth of field to help you better isolate a subject from the clutter of a street, better low light sensitivity because you have a larger sensor and better utilization of your lenses.
Being a DSLR, the 6D also offers great battery life (about 1,200 shots per charge), and support for battery grips that can extend life by another 600–700 shots. The tilt-flip screen is also nice to have for when you want to shoot over people’s heads or from under bumpers.
At around 1.66 lbs, the 6D Mark II is among the cheapest full-frame DSLRs you can get, and that works great in its favor. This camera is the one step up from those APS-C or smaller sensors you’ve been itching to get away from. Pair this 6D with a good, fast, wide-angle lens, along with some reliable accessories and you’ll end up with one of the best street photography DSLR kits out there.
- Full-frame goodness at a budget price
- Good battery life
- Excellent autofocus performance
- FHD 60fps video
- A little heavy
- Low burst rate
4. Best For Low-Light: Nikon D5
This Nikon D5 camera is, and there’s no other word for it, a beast. It’s big and it’s bulky, but it’s also fast and incredibly effective at doing the one thing that really matters, capturing stunning images in just about any conditions.
Let’s be clear about one thing: This Nikon DSLR is an expensive, professional camera. It’s not a toy, it’s not a throw-around camera, it’s not something you pick up on a whim. Being a professional camera, what you get with the D5 is a bulletproof body, weather sealing, instant-on performance, and one of the most effective AF systems money can buy.
As we said earlier, there’s no getting around the fact that this camera is a beast. Its large, square form body houses three LCD displays, two of which are monochrome, and also dual SD card slots and a humungous battery.
Buttons and dials festoon the top and rear of the camera, ensuring that any and every setting you need is within reach at all times. The bulk also means that the camera is a more stable platform for shots with longer shutter speeds, like when you want light streaks from passing cars.
Whatever else one might say about the camera, its low-light performance is what really makes this stand out.
Sure, you’ll get faster sensors or higher megapixel counts and fancier AF systems, but few cameras will give you an ISO that goes up to a little over 3.2 million (and no, that’s not a typo). The base ISO goes from 100 to 102,400, and in HI +5 mode, you’ll hit a mind-numbing 3,276,800.
Paired with an AF system that focuses down to -4 EV, you’ll be comfortably shooting stunning, sharp, Pulitzer-winning photos on the street, hand-held, in nearly pitch darkness. With 153 AF points and face-priority AF in any lighting and in burst mode, you’ll also never miss a shot.
At 3.1 lbs, the D5 is one of the heaviest cameras you can get. But that bulk gives you benefits that few cameras in any class can match. This is by no means a traditional street photography camera, but if you have deep pockets and love the challenge of shooting streets at night, you really can’t go wrong with the D5.
- 4K 30fps video recording
- High-speed burst shooting
- Exceptional AF performance
- Stunning image quality
- It’s a heavy camera
- Far from inconspicuous
5. Best Lightweight Option: Canon EOS 3000D
If you’re just starting out with DSLR photography, the Canon EOS 3000D (a.k.a. the Rebel T100) is a good place to start. It’s a cheap, feature-rich camera that ticks the right boxes for the budding photographer. It’s also small enough and light enough to carry around on the street without overburdening your back.
As befitting a budget camera, the 3000D favors a budget DSLR body that’s made of plastic and has the bare minimum buttons one needs to make things work. There’s no tilting screen, there’s no joystick, and there are only two dials, only one of which is for fine adjustments.
You’re also limited to 1 SD card slot and a small, LP-E10 battery that will get you about 500 shots on a charge. If you want a budget camera, you have to make do without some frills.
Even the sensor, which is an 18MP CMOS unit, is quite basic. The ISO range goes from 100–6400, and you can’t shoot at anything faster than a 3fps burst in JPG (till the card is full) and 6 shots at most in burst mode when shooting RAW. That being said, image quality is still quite superb, in good lighting, and the camera does boast of Canon’s signature colour science.
The AF system is a more limited 9-point system that can’t focus below 0 EV, but given that this is a budget camera that can’t really shoot in low light anyway, this ins’t a problem. The 9 points that are present are also very accurate and focus is still fast enough for most shooting scenarios.
Over and above this, what we really like about this camera, other than the price, is that it weighs next to nothing. Tipping the scales at a mere 0.96lb and costing nothing, the EOS 3000D is the kind of camera you toss around your neck and simply forget about until a shot needs to be taken.
It’s cheap enough to be a good training camera and also cheap enough that you won’t regret its loss or damage. For a beginner photographer, there’s hardly anything that’s more suited.
- Dirt cheap, even with a kit lens
- Extremely light
- A great entry-point to DSLR photography
- Wireless image transfer
- FullHD video recording
- Poor low-light performance
- 9-point AF system
6. Nikon D500
The Nikon D5 might be the fast, full-frame camera to aspire towards, but the Nikon D500 is the camera you and I might actually buy. While the D5 is a true-blue professional camera meant for top-notch photographers and the like, the D500 is the cheaper, less bulky, but just as a capable consumer-friendly option.
If you’re wondering about performance, stop! The D500 is, quite simply, the fastest DX format camera out there. 10 fps might seem slow when compared to newer mirrorless cameras, but this is 200 images captured at 10fps in a 14-bit uncompressed, RAW, 21MP format with full AE and AF. Few cameras can beat that. Oh, and that AF system comes straight from the more expensive D5.
The D500 is a big camera, but it is much smaller and lighter than the monster that is the D5. You only get two LCD screens (vs the three on the D5), but the primary LCD tilts and flips, making it more flexible for photography and videography in general, especially for vloggers. You also get tonnes of buttons and dials anyway, so you’re not left wanting.
As expected, the images you can capture from this camera are nothing short of spectacular, and all the way up to ISO 25,600 at that. Images above ISO 51,200 will be noisy, but it’s nothing you can’t clean up in post. If you really must shoot in pitch darkness, you can push the ISO to a ridiculous 1,638,400.
Secondly, that AF system, which is lifted straight from the D5, features 153 points, 55 of which are selectable, and work even moonlight. The camera also intelligently focuses on and tracks faces while shooting, even in burst mode.
The D500 is half the weight of the D5 and is missing a lot of buttons. That doesn’t mean it’s half the camera, however. Image quality and AF performance is just as good on the D500 as it is on the D5, and when you’re getting pro features at consumer pricing, can you really complain?
- Flicker-free image capture
- Superb AF performance
- Good burst rate
- 4K UHD video recording
- 100% viewfinder coverage
- Could do with more custom function buttons
7. Best for Vloggers: Canon EOS 250D
While the EOS 3000D Canon EOS 250D is a great entry-level camera for photographers, the 250D is a great camera for those who want something a little faster that can also handle videos. This is also a camera made for the Instagram age and includes features that allow you to upload images to your phone, and from their to Instagram, as and when they’re shot.
The Canon 200D was a great camera when it launched several years ago, and the 250D is a worthy successor. The performance boost is courtesy of the new DIGIC 8 image processor that can handle the higher resolution sensor and 4K video.
The newer processor also enables features like face and eye detection in live view, which is what you’ll be using when shooting video. For street photography, of course, eye-detection AF is very useful.
In terms of design, this street camera is very similar to the SL2/200D that came before it. It’s a simple, down-to-earth DSLR with no fancy frills or features, save for an articulating touchscreen. The rear and top panels don’t have many buttons, but those that are there get the job done.
The photography features get the job done, but what makes this camera especially convenient is the Bluetooth LE and Wifi support. Basically, you can set the camera up in such a way that it is permanently connected to your smartphone of choice via Bluetooth LE, which doesn’t consume much power. Every time you take a photograph, it’s instantly uploaded to your phone via Wi-Fi. This is great for backups as well as for immediately sharing your videos on YouTube.
Rated at 1,070 shots per charge (when using the viewfinder), the 250D does offer very good battery life for an entry-level camera. Sadly, there’s no USB charging included, so you’ll need to carry spare batteries with you while on the move.
With a 5fps burst and full AF and AE, including eye and face AF while shooting, and support for 4K video, this camera is great as a starter kit for amateur street photographers and videographers.
At under a pound, it’s also very light and you won’t really notice the weight when roaming the streets looking for that killer shot. Pick up the white version listed here and nobody’ will mistake you for a serious photographer, which is perfect for street photography.
- Good feature-set for a budget camera
- Comfortable grip
- Dual pixel AF system
- Vari-angle LCD touchscreen
- 4K video recording
- Low light performance could have been better
- 9-point AF system
8. Best Battery-Life: Nikon D850
You may well wonder why we’re recommending a landscape camera for street photography, but that’s only because of this misconception that street photography is only about taking candid shots of people. Streets are art in motion, and what you sometimes need is a camera that can freeze that motion while also capturing the finest possible detail. It’s this kind of photography, especially in low light, that the D850 excels in.
Also check: Best Nikon Lens for Landscape
Paired with a fast prime, like the 28mm f/1.4 listed here, this Nikon DSLR for street photography could very well be anyone’s dream. Its 45MP BSI CMOS FX sensor is one of the largest around, and easily among the sharpest, you can get from Nikon.
The AF and AE systems have been lifted straight from the stellar D5, ensuring fast, accurate focus and perfect exposure no matter what the light. This is the kind of camera you just point at a subject and shoot without needing to worry about your settings.
The camera is on the larger size, settling in somewhere between the oversize D5 and relatively tiny D7200. That bulk lends stability to your shots, and the real estate on the top and rear allows for a plethora of buttons and dials, and even a joystick of sorts, to help you navigate and mess with settings.
Of the two LCDs present, the rear LCD can tilt and flip and supports touch input, while the smaller monochrome LCD displays settings, even when the camera is turned off. The massive battery in this camera is rated at 1,840 shots.
The FX (full-frame) sensor and 45MP resolution mean that you can take a shot, crop to a tiny segment of the image, and still be left with images large enough to print as a poster. The base ISO drops to 64, and can be further dropped to 32 in some settings, allowing for vert clean images in good light.
There’s also a damped, vibration-free shutter for long exposures and those dreamy light trails you might be hoping to capture. You can also take stunning 8K time-lapses with ease. To top it off, this full-frame FX camera is also compatible with cheaper DX lenses, where it shoots in a cropped DX mode, and further boosts the burst rate from 7fps to 30fps.
To aid in low-light photography on the street, the camera features illuminated buttons on one side. The top LCD is also illuminated. Next, Nikon also removed the AA/optical low-pass filter, which helps to further clean up the image by allowing even more light into the sensor.
Given that the camera weighs 2.06 lbs, there’s little chance of it winning any awards for portability, but that’s hardly a problem when you get a fast, powerful, weather-sealed camera like this that’s capable of capturing spectacular images in virtually any light.
- Fantastic low-light performance
- 8K time-lapse support
- Vibration-free shutter mode
- Illuminated buttons for shooting in the dark
- Lowest base ISO yet
- Very expensive
- No built-in flas
9. Best With GPS: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
The 5D Mk III was, for a long while, the gold standard for not just DSLRs, but photography in general. The 5D Mk IV picks up that mantle and steps things up by introducing a larger sensor, faster AF, flicker-free shooting, and GPS.
As expected from a professional camera, the 5D Mk IV is a bit large and heavy, but also built like a tank. And inside that body is a 150k dot RGB+IR AE sensor that nails exposure every time, 61 AF points that work at f/8, and a 30.4MP sensor that’s capable of capturing stunning images in any kind of light, and at 7fps at that.
The body accommodates Canon’s LP-E6 and the newer LP-E6N batteries, and you get dual LCD displays. The rear LCD doesn’t articulate, which, depending on how you shoot, may or may not be a problem.
The button layout will be familiar to anyone who’s used Canon cameras extensively. As with all of Canon’s 5D cameras, there’s no flash, so you’ll need to carry an external unit if you rely on it a lot.
Now the 5DS and 5DS R both cost the same and feature larger, 50MP sensors, and by all means, if you need resolution, those are indeed the cameras to go far. That being said, the 5D Mk IV is faster, a lot faster, which is what you need for street photography.
The high-density reticular AF system also ensures snappy focus in burst mode. Images are written directly to a CF or SD card, one of which can be used as a backup or buffer. There are also three fully programmable custom function buttons to ensure that your custom settings are within easy reach when you’re out shooting.
As a bonus, this camera also shoots video at DCI 4K 30fps, FHD 60fps, and HD 120fps. Coupled with the in-built time-lapse and HDR features, you can make some pretty epic vlogs from the streets of whatever city you’re pacing.
Paired with an exceptional wide-angle lens like the 20mm f1.4 DG HSM from Sigma, one can expect truly stunning images and portraits from the 5D Mk IV from the streets of the world. The 1.76 lbs mass of the camera is also a lot lower than that of similarly capable cameras like the 1Dx or D5.
- In-built GPS for automatic geotagging
- Slo-mo HD video
- HDR and time-lapse support
- USB 3.0 output for fast transfers
- Superb image quality and overall performance
- Battery life could have been better
- No built-in flash
10. Budget-Friendly Option: Pentax KP
In a world dominated by Canons and Nikons, the Pentak KP is an unusual, but surprisingly capable option. This compact, 24MP-toting weather-sealed camera features an unusual AA filter-free sensor for sharp images, and offers astounding low-light performance and a ridiculously fast electronic shutter. It’s the perfect DSLR for the street.
Featuring a fast, 14-bit image processor and a 24MP sensor that ditches the anti-aliasing (AA) filter, performance from the Pentax KP is quite stellar, especially for a camera at this price. ISO also boosts to a whopping 892,000, which allows for shots in pitch darkness.
To someone familiar with Canon and Nikon DSLR bodies, the Pentax KP will seem a bit unusual. The flash unit is larger than we’re used to, and the lens mount appears to jut out a bit, but don’t let the unusualness scare you. This camera is quite ergonomic, and even has a little trick that makes carrying it a little easier.
See, the front grip can be swapped out. If you’re using a lightweight prime, you can use the tiny grip to the camera feeling compact, but if you’re using a monster telephoto, you can swap to the beefier front grip that will let you hang on to your camera as you swing that lens about. There’s also a medium-sized grip for, well, medium-sized lenses. Pretty neat, we say!
The lack of an AA filter brings with it two benefits and one disadvantage. The benefits are increased sensitivity to light — thus reducing noise, and a lack of moiré when shooting repeating patterns. The disadvantage of course is that some images can have jagged edges when zoomed in. The camera compensates for this by moving the sensor around slightly to emulate an AA filter.
This brings us neatly to the camera’s second-most interesting feature, in-body image stabilization or IBIS. Offering up to 5 stops of stabilization, and paired with that monster ISO, one can expect some incredible low light shots.
If, on the other hand, you need to capture fast motion, the electronic shutter on this camera can cycle at an eye-watering 1/24,000sec. Yes, this isn’t a Canon or Nikon camera, but does that really matter when performance and image quality is this good? And it’s not like Canon or Nikon are offering ISO 892,000 performance, IBIS, replaceable front grips, and a 1/24,000 electronic shutter in a body that weighs a mere 1.41 lbs.
- Interchangeable front grip
- In-body image stabilisation
- 4K video
- Excellent low-light performance
- 1/24000sec electronic shutter
- Slow burst rate
- Poor battery life
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Mirrorless cameras have improved greatly over the years, and some of the top-of-the-line models even beat DSLRs, but when it comes to speed, ruggedness, battery life and reliability, DSLRs are still the gold standard.
Everyone’s a vlogger these days, and vlogging kits are a lot larger than your average DSLR. Plus, in touristy areas, you’ll stick out with or without a massive DSLR hanging around your neck. Just own the look and go for it!
These depend on the kind of camera you have and the subjects you intend to shoot. A kit lens is great to start with, but you’ll want at least a wide-angle prime for landscapes and a long tele for close-ups and portraits.
If it fits in your budget, get a grip. A good grip will not only double or triple your battery life, but also improve burst performance in some scenarios. Additionally, some high-end grips include extra buttons and dials that will improve ergonomics.
Photography is about your vision, how you realize that vision is up to you, and if the DSLR is the best tool for the job, then so be it. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, don’t expect to be inconspicuous, and just venture forth into the streets and have fun! Here are some best street camera recommendations from the list:
- In case you’re just starting out, we’d recommend the Canon 250D with an 18–55 kit or 35mm F2 lens.
- For someone who knows what they’re doing, and who happens to have deep pockets, a Nikon D850 or 5D Mk IV will be perfect.
- If you’re looking for a solid mid-range option, you just can’t go wrong with the Pentax KP or Nikon D500.