Street Photo Equipment

“What is the best camera for street photography?” The question arises almost every day, and all I can tell you that there is no such thing… Shoot what you feel comfortable with and use a camera that has ergonomics you like and that feels good in your hands.

street photography gear Markus Hartel New York
That being said, the Leica M9 is arguably the best camera in my hands for street photography and my favorite camera for street shooting after the M6 TTL… The convenience of digital paired with kick-ass ergonomics. relatively quiet and super fast in the right hands- f8 and bang away, as some might say. shown with 35mm f2 Summicron v3 (king of bokeh) and aftermarket vented metal shade and the Leica handgrip, which is a crucial accessory for better ergonomics in my opinion.
Leica M9 18MP Digital Range Finder Camera (Steel Gray, Body Only)

After shooting with an M9 for a little bit over 3 years, I have now upgraded to a Leica M, Typ 240
Leica M240 jimmy rigged hand grip

Everything else you see on this page is pretty much gone from my inventory, as nothing beats a Leica M in the ergonomics department.

Markus Hartel New York street photography gear
my favorite camera strap: Domke gripper with rubberized threads – you also see another must-have accessory: a mini soft shutter release, the original Leica shutter button sits somewhat low and I find a soft release necessary
Domke 740-6BK 1-Inch Web Strap without Swivel (Black)

street photography gear Markus Hartel New York
Voigtlander R4M – M for manual mode, camera is fully manual and needs batteries for the meter only. best wide 21mm viewfinder in the market. works with Leica M lenses. shown with 28mm f2.8 Leica Elmarit and modified B+W metal shade. kick-ass lens, sharp, sharp and sharp with virtually zero distortion.

Markus Hartel New York street photography gear
The original Ricoh GRD, my favorite point-and-shoot camera with a fixed 28mm equivalent f2.4 lens. killer ergonomics and awesome organic, grain-like noise to boot… I like the original version much better than its successors GRD II/III/IV. I have two – it’s that good…
Ricoh GR DIGITAL IV US 10 MP Digital Camera with 1x Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD screen (Black)

Markus Hartel New York street photography gear
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 – fast f2.0 24mm wide lens, great quality Leica glass and the zoom up to 90mm comes in handy at times… the video mode is great when needed. the lens has a step function to zoom at fixed focal lengths of 24-28-35-50-70-90 for rangefinder style shooting. good quality files clock in at 12MP, RAW is usable up to ISO 1600
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD – Black

street photography gear Markus Hartel New York
The original Canon EOS 5D, still my favorite DSLR after many years of use. 12MP hits the sweet spot and low light performance is still great at ISO 3200, I don’t see the need for faster speeds, even at night as I like a realistic mood and some grain in my photographs anyways, especially in black and white. large prints look awesome, so don’t fall for the megapixel marketing trap. I love, love, love the Canon 28mm f1.8 USM lens. mounted shown is the 28mm f2.8, which is ok, but suffers from noisy/slow autofocus and barrel distortion close-up. ack.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 21.1MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

flash gear:
Canon 430EX speedlite
bunch of Vivitar 283’s with the varipower module for manual control
a pair of pocket wizards (multi max and plus II)
cowboystudio wireless trigger (much smaller than the pocketwizards, especially great for street shooting). I love wireless technology!
two oh-so-lovely 20″ beauty dishes
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras

computer stuff:
Apple Mac Pro 2.93 GHz Quad (8 core) Tower with tons of terabytes of storage and 12GB of RAM… OS runs off a 128GB OCZ SSD and this machine flies like there is no tomorrow!
Apple Mac Pro MC560LL/A Desktop (NEWEST VERSION)

27″ Apple LCD Cinema Display – gorgeous!
Apple Thunderbolt Display MC914LL/A (NEWEST VERSION)

Apple MacBook Pro 13″, 8GB RAM
Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION)

Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop CS5

crashplan for cloud backup

street photography gear Markus Hartel New York
Unfortunately Nikon seized production of this fantastic 35mm scanner, which I use with Vuescan. Vuescan works with almost every scanner known to man, even with my old UMAX PowerLook 1100 (great for contacts with its 8″x10″ transparency unit). I also use an Epson Perfection 3170 for larger negs and prints.
Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Color Scanner

prints are crafted on an Epson 3800 with K3 inks on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper… awesome, awesome blacks with a real photo feel…
Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Inkjet Printer (CA61201-VM)

blast from the past:
hartel street photography gear
I used the Leica M8 for a couple of years, mostly with a 21mm f4 Voigtlander and a 28mm Voigtlander – both are great lenses, especially with the 1.33x crop factor. I like the chrome finish of the Leica M’s much better than the black version, or the gray M9… the chrome version is much more durable and wears much better.

Markus hartel street photography gear
Leica M6 TTL – still my favorite film rangefinder, especially with the M motor attached… I regret selling the 35mm Summicron ASPH almost every day, what a lovely lens

hartel street photography equipment
I still have an AE-1 with a 28mm f2.8 and the standard 50mm lens… I used to use it mostly in shitty weather, or when the Leica was in the shop… great camera, cheap to begin with and pretty much undestroyable

street photography gear hartel
I picked this Minolta X-700 up at the local housingworks for 7 bucks and the 58mm f1.4 Rokkor lens for $25. solid, solid camera and an awesome lens

Rolleiflex – if I could find a decent Rolleiflex wide, that’d make my day (Diane Arbus used one)
Mamiya 6
Mamiya 7
I liked any of the medium format cameras, but they were all too slow for my kind of work.

Olympus Stylus Epic – I still have one and consider it a strong contender for film shooting and pocketability. it’s weather sealed too. check out this post how to trick the DX sensor into higher ISOs
Canon ML – weird 80ies AF brick with a fast 40mm f1.9 lens and metering up to ISO 1000, generally nicer to use than the Canon Canonet
Canon EOS Elan 7 – the best Canon film SLR besides the 1 series
Canon EOS 10D – totally extinct by now, but my first serious DSLR after an Olympus C-2500 L
Leica M4 – I can live without a meter, but the old-school shutter dial drove me NUTS

end street photo gear page

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36 Replies to “Street Photo Equipment”

  1. Hi marcus
    Love your site
    I have a quick question for you if you have the time.I have just bought the GX100 by Richo
    do you think it will be any good for street shots or should i buy a DSLR ?
    Hope you find the time to respond

  2. Hi markus
    I have been seeing your website for close to a month. I find your work really interesting and am interested in doing street photography. I am using a nikon f80 and planning to buy a 50mm f/1.4. Should i go for it or u would suggest some other lens to start with?
    Hope u find time to respond

  3. markus I love your work and want a suggetion on equipments to use. Currently I have a Nikon D40 with 18-55mm kit lense. I love black and white street photography, please suggest a good camera body (film or digital) that you think would be good to work in low lights(fast and reliable to use quickly).
    I will buy a 28mm and 35mm with that body. and will shoot and practice nad achieve the image quality that you own!! I consider you as my inspirational source!!.
    hoping reply soon,
    Puneet Dembla
    India, M.P

  4. I would think that the D40 is a capable camera, it really comes down to the lenses… the D40 has a APS-C sized sensor, in order to achieve a 28mm FOV, you’ll need to use a 18mm lens. to avoid all that confusion you’ll need a full frame camera body. what to use?
    I’m using a EOS 5D and a Leica for good reasons… also I’m using a Sigma DP1 for a few months now and the other cameras stay in the closet a lot 😀

  5. yes Markus sir,
    you are right, I will use a 20mm f/2.8 will be equal to about 30mm but but but!!!!, the problem is focusing how could I acheive a mannual focus like a rangefinder system and how could I take a hip shot? because today the lenses don’t have the depth of feild scale marked on them as on leica lenses? so what should I do? to close up performance to a rangefinder in my digital SLR.?
    pls help!!
    with regards:
    Puneet Dembla,
    India, M.P.

  6. focus on an object within your working distance, lock the lens to MF and fix it in place with a small piece of tape… works wonders. Since you’re using a Nikon, you should be able to use an older manual focus lens too.

  7. thanks very much markus!!!
    for this focus and DOF part but what about the contrast and feel you achieve with your images,
    (I know how to expose correctly by sunny-16) and last question- what abot the noise in low light, high sensitivities???? how do you manage all this???? (considering all this is it better to buy a film SLR and scanner?)
    hope you are not offended by the burst of questions!!!!!(I am just 18 therefore curosity is at peak therefore many questions arise in my mind!)
    Puneet Dembla
    India, M.P.

  8. with digital I normally use AE and utilize AE lock… noise is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in b/w. the Ricoh GRD for example has a very film-like clustered noise pattern. The EOS 5D is too clean at high ISOs and I would actually ADD film grain to my images.
    Film is king in many aspects, but one needs to have lots of time on their hands for developing, spotting etc.

  9. Markus: I love your work! I need some advice on a lens. I am using a 5D and got rid of my 24-70L because its just too heavy for street use. So now I am trying to decide between the 28 1.8 or the 35 1.4L. I was reading the lens reviews and of course everyone is knocking the 28 and saying the 35L is far better. But again, doing black and white conversions and shooting in tight spaces like the subway, I am concerned with the weight of the L glass. I notice you dont use any L lenses. I would love your take on this

  10. @Jon – I never really fell for the lens hype, I look more for the practical value… granted Leica glass is great, L glass may be great, but what does it all help if I don’t get the picture!? When I use the 5D, the 28mm f1.8 is on it 99% of the time – I love the focal length, the speed is great and the lens sports whisper quiet USM with an affordable price tag. what else to ask for!?!

  11. Hi Markus,
    I have been seeing your work for almost 3 months and inspired by it I started taking photos on streets 10 days back. I have been following your advice on shooting and fix my exposure and focus in advance, but almost all of my pictures have come out blurred. What could I possibly be doing wrong?

  12. Hi Markus,
    My ISO is 100 or 200 most of the time and I am shooting without looking in the viewfinder almost always. Could it be the reason why my pictures are coming out blurred?
    Please reply asap.

  13. Hi Markus: Given the size of the EOS 5D, don’t you find it more difficult to get the shot? I am using a Digital Rebel XTi, but it’s so conspicuous. I wish I could buy smaller, not make any compromises in quality, but without the price tag of a leica. Chris

  14. Chris,
    I don’t have a problem using the larger SLR in the streets, it’s just that I prefer a rangefinder for my shooting style. The thing is to let people know that you’re there to photograph, be present with your camera and don’t hide with it.

  15. Hi Markus,
    Doing photography as a hobby now for nearly two years I think I miss something if I don’t try film. So next to my canon 400D I got a Seagull TLR and like the first results.
    Now I want to try something different. People say it’s hard to get used to a rangefinder if you started with a SLR. Is this your experience, too?
    I would like to buy a used Leica M3 or M4 from ebay. Or would you recommend a other one for the beginning?

  16. Michaela, film is definitely a different experience, even though I shoot mainly digital these days. I personally love to photograph with a rangefinder and prefer it over an SLR, but its not for everybody.
    an M3 is great if you don’t want to shoot wider than 50mm since the internal finder only has framelines for 50mm and longer. There is 35mm lens with “goggles”, but I persoannly find this a bit awkward.
    The M4 is a great camera and has framelines as wide as 35mm, I have used a 28mm by utilizing the whole finder or adding a viewfinder to the hotshoe. An M4 is probably the best deal right now, but also keep in mind that it doesn’t have a built-in lightmeter.
    If you have the money, look for an M6
    another (more affordable) alternative is the Voigtländer Bessa line
    I hope this helps!

  17. Markus do you like your Canon ML ? I just won one on EBAY for 9.95. Looks like a nice little camera for street work.
    I also recently won an Olympus XA.
    Lately I am liking film more and more and getting away from digital, speaking of which, can you recommend a good 35mm film scanner? I see you use a Minolta dimage, those are going over 700 used on ebay. I was thinking of the Nikon Coolscan 5000 for about 1k.
    As always, I appreciate your advice

  18. The ML is pretty amazing for what it is, it certainly has the right size for a street shooter, but the AF is a bit pokey… The Dimage IV was less than $400 when I bought it new, but if I had to buy a film scanner now I’d get a Nikon 5000 for 35mm film.

  19. Hi Marcus,
    just stopping buy to say I love your work man,great site too with loads of useful info.
    I’ve just bought a Ricoh GR 2 and just hit the streets of London.
    Great stuff.
    Cheers David

  20. Hi Markus – have been enjoying your sight/site for almost two years now. I’m impressed by how much you like the DP1, and am curious to know how often you use it (over the Leica M8 and Canon). Also, do you ever revert to film anymore?
    After my pentax k10d got stolen this summer, I’m back to film, but am considering the DP2 when it comes out. Just not sure what makes more sense, a DP2 carryon around, backing that up with my film, or getting back to the DSLR world…

  21. Hi Marcus, i see you own Sigma DP1 and Ricoh GRD II. The price for these cameras is very high for my “standards” 🙂 and i need to know about their quality by someone who knows them “on the field”.
    Is it possible to have a total control on exposition?
    Does it have manual focus? Is it possible to know the dof in meters for a certain F valor?
    (especially for the fact that they have a non-zoom lens on them: for example, at f8 on 40mm focus from 2 to 5.5 meters, so hyperfocal distance or selective focal distance)
    Is the shot quick, or autofocus+shot takes a lot? (i mean, half a second is too much)
    Sorry, too much questions. 😀

  22. both cameras have full manual control
    both cameras have controls for “manual focus”, where the Ricoh uses the “cursor” buttons and the Sigma has a dedicated manual focus dial.
    the GRD II has a DOF indicator – not that it matters with its small sensor
    I would recommend to turn off autofocus with both cameras for quick operation.

  23. Thanks for the response. Actually i’m using a Rollei35 TE, full manual 35mm: are these cameras capable of a decent quality? (i think of a 40×30 print)
    I heard that they own (or perhaps only sigma) a aps-c sensor.

  24. Hey Mate,
    Nice site. Some interesting and informative articles man 🙂 I know, I am creeping,lol. Hopefully I can produce something like this myself. Where did you get your templates from?
    Hopefully one of you kind souls could help me out somewhat here. I am hoping to find someone who I was reliably informed told was a member on here. They used to use the tag ‘wizardwebone’.
    You see I am hoping to start my own website on cosmetics related goods for things such as: best tooth whitener (hence the where did you get your templates from,lol) but am having realllll difficulty getting hold of dropshippers for these goods. I had been in touch with this guy but my PC got stolen and unfortunately had all my contact details on it (I know, I know, should have backed it up 🙁 )
    So if you guys have heard or seen anything of him could you pm me please? Failing that maybe one of you people knows someone?
    Plus, which hosting do you use as I keep informed bad things about the host I am considering of placing my site with. Also any other useful tips you could give re starting up my site would be most helpful and gratefully appreciated.
    I do hope that one of you has helpful knowledge on this
    Thanks Buddy,

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