12 min read

The Best Lens For Street Photography

12 min read

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photographer taking pictures on the street

Choosing a lens for street photography can seem difficult for photographers. But with the help of the right lenses, learning the art of street photography will become much more fun. 

There are so many options it’s difficult to know which lens for street photography will be the best one. You must consider things like aperture, the best focal length for street photography, and the type of camera you use. Is your camera a full-frame, or does it have a crop sensor? This will affect how you pick the focal length of your lens for street photography. I will address these issues as I make recommendations for the best lens for street photography.

The low light performance of a lens is also important when you are choosing a lens for street photography. Some photographers on a budget cannot afford the more expensive lenses that have a wider maximum aperture. There’s also the option of third-party lenses. Typically lenses made by Nikon, Sony, and Canon will be more expensive. Lenses made by Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, and other third parties are cheaper.

There are so many different options that it’s beyond the scope of this article to cover. So we have whittled them down to a selection that’s widely considered to be the pick of the crop.

First, What Camera Do You Use?

If you place a 50mm lens on any full-frame sensor, you’ll have a wider field of view than if you attach the same focal length lens to a crop sensor camera. The dimensions of the camera’s sensor determine how much you will see. 

Sensors that are not full frame come in different dimensions. So, for example, if you attach a 50mm lens to a camera with an APSC sensor, you will see less than if you attach the same focal length to a camera with a micro 4/3 sensor. If you are not sure about how this works, please check out this article.

people crossing the road.

For the sake of clarity, in this article, all reference to focal length is based on the field of view a lens has when attached to a full-frame camera body. 

To discover the best lens, keep reading through this article, and we hope you will find it helpful as you make your choice. We can make recommendations, but it’s up to you which one you choose based on the style of your photography and the camera you use. It will also depend on your budget because the price range can vary depending on the lens you want.

For example, a prime 35mm f/2 lens will be significantly cheaper than a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Some prime lenses will be more expensive than some zoom lenses are. This can often come down to the specifications of a prime lens compared to a zoom lens.

three women photographed with the best street photography lens.

The Best Street Photography Lens is a Subjective Choice

Keep in mind that what is considered the best will vary. This is based on your skill level and style. We will cover street photography lens criteria. We will also include examples of the best Canon lens for street photography, as well as the best Sony, Nikon, and third-party lenses.

As you read through this article, keep in mind the type of street photography you enjoy the most. How will you use your new street photography lens? Will you use this new lens only for street photography? Or will you use it for other types of photography?

One main style consideration for street photographers is whether you like to get in close or to stand further away.

If you prefer to remain further away, a 35mm lens or a 40mm focal length will not be of much use to you. You’ll want to opt for a longer focal length if you’re that type of street photographer. For photographers who like to get in close, a 35mm lens may not be wide enough. Especially on a crop sensor camera. You’ll probably enjoy using a wide-angle lens of more than 28mm.

Lenses for street photography can vary greatly, and some will suit you better than others. This article is designed to help you make a choice from the list of the best lenses for street photography.

man taking a photo in the street.

6 Top Zoom Lenses for Street Photography

To start, let’s take a look at a selection of variable focal length lenses that can be considered the best street photography lenses. If you prefer to use faster prime lenses as a street photographer, scroll down below this first list of street photography zoom lenses.

1 – Nikon AF-S FX 24mm – 120mm f/4G ED

If you are a full-frame Nikon user who enjoys a good zoom lens, then you must consider the Nikon AF-S FX 24mm – 120mm f/4G ED zoom lens. The range of this lens is ideal for street photography. Because it has a little more reach than shorter focal length zoom lenses, it also makes it a great lens for street portraits. It’s also a great lens for many other styles of photography.

The range from wide to medium telephoto offers loads of flexibility. You can stand in the same spot with this lens all day and capture great images. Its f/4 widest aperture may not be to everyone’s liking. A faster lens will be better in low light. But the plus side of the aperture not being f/2.8 or wider is the lens is smaller and lighter. It’s less conspicuous and has a bit more reach than the popular Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Auto Focus-S Nikkor wide-angle zoom lens. It’s also significantly cheaper.

2 – Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens

This Canon lens is also an f/4 lens. Similar to the Nikon 24 – 120mm f/4 focal length, but with a little shorter reach. It’s a versatile lens for street photography when you’re using your Canon full-frame DSLR camera body. 

The lens is compact and lighter than a faster zoom lens of the same range would be. This lens boasts five stops of image stabilization shake correction, according to Canon. You will not be disappointed with the image quality this Canon lens produces.

Because the maximum aperture is f/4 on this lens, the depth of field will not be so shallow as with a faster lens. In low light, you’ll also need a faster shutter speed or a higher ISO setting. This should not be a problem, as many street photographers prefer to use a maximum aperture of f/5.6 to allow for more depth of field. There is also a Canon EF lens available in this same focal length range.

two people walking up stairs, photographed using a zoom lens.

3 – HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR

The Pentax 24 – 70mm f/2.8 is a high-performance medium-range zoom lens ideal for street photography. It’s fast and flexible with exceptional imaging power. It’s a weather-resistant lens with special seals that effectively protect it when you’re out taking photos in inclement weather.

If you enjoy your street photography wide open, you’ll love the bokeh created by this Pentax lens’s rounded diaphragm. It produces a beautifully smooth bokeh.

4 – Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 G2 Di VC USD G2 Zoom Lens

For street photographers who enjoy third-party lenses, this Tamron 24-70mm is exceptional. It’s available for both Nikon, Sony, and Canon cameras. Like the Pentax 24-70mm lens, it also has rounded diaphragm blades that make for a lovely smooth bokeh and lovely image quality.

Like the Canon’s focal length of 24 – 105mm, it also boasts five stops of effective vibration reduction. Making it ideal for street photography where you’re not likely to want to be carrying a tripod around with you. As with other focal lengths in this range, this is a versatile street photography lens. 

photographer holding a camera.

5 – Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS (Optical Stabilizer) HSM Lens

This zoom lens from Sigma starts a nice wide-angle lens and is ideal for street photography when you like to get in close to your subject. If you only like to carry one lens, this one will cover many bases. The quality of glass is typical of Sigma lenses and will produce a high-quality image.

This lens easily makes its way onto a list of the best lenses for street photography. It’s lightweight, and with an aperture of f/2.8-4, it’s fast enough for most situations. This lens is fast and accurate when focusing. It has the advantage of being the best street photography lens that includes macro capacity. This lens also has optical image stabilization.

6 – Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm Telephoto Zoom Lens with F3.5-5.6 II ASPH

For micro four-thirds camera street photographers, this Lumix zoom lens is great for street photos. As with everything about micro four-thirds, this lens is small, compact, and of high quality. The zoom range means that it’s a street photography lens that suits many situations. If your focus is on capturing candid street portraits, or wide-angle street photos, this lens will serve you well.

This version is an upgrade from the previous Lumix h-fs lens. This micro four-thirds mount lens is compatible with other brands such as Sony and Olympus. This makes for a flexible camera and lens combination if you’re out taking street photos with friends who also use this style of camera.

It’s a small, compact lens for such a focal length which makes it one of the best lenses for street photos. 

people cycling and walking in the street.

Best Prime Lenses for Street Photography

The Nifty Fifty 50mm Lens

I think every camera and lens company makes at least one version of the fixed focal length 50mm lens. Nikon, Canon, Sony, and all the third-party lens makers have at least one version of the 50mm lens. The main variable that affects the price is whether the lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or a maximum aperture of f/1.4.

Some companies also make a 50mm lens with an aperture of f/1.2 or even wider. These are not so popular for street photography. This is because they are more difficult to focus wide open, especially when you are manual focusing. Often you’ll not see a street photographer using a wider aperture than f/1.8 on a 50mm lens.

On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens is considered to be a normal focal length because it provides a field of view similar to how we see. However, the field of view is narrower on an aps-c or other crop sensor camera. So you need to consider this as a 35mm lens may be more suitable for street photography with a crop sensor camera. I’ve introduced some 35mm focal length lenses later in this list.

7 – Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

This Canon ef lens is a standard offering which is why it’s on the best lens for street photography list. As an f/1.8 lens, it’s cheaper and easier when manually focusing. You might be tempted by the wider aperture of the Canon ef f/1.4 or Canon ef f/1.2 lenses, but the price of them may put you off.

In low light, this lens will be of little practical disadvantage over the more expensive, faster aperture lenses. You can always push your ISO setting up or use a slightly slower shutter speed. As with other Canon lenses, the build quality and optics are excellent, but maybe not to the same standard as the faster 50mm lenses. This lens is compact and lightweight.

8 – Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

For street photographers who use Sony aps-c cameras, this lens is a must-have. You will find this f/1.8 lens has a compact design and is great when you want to get in a bit closer to your subject without having to move. It may not be as wide as some street photographers like, but it is perfect for others.

This lens also has image stabilization and a 7-blade circular aperture. This produces silky smooth bokeh when you use it to take wide-open street photos.

9 – Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

This lens 50mm can also be considered a standard kit for any Nikon photographer who develops their gear beyond kit lenses. It’s affordable and versatile for use with much more than street photography. Like the Canon 50mm f/1.8, it’s compact and lightweight. 

Nikon prime lenses have a fabulous reputation for being sharp and well built. This model is an F mount, FX lens. There are also options for Nikon mirrorless cameras and crop sensor models too.

10 – Yongnuo YN EF 50mm f/1.8 AF Lens YN50

For a cheaper 50mm alternative third-party lens, this Yongnuo has some exceptional quality reviews. As with other 50mm fixed focal length lenses in this section, it features a maximum aperture of f/1.8. But it is significantly cheaper than camera brand name lenses. If your budget is limited, then this is one of the cheapest focal lengths available, and this brand is even more affordable. If your focus is on picking up an inexpensive prime lens for street photography, then this 50mm lens is worth a look.

Depending on where you order it from, this lens is often available and ships more quickly than other brands. The build quality is probably better quality than you might expect for the price of this 50mm lens.

Look left sign in the street.

Wide Angle Prime Lenses for Street Photography

For street photographers who prefer a wider angle prime than a 50mm, a 35mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 may suit you better. If you like wider angle prime lenses than this, take a look at the 24mm options available.

11 – Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G Fixed Focal Length Lens

This 35mm f/1.4 option may not suit everyone’s budget, but if you can afford it, you will not be disappointed with this for street photography. The field of view on a full-frame camera body is a little wider than our natural vision is. Many street photographers prefer this. It allows you to be relatively close to your subject.

This 35mm is also great for environmental street portraits as you don’t need to be too far away from the person you are photographing. It provides a very natural sense of the atmosphere of the location you are photographing in. This is because it is not so wide to begin distorting perspective than wider angle lenses are.

This lens is not as compact as others that fit crop sensor cameras, but this comes down to personal preference and photography style.

street scene with a 24mm wide angle lens.

12 – Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM

If you prefer not to pay so much for a 35mm f/1.4 fixed focal length, then this offering from Sigma is worthwhile looking at. This prime lens gets rave reviews from street photographers. The clarity and image quality are exceptional, and the price is certainly more affordable than the same focal length made by Sony, Nikon, or Canon.

It has the same characteristics very much as the Nikon 35mm f/1.4.

13 – Fujinon XF33mmF1.4 R LM WR

Fujinon offers a wonderful option for Fujifilm camera owners who enjoy street photography. It’s a great little compact piece of kit that will suit many photographers well. With the widest aperture of f/1.4 and fast autofocus, you’ll not be disappointed.

It’s a solidly built lens that’s ideal for low-light street situations that is also very inconspicuous. It will also not weigh you down as it only weighs in at about 360 grams.

14 – Tamron 24mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 Lens

Tamron has produced a very affordable 24mm f/2.8 prime lens that is great for street photography. This lens is incredibly compact and lightweight, making it an ideal option for street images. The wide angle makes it easy to capture as much as you and to get it all in focus, either using manual focusing or auto.

Because it’s a Tamron lens, it means it’s also very affordable, more so than other 24mm lenses on the market.

woman taking a photos in the street.


I hope you have enjoyed reading this run-down of the best lenses for street photography. There are so many options for focal length. These fit all manner of different cameras from a variety of companies. The variables are many. The best way to choose lenses for the camera system you love is to read opinions like these and then try lenses out to see which ones suit you the best. 

All photographers have different preferences and styles. These also evolve over time. So please take your time to try before you buy. This way, you’ll be even happier when you do make your next purchase.

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Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.
Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.

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