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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Weapon of choice for street photography?
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02/12/2012 04:59:44 AM · #1
I'll be doing some street photography over the next few days, including today. It isn't my natural photography habitat. I have some choices in terms of kit and would like some advice on what I should choose.

By all means look at my profile and see my full kit list (I have an adaptor to use my EF lenses on my little Olympus PEN too and an EVF) but I'm thinking it might be between these combos:

Hefty choices:

7D with 85mm f/1.2: allows me to isolate subjects, can shoot from a reasonable distance and the 7dís focussing system might help keep this tricky lens in focus for quick fire shots.

5D with 24-105 f/4: Versatile, reliable and fairly quick focus; 5D give me a much smoother image than the 7D

Compact choices:

Olympus PEN with Lensbaby with f/2.8 aperture ring: Manual focus keeps me engaged, selective focus adds might be interesting.

Olympus PEN with the standard 14-42 lens: autofocus, zoom adds versatility.

Olympus PEN with Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro: excellent sharpness wide open; never used it on this camera - would be a manual focus experiment.

Tempted to go with a compact choice - easier if you're taking a bit of lunch, visiting a gallery etc.

Thoughts / advice?
02/12/2012 05:16:25 AM · #2
Paul, I used my 85mm on the NYC GTG and found it just a bit too long. I know Steve (Pawdrix) likes to use his 85 when doing street. I found however that I missed some of the context. It is great for street portraiture, but I did find it to be a little limiting (but I do like wide anyway). More recently when I did a street photography workshop in London I used my 50 mm and found that was much much better. But then in China and Vietnam I used my 24-120 more or less the whole time and shot at 24 most of the time. (NOT helping am I?)

I haven't played with the PEN enough in this sort of situation to be comfortable with the focusing speed. I know that I stopped using my point and shoot for street shots due to that. I maybe inclined to try the Pen with the Canon 50. (And slip the 14-42 in your bag, it's not exactly heavy is it?) Maybe I'll try the same, as my adaptor for my PEN has arrived and I haven't tried it yet :)

02/12/2012 05:16:52 AM · #3
Here you go Paul. Just recently bought this (actually I bought two, because they cost less than a reasonable pub lunch). The perfect street camera. Really. Quiet operation, solid metal body, small, cheap, great 40mm f2.8 lens, selenium powered light meter (no batteries), and incredibly, it's FULL FRAME!

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

ETA: I know I was supposed to select from your list. But you're already an Olympus man, so live a little. Treat yourself.

Message edited by author 2012-02-12 05:20:55.
02/12/2012 05:17:15 AM · #4
If it is your first outing I would go with the 5D and 24-105 option as it gives you a lot more choice. Purists will say you should use a prime but you can miss a lot of shots with that approach if you are unable to get near your subject.

I use my 450 with my 50mm when I'm looking for street portraits, half of the enjoyment for me comes from figuring out how you can fill the frame without making it obvious you are taking the subjects picture.

I am looking to purchase a 24-105 in the coming months partly so I can open up my options on the street.

Before you go out have a look at 85mm on you tube to give you the confidence that you won't get chased down the street.

Good luck

Jon
02/12/2012 06:40:28 AM · #5
I often just use my 85mm Paul, it's a bit longer on my cropped sensor than on yours, if I'm going after portraits that is what I take, I also stick the very light 35mm in the bag, it also depends on available light, in my neck of the woods if it's overcast a normal zoom is just not an option, the streets are to dark. It's best to know what you would like to shoot before you leave home, if it's a whole scene with everything sharp then it has be the 24-105, you can isolate stuff but you won't get that superb effect of your 85mm. I must admit I usualy end up taking three lenses and only using one, that would be the one already attached to the camera, whatever that might be, choices are the problem.
02/12/2012 07:31:08 AM · #6
7D with 24-105mm f/4L is the answer for me for everyday shooting. However, my best shots were taken with the 100mm macro. Not as convenient but by golly, sharp with great background blur and bokeh. And if you are a little 'shy', go for the 70-200L. That is assuming your street photography means including shots of people including head shots.
02/12/2012 11:00:56 AM · #7
Originally posted by ubique:

Here you go Paul. Just recently bought this (actually I bought two, because they cost less than a reasonable pub lunch). The perfect street camera. Really. Quiet operation, solid metal body, small, cheap, great 40mm f2.8 lens, selenium powered light meter (no batteries), and incredibly, it's FULL FRAME!

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

ETA: I know I was supposed to select from your list. But you're already an Olympus man, so live a little. Treat yourself.

Let's put ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' ubique's Trip 35 up against your 5D and see what happens:
//www.kenrockwell.com/olympus/trip-35.htm

The Olympus XA2 is another wonderful film camera option. A street eating machine.

But if we must stick to your list, I'd pick the PEN with 14-42 zoom.

Message edited by author 2012-02-12 11:01:25.
02/12/2012 11:26:33 AM · #8
Something light, and fast.

I always found my 50mm 1.8 one of my favourites for street. You can get a bit closer if you want a close up, and it's wide enough to capture a whole scene without stepping backwards onto the road and being hit by a bus!

I also find that not having a zoom lens is an advantage when shooting street, one less thing to fiddle with when you need to capture that shot.
02/12/2012 11:36:53 AM · #9
I'm a little shy and people have a comfort zone. I like the Canon EF 135mm f/2L on my 5D. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1343/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_935277.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1343/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_935277.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

But, a big DSLR with a wide aperture lens really puts people into a defensive pose, especially if you stick it in their face.

More recently, I've found my iPhone 4S to be much less intrusive. Even if people see it, the body language and expressions change less. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1480/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985229.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1480/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_985229.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

However, the iPhone 4S doesn't give me the opportunity to use a narrow DOF for selective focus.
02/12/2012 12:14:31 PM · #10
Olympus XA
02/12/2012 12:25:12 PM · #11
I usually use my 50D with the 18-135 on it. I can get the close shots as well as the stealth shots from across the street. The camera is not quite stealthy, but I'm often doing my street photography in areas with heavy tourist traffic, so it attracts no attention at all.
02/12/2012 12:26:35 PM · #12
Many thanks for your thoughts; I'm now back from the hunt!

I went with Sarah's suggestion and mounted the Canon f/2.5 on my Olympus PEN and carried the 14-42mm in my pocket.

I got a couple I liked, you can see them in the Street SC thread.

What I learnt:

The Olympus shutter button is very laggy
Using Art filters, slows you down (a lot) but helps buoy you up with the results
Using manual focus offers a more enjoyable experience, but means you have really got to have plenty of time to compose yourself.
A fast lens is a great asset
100mm (effective) is too long
The resolution on an EPL1 is not enough to give you many cropping choices
The EPL-1 with EVF makes you feel MUCH less conspicuous than a big DSLR

Thanks again

Paul
02/12/2012 12:27:14 PM · #13
Originally posted by Spork99:

Olympus XA

Great little camera! I have one that I bought new in '82 when my roomate had one and I was impressed by the pics it took. It's been all over Europe and been dropped more times than I can remember. Hardly a scratch on it.
02/12/2012 12:36:20 PM · #14
Originally posted by paulbtlw:


What I learnt:

The Olympus shutter button is very laggy
Using Art filters, slows you down (a lot) but helps buoy you up with the results
Using manual focus offers a more enjoyable experience, but means you have really got to have plenty of time to compose yourself.
A fast lens is a great asset
100mm (effective) is too long
The resolution on an EPL1 is not enough to give you many cropping choices
The EPL-1 with EVF makes you feel MUCH less conspicuous than a big DSLR

Thanks again

Paul


Great summary Paul and very helpful.

I thought it maybe too slow for Street (similar situation to using a P&S I expect)

Trying again next week with the 5D and the 50mm?
02/12/2012 12:42:57 PM · #15
Originally posted by paulbtlw:

Many thanks for your thoughts; I'm now back from the hunt!

I went with Sarah's suggestion and mounted the Canon f/2.5 on my Olympus PEN and carried the 14-42mm in my pocket.

I got a couple I liked, you can see them in the Street SC thread.

What I learnt:

The Olympus shutter button is very laggy
Using Art filters, slows you down (a lot) but helps buoy you up with the results
Using manual focus offers a more enjoyable experience, but means you have really got to have plenty of time to compose yourself.
A fast lens is a great asset
100mm (effective) is too long
The resolution on an EPL1 is not enough to give you many cropping choices
The EPL-1 with EVF makes you feel MUCH less conspicuous than a big DSLR

Thanks again

Paul


Haha! See? Every point on your lessons list (plus some others) is nicely addressed by the Trip 35.. Ten bucks, give or take five. Why settle for less mate?
02/12/2012 01:25:45 PM · #16
Originally posted by bvy:

Originally posted by ubique:

Here you go Paul. Just recently bought this (actually I bought two, because they cost less than a reasonable pub lunch). The perfect street camera. Really. Quiet operation, solid metal body, small, cheap, great 40mm f2.8 lens, selenium powered light meter (no batteries), and incredibly, it's FULL FRAME!

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/30000-34999/30364/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_998481.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

ETA: I know I was supposed to select from your list. But you're already an Olympus man, so live a little. Treat yourself.

Let's put ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' ubique's Trip 35 up against your 5D and see what happens:
//www.kenrockwell.com/olympus/trip-35.htm

The Olympus XA2 is another wonderful film camera option. A street eating machine.

But if we must stick to your list, I'd pick the PEN with 14-42 zoom.


I agree with Brian.
02/12/2012 01:42:41 PM · #17
Originally posted by bvy:


Let's put ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' ubique's Trip 35 up against your 5D and see what happens:


Given the important hardware behind the camera - I would dissolve into mincemeat rather quickly in such a challenge.
02/12/2012 02:29:58 PM · #18
Originally posted by paulbtlw:

Originally posted by bvy:


Let's put ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' ubique's Trip 35 up against your 5D and see what happens:


Given the important hardware behind the camera - I would dissolve into mincemeat rather quickly in such a challenge.


Hahahaha! You are a funny lad! I don't think there's anybody here in any doubt about who's going to be The Man if there were to be a 'Two Pauls Duel'.
I'll give you a wee hint: it ain't me mate.
But thanks for being a good sport about me winding you up re the Trip 35 (even though I am actually quite serious about it being the perfect street shooter).

BTW, I have had a PEN EP-1 and a PEN EP-3, and for a street solution in digital (second best that it is, haha) the Oly XZ-1 is vastly superior in every way. Brilliant f1.8-2.5 lens (28-112mm equiv), bugger-all shutter lag, MUCH sharper than the EP3 (at least with the 14-42), and better handling/discretion in the tight spots. I use the superb EVF-2 electronic viewfinder on it when required, though I have taught myself to be pretty accurate with no looking at all. Like this, which you liked. Of course I do nearly always crop to square, so I generally have a little bit of fudge space!

Cheers,
P.M.

Message edited by author 2012-02-12 14:37:03.
02/12/2012 03:03:53 PM · #19
Well, now that you've said all of that about the XZ-1, I can stop Googling for negative scanners!
02/12/2012 03:10:36 PM · #20
For street photography, I use the biggest lens I can - that way I can shoot scary err, interesting-looking people from a safe distance and still have enough time to make a getaway if they see me! :-)
02/12/2012 08:40:58 PM · #21
I've seen ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Nixter doing wonders iwth 50mm. I like using an ultra wide lens which requires a real intimacy with your subject and really getting into the action.
02/12/2012 08:43:22 PM · #22
It's great to see some of those images again. Zigomar should come around more often. He makes 28mm feel like a telescope.
02/12/2012 09:47:12 PM · #23
Originally posted by bvy:

He makes 28mm feel like a telescope.


Hahahah :)

Alternatively, I use my banana phone -

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/45000-49999/49773/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_816966.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/45000-49999/49773/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_816966.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
02/12/2012 10:07:20 PM · #24
Originally posted by Zigomar:

Originally posted by bvy:

He makes 28mm feel like a telescope.


Hahahah :)

Alternatively, I use my banana phone -

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/45000-49999/49773/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_816966.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/45000-49999/49773/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_816966.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

"I was ready to shoot this scene with a banana if it was necessary."

Cracks me up! I think about that quote to this day. Hope this finds you well. Drop some things into our ongoing street thread some time...
02/12/2012 10:22:22 PM · #25
Given the choice between the flexibility of a zoom or the small size of some of the primes I own, I always opt for the primes. Why? Simply because the little primes are small and non-threatening looking, whilst still fast. As such I don't seem to have too many people objecting to me shooting them. And I rarely hide that that is what I'm doing. I mean, who's gonna be scared off by something like this:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/50000-54999/51638/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_955259.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/50000-54999/51638/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_955259.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

It's very easy to take out my 40/2.8 and 70/2.4 and have one on the camera and the other in my pocket. No need for a bag. :)
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