The gear I use

Out of all the photographic genres in existence, it can be persuasively argued that in street photography, the nature of our camera equipment is of the least importance. Let's get that out of the way right off the bat. If all a person has is a plastic point & shoot or an iPhone, they can still turn out excellent street photography. Nothing in the genre is dependent on having lots of expensive gear.

That said, I do find that having certain types of gear does help me do a better job. I've always been the type of guy who needs good tools. I envy those who can build a house with nothing more than a bent, dull saw and a broken hammer. I'm not in that league. Nothing frustrates me more than a tool that doesn't fit the job or one that is not function well. Whether it's a drill or a camera I need the right tool and I need it to work well.

Part of this goes back to the "me" cramp issue. If I start getting ticked off by the way my camera is performing, then the "me" cramp descends in force and the quality of my images goes out the window. Good images require me to have a clutter-free mind and smoothly functioning gear eliminates one source of that clutter.

So here's what I'm using and why.


Fujifilm X-100T with rubber band around lens
Fujifilm X100T:

From a street photography perspective, the X100 series is considered the next best thing to a Leica. For me, not so much. I had to wrestle this beastie into submission before I was happy with it. The X100 series cameras all come with a fixed 23mm f2.0 lens (35mm eq.) This focal length is considered to be the best one for the street. In Tokyo, New York or some other big city perhaps, but in more sparsely populated streets I often yearn for a longer lens.

What I liked: The form factor is beautiful, the hybrid OVF/EVF is fantastic, the manual controls are a delight to use, the lens performance is great, its leaf shutter is whisper quiet in operation, but . . .

What I didn't like: The AF slowness, inaccuracy, the poor buffer speed and capacity when shooting RAW (which I do all of the time) and the aperture chatter all leads to a slow reacting camera. At times when I've been shooting quickly, maybe out of five or six shots I might have one saved to the card. If I was lucky. Sometimes it was zero.

The solution was to go manual focus, but the "wheel of fortune" fly-by-wire focusing ring is next to useless as it's so slow to use. Spin. Spin. Spin. Zone focusing is fine, for though the camera lacks a DoF scale on the lens, there is one in the viewfinder. But that focusing ring - it's so easily moved that zone focusing becomes a chance thing. Same if we use MF and back-button focusing.

The solution was a wide rubber band around the lens to give the focusing ring some resistance - the blue thing in the picture. If you eat fresh asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower, you'll have plenty of the right sized rubber bands. Now I can use zone focusing on MF, use back-button focus and not have to worry about the focusing ring being moved by a glancing zephyr. It's a good reason to eat your veggies.


Fujifilm X-Pro1 with two Voigtlander lenses
Fujifilm X-PRO1 plus Voigtländer Color Skopar 25mm f4 and Nokton 40mm f1.4:

This camera is showing its age, but I still love it for when it is equipped with a manual lens it puts me back to my film roots. It is an upgrade from my old X-E1, which I also used with a Voigtländer lens. Absolutely love using this camera with a Voigtländer M mount lens hooked on a Fujifilm M mount adapter. If it weren't for the view screen at the back plus the lack of a film advance lever and the rewind knob, I would think I was back shooting a film camera. The hybrid OVF/EVF isn't as well executed as the one on the X100T, but I don't care. It took some fiddling to get the frame lines to show in bright conditions, but once that's figured out, we're good. If you want a Leica-like camera without the price tag, then this is it.

What I liked: Just like the X100T, the form factor is beautiful, the hybrid OVF/EVF is great, the manual controls are a delight to use, and by putting manual Voigtländer lenses on the body, I can see all of my settings at a glance. The way the OVF frame lines adapts to changing manual lenses is sheer brilliance. I can even set up the camera while it is off. It's almost the perfect street camera, but . . .

What I didn't like: It is heavy, it's noisy as its focal plane shutter thuds through its cycle, and should you want to put an AF lens on it, get used to waiting for the clunk. It is slow on AF, worse than the X100T, but MF lenses takes care of that problem. With the Voigtländer lenses, it's a marriage made in camera heaven.


Fujifilm X-T10 plus 27mm f2.8, 35mm f2.0 and 50mm f2.0:

I bought the X-T10 for those situations where I need speedy, accurate AF, plus a light, unobtrusive camera. The X-T10 looks so innocuous, that no one gives it any notice. It has all the same manual controls as its bigger brothers, so we lose nothing there. The 35mm and 50mm lenses (53mm and 76mm eq. respectively) actually have usable focusing rings as they have some built-in resistance. The 27mm f2.8 is an older lens that lacks an aperture ring. It is not weather sealed and doesn't focus as fast as the other two newer model lenses, but the 41mm equivalent focal length makes for a great street lens.

What I liked: The tilt screen lets me shoot from the waist and frame accurately. Sometimes I shoot from the hip for stealth, but I also will shoot from waist level just for the perspective. Then the tilt screen earns its paycheque. The EVF is the best one I've used to date. I don't miss an OVF with this camera.

What I didn't like: Fujifilm, where's the weather sealing? We have WR lenses, so why not on the body? I would love a high performance, weather resistant camera, but that would require an upgrade to the X-T1 to 3 series. Not going there this year, but maybe next. The focal plane shutter is noisy, though not nearly as bad as the X-PRO1. I could use the electronic shutter, but its rolling shutter effect is so bad, it would give me vertigo when looking at the results.


Panasonic DMC LX100
Panasonic Lumix DMC LX100:

I bought this camera to be my small, vacation choice to replace my Fujifilm X20 as I wanted a larger sensor camera with better manual control in about the same size. I think of this camera as what the X20 should have been. It's far from being my first choice for the street, but it does get out when its fast AF and zoom is required. I'm not a zoom fan for street photography and the 24-75 eq. power zoom on this camera is slooooow in operation, but at least I have one when I need it.

What I liked: Small, light, inconspicuous, with a fast lens, and a full suite of traditional manual controls - what's not to like. I don't shoot street video, but it does come with 4k should I need it for something else. I'm happy with the EVF, though some people complain about it. Manual focus isn't bad and the ring can be set to focus or zoom. It also lets us set the zoom to step between the standard focal lengths: 24 - 28 - 35 - 50 - 75. The lens itself is a fast 1.7f to 2.8f and that can be handy in low light.

What I didn't like: As mentioned, it is slow to zoom, plus it is also slow to power on and wake up. This is a camera where we have to anticipate the shot. A tilt screen would have been nice. It has a 16mp M43 sensor, but unfortunately in order to give it its neat framing capability, we're only using about 12MP and less sensor area. This camera isn't the best choice when we need lots of nice, bright pixels.

Olympus TG-5
Olympus TG-5:

This is my fishing camera, but I also haul it out in miserable weather conditions as it's the only still camera I own that is waterproof and shockproof.

What I liked: Small, pocketable, shock proof, waterproof, a very nice 25mm to 100mm eq. power zoom with an easy to use exposure compensation dial - it has a lot going for it.

What I didn't like: Unfortunately, all that compactness requires a ½" sensor so don't consider this camera as a great choice if you like pushing things in post. Since it is waterproof, much of its functionality is buried in its fussy menu. I like the camera, but I consider it to be my last choice as a street camera. It goes out only when there are no other options.