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The 'Purist' Street Photographer!

 


Last Updated
-31st October 2019

                                                                                                                                                           

This article features the -

  • Fujifilm X100F Compact Camera

  • Leica M10-D Compact System Camera

  • Sony A7 III Compact System Camera

  • Fujifilm X-Pro3 Compact System Camera

  • Fujifilm X-E3 Compact System Camera

  • Panasonic Lumix LX100 II Compact Camera

  • Olympus E-M5 Mark III Compact System Camera

There is no doubt that using only one camera and a lens is a challenging task to satisfy your photographic needs - or is it? Sure you may miss some wide shots, especially if the lens is a 50mm but the advantages (I submit) will deliver a greater satisfaction to your street photography. I have used all sorts of lenses for street photography; from 24mm all the way up to 600mm fields of view and fitted to compact and huge DSLRs but strangely enough, it was a 55mm Helios manual focus lens fitted to a Zenit 35mm full frame film camera, that delivered the most satisfaction.

At this point, if there is anyone reading this, they might shout, "well why don't you just shoot film?" Well, I have a Nikon FM3a Film SLR camera with some Nikon manual focus lenses and I really enjoy it, but in my old age, I can't be bothered to develop at home or get my film developed - although I still bring out the Nikon on the odd occasion. Nope, and I can't even be bothered to post process digital RAW files on my computer anymore - life is too short these days, so I rather be out and about and as I am writing this, the weather outside is sheet rain.

The Fujifilm X100F Compact Camera for the Purist

The Fujifilm X100F compact camera with its 23mm (35mm field of view) fixed lens is ideal for street photography. It possesses a hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder. The optical part mimics the optical viewfinder of the Leica M series of camera. The X100F is not inexpensive at around £1,169.00 vat inclusive but a darn sight cheaper than a Leica.

I already own the
Fujifilm X100s which was announced back in January 2013 and since then Fujifilm have updated the X100s a couple of times to the X100F. Size and weight are all important if you are going to carry a camera on the street for most of the day, especially if you carry on into the night for low light photography under street lights.

New features in the FUJIFILM X100F include the Built-In ISO Dial, incorporated into the Shutter Speed Dial reminiscent of film cameras of yesteryear, the focus lever, which allows you to instantaneously move the focus area without having to take your eye off the viewfinder, and the “C” position for enabling ±5 stop exposure compensation. Most of the operation-related buttons and dials are concentrated on the right-hand side to allow quick change of settings while firmly holding the camera.

 
Check out this video -

 


Would I like a Fujifilm X100F Compact Camera - of course I would BUT I like my Fujifilm X100s and the extra cost of the model upgrade is hard to justify.

The Leica M10-D Camera for the Purist


Henri Cartier-Bresson's favourite camera system was a 35mm full frame film camera fitted with a 50mm manual focus lens. Now, many photographers believe this was the ideal lens to emulate the 'true' vision of the human eye BUT in reality, that is actually a 55mm lens. You can still purchase a 35mm film camera and there are hundreds of second hand models available as well as lenses. However, you can still adhere to the 'purist' principle with a digital camera as long as you shoot 'straight out of the camera' jpeg files. Some digital photographers even use a modern digital Leica M10-D Camera which has no LCD preview screen and is as near to a Leica film camera as you can get. The camera body costs £6,490.00 vat inclusive and a decent Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH-M Lens costs £3,135.00 vat inclusive.

Check out the Leica M10-D Camera in the video below  -

 


 

The Sony A7 III Camera for the Purist


A Leica film or digital camera still holds the crown for 'street photography' but the cost is extremely hard to justify and many photographers do not like the Leica's manual focus rangefinder system. Perhaps, a better cost option is the Sony A7 III 35mm full frame digital camera? It is a camera that can be pre-programmed for capturing colour or monochrome jpeg files by adjusting the saturation, sharpness as well as many other settings. I like the Sony A7 III camera very much, I like its compact size, light weight, manual controls and the image quality it delivers, is superb. Its LCD rear screen can be inverted into the body so that the back shown on the rear of the camera body is black plastic. The purist can then use the camera to shoot camera produced jpeg files via the electronic viewfinder without referring to the LCD screen. The Sony A7 III costs around £1,600.00 vat inclusive which compared to around £5,750.00 for a digital Leica M10 Camera Body is good value for the money.

Check out the Sony A7 III Camera in the video below  -

 


As per Camera Size.Com the sizes of the Sony A7 III and the Leica M10 are very similar -

 


The Sony A7 III can be used with autofocus and manual focus lenses. I like the idea of a 55mm lens rather than
a 50mm but I have included my choices for both. The 55mm has to be a Zeiss Sonnar T* FE f1.8 55mm Lens which attaches directly to the Sony A7 III and is an autofocus and manual focus lens. A 55mm lens is roughly equal to the perspective of the human eye. Combine this with its high speed, and the Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 will allow you to capture spontaneous photographs as they unfold before your eyes. Also perfect for portraits, this lens is perfectly matched to Sony alpha E-mount full-frame bodies and will consistently offer superlative images full of contrast in any lighting situations. Produce beautiful bokeh or extend your depth of field by stopping down – it is all about portraying the world the way you want to see it. More on this lens at the Sony Website. It costs around £699.00 vat inclusive.


My 50mm choice has to be the Zeiss Planar T* FE f1.4 50mm Lens which attaches directly to the Sony A7 III and is an autofocus and manual focus lens. The perfect all-round lens for any situation: with the new Planar T* FE 1,4/50ZA for full-frame E-mount cameras from Sony you will experience high quality throughout the entire frame right into the edges of the image – even at full aperture. At the highest aperture setting it captures stunning images in portrait quality. The highest aperture setting of 1.4 enables attractive bokeh with a low depth of field and rises to the challenge every time – even in poor light. It is precisely in these situations that its advanced optical design – featuring aspheric elements and the legendary T*®antireflective coating – allows the lens to perform at its breathtaking best and deliver pictures that will astound you. The lens is additionally equipped with an aperture ring, permitting the aperture value to be set via the camera or directly on the lens. Autofocus or manual focus? The Planar T* FE 1,4/50 ZA features a fast-action focus switch for selecting whichever mode you require. Last but certainly not least, a Super Sonic Wave Ultrasonic Motor (SSM) ensures that you never lose any time when focusing. This also makes this standard lens ideal for free-hand photography, particularly in poor light. More on this lens at the Sony Website. The Planar costs around £1,399.00 vat inclusive.

For those purists who prefer to emulate Henri Cartier-Bresson with a manual focus lens, the answer has to be a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.2 Lens with an accurate depth of field scale on the lens barrel. Ideal for manual focus and also for hyperfocal mode where you can preset the depth of field scale to suit your scene. This outstanding normal lens also has electrical contacts to communicate Exif data to the camera, as well as support 5-axis in-body image stabilization and enable focus peaking/magnification. The aperture ring has 1/3-stop clicks, but unlike the VM version, the aperture ring can also be set to stepless and silent, a great feature for videographers. The lens formula consists of eight lens elements in six groups, with two aspherical lenses. 12 aperture blades control the light yield and deliver a pleasing bokeh. The minimum focal distance is 45cm and the lens is delivered with lens hood. More on this lens at the Voigtlander Website.The Nokton costs around £939.00 vat inclusive.

There is a beautiful wildcard lens which is worthy of the attention. The Zeiss Loxia 50mm f2 Lens delivers beautiful jpeg file colours, is very sharp and has a brilliant manual focus throw.

The ZEISS Loxia® 2/50 shines in the most varied of applications, regardless of whether it’s for street photography, landscapes, portraits or spontaneous discoveries, the ZEISS Loxia 2/50 is the ideal companion for photographic and filmic exploration. ZEISS Loxia lenses were specifically designed for Sony α7 cameras. This means that they can make the most of the mirrorless, full frame system, while giving you all the creative possibilities of 'classic’ photography with manual focus at the same time.

And that’s not all: ZEISS Loxia lenses also provide everything you need to shoot high quality video, such as the unique DeClick feature for smooth adjustment of the aperture. The Loxia lens comes in at around £699.00 vat inclusive.

Many street photographers will prefer to use manual focus controls and this is where the Sony A7 III camera excels for all these lenses. Also, image stabilisation is assured with the Sony A7 III camera, thanks to its 5 axis image stabilisation system which is built into the body.


Many street photographers will prefer to use manual focus controls and this is where the Sony A7 III camera excels for all these lenses. Also, image stabilisation is assured with the Sony A7 III camera, thanks to its 5 axis image stabilisation system which is built into the body.
 

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 Camera for the Purist

I am still on the 'purist' street photographer theme and the new Fujifilm X-Pro3 compact system camera certainly lives up to it.

Fujifilm have built off from the hugely successful X-Pro2, taking on board all the suggestions and possible improvements they could to produce the impressive X-Pro3. The X-Pro3 features a powerful 26 megapixel, X-Trans IV sensor that works in tandem with the workhorse that is the X-Processor 4.

A complete redesign of the optical unit produces a clearer image whilst reducing distortion. You’ll notice a wider angle of view of 27° as well as a higher eye point, making for a more efficient and superior optical viewfinder.

I like the concealed LCD viewing screen on the back, check out these videos -

 

 

 


The X-Pro 3 has a 1.53 crop sensor so to achieve the typical 50mm field of view, I am looking for a 35mm lens which delivers a 53mm field of view - nice.

My choice would have to be the Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 R WR Lens which to my mind has the edge on the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 variant for overall sharpness. I like the size and the build quality and it is also weather resistant which is a welcome bonus.

From the Fujifilm Website - The "FUJINON XF35mm F2 R WR" offers a focal length equivalent to 53mm* with the angle of view similar to that of the human eye and a maximum aperture of F2.0. It delivers sharp images with rich bokeh. The optical construction of 9 elements in 6 groups (including two aspherical elements) achieves the perfect balance of high image quality and compact size. The lens features the smallest diameter of the line-up and thanks to the inner focus system and stepping motor, it achieves an autofocus time of just 0.08 sec**.The exterior of the lens is weather and dust-resistant and can work in temperatures as low as -10°C.

There has to be a downside and that is the cost: the X-Pro 3 camera body comes in at £1,699.00 vat inclusive, you could get a
Sony A7 III 35mm 'full frame' camera body for that price. However, the Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 lens comes in at a modest £369.00 vat inclusive.
 

The Fujifilm X-E3 Camera for the Purist

Size and weight are all important if you are going to carry a camera on the street for most of the day, especially if you carry on into the night for low light photography under street lights.

The Fujifilm X-E3 is a nice camera for the purpose of
'Street Photography'. It replaced the X-E2 after 5 years so the X-E3, which was announced in 2018, should have some shelf life before it is updated in 2023 to the X-E4?

The FUJIFILM X-E3 features a 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized X-TransTM CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processing engine for outstanding image quality and high-speed response.

 

 
Check out this video -

 


The X-E3 has a 1.53 crop sensor so to achieve the typical 50mm field of view, a 35mm lens which delivers a 53mm field of view would be ideal.

It has to be the Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 R WR Lens which to my mind has the edge on the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 variant for overall sharpness. I like the size and the build quality and it is also weather resistant which is a welcome bonus.

From the Fujifilm Website - The "FUJINON XF35mm F2 R WR" offers a focal length equivalent to 53mm* with the angle of view similar to that of the human eye and a maximum aperture of F2.0. It delivers sharp images with rich bokeh. The optical construction of 9 elements in 6 groups (including two aspherical elements) achieves the perfect balance of high image quality and compact size. The lens features the smallest diameter of the line-up and thanks to the inner focus system and stepping motor, it achieves an autofocus time of just 0.08 sec**.The exterior of the lens is weather and dust-resistant and can work in temperatures as low as -10°C.

There is no downside as the X-E3 camera body comes in at around £539.00 vat inclusive and the Fujifilm XF 35mm f2 lens comes in at a modest £369.00 vat inclusive.
 

The Panasonic LX100 II Camera for the Purist
 

For the street photographer that wants a more compact camera and yet does not want to sacrifice manual controls and decent image quality (monochrome or colour camera jpeg files) there is the Panasonic Lumix LX100 Mark II Compact Camera which costs around £799.00 vat inclusive.

 

It offers Micro/Four Thirds technology with a smaller 2x crop digital sensor and a 24-75mm (field of view) lens with a f1.8 aperture at the wide end of the zoom and f2.8 at the long end. It is ideal for general use which encompasses landscapes, portraiture and of course, street photography. The fast apertures are an added bonus and opens up the ability to shoot in low light and deliver decent images. Image stabilisation is built into the camera body for shake free shots in low light.

Its compact enough to fit into a larger pocket or in a small camera bag attached to a waist belt and the image quality from it's Leica zoom lens is ideal up to A3 print size in the ISO:100 to ISO:800 range. Smaller print sizes will allow higher ISO settings for extreme low light conditions. The icing on the cake is its 4K video capability.

To help protect the LX100 II lens from dust, dampness and scratches, you can screw fit a B+W 43mm UV filter onto the front and leave it on, even when the lens is retracted into the camera body. A third party 43mm lens cap can clip onto the filter, for when the camera is not in use.

Its a very tempting camera solution for street photography as it offers an electronic viewfinder in the camera body as well as an LCD back screen.

 

 

The Olympus E-M5 III Camera for the Purist

I have used Micro Four Thirds compact system cameras for many years and I have been loyal to Panasonic models but the new Olympus E-M5 Mark III Compact System Camera certainly ticks a number of boxes for street photography and general use.

 


The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III builds off the success of the well regarded, OM-D E-M5 MK II. The Micro Four Thirds system has been designed to provide advanced imaging capabilities in an extremely lightweight and compact shell, making it a perfect choice for enthusiasts and semi-professional photographers alike. The weather-sealed body features a large 20.4 megapixel, Live MOS sensor and a high-speed TruPicVIII image processor to match. The power of the processor, the large sensor and the 121-point phase detection AF system will allow you to capture some stunning imagery, especially when paired with Olympus M.Zuiko PRO lenses.

Furthermore, this body also features an impressive and powerful 5-axis in-body image stabilization system that makes the E-M5 Mark III even more versatile, allowing creative options for both photographers and filmmakers.

Check out these videos -

 

 


When it comes to choosing a lens, I would choose a zoom rather
than a prime. This choice is dictated by the fantastic Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm Pro Lens with its 24mm-80mm field of view, it makes for a formidable system.

Its probably all you require if you want up to A3 size prints with the ability to crop into the 40mm (80mm field of view) perspective of the zoom lens.

With its continuous aperture of f2.8 throughout the zoom range, it will provide decent image quality for an A3 size print using up to ISO:800
for low light use and under street lights at night.

Of course, smaller print sizes, captured in low light will
facilitate good image quality using the camera at up to ISO:1600 and even ISO:3200.


The Olympus E-M5 III camera body comes in at £1,099.00 vat inclusive and the Olympus ED 12-40mm f2.8 Pro zoom lens comes in at £849.00 vat inclusive.



 

If you have enjoyed this article - please donate to my Charity of Choice   -   The Sick Kids

 

Richard Lawrence
Scotland
United Kingdom

 

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