Aperture Club blog

Smartphone vs. DSLR: What’s the best camera for street photography?

15th April 2021

As The Aperture Club has a large selection of both smartphone, DSLR and Mirrorless camera users we thought we would pose the question.

Who doesn’t love a beautiful photo of the bustling city life? From vintage black and white film photos to modern street shots, street photography has kept its hold over our hearts through the years. Our cities keep evolving, but our love for well-composed and intriguing street photos remains unchanged.

But it’s not just our cities that have evolved over the years – the equipment street photographers use has vastly improved too. As a modern photographer looking to get into street photography in 2021, you might be wondering if you need to capture your street photos with a high-quality DSLR camera, or if your trusty smartphone can produce the same results.

So, should you choose a smartphone or DSLR camera for your next street photography shoot? We asked the photography experts at Ted’s Cameras to help you pick the best option.


Can you use your smartphone for street photography?

We will start this off by saying that not all smartphone cameras are created equal. While older smartphones might not be up to par, the quality of smartphone cameras has vastly improved over the last years, and recent high-end models are able to capture high-quality images. But are they the best cameras for street photography? Let’s see.


DSLRs cameras produce better quality images

For capturing high-quality photographs in various lighting conditions, you will not find a better option than a Digital SLR camera. Even the basic entry-level DSLR camera from Canon or Nikon will feature a large APS-C sized image sensor, which is able to capture higher-quality images than a smartphone – this is most evident when conditions are darker and you need to shoot at a higher ISO setting.

DSLR cameras have advanced settings

DSLR cameras also offer more advanced options and settings that enthusiast-level photographers can use to fine-tune their images. For example, adjusting the aperture and shutter speed settings to experiment with the depth of field of an image or to intentionally introduce blur (all very common street photography techniques) are easy to do on a DSLR and cannot be replicated fully on a phone.

You can pair your DSLR with advanced street photography equipment

DSLR cameras are compatible with a wide range of accessories, including flash guns and various camera lenses. This means you can combine it with more sophisticated street photography equipment, and can change up your lens until you find the best lens for street photography. You can mount a wide-angle lens on your camera and get up close and personal with subjects while still fitting everything in your frame, or you reach for your telephoto lens to keep at a distance and capture candid street portraits.

The downside of all of this versatility is, of course, it is much trickier to blend into the crowd with a full DSLR kit. As has often been the case, photographing in public is a special skill

set; you will need to get used to being noticed and explaining to wary passers-by why you are taking photos.

So, which one should I choose?

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to capturing great street photography. Ultimately, choosing the best street photography equipment comes down to what is most important to you.

Do you value being able to snap a street photo anytime, anywhere? Then smartphone photography is made for you, and there are plenty of phones with high-end cameras to choose from.

If functionality and brilliant image quality is king in your book, then a DSLR camera will be a better street photography camera for you.

Set yourself up for great street photography with the right lens

As we mentioned previously, there are many different lenses available for DSLR cameras, so you can decide which is best for you. Traditionally, street photographers go for wide-angle or prime lenses, as it allows them to get amongst the action without cropping important details from their images. 50mm lenses or wider are great camera lenses for street photography. If you want a little more versatility, a standard zoom lens will cover a similar focal length but allow you to adjust your framing without moving your feet.

If you are using your phone, you can also pick up a smartphone lens kit for a budget-friendly price. Try the wide-angle option as discussed above, but also give the other lenses (such as fish-eye or telephoto) a chance. You can even grab a 10-in-1 smartphone lens kit and see where this creativity takes you.

Whichever option you choose, you can shop all of the street photography equipment you need at Ted’s Cameras. Head over to their site to browse their cameras and lenses, or read their blog for more photography advice!


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