Ok so let me clarify...At the moment these are the three cameras currently in my possession. Now down the road I've had many cameras, Fuji X Pro1, Leica M6, Sony Nex 6, even a Canon DSLR! And I know why have three? And why these three?
Well I'll try and explain a little something about the notion of the best camera for the streets. Of course lets get the "the one you have with you" out of the way, well no shit! You've got your phone with you right? So in theory you don't need a proper camera?
Well if you're a photographer... Novice, enthusiast or whatever then playing with the camera is half the fun, lenses, manual control, auto iso...Whatever it is let's face it, we like to learn and play. Sorry but a phone just doesn't cut it for me.
So why these three? Well the truth is they all offer me totally different experiences, different feelings and expression. Each one definitely takes my day shooting on a different journey, and that again is part of the fun.
So lets break it down in no particular order...
- Ricoh GR -
Without doubt the most compact discreet camera. If you like to go unoticed or you're in fact a little nervous (nothing wrong with that) then this little thing will work out well. It's so customisable it's amazing. In use quickly changing aperture, shutter speed etc is so simple, and switching between auto focus and snap focus is a dream (if you don't know what snap focus is best google it, it'll change your life when using this camera)
Image quality is brilliant for something that feels like it shouldn't have the cheek to take such good shots, and this cost me £300 from Amazon brand new!! It'll fit inside the smallest of pockets and really... You can be stood next to someone and they won't notice you snapping away.
2. Leica M240
So I appreciate not everyone is going to blow the cash on something as expensive as a Leica M. For me this was must have, my dream camera, and let me tell you it doesn't disappoint. For the purest from of photography from my three this is it. You've got to work at it, be confident to get the camera unto your eye and of course you need to know what you're doing.
When I go out onto the streets with this camera, my experience is totally different from the Ricoh. Using the Leica requires much more consideration, much more time spent looking at what I actually want to shoot, opposed to going hell for leather and click click clicking the shutter button. It's no bad thing either, sometimes the temptation out there on the streets with your auto focus set, auto iso set is just to take pictures of everybody and everything. Now I know this is more about you and me than the camera itself, but take away that option all together or in part and it makes your experience different. You do find yourself emerged in a different world of photography, and I'd say a more difficult one sometimes. think less shots and potentially more misses, but when you nail it, you'll have the keeper that you craved so long for. And image quality is simply fantastic.
3. Olympus Pen F
I've only had this camera a week at the time of writing, so forgive the limited thoughts. First off this is such a thing of beauty, the size the layout of the buttons and dials and build quality really feels impressive, and it's capable. I wanted to add a camera with a fully adjustable back screen, a touch screen with touch focus and even touch focus and shoot. This camera has it. I also wanted something with a quick autofocus and again it seems this works well. The thing that has so far amazed me about this camera is the out of camera Jpegs and the amount of finessing you can actually do in camera.
Some will call it gimmicky I'm sure, but with its Wifi capabilities, a day out on the town makes this really fun. Walk, shoot, grab a coffee and instantly send your pics to your phone for upload to twitter, Instagram or the social media platform of your choosing. And believe me when I say I usually shoot Raw, post produce a little before posting anywhere, but honestly if I get a shot I like on the Olympus, the out of camera Jpegs are awesome!
So in conclusion... You'll hear lots of advice telling you not to get too bogged down with constantly switching your gear, and while I do believe this, don't be afraid to let the camera experience guide your experience. Ultimately you will pick the one for you, and yes the camera doesn't make you take better pictures, but the joy of learning how to use a new one and get the best from it can definitely be part of the joy of street photography.
You can see more focused reviews of the Ricoh and Leica M by clicking these links.