Street photography is arguably one of the most creative outlets for photographers to express themselves. The freedom is immeasurable, and street photography can provide an opportunity for exploration and adventure.
Of course, you want to be able to produce high-quality photographs in these adventures, and given the nature of street photography, mobility is a key ingredient for success. This brings us to the very purpose of this article.
Are MFT Systems Good for Street Photography?
The answer? Definitely, especially when paired with high-quality lenses. The quality of images that MFT’s can produce compete well with, and sometimes even exceed, that of full-frame DSLR cameras.
What makes them even more attractive for street photographers is their lightweight designs.
When it comes to street photography, there are a lot of things to consider. Given the candid nature of it, you’re going to want reliable gear that can produce high-quality images.
This article will help you choose the right lens for your street photography by looking at some of the best lenses on the market for this style of shooting.
What Are The Best MFT Lenses for Street Photography?
Olympus 17mm f/1.8
The first lens that we’re going to look at is the Olympus 17mm f/1.8. The fixed 17mm (34mm equivalent focal length for 35mm film), offers a field of view that very closely resembles that of human vision, which can provide a sense of presence for your audience.
When it comes to street photography, lighting is always a roll of the dice, so to speak. With an aperture range of f/1.8 to f/22, this lens provides plenty of flexibility. The f/1.8 maximum aperture can help assure high-resolution images, even when lighting is less than ideal.
Timing is another wild card, so quick and accurate autofocusing can make or break a shot.
The lens is built with a clutch mechanism that allows you to switch between auto and manual focusing quickly, which is handy. The lens does autofocus pretty quickly, however, accuracy can sometimes be an issue.
Overall, this lens is built well, and it’s built small. With a footprint of fewer than 2.5×1.5 inches and less than ½ of a pound in weight, it’s tough to get much more compact than that.
The construction is robust and sports an all-metal barrel. It does, however, lack weather sealing.
- Large maximum aperture
- Compact and light
- Takes high-quality images
- Inaccurate autofocus
- No weather sealing
Panasonic Lumix 20mm F1.7 II
Next, let’s look at the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 II. This is another lens that’s well-known for its versatility.
With a 20mm fixed focal length (40mm equivalent to 35mm film), it’s ideal for capturing just about anything, and the angle of view can encompass a great amount of scenery.
One of the biggest perks of this lens is its size. It definitely falls into the realm of “pancake” lenses with dimensions of 2×1 inches. It’s also incredibly light, and less than 2/10ths of a pound. Not only is it incredibly convenient, but it also produces some incredible photos.
With an aperture range of f/1.7 to f/16, it provides more than sufficient creative control with lighting and can capture high-res images in lower lighting settings.
The build of the lens is also more than reasonable, featuring a metal body and a hard plastic focusing ring. Focusing is probably the weakest point of this lens. It is reported to autofocus pretty slowly, relative to its competitors, and with some accuracy issues. That aside, it is still one of the best lenses on the market for street photography.
- Ultra-compact design
- Smooth bokeh effects
- High-res image quality
- Slow/inaccurate autofocusing
- No weather sealing
Panasonic Lumix 25mm F1.7
The Lumix 25mm f/1.7 is another fantastically flexible lens that is great for street photography.
The maximum aperture of f/1.7 is great for isolating your subjects and creating a more cinematic feel. With an aperture range of f/1.7 to f/22, there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to lighting.
With an equivalent focal length of 50mm for a full-frame sensor, it is ideal for those who are not comfortable enough to get close to their subjects. And it will get you a tighter composition compared with the previous lenses we’ve talked about.
Similar to the previous Lumix lens we discussed, autofocusing tends to be a little on the slower side, although it is reported to be a bit more on the accurate side compared to the previous 20mm lens.
When it comes to build quality and size, this lens still delivers at under half of a pound and has dimensions of about 2×2.5 inches. It’s very minimalistic, with no buttons, scales, or other features beyond the manual focus ring.
The manual focus ring is pretty ergonomic at ¾ of an inch thick and provides for strong control and quick manual focusing.
, this lens is definitely up to the challenge. Images are incredibly sharp through the entire aperture range.
This lens can definitely be relied on for capturing those candid moments that are synonymous with street photography and would make a handy addition to any street photographer’s go-bag.
- Sharp images through the aperture range
- Round bladed aperture
- No weather-sealing
- Comparably slow autofocus
- No depth of field display for manual focus
Olympus 25mm F1.2 PRO
The Olympus 25mm f/1.2 PRO is another 50mm equivalent, and, like the Lumix lens we discussed, it’s definitely versatile and great for street photography. Now, let’s take a dive into the features that really make this lens stand out.
For a 25mm MFT lens, you might find this one to be a little on the larger side, at about 3×3.5 inches. Even then, the slightly larger size is probably negligible for what the lens delivers.
With a large f/1.2 max aperture, this lens is definitely going to perform in situations where lighting isn’t supreme. The construction of the lens provides unparalleled image sharpness, even at the maximum f/1.2 aperture.
This lens also has a 9-bladed round aperture diaphragm, which is perfect for isolating your subject through smooth and pleasant background blurring.
As for focusing, the super-fast autofocus of this lens makes it a perfect companion for capturing those candid shots when speed matters.
This lens is known, not only for focusing quickly but with a high degree of accuracy. The focus ring does have a built-in “snapping” feature that allows for quick switching between auto and manual focusing as well.
Overall, this lens is built with quality in mind. Despite its slightly larger size and weightiness, it’s still compact enough to be conveniently transported.
It also comes built with a weather seal, which can be an important feature in street photography.
- Large maximum aperture
- 9-bladed round diaphragm
- Weather sealed
- On the larger side for MFT lenses
At the end of the day, any one of the four lenses that we discussed is going to be well suited for street photography. They all provide high-resolution, sharp images that are bright and clear. The portability of MFT cameras and these lenses makes them ideal for anyone rummaging through their city to try and capture the ins and outs of everyday human life. As an artist, you want your work to be of high quality and enjoyable, and these four lenses can definitely lend themselves to that ambition.