The best street camera?

I bought a Sony a7r3 in 2017 and I have been using it exclusively since. It has had the Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 screwed on pretty much all of the time. I can truly say that it has been my main combo for two and a half years. The only other lens I have occasionally used is the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8.

A small camera for street photography

I have previously tried many cameras, bought or borrowed, from big DSLR cameras like the Nikon D700 and D800, the Fujifilm X-E2, X100T, X-T1 and X-T2, the Leica M240 and the Sony A7R more or less in that order. Out of them all, I loved using the Fujifilm cameras and the Leica was very special too.
I purchased the Sony a7r3 for a couple of reasons : the autofocus (including the face detection), the full-frame sensor and the very compact 35mm f/2.8
Another benefit is the battery lasts all day and more…

Face detection is great !

I quickly learned that the best setting for street is continuous auto-focus (AF-C) with the lock-on flexible spot with face detection on. This setting is fabulous. I do not have any more use for AF-S !
The face detection works very well for street photography, the camera picks up faces at quite a long distance and once it it locked on, it is like a pit-bull and doesn’t let go!

The green square is the flexible focus point. Once it locks on, you are good to go.

I have also put the camera in silent shutter mode to ensure perfect discretion and with the screen opened I can frame with the screen and shoot at waist level. People don’t notice me and don’t know I’m taking a photo. Perfect!

Looking at me, not the camera.

As I said, I have had the camera for a couple of years and hardly touched any settings for my street shooting. So where is the catch?
More recently, I have been having less fun taking street photos. I have been under the impression that I cannot create anything new or different. So I looked for another lens : a bit wider (28mm) or a bit longer (50mm). I tried a few vintage manual lenses adapt onto the camera like a Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 but manual focusing is less than ideal with this camera in fast moving situations. I have tried the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 that has glowing reviews but after trying it a while, I never fell in love with it. I also find it too big.

I looked at the Sony 28mm f/2 but I have never tried it.

Then Fujifilm came out with the x-pro3. What a beautiful camera! I have kept the 35mm f/1.4 (50mm equivalent) and the 56mm f/1.2 (85mm equivalent) from my earlier Fujifilm days. I was very lucky to find a second hand model and after reading the reviews, I decided to buy it. It took me a while to set up but now I have used it for a couple of weeks, I have noticed that this great Sony a7r3 has made me very lazy. I will review the Fujifilm x-pro3 later but I can say that I am enjoying it hugely. I love the size of the lenses, the flip-down screen and obviously the film simulations. I have to put more thought into the way I want to take photos and I find myself doing much more that walking around, snapping off pictures as I walk. More of that later along with all the things it doesn’t do as well as the Sony.

Just walking and shooting.

If I had to recommend the Sony a7r3 for street photography then I would, without reserve. The autofocus is so great, I can walk and shoot in continuous autofocus without stopping or slowing down. I is the first camera I tried that could do this while locking on to my subject. The 35mm lens is very good, the pictures are sharp and clear. The 42 Mpx files are great with more than enough dynamic range. I have no intention of selling it any time soon and I will continue using it for macro photography and for my telephoto lens. Is it the best camera for street photography? Well, it is the one I have kept the longest!

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