Best camera for street photography - DSLR vs CSC vs Compact

For our shootout, we used a Nikon D3100 with the standard kit-lens attached. There are many pros to consider when using a DSLR for this type of shooting scenario, but you need to bear in mind that due to the quick pace of a market, you will need to be up to speed with all the key controls on your camera.

While a DSLR isn't as discreet to use as the other models, which may not be beneficial for street-style photography, others may find that "hiding" behind the viewfinder is preferable to composing the shot using a screen.


  • Attractive depth of field effects for highlighting details
  • No shutter lag
  • Wide range of lenses available (telephoto optics are good if you want to keep your distance)
  • (Some have) an articulated screen for shooting awkward scenarios
  • Overall better tone and colour
  • Wider dynamic range
  • Easy to switch to and use manual focus
  • Can shoot in raw format


  • Not very discreet
  • Kit lenses generally aren't fantastic quality
  • Slow to use when using Live View
  • You need to have a greater understanding of the kit for best results

As you might expect, we found the images produced on the DSLR were the most realistic, produced the best colours and allowed us to experiment with creative settings such as controlling the depth of field with ease. If you can stretch to a macro f/2.8 lens or 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens, you are likely to see even better results. However of course, this does come at the expense of having to lug heavy and expensive kit around.

Street photography - dslr

Street photography - dslr

Street photography - dslr

Street photography - dslr

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.