Best camera for street photography - DSLR vs CSC vs Compact

Olympus pen e-p3

It's not an easy decision to make, because each camera has a good set of pros to make it seem the most attractive. However, in terms of balancing overall performance with ease of use and practicality, we're drawn most towards the compact system camera.

That said, if you want to create a serious set of images, perhaps for a portfolio or more dedicated project, a DSLR fitted with a couple of different lenses, such as a macro lens, will help you get some fantastic shots that you can be really proud of.

The compact camera is a great fun choice, and depending on the model you own you may find creative filters, a decent set of manual control and a good zoom range will give you everything you need.

Overall, managing to finely balance the line between portability and creative control, a CSC should have everything you need for a fun day of shooting, without having to be weighed down with a kit bag full of lenses, tripods and other shooting paraphernalia.

Using a camera with a touchscreen is a great bonus in this kind of situation, so you may want to consider models such as the Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Panasonic GF3, G3, GH2 or GX1. The touchscreen means you can quickly change autofocus points, speedily access menu options and in some cases even release the shutter.

If you're likely to be visiting a market after-dark, the bigger sensors on board Samsung and Sony compact system cameras may give you the edge over the micro four thirds models by Panasonic and Olympus, so it's worth considering the Sony NEX-5N, and the Samsung NX200. However, it's also true to say that contrast detection performance, as used on cameras such as this, dips in lower light situations, so it's here that the DSLR will again have the edge.

When using a DSLR or a CSC, it's important to consider the focal length of your lens. With bustling crowds, longer length lenses will allow you pick out interesting details from afar ( though you may find you need a high vantage point), while wider angles are good for setting the scene.

Additional photographs by Ali Jennings.

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.