Anyone used a small DSLR for street photography?

Discussion in 'Pentax DSLR Forum' started by vincechu, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. vincechu

    vincechu SC Veteran

    316
    Sep 14, 2010
    Just wondered it anyone has used or is using a small DSLR for street photography.

    I'm currently trying to get into street and candid photography and have a LX5 and K5.

    With the LX5 I feel much more confident with taking street photos, especially with all the paranoia surrounding terrorisim here in the UK. But sometimes I just want that extra IQ. So I've started taking out the K5, but I have to say I'm pretty nervous about it, though its likely to be all in my head. Also at times it feels like it just makes me too noticeable to subjects on the street.

    I have to say though, the more I take the K5 out the more confident I feel about using it on the street. This also applies if I'm out with friends, I guess it just makes me feel as though I don't stand out as much.

    Does anyone have similar experiences?

    I'd appreciate any tips on how I should go about streetshooting too (I try to shoot at the hip with liveview, but with mixed results. I miss the tilt/swiver screen of my sold G1!)
     
  2. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    Tried this with my K20D. Failed miserably. Just too bulky and heavy....neck goes numb after an hour or so. Tried the LX5....was OK, but the zoom was an issue - I could have practised more with it stuck on 35mm I suppose. Manual zone-focussing from the hip with the Sigma DP2 is my preferred street method nowadays - that manual focus wheel is just made for that style of shooting. No compromise on dSLR IQ, quiet and with close-to-zero shutter lag....just have to keep practising my hip-level framing.
     
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  3. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    Dave Beckermann uses a Canon Rebel (the T1i) and a Sigma 30mm. Bruno Abarca uses several cameras: a Canon S90, a Canon 40D and a Canon 1000D. I have seen a video about street photographers and it showed Leanne Staples using a Nikon D300 and a monopod. There are many others using a DSLR. There are a lot of myths about street photography, but it is always the photographer and not the gear which makes the difference. Use what you are confident with and which works best for you.
     
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  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Canon 50D and 500D. If you're comfortable with your camera and what you're doing there is no reason you can't use a DSLR, large or small. The larger 50D is actually my preference out of the two mainly because I prefer the control interface.
     
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  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Lots of fine street photography has been done with DSLRs (and SLRs before that). But, man, the LX5 is one sweet little street camera. Particularly in good light, I can't imagine wanting better IQ for street photography, but then I tend to shoot B&W and sometimes add grain if there isn't enough of it in the initial file, so I'm easy to please in that regard! But you can stick it in hyperfocal mode and even at f4 have almost unlimited DOF, you can shoot absolutely silently with it. Not many downsides until the light goes down. At which point its still a surprisingly good camera but not so much for quicker reaction type shooting and getting moving subjects, as is very often the case with street shooting. Then again, at night, fewer people will see you aiming that DSLR at them! So, give it a try and you'll find where your comfort level is.

    -Ray
     
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  6. vincechu

    vincechu SC Veteran

    316
    Sep 14, 2010
    Thanks for the responses everyone, much appreciated.

    Stillshunter - the weight of the K5 does take its toll on me, I tend to switch between holding it in my left, then right hand then around my neck to get around getting achey, though it is a bit of a hassle at times. I know how you feel about using zooms for street. I find sticking to one focal length helps me picture my image in my head before capturing it, if that makes sense? For example with my 31ltd prime on k5 I know pretty much exactly how much of what I see will be in the photo.

    Pictor - Its great to see you active here, I remember you gave me alot of very good advice on mu-43 when I decided to sell my m4/3rds gear last summer. Thanks for taking the time to embed the links too. I agree about the myths of street photography, and I'm slowly learning it is the way the photographer behaves which has a big impact on how noticeable they are and that my 'worries' are in my head.

    Luckypenguin - Thanks, I guess I just need to get out and shoot more with my k5 to boost my confidence, sounds like I'm being just being too overly cautious and worrying too much about being noticed - guess its just paranoia in my head.

    Ray - Your comment is so true, and exactly what I'm experiencing! I totally agree that the LX5 is sweet for street. I too use the hyperfocal mode and its brilliant and discrete. As you said its not too great until light levels drop, which is why I like using the K5 when there's less available light for its high ISO performance. By the way if you haven't already enabled it, try using the zoom resume and focus resume functions, great when you turn off the lx5 and turn it back on again and don't want to set your focal length and hyperfocal distance settings again/
     
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  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I'm all over it. I generally leave it in my default mode of 35mm step zoom, f4, and the focus set for hyperfocal. Flip it off and when I turn it on, it comes back up in the same place (although it takes a couple of seconds extra). One thing to keep in mind is that the DOF scale they give you is a bit conservative (as is the the one on the X100, from what I'm reading). So if you set it with the right edge of the DOF 'bar' on the infinity mark, your short focal point is actually going to be a bit farther out than it should be - up to a few feet. So I leave the right edge of the DOF bar a couple of ticks shy of infinity and this seems to approximate the hyperfocal distance the DOF calculators will give you. I even set up a tripod and measure it off to find the right focal points for a couple of different settings and in each case, this left the DOF bar a little to the left of the infinity mark. So, I might possibly miss infinity focus but when I'm shooting on the street I'd rather miss infinity than miss something happening 3-4 feet in front of me...

    -Ray
     
  8. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    My pleasure Vince. Mate you certainly have the best Pentax can offer! The FA31 has been a dream of mine for some time, but as I grappled with the reality that Pentax was not going FF any time soon, I opted for the DA35 - which is also a superb collection of glass and metal. I'll be shedding my Pentax gear shortly - for the very 'pain in the neck' reasons that you mentioned earlier, so please keep an eye on the FS section.

    As other's have said, the choice of camera on the street is irrelevant. It's all down to the person carrying the load. I have a good friend on another forum (PF) that is a great street photographer and did all his work with an old K10D and now works with a K7....begrudgingly as he preferred the outputs of the old K10D.

    So I spoke purely from a position of personal preference. dSLRs just don't suit my style....and maybe if I had stronger shoulders then it would be perfect for me :blush:
     
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  9. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Javier, who participates frequently in this forum, is a fantastic street photographer, and I believe he uses a Pentax DSLR and a variety of film SLRs, among his various compacts.

    Regards,

    Antonio
     
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  10. Nikon D90 with either the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 or Nikkor 18-105mm zoom. The zoom is a bit obvious but as a fairly standard kit lens, in most environments, no one really cares. It has the right amount of reach and width for a wide variety of circumstances.

    The 50mm f/1.8 is a good shoot from the waist lens although not being a wide angle lens, you do tend to get a lot of shots to throw away.

    Just about any cropped sensor camera with a prime in the range of 24mm to 50mm should get you fairly discrete shots when shooting from the waist.
     
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  11. vincechu

    vincechu SC Veteran

    316
    Sep 14, 2010
    Ray - thanks for the heads up RE hyperfocus on the LX5 - your tip should come in handy in situations where I need more DOF and especially when I'm trying to maximise DOF and sharpness for crisper photos, I've been occassionally plagued abit by poor use of DOF.

    Stillshunter - Thanks, I consider myself very fortunate with my pentax gear. I got the K5 on a cashback offer which saved me 10% off the most competitive price I could find, and found an amazing deal on the 31ltd new (1/3 off the usual price!), sold my Panny G1 and saved up since last summer until Feb to afforded the K5 and 31. At times I feel I'm not worthy of such great gear (and at times consider selling it), which is why I can often be found asking for C&C on my photos or asking questions about technical aspects of my photography. Thanks for the heads up about your gear, I'm still feeling the pinch from buying the K5 and 31ltd, but maybe the exchange rate will help me out when you come to sell. Gear is always a matter of personal preference and you're right, shoot with what you're happy - gear is but a tool, its the photographer who counts. Btw your friend has some absolute stunners in the pentax gallery! his shots with the K100D put me and my K5 to shame lol

    Antonio - many thanks, I shall keep an eye out for his work and posts on the forum.

    Peter - some good points there. I totally agree about using a prime and shooting from the hip. I find a prime helps me to know roughly what will be captured even without using the viewfinder.
     
  12. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Yeah, I think Javier has a K20D which isn't small. There's also a few guys on the photography-on-the-net forums who do heaps of streetshots in NY using Canon SLRs of various descriptions. I wouldn't expect to use an SLR as discretely as an LX5, but then there is no rule that says that all street style photography has to be discrete.
     
  13. MrMLK

    MrMLK New to SC

    3
    Apr 10, 2011
    I've recently gotten a Ricoh GXR/50mm, and I think its a great choice for street work, particularly when I add the EVF.

    I think you can certainly use a DSLR, but I find I am more comfortable taking pictures of strangers with a camera that is less intimidating.
     
  14. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    Bruce Gilden does not use a DSLR and is not discrete. Dave Beckermann uses a DSLR and is discrete. It is not the camera but the photographer. While it might be easier to do street with a small camera than with a Nikon D3, the main factor is the photographer when it comes to being discrete. Using a compact won't help much, if one lurks around as if one has some something to hide. In this case the small compact could possibly be a factor which raises more suspicion. I think, that it depends much more on ones body language than on ones camera.
     
  15. vincechu

    vincechu SC Veteran

    316
    Sep 14, 2010
    MrMLK i totally agree with your point about smaller cameras, like your gxr, being less intimidating and that they help me feel more comfortable too, I've started carry my lx5 and K5 in my bag when I go street shooting now, so I can switch between them depending how i feel.

    Pictor - very wise words as always, much appreciated - thanks! I particularly like this
    If I think about it logically, its true that if one's body language is more calm it raises less suspicion. I've tended to do things really quickly out of nervousness, and always conceal my K5 when I can, so you've given me some good ideas about improving my body language whilst shooting street - many thanks :)
     
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  16. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    The topic bounced around a bit but we get onto the subject of the relevance (or not) of the type of camera you use for street photography on mu-43

    Street photography and privacy
     
  17. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    If the camera is visible, people who don't want to be photographed will have a chance to move away or to signal to you that photographing them is not ok. Just a thought.
     
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    In any even remotely crowded area, there are so many little cell phone cameras and small p&s cameras being used all the time, that I don't think people give them a second thought. I think most folks accept, somewhere in the back of their minds, that they're going to be in any number of photographs taken in public places, and don't really think about it. But there's something about the sense of purpose associated with someone pointing a big, imposing looking camera at you that is somehow more threatening or at least noticeable, and can draw much more of a reaction, whether positive or negative. If you're after that reaction and that type of interaction, then its the right camera. If you're not, it may not be. I think part of this has to do with how the camera is being held. A cell phone camera or point and shoot is generally held out in front of the shooter and doesn't obscure the shooter's face. As such, the subjects in the field of view tend to see you as a person more than as a photographer. A camera directly plastered to someone's face gives off a whole different vibe - that THING is pointing at me - not that PERSON is looking at me. This is just a theory of mine - I don't believe studies have been done that would back it up or refute it, but I know its how I react to people in public. There's something very different about a camera-headed person looking in my general direction than an actual human face looking in my general direction, even if they may happen to also have a camera pointing toward me.

    And probably based on my own perception, my comfort level in shooting on the street is much higher when my face is open to all rather than being shielded by a camera. Which is a big reason I'm so comfortable shooting street with the Nex, which doesn't have to be anywhere near my face when I'm shooting with it and pretty much never is. And this is my entire concern about how much I'll enjoy using the X100 for this type of photography. Because if the OVF is the point of this camera, then the camera will be in my face a lot. Which works for many types of photographs but doesn't seem to for street shooting, at least for me. But I'm anxious to find out!

    In my youth I did a bit of street shooting with my Pentax SLR, but I never thought about stuff like this and these were the kinds of cameras that pretty much everyone was shooting with back then. Since I've had a smaller camera in my hand, the idea of street shooting with a DSLR just wouldn't even cross my mind.

    -Ray
     
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  19. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Dan
    Pictor, I love the video you linked. However, I'm not sure that is typical of street photography. The scene is a holiday with kids everywhere in costumes so there is the sense that photographers are expected and welcomed. Everyday street photography may be different. Of course, it goes without saying that you are right about it being the photographer not the equipment. Also that film raises the question in my mind about possible differences in public perceptions between male land female street photographers. I would be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on that. Are male street photographers perceived differently than females?
     
  20. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Mark
    :bravo-009: These were my thought precisely. Well said Ray.

    It also affirms, well to me anyway, that camera size is also not so important. I've seen some excellent candid street photos taken with bigger MF TLR and SLR boxes including - like the old Yashicamat or 'Blads. Seems that subjects don't so readily associate the action of a photog looking down into a camera, with the lens being pointed directly at them. Maybe there's something in getting a reflective flip-screen for your chosen street camera - be it compact or SLR. Hmmm....makes me think more that the angle EVF - of Oly and Richoh GX200 fame - might also be a welcome addition.