Street photography is a genre that captures candid moments of everyday life in public spaces. It requires a lens that can handle fast-moving subjects, low-light situations, and varied angles to capture the surroundings. If you shoot with a Sony mirrorless camera, there are several Sony lenses and lenses from other brands that you can use to achieve the perfect look for your street photography portfolio.
In this article, we will be exploring the best Sony lenses for street photography — based on their performance, versatility, and value for money. Whether you are a beginner or a professional photographer, these lenses will help you take stunning street photographs with your Sony camera.
Before we get to the lenses, though, here are some other articles you may be interested in:
Let’s get straight to the products now.
1. Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens
Focal length: 16mm | Aperture: f/1.4
The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens has a focal length that provides a wide field of view, ideal for capturing the surroundings and atmosphere of a street scene. If you’re someone who generally captures ultra-wide shots with several elements in the frame, this lens will serve you well. Since it’s a fast lens, it lets in a lot of light while giving you a superb bokeh.
Most of the reviews on Amazon corroborate what we said about the lens. While it’s not cheap, it’s priced well for a lens of this quality. Apart from street photography, you can also utilize this lens for vlogging since it gives you a wide perspective and has built-in auto-focus. The image clarity and low-light performance are its biggest strengths.
Why you should buy: If you want a sharp lens with excellent bokeh, this is the best option.
2. YONGNUO 85mm f/1.8 Prime Lens
Focal length: 85mm | Aperture: f/1.8
One excuse to use a lens with a tight focal length is that it lets you focus on a single subject instead of a crowded scene. Another reason to be using the 85mm focal length is that it’s suitable for shooting from a distance, which can help avoid attention from your subject. So technically, you can use it to capture wide-angle shots too, but you will have to take a few steps back.
The brand claims that the Yongnuo YN85mm comes with a multi-coated optical system that helps to reduce flare and ghosting. This should ideally result in images with good contrast and clarity. If you generally click pictures on streets with a lot of lighting, signage, and flare, this additional inclusion will surely come in handy. As per the reviews, this is one of the best value-for-money lenses with the image quality matching that of lenses that cost even up to 5X more.
Why you should buy: An 85mm lens like this is the best for portraits or clicking close-up objects and signage on the street from far off.
3. Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens
Focal length: 50mm | Aperture: f/1.8
One of the biggest reasons you should get this Sony prime lens for street photography, especially at night, is the presence of OSS. OSS or Optical Steady Shot is Sony’s image stabilization mechanism built into the lens. It’s an excellent feature to have if you’re shooting handheld without a tripod, or you’re capturing images in low light with a slow shutter speed. OSS helps in keeping your shots steady even when filming.
Apart from that, the f/1.8 aperture also comes in handy when shooting in dimly lit scenarios. The 50mm focal length is ideal meaning it’s not too tight nor is it too wide. You can take a few steps back to get a wide shot, or get close to a subject and then crop in further in the post if you want to achieve a macro shot. Since the lens captures a great amount of detail, you get the advantage of zooming in after taking the shot without losing much detail.
Why you should buy: If you’re looking for a versatile lens that can serve multiple purposes, this is the one.
4. Sony 35mm f/1.8 Lens
Focal length: 35mm | Aperture: f/1.8
There’s no doubt that Sony’s first-party lenses are some of the best in terms of quality. So, if you’re looking for a lens with a slightly wider focal length and a compact body, you should consider the Sony 35mm f/1.8. The wide aperture lets in a lot of light and the fact that the lens is pretty small makes it easy to carry with you even when you’re traveling.
You can pick either of the two lenses between the 50mm prime and the 35mm one from Sony. Both are going to give you similar results with the only difference being the focal length. If you’re someone who liked to punch in more or wants to get closer to your subject while being far, we would recommend the 50mm lens. If you want a wider perspective with more elements in the frame, the 35mm lens is for you.
Why you should buy: The 50mm can be too close a crop for many. So, if you want a first-party lens with a wide aperture, the Sony 35mm can be a good pick.
5. SAMYANG 35mm f/1.4 Series II Lens
Focal length: 35mm | Aperture: f/1.4
Street photography includes shooting in different weather conditions and scenarios. If you plan to shoot in the rain or when it’s snowing outside, your best bet is to get a lens that has some level of weather sealing. The Samyang lens has weather sealing at 4 spots to protect it from harsh weather conditions. It also has a focus hold button and a secondary button that can be assigned to just about any function of your choice.
The major difference in terms of optics between the Samyang 35mm lens and the Sony one is in terms of the aperture and OSS. The Samyang Series II lens has a wide f/1.4 aperture which is great for low-light street photography. However, the Sony one hits right back with OSS for better stabilization. If you ask us, we would say that the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 lens is one of the best 35mm lenses out there for street photography.
Why you should buy: This is an excellent lens that has an ideal focal length for street photography along with an extremely wide aperture of f/1.4.
6. Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens
Focal length: 28-75mm | Aperture: f/2.8
The biggest advantage of this Tamron lens is that it can go all the way from 28mm to 75mm which gives you an extremely wide range of focal lengths to play with. The widest aperture is still f/2.8 which isn’t the best for low-light situations but the lens still holds its own. It’s the most expensive lens on this list simply because it does the job of multiple lenses in your kit bag.
While the details captured by this lens during street photography are excellent, the reviews point towards one flaw that can affect your buying decision — the lens has quite a lot of vignetting towards the corners. While this isn’t a deal-breaker for a lot of users, it may be for you depending on the type of images you click.
Why you should buy: Easily one of the most versatile cameras for street photography that you can buy. You’re getting a wide range of focal lengths to play with.
Own the Streets
Clicking candid pictures on the street can be an amazing experience and the shots that you get out of it can be even better. If you too want to dip your toes in this genre, here are some of the best Sony lenses for street photography that you should definitely consider.