Recently I bought Canon 1200D with 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses. I am interested in street photography.

I would like to know which lens I should use. I don't want to buy a new one right now (maybe later). Which settings should I use?

I read lots of article about same and found 35mm lens is the best one.

Please advise?

Settings means

Within one week of use, I like to capture photo with manual mode. But, we won't get enough time to change the settings in street and we'll miss the shot.

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    Possible duplicate of What is a good focal length for street photography?
    – mattdm
    Apr 2, 2016 at 9:01
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    Maybe you should try and see for yourself ?
    – Olivier
    Apr 2, 2016 at 10:39
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    The Canon 1200D is 'just fine' to start with - and apart from low-light ability may last you indefinitely depending on what you like - ie lower light favours cameras wityh better low light sensitivity. No hurry!. | The 18-55mm is liable to be more flexible to start. It is much better for walking amongst people at close range. The 55-250 has it's place for 'fly on the wall' photos. BUT - just get out there and do it - see what you like. Play. Have fun. | Report back. |Search this site for "street photography" - LOTS of material Apr 3, 2016 at 3:33

5 Answers 5


You won't find a single "correct" answer. The focal length you select is a personal preference.

Do you want to be up close in your subjects face or do you like to be more low key and further away? Do you want tighter shots of scenes or more sweeping to tell a story? These are only some of the questions you can ask yourself to begin to answer this question.

Since no one can answer this for you, I would recommend simply taking your already adequate equipment out and start shooting. After you have captured some images, you can review them later in photography software and determine what focal length was used on your zoom lenses. This may help you to better gauge what to use in the future for the types of images you desire.

To summarize, go out and start taking pictures!

  • Settings:- I loving capturing photos in Manual mode, And I don't think we'll get enough time change the settings in street, we'll miss the shot, that's why I asked about settings
    – Miqdad Ali
    Apr 4, 2016 at 9:25
  • @MiqdadAli I purposely didn't answer the question about setting as it should be its own question not a second question added to the end of this one.
    – dpollitt
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:34

Recently I bought Canon 1200D with 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses. I am interested in street photography.

Hate to say it, but I think you bought the wrong gear. But that's just me with my specific ideas of what street photography is or should be (prefer street shooters like David Salomons), where the photography is typically done with a wider lens than normal, and the context of the street around the subject is as much the focus of the image as the subject.

In this situation, you may want a camera that's a bit more discreet (i.e., less noticeable) than a dSLR combination. Most of these types of shooters prefer a mirrorless or large-sensor compact camera with a fixed lens, like the Fuji X100T, Fuji X70, Ricoh GR, Nikon Coolpix A, etc. etc. But this assumes you want wide angle street photography.

If this is your primary reason for buying an expensive camera and you intend to focus your efforts exclusively in this area, you may want to consider whether you should return the gear you just bought and get something better-suited to what you want to do.

That's not to say you can't do street shooting with a 1200D. And there are a lot of other things a 1200D does those cameras can't. Some folks define street photography as street portraiture which is done more with longer lenses from a distance. For this, the 1200D is probably a better choice with the 55-250 lens.

I would like to know which lens should I use, I don't want to buy new one right now (may be later).... I read lots of article about same and found 35mm lens is the best one.

35mm isn't the best--it's simply the most popular focal length/field of view that many street photographers prefer. But some like to go wider to 24mm, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of the photojournalistic style that is street photography, used a 50mm most of the time.

Remember, too, that 35mm is the full-frame equivalent. On a crop-body camera like the 1200D, this would be closer to 24mm (24mm x 1.6 => 38.4mm). Just as a 50mm on full frame is closer to a 35 on crop, and a 24 on full frame is closer to 16mm on crop.

Possibly one lens to consider if you stick with the 1200D, is the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM. It's incredibly small and will help the camera be more discreet. But again, this will all depend on what it turns out works best for you. I'd recommend shooting with your 18-55, and then later analyzing the EXIF information of your shots to see if there's any specific focal length where you sit.

Which settings I should use?

No one can tell you this. This is absolutely an it depends type of situation and you need to learn your camera and settings on your own to discover what best suits in each situation. But as a starting point, Weegee used to say "f/8 and be there". :) F/8 is a small aperture setting and will require a lot of light, but it also gives you a very deep depth of field, so focusing is far less critical, and it will be using your kit lenses close to their sweet spot (where they're the sharpest). Given that street doesn't give you a lot of time to take the shot, you may not want to be fumbling around with achieving focus lock to get the shot.

  • Thank you @inkista, I bought this camera because it's basic model, and I don't want to spend more now as I am beginner. And about settings, I always like to shoot in manual mode, but in street I don't think we'll get enough time to set the exposure value, that's why I asked about settings.
    – Miqdad Ali
    Apr 4, 2016 at 9:24
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    @MiqdadAli, I mentioned the other cameras, because they may cost less than your 1200D twin lens kit, and as fixed-lens cameras, they limit future spending. Also, since you only just got it, returning it would be easier. But as I also said, a dSLR is more versatile, so it's up to you and what else you want to shoot. Speed of operation is what the automated modes like A and S (and exposure compensation) are for. And there's one model lower/smaller than the 1200D: the 100D. :)
    – inkista
    Apr 4, 2016 at 16:28

Ignore what inkista says about camera bodies. I know tons of people who shoot street with 5D3s and similar sized bodies. I shoot with a 5D3 and a Sigma 24-35 F/2. That's not tiny at all, yet I still manage to get shots that are indistinguishable from tiny cameras like the Ricoh GRII (which I also love) and various mirrorless bodies. Will a smaller body help? Maybe. But you're at a stage where you're trying things out. Start in one place and don't play the hardware chasing game; you can switch to a different body when you start identifying what's limiting you, and you can't do that until you start somewhere. Since you already have gear, stick with it.

Short version: shoot with the 18-55 stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8 on the very wide side – between 18 and 22mm on a crop sensor body like yours. Avoid using anything beyond 50mm (32mm on your crop body). These aren't rules but this is where you should start from, and when you start running into situations where you feel like these are limiting, experience will tell you to go ahead and move past those starting rules.

Long version which explains why this is where you start: street photography is frequently shot at relatively wide angles; this is usually the 35mm / full frame equivalent of between 24-35mm with very large depths of field, and sometimes even wider. I personally shoot at 28mm as I feel 35mm is a little too restricting on crowded streets, and if I'm really in a crowd I'll go even wider.

Why so wide with a large DOF? Because street photography is all about context and speed. Let me break that down a bit. With regards to context: bokeh fanatics are often shocked when trying street out as it's traditionally very desirable to have subject isolation. Well it's very difficult to get scene context when everything but a face is completely blurred out. This goes hand in hand with speed: you don't have time to focus when you're shooting street. It can move as fast or faster than shooting sports photography, and unlike sports, things are often very chaotic and unpredictable. Because street was born during a time when autofocus did not exist it was easier to engage in zone focusing and have a wide DOF.

You may think a 50+mm lens or a telephoto will let you capture the scene discreetly since you're so far away. What happens instead is the compression achieved from shooting a telephoto makes everything feel like it's on top of everything else, and your field of view is incredibly narrow: no scene context. This is why people say that the feel like something is very far removed when shot with a telephoto – it's the compression and FOV aspects – and street photography is all about feeling like you're in the scene. This only happens when you shoot with a wide angle.

So how do you isolate a subject in street photography without relying on bokeh? Well that's what makes shooting street a somewhat challenging / acquired taste. You have to use texture, light, space, and framing to direct a viewer's attention to something in the frame; the better you get, the more you can spot these on the street, and the more complex you can make them, leading a viewer's eye all over the frame (again, large DOF). Keep in mind that when you start out you will have tons of shots that will have so much extraneous information in there or complete dead spots that kill your photo, but that's why you keep plugging away at it. There's tons of discourse on this, but the best way to learn to lead a viewer through a frame is to start devouring good examples of street photography as well as engaging in criticism.

This requires a modified set of skill sets for a photographer – you need to know at what apertures things are in focus at set distances, and you need to move around rapidly to get your subjects in focus. At the same time you need to frame it well enough that the photo is interesting AND remain somewhat discreet so that you're not changing the scene into something undesirable with your attention. It requires patience because you can't just arrive somewhere and not expect your presence to ripple out, even with a tiny discreet camera. You have to sit there, observe how people and things move through a space, and identify what will make a good shot. By the time you've done this, you'll have settled into a space and people won't notice you as much. Then you wait for the moment when everything falls into place and the frame comes together… with the trick being able to identify when that happens.

So yeah, that's why street photographers will tell you shoot wide, shoot stopped down, and be patient. It's unlike most other photography genres out there.


Between the two lenses you have I'd go with the 18-55. I generally shoot with a 24mm prime I've had for about 15 years now and it works great.

35mm is certainly good. I wouldn't go much bigger than that personally unless you're trying to do Street Portraits more than Street Scenes.

As far as settings I would strongly encourage Manual Settings. Personally I also shoot Manual Focus but I've got good eyesight and can focus faster than any of the autofocus lenses I've got; usually I shoot with lenses that don't have autofocus anyways.

When shooting street the first thing I want to do is set my Shutter Speed to something fast, really fast. Like 300 or more, often I'll crank it up to nearly the max my camera goes. This is because if I'm walking and want to snap something discretely I might not even come to a complete stop. If I shoot from the hip even more likely to stutter-step the shot. I also live in a very sunny environment.

Then I'll set my Aperture. Like others have said for street you don't want it down at 1.8 or anything. Using it at a higher value will make zone focusing easier.

Finally, set and forget the ISO. And don't be scared if its not on 100 or something. If you're in a studio trying to make an image for the cover a fashion mag then yeah, graininess of any kind probably isn't desired. In street photography that's not an issue. I can't really recommend an ISO because its so dependent on light conditions. Shooting streets on an overcast day in NYC is going to be very different than shooting on a sunny day in Los Angeles. But really, try not to fumble and change this all the time.


The 1200D is absolutely fine for street photography. As the others have said, you should experiment and figure out the style you like the best. The 18-55 is a good tool for that.

Canon has two very nice and inexpensive lenses you might want to consider: the EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM "pancakes". They're called pancakes because they are very compact and "flat". They have a good image quality especially relative to their price. The 24mm gives you a moderately wide "traditional street photo" view, whereas the 40mm allows you to keep a bit more distance to your subjects.

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