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6 Best canon lenses for street photography in 2024!

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Best canon lenses for street photography

Street photography has perhaps the widest range of subject material of any photographic venue. What is street photography you might ask? The answer is, well, just about everything you can imagine. Finding a lens, in this case, a Canon lens that can capture those images doesn’t have to be a challenge.

Street photography is candid photography at its best. It captures the essence of a scene without staging, acting, or any other artificial input. It is the opposite of still life in that it captures life in action.

If you’ve ever browsed through a family photo album, looking at the images taken years, or decades before, you’ve experience street photography on a personal basis. We all love those old photographs, not for the quality of the image, but for the imagery itself. They bring back memories, sensations, and emotions from long ago.

If you want to create those types of images, and possibly add a few thousand more styles, the process starts with the right lens. There is no perfect lens that fits all the settings you’ll discover in street photography. You’ll need a tight zoom for some photos, a standard 50mm for others, and wide angle, or even fisheye lenses for still other scenes.

Things to look for in the best Canon lenses for street photography

  • F-stop setting – lower for dim light, higher for depth of field
  • 50mm Standard focal length – for “What you see is what you get”
  • 10 – 28mm focal length – Short for wide angle
  • 85-30mm focal length – Long for distance shots
  • Number of elements – higher imagery without distortion
  • Macro – useful for extreme close-ups
  • Zoom – great for sequencing photo montages

The Best canon lenses for street photography


Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens + 3pc Filter Kit + Lens Pen + Blower + Hood + Lens Pouch + Cap Keeper


Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens


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Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM Lens, Compatible with EOS R System Mirrorless Cameras, Fixed Focal Length Lens, Compact & Lightweight, Perfect for Everyday Shooting


Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras


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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras


Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens


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Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L is USM Lens, Black


Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L is USM Lens


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Canon Cameras US 6310B002 EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens - Fixed Black


Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens


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Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens, Black - 2963C002


Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens


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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens + 3pc Filter Kit + Lens Pen + Blower + Hood + Lens Pouch + Cap Keeper

Best “Nifty Fifty” Lens

Why buy the Canon EF 50mm

They call it the “Nifty Fifty” for a very good reason. What you see through the viewfinder of a standard, fixed 50mm lens is similar to what the human eye sees. So, if you want to capture the essence of what you’re seeing, and record it, this is the lens for you.

When looking for the best Canon lens for night street photography, give this one a chance.

This is a lightweight lens, weighing just 5.6 ounces, with an extremely fast F-stop of 1.8 that extends to F-22.

A lens with all the appeal of a standard 50mm fixed focal length at an affordable price. Amateurs or professionals will both be able to capture quality images from as close as 11 inches to infinity with this lens.

At a low price, this is a Canon street photography lens that everyone should carry in their camera bag.

The blazing-fast F-1.8 makes this the best Canon lens for night street photography.

What you’ll love about the canon EF 50mm

A generation ago a camera lens was simply for taking photographs with 35mm film. That trend continued in the early days of digital photography, but if you’re like most modern canon camera photographers, you often move to the world of video and don’t limit your photography to digital stills.

You’ll love the dual auto-focus feature of the EF 50mm for that very reason. When shooting traditional, digital photographs the auto-focus is smooth, quickly locking in the target for crisp, clear photos.

When you switch your camera to video mode, the lens switched to a continuous Servo auto-focus to keep moving objects clearly locked in view without that annoying blur, and catch-up you see on some lesser-quality lenses and cameras. With this lens, your YouTube uploads will be far better than those people capture with their cell phones.

The lens is a good choice for limited light usage, it works well no matter the angle of view, and at a weight of just a few ounces, you’ll be able to squeeze in, adjust the angle, and take photographs from diagonal, vertical and horizontal angles with ease.

This is the best Canon prime lens for street photography.

What you won’t love about the canon EF 50mm

This is a fixed lens. Many people don’t feel they can adequately adjust their camera settings to allow for higher DPI photographs that can then be cropped to expand the subject. They prefer the ease of a zoom lens.

The elements are adequate, there are only six of them arranged in five groups. Some may not appreciate the quality on the periphery of their photographs with the lower number of elements limiting edge crispness.

In terms of ease of use, many consider this product the best Canon EF lens for street photography.

If you have a Canon full-frame mirrorless camera [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6] you will do better with a suitable lens like the Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM lens for Canon full-frame mirrorless RF mount cameras.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Best canon lens for street photography

Why buy the Canon EF 24-70mm

If you’re going to carry just one lens for street photography, this is the one to buy. Yes, it is expensive, but as they said in the Mercury Space Program, “No Bucks, no Buck Rogers.” You can pay less for a lens, but you’ll have to buy several of them to match the performance of this fast, low-range zoom.

With a focal length varying from a wide-angle 24mm to a tight, close-range zoom of 70mm you have a tremendous range of focusing options. In many settings, the ability to zoom in and out on the same subject is vital in getting just the right consistency for a photograph. Beginners often overdue the zoom function, but when used in the hands of a skilled photographer, the imagery can border on the miraculous.

It has a little heft, tipping the scales at over two pounds, but on a standard canon camera body, the additional weight can settle your hands, providing a more stable shooting platform than a lighter lens and camera combination.

This is the best canon zoom lens for street photography.

What you’ll love about the canon EF 24-70mm

You’ll love the images it produces, and isn’t that what finding a Canon lens for street photography is all about?

The clarity is in the elements. It might sound like something Kramer would say on Seinfeld, but it is the truth when it comes to camera lenses.

The elements, 16 in 13 groups go far beyond the number in most canon lenses, even those priced substantially higher. These elements guarantee a clear, consistent image from edge to edge on all 360 degrees of the lens.

That might not be important when zoomed in on an object, but when shooting wide-angle street photographs, the difference between fabulous, and meh, is the clarity at the edge. Panoramic shots are a dream with this lens, you’ll love the ability to capture an entire vista in the background while remaining tightly focused on a subject in the foreground.

Many consider the 24-70mm the best Canon EF-m lens for street photography.

What you won’t love about the canon EF 24-70mm

You’re not going to like the price. If you’re a novice or operating on a limited budget, this lens will cost north of twice to three times what you paid for your Canon camera body.

You might not like the weight either. Some photographers prefer something they can hold with confidence, meaning a little more weight to the lens, but others can’t handle the weight as effectively and feel it limits their ability to use a camera with a monopod or tripod.

A tripod on this short 24-70mm zoom lens would garner you some attention, but not the kind you’re after if you want to become a professional photographer.

If you have a Canon full-frame mirrorless camera [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6] you will do better with a suitable lens designed for the EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera system, the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L is USM Lens.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens

Canon Cameras US 6310B002 EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens - Fixed Black

Best Canon Ef-s lens for street photography

Why buy the Canon EF 40mm

In previous generations, one joke shared among Canon photographers concerned breakfast. “Would you like bacon with those pancakes?” was the punchline. No, it’s not some syrupy (bad pun we know) recipe for flapjacks, but a reference to the “pancake” style lens that Canon was known for.

A pancake lens is short by nature, that’s why it’s referred to as a pancake. The EF 40mm extends only about 7/8ths of an inch from the camera body. Depending on the style of Canon camera you’re working with, the lens hood extends almost as far as the EF 40mm does from the body.

Small size doesn’t mean small options. This lens is among the best for a growing trend in street photography of capturing wide-angle images.

At 40mm it’s not going to span horizon to horizon like shorter 12 to 20mm lenses will, but it will add wider angle capabilities to your repertoire than are possible with the standard “Nifty Fifty.”

The F 2.8 isn’t the fastest F-stop you’ll find on the market, but F 2.8 gathers a lot of light.

Beginning photographers often mistake a dimly lit subject as a poor choice for a photograph, while a more experienced photographer looks at the angle of the light, the quality of light, whether it is muted by clouds, or shifted towards red or violent by the time of day and the available ambient sunlight. This 40mm lens will allow all light settings to work in wider angle settings.

What you’ll love about the canon EF 40mm

You’ll love the price, it is one of the least expensive lenses that Canon offers. You’ll also love the ability to capture images at unique angles you can’t find with 50mm or longer lenses.

If you’re after images of people caught in the moment of raw emotions, you’ll love the compact nature of this lens. It doesn’t intrude on personal space like many of those monster lenses used by the paparazzi to annoy celebrities do, but it can capture clear, non-stage images with just the click of the shutter while not being noticeable.

This is a favorite lens for photographers capturing action scenes in the street, scenes that can become tense, and involved the photographer unnecessarily if they’re not careful.

Best of all, you’ll love the options it gives you that bridge the gap between a standard 50mm with all its inherent qualities and simultaneous limitations, and much shorter fisheye or wide-angle lenses.

Canon is known for high-quality elements in their higher-priced lenses, but this one delivers 15 elements in 12 groups, a substantial arrangement for a lens in this price range.

What you won’t love about the canon EF 40mm

Just as many love the 40mm length, many other photographers find it just too short, or so similar in their applications to the standard 50mm lens that they wonder why they should bother in purchasing one.

The pancake style isn’t for everyone. Many photographers prefer a longer lens for a better two-handed grip and that’s just not going to happen with this extremely short lens. Your hands will be firmly placed on each side of the camera body when using the 40mm.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens, Black - 2963C002

Best Canon RF lens for street photography

Why buy the Canon EF 24-105mm

This is a great lens, but it’s not what you might expect. The F-stop remains at 4 throughout the zoom from 24mm to 105mm. On most Canon lenses you’ll find the F-stop changing as you close in with increased magnification. In general, the longer the lens is extended, the higher the F-stop becomes, but that’s not the case with a lens set permanently to the mid-range setting of F-4.

Though it requires a little experimentation, maybe a bit of trial and error, and the learning curve is initially steep, this lens is worth the effort and does extraordinary things in the hands of a skilled photographer.

It’s a higher-priced lens than most of those reviewed here, but with that price come features found nowhere else.

This is our highest-rated RF lens.

What you’ll love about the canon EF 24-105mm

You’ll love the all-in-one design of a wide-angle lens that can zoom to a respectable 105mm. This eliminates a lot of lens changes, and in action settings, you can capture movement in real time without taking a break to switch lenses.

When we think of street photography, images of city life, or perhaps a rural agricultural setting come to mind, but the world of sports is filled with street photography. The grimaces of pain and the expressions of triumph common to athletics are the essence of street photography.

This lens gives you a much better chance of capturing those expressions as they spontaneously erupt. Capturing the expression on a person’s face is the reason street photography evolved into its own genre in the first place.

What you won’t love about the canon EF 24-105mm

You’re not going to like adjusting to a fixed f-stop. You will adjust, and your photography will improve, but your skill set is going to be tested.

If you’re an “out of the box” with no preparation type of person, don’t buy this lens. It requires effort to master, and while the results are worth that effort, not everyone wants to work that hard.

Value versus performance, an eternal debate.

The street is a very broad term when it comes to photographic style. It can be something as gritty as a New York alley at night with nocturnal rats coming out to feed, or something as sunny, and bright as a three-year-old child giggling as they run across an open field trying to catch a runaway balloon. Between those extremes is the world of street photography. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a street photography lens.

Is there a Canon lens specifically for street photography?

The answer is no, no one designs a lens for the sole purpose of street photography, though many lenses will work in this setting just as well as they do for portraits, wildlife, sports, or even custom venues like wide angle.

I’m not on the street, will my street photography lens still work?

Yes, it will work. Camera lenses aren’t specifically designed for a photographic venue, but rather to be used in catching the right amount of light offered in a setting, to stop motion, or at times to stop a portion of motion while allowing other areas to blur in the background. No single lens can do all of these things, though some shorter-range zoom lenses can come close.

What types of lenses are the best to use for street photography?

The best lens is one that you’re comfortable with, one that you can use in manual mode, and that you can handle effectively to keep shots in focus, no matter the action at hand.

Fixed shorter-length lenses are best for wide-angle shots, and longer lenses, above 105mm in length are good for bringing in the action. A zoom lens, with a high number of elements, and a faster F-stop rating can bridge the gap between wide and telephoto.

Which lens is best for street photography?

This question is like asking which paints are best for creating a masterpiece. Rembrandt and a two-year-old can use the same paint, but they won’t get the same results. The same is true for the lens you select for street photography. Sometimes you need a lens with a high F-stop and a moderate zoom for bright sunlight. Other times you need a lens with an F-stop of 1.8 that can bring darkness to light in dimly lit settings. If you want to capture the image of an entire baseball field, filled with players, you’ll need a high-end wide-angle lens. Venue is the key in making the right choice.

What 3 lenses should every photographer have?

Every street photographer should have a fixed 50mm lens, it’s the starting point. They should have a lens on each side of this as well. A telephoto from 70mm to 200mm allows you to capture faraway images, but a shorter telephoto in the 24-85mm or 24-105mm range will offer more opportunities in catching a wide variety of action with just a single lens.

What focal length is good for street photography?

Without being flippant, the focal length depends on the action. Wide-angle action shots require shorter focal lengths. A lens less than 35mm will bring in wide action shots. The important thing is to keep the edges clear, not just the center in focus, you’ll pay more for a lens like that. A 50mm lens allows you to capture what you see, and longer lenses, such as 85mm or 105mm will bring in street action images from slightly beyond your vision clearly.

Is 24mm or 25mm good for street photography?

You bet if you’re working on a wide-angle shot. They’re not much good at distant action, but if you want something up close, or perhaps a single, centered image with supporting images in the background across a wider setting like a busy four-lane highway or an open field, these are great.

Is a 50mm lens good for street photography?

A 50mm lens is good for every style of photography. It will capture what you need, and more importantly what you see. The “Nifty Fifty” is the closest lens to the naked human eye, and every camera bag should hold one.

Can you use an 85mm lens for street photography?

Many photographers consider the 85mm the ideal lens for street photography since it provides just a bit of magnification, often enough to bring a centered subject into clear focus without tightening down the periphery as a longer telephoto lens might.

Is a 35mm lens good for street photography?

For moderately wider shots, a 35mm is a good choice. It will bring in a wider frame than a 50mm but not as wide as the extremely short 18,24 or 25mm lenses that are specifically designed for wild angle applications. The 35mm is a good stopgap lens that has many uses.


If you’ve read the review, you already know the answer, there is no single lens that can be considered the best for all the varieties of street photography.

Depending on the available light your best choice might be the Canon 50mm with an F-stop of 1.8, it will gather light from the dimmest setting and create great images.

In another setting, where the light changes as in a scene with shadow and sunlight, and people close and far away, a 24mm-85mm zoom lens is your best option.

For unobtrusive images, the short profile of the Canon 40mm will still capture almost everything the 50mm will, but it won’t be noticeable.

The final answer is that there is no single lens that does it all. As a street photographer, you should be ready with a 50mm, a shorter wide-angle lens, and a zoom telephoto to meet the challenges you’ll face.

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Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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