There is nothing like the feeling of walking the street with a camera in your hands. The possibilities are endless. What stories will unfold before your lens? Such a liberating feeling which is why having a camera in your hand that you can trust is so important. When you are in the moment you don’t want to be messing with your camera dials and miss the shot.

There are so many “rules” online for how to properly do street photography – have a prime lens, only shoot black and white, only shoot film, walk slow, stand in one place, etc.

Here is my one rule for street photography-

take a camera you know how to use

For me that camera is the Olympus PenF. I usually have a 17mm lens attached to the front. I have the Olympus 17mm 1.8 and PRO 1.2 versions. Both offer that same point of view. Most of the time the 1.8 version is on my camera because of the low profile of the lens. I have shot so much with the 17mm 1.8 that I don’t even have to put the camera to my eye to get the shot I want.

Nashville Street Photography

Knowing my lens and camera meant I did not even have to look at the screen or viewfinder for this shot. I was walking and took it. They were heckling people for money but I just could not get over her look but I did not want to draw attention to my taking a photo either.

I know how to change all my settings quickly on this camera. This is the most important part of street photography. Light can change quickly when you are walking on the street – it’s important to know how to make adjustments without thinking about it. I let the camera decide a lot of things for me. I’m not concerned with ISO. The most important thing to me is shutter speed and aperture. With the PenF all the controls are easily accessed on top of the camera. There is no menu diving.

Creative Controls

The main selling point of the PenF was the creative dial and mainly the mono setting. I love black and white photography. I think it goes back to my time in the dark room in high school and college. When you turn on the mono dial you have three built in options. Profile 2 is my go to. You can also customize the settings. I have customized profile 2 to have less contrast. By default, I think, highlights and shadows are really extreme. So I have shadows to -2 and highlights to +2. I also set film grain to low.

What it comes down to

I’m not a technical reviewer. I’ve included links below that have a more technical review and setup. What I am is a reviewer that loves my PenF. It is my day to day camera and my go to street photography camera. It’s a fun camera to shoot with. It’s low profile and allows you to get closer shots. If you are looking for a street photography camera then I would suggest holding a PenF and seeing how it fits in your hand. If you can rent one for a weekend to play with.

The most important thing for street photography is taking a camera you know. After that it’s waiting for the story to unfold in front of you.

For a more technical reviews

Robin Wong Part 1 | Part 2

Sample Images

All the following images were taken with the Olympus PenF and the 17mm 1.8. Only one image was edited and it was only to lift a shadow. All other images are presented as they came out of the camera using a modified Mono Profile 2.