10 Reasons Why You Need A Mirrorless Camera For Street Photography!

Instant Exposure Feedback

One of the best features on mirrorless cameras is the ability to view how your image will look before you press the shutter button.

Conventional DSLR’s show you an image, through the view finder, based on the light available to the mirrors. So, no matter how much you adjust your exposeure settings (shutter speed, apature and ISO), the incoming light will remain the same – You just have to wait until you take the image to see if it was correctly exposed or not.

With a mirrorless system, you can see, in real time, the effect your exposure adjustment will have on the final image. Image over exposed? Reduce increase the shutter speed and watch the image become darker.

This ensures your images come out correctly exposed every time, leaving you to focus on telling the story and sharing the emotions around you.

Afterall, cameras are just a tool to show a story.


Mirrorless cameras lack – well a mirror. This missing component significantly reduces the overall footprint of the camera.

A smaller camera, especially in street photography, means more manoeuvrability, easier to transport and less likely to cause any kind of confrontation with potential subjects.

Overall, a smaller camera body can lead to a more discrete experience.

Discrete Experience

To the uninitiated, a large bulky DSLR can come across not only as professional, but also as commercial. This tends to leave some subjects thinking the image you have just taken of them may end up in a publication.

Smaller mirrorless systems pack the same performance (if not more!) then their DSLR counterparts – without the “professional” look. This frees you up some space to discretely take photographs without the worry of potently confrontational subjects.

Focus Peeking

Most mirrorless cameras provide you with an opportunity to see what parts of your frame are in focus. This tends to come in the form of a coloured outline around all the parts that are in focus.

This means you can use lenses that do not natively come with autofocus. Samyang is a great example of this – a brand I have used in the past with my Sony a7 series mirrorless cameras.

Depth of Field Preview

Mirrorless cameras afford you the opportunity to view how your image will look before the shutter button is pressed.

Having the ability to view the depth of field beforehand can come in really handy in street photography.

Street Photography generally lends itself to very short moments or stories that develop and fizzle out instantaneously.

With depth of field preview you can set your shot up as a situation develops, raise the camera and confidently capture the image without any little surprises. A real game changer.


One of the biggest benefits of a mirrorless system is its light weight form.

For example, my Canon M50 weighs 387g (13.6 oz).

By comparison, my Canon 5D weighs 810g! (28.5 oz).

My DSLR weighs over twice as much as my mirrorless. This may seem meaningless but over the course of a 12 hour street photography session that extra weight all adds up!

One Handed Operation

So we know the mirrorless is weighs less. Well, turns out that comes with another big advantage, one handed photography.

To stay as discrete as possible, I try to practice handling my mirrorless with one hand – using the articulating touch screen on the Canon M50 – to grab my shot before the subject has even noticed.

This may be unorthodox. The photographer in me finds it difficult to not use the view finder. To bring my camera to my eye, compose the shot, wait for the opportune moment, the lighting just right and capture that image in a single shot.

The reality is, that’s just not the case. Standing with a bulky DSLR to your face, aiming your lens at a passer by, can lead to a confrontational situation – one you would rather not be in.

To avoid that, modern technology – especially in the form of a mirrorless system – allows me to grab my shot subtly.

Black & White In Camera

This is a novel feature. However, having the ability to see your image in black and white BEFORE the edit has helped me in more than one situation.

There has been times where I’m stood Infront of a subject, a street, and ally way and I know there’s an image to be captured, a story to be told. The problem is, I just can imagine what it would look like in black and white.

This is where this feature comes in. Change the profile to black and white and recompose the image. It helps you to visualise the final product before you take the photograph.

Pro tip, remember to change the profile back to standard. You don’t want to be editing an in camera black and white image. There’s no going back from there!

Smart Phone Connectivity

As mirrorless systems are at the frontline of smart tech, it makes perfect sense for them to connect to our smart phones. My Canon M50 connects to my iPhone seamlessly. 1 press of a button on the side of the camera and i’m connected to an app on my smart phone. I can transfer images from the camera instantly, ready for a quick import to Lightroom mobile if I need to get the image uploaded on the go.

Another benefit is being able to set the camera up on a tripod, step away and remotely capture an image. My smartphone acts like a second screen, allowing me to see, in real time, exactly what my camera can see. This can be used to get some very candid moments in street photography.

Just keep an eye on your gear!

Bang For Buck

I’ll keep this one short. The tech inside mirrorless systems matches, if not exceeds, their equivalent DSLR counterparts… at a significantly lower price.

Check the competition to find the best system for you.

Either way, mirrorless systems are an absolute game changer!

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