Eric Kim: What to consider when buying a camera for street photography


Photo: Eric Kim

Eric Kim is one of the most prolific street photographers around, but he’s also a keen blogger. In this article, originally posted on his site back in spring, he offers some advice on how to buy a new camera for street photography. Rather than a simple buyers’ guide, though, Kim delves into the psychology of purchase decisions, citing research by psychologist Barry Schwartz which divides us into two categories – ‘maximizers’ and ‘satisficers’.

According to Schwartz, Maximizers engage in more product comparisons than satisficers, both before and after they make purchasing decisions, and they take longer than satisficers to decide on a purchase. They also savor positive events less than satisficers and do not cope as well with negative events.

Kim’s conclusion? ‘When it comes to buying cameras for street photography, I think it is far better to be a “satisficer” than a “maximizer.”‘



DPR is site for people who love cameras and are HAPPY to learn more about them. Im not unhappy when i learn and read about cameras,im HAPPY and i think im not the only one.
And second if you go and buy a camera without taking a very good look whats the camera all about and just give your money away you are not a ”satisvizor”
you are just a plane dummkopf.


Of course nobody here will agree with him – DPR is a site for “maximizers”


You have to admit it is sort of funny to see an article about ‘satisfiers’ and ‘maximizers’ from someone who has a need to use a Leica film camera to grab random shots on the street on a website that is ‘maximizer’ heaven.


Maybe the fact that a psychologist (!) with a dichotomous approach to people’s behavior is a valid reference for the author explains the issuing confusion but, I regret to inform, if the appended photos are supposed to be examples of “Street Photography”, I don’t feel the author is qualified to write this “recommendation” article.

(..It’s bad enough that a wave of clueless anonymous photographers think that “Photographing in The Street” is synonymous to “Street Photography”. That a “reference” site like DPR also subscribes to this misunderstanding by choosing absolute misfires as illustrations of Eric Kim’s (…a self-appointed “International Street Photographer”, nothing less…) benign prolific output is a bit more worrisome…)


Oh please.


I usually take a camera whereever I go but yesterday I forgot!
So anyway I was driving down the terraced street of my birth over 50 years ago and couldn’t help but notice a Father pushing his child in a baby buggy being followed by a very very large clown like character that was almost as high and wide as the first floor bedroom window. it was a surreal moment and deserved to be photographed.

Alas yesterday I wasn’t a Street Photographer I wasn’t even a photographer but it was a moment in time that I will remember forever.
Social media and Sheep has a lot to answer for.

M Lammerse

Every one can give his own interpretation to street photography. I do a lot of (paid) street photography in Japan and most of the images I have to make have to do with ‘street’ fashion.

My personal interpretation of street photography is to capture the “natural” human interaction in the urban environment. And you can use almost anything for it, from a mobile phone or ipad to a mid or large format camera. The only limiting factor is yourself.


The market is full with cameras!
So if i want to buy a camera with my hard earned money, of course im going to analise and thing about what im buying!Im not going to just give my money away! Its quite logical. This ”international street photographer” says that the dumb blond who goes into the shop and buys the first camera with flash and buttons she likes is a better shopper than me!
If everybody was thinking more what hes buying,the market would be full only with REALLY GOOD CAMERAS and we wouldnt have to think so much.


MOST cameras today are more than adequate for non-professionals.


Yes,yes but i dont want an adequate, i want good. And still every camera has its compromises-if i start analysing and searching the right for me,from what hes saying thats not right! Also there are geeks who ”analyse” and look at specs the whole day and they are quite happy in theyr own way….My point is-if everybody was more peaky and ”choosy” what hes buying im pretty sure that the companys would make alot better products,and you know what – i think im right!!!


Hmmm…There is one thing about psychology – nothing is for certain!!!
This post is a mixture of nothing but theorys that describe 2 extremes.


Eric KIM on DPreview ? Now it’s 100% sure that in today’s society one just need to be good at social media and blogging to become famous…


Yep, that’s how the Internet works, that aside Eric Kim has taken many excellent photos


My thoughts exactly. Keep telling people you’re an ‘international’ street photographer et voila! That’s what you are.

There’s no accounting for taste, but a quick Internet search didn’t throw up much in the way of ‘excellent’ photos or even books published. Just another successful self-publicist.


Two options. A street photographer is

(A) a pretentious tourist
(B) really creepy

They’re not mutually exclusive. For shame. Get help.


so you say we all should stick with photographing flowers, birds cats and family photos?

Sometimes I wonder how, just how close minded it can get.


It’s an ignorant comment by someone looking to start sh** is all. About as dumb as saying landscape photographers are just hillbillies with cameras, or wedding photographers just people looking to crash someone else’s party for free food. DingDongs like this proliferate forum boards. One doesn’t need to like the genre, but not liking it doesn’t make it pretentious and creepy. I also suspect that Rallyman here hasn’t researched much in the way of GOOD street photography — Henri Cartier Bresson wasn’t a pretentious tourist or creepy, and there are plenty of stellar artists in this field.


A really interesting point you bring up!! I find interesting street pictures everywhere I go (internationally, I might add 🙂 but it feels very intrusive to actually photograph them, so I don’t. There is this part of me that is thinking of buying a very small camera that might be less intrusive….

carlos roncatti

Well, theres a bunch of magnum photographers that disagree. Its all matter of taste. And even if you dont like, HCB, Willian Klein, Gary Winogrand, Koudelka and etc made history with thier photos and a LOT of people enjoy and admire their photos. That is why, of course, the photos cost a lot of money if you want. The funny thing is that this kind of photography dont have the same value as before. Now its a LOT of PP ( pos and pre processing). Its a shame, since these guys had seconds or less to discover a great scene and take a photo…


take a NEX 3 N nd a 20 mm pancake, and your done with just 800$. That is all you need, and note that the standard 16-50 does the job as well. I use the NEX-7 and the 24/2.8 minolta with adapter, and that does all my job too. When I have none of the big boys with me, I use a Fuji f30, and that does the job as well. Have you noticed? all those cheap cameras do photos, same as a 15000$ yupie Leica gear. And, some do it even better.


Fuji F30 … They discontinued it because of 6MP sensor when 8MP was the standard for much smaller sensors. After years the images from this camera ( $200) makes no distinction with the output from ca $2,000 DSLR …
Beside great sensor, the focusing, start-up and zooming was far above average.

carlos roncatti

Yes..many compacts do a great job nowadays…

Philip Corlis

One thing about Kim, give him a month or two and he will enthusiastically support the other side of the argument. This guy is all over the map.


His first point about being a “statisficer” and not a “maximizer” makes me wonder why he’s even someone with such a prolific following.

I’m by nature a “maximizer”. Why? By being a maximizer, I can ensure that I am shooting on gear that has the performance headroom to keep up with my art. Why would anyone in their right mind think that spending a long time finding the right product, when said product costs thousands of dollars, is a bad thing?

This guy assumes that every “maximizer” is some schizo-paranoid monster who can’t be content with a purchase. He’s right to an extent, but for the wrong reason. I don’t ever want to be content with anything in my art. For me, I can always do better, and be better, and if my gear can’t keep up, it is worthless to me. I’m fine with keeping a G lens on my A99 as a walkaround. Why? Once the moment hits, having the best tools for the job means that I can “hipsterize” a photo afterward, or keep it beautiful. But you can’t go the other way. Nice try.


I’ll just get myself a maxisficer…


I am sorry but I am extremely unfriendly to such biased “recommendations”.
Even if your annual income is in the range of the quarter million dollars, you must have a lot of disrespect to the source of your income to put at risk gizmo like a Leica body and lenses. That is a gear for a fancy flâneur who is taking still the same photographs.
I you want to do something own and new , never start from the camera priced over $500. That’s the rule of thumb.
Try to squeeze from your apparatus as much as you can, and after a year of practice you will be able to get more, than the others from their Hasselblad with a wooden grip.


Pretty sure all you need to be a ‘street photographer’ is to call yourself a street photographer. Better yet, International Street Photographer.

Dave Luttmann

As he is a street photographer….your point would be?


His point is that International Street Photographer is silly and pretentious.

It’s like Austin Powers calling himself “International Man of Mystery.”

When I was in finance, International Finance was about doing finance in different currencies, customs, languages and legal systems. It made sense to make it a specialty. What’s different about International Street Photography?


I can tell you the difference:

Being an “International Street Photographer” is a fancy way of saying that you want to pretend that you’re somehow better than most street photographers because you were lucky enough to get a budget to shoot on the street in another country.

From the moment he said to be a “statifier” or whatever the hell that was, he lost all credibility in my eyes.


That’s one of my points, exactly. The other point is that to be a street photographer one must tell everyone they’ve taken some photos on the street.

Hoosh, International Friends, Family and Sometimes Cats Photographer. And Blogger obviously


international street photographer just another fancy word for tourist

Dave Luttmann

Odd…many street photographers work in their hometowns, like daido moriyama. Kind of blows your theory.


I think some people should google the word “international” so that they understand its meaning and Kim’s reason for using it.

Kim’s a smart guy, makes a living out of what he loves doing, maybe think about that while your stacking the shelves at walmart

Rage Joe

I’d recommend Hasselblad Lunar for these kind of tasks.


Or just buying the original Sony camera that Hasselblad rebranded, and save yourself the money/embarrassment.


You’re kind of bitter it seems.


Ahh, that must be a reason why half of Kim’s subjects have that deer caught in the headlights look…..they are natural sheep to Kim’s tiger prowess.


Didn’t see that look at all in his images. They look quite interesting, and well done.


All of a sudden the x-pro 1 is a contender for this task. The new firmware update is a transformation. And it looks the part.


How would the fact that we have 30 days to return a camera make us “less satisfied” with it? Research a camera well, and you’ll never be disappointed.

When I purchased my DSLR I was completely satisfied, in fact, I was blown away by it. I knew I wouldn’t return it, but knowing that B&H would allow me to if necessary was added piece of mind.

The author must have unlimited resources, but most of us do not.


I’ve already considered it:
The Ricoh GR, and just can’t wait to get my hands on it as soon as I get back home from Mexico.
For my choice of photography it is the camera I’ve been waiting for for a long time.
I own the X100 and am quite happy with it but I believe the GR will offer me options that the X100 simply do not.
Will a better, or more attractive choice come up? Most likely, but until that happens I am sure I will enjoy the GR.


white shadow

There is no doubt that the Ricoh GR would make a good street photography camera due to its small size.

However, in my experience, there is no specific camera or brand would be especially good for this task. Most important, it must be:

1) small and easy to carry around especially when one is walking in unfamiliar territory. In a bad situation, one might be robbed or your camera might be snatched. It does not have to be in a third world country. It happen very often in Naples and Rome in Italy and even in Paris.

2) a camera with a small bright zoom would be ideal. Consider one like the Lumix LX7.

3) it would be good to have two cameras, one to cover the wide angle and another with a bright short telephoto like a micro 4/3 with the 75mm f/1.8 (150mm in 35mm format) to shoot close up street portraits. A bright lens is very useful especially if the subject is in a position without ideal lighting.

So, it all depends where and what one is shooting. A two camera combo would be ideal.

Gene J. Paull

No doubt about it – I’m a maximizer! I guess that’s why I’m always posting “what camera”? for candid street travel?


After the psychological essay on the types on consumers( could have done without)he “settled’ for the best ever a leica M, very funny , would just get a nokia 1020 and not worry about losing my precious Leica, 1020 makes all point and shoots irrelevant.


I would hate it when people call me on me camera


Except for the lack of a VF, RAW, a large aperture lens, PASM mode dial, a grip, etc.

If shooting on a smartphone is satisfying for you, great. Most photographers will prefer a proper camera.


Actuall Nokia 1020 comes with all the items you mentioned. I think that’s creepy but some women like it I suppose.



JPEG only, not viewfinder, no hand grip, exposure modes? Scene mode only, AFAIK.

The author is talking about a different type of camera, but as I said, if a smartphone provides a satisfying shooting experience for you, great. But the 1020 is not going to obsolete any proper cameras for me.


Lumia 1020 does not have RAW but the HUGE 38Mpx JPG can be manipulated.
Hand grip is and extra accessory (it includes 50% more battery power and a tripod screw). There are several different camera modes as expansion modules (bad name “lenses”) Exposure can be set manually and also focus, shutter time, White Balance, ISO, and the flash
Plus you have zoom & reframe with re-zoom
Look yourself! Think about a beginners POV. *IT IS EASY* Go to:
click the video to “Youtube” and there select
“AT&T Lumia 1020 – Pro Camera”
or search that from Youtube


Just slap a small wide angle lens on your dslr and you can go. 35mm for FF 24mm or 28mm for aps-c.

Source Article from