Why are there no street photographers using superzooms?

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Location
Troy, NY
I didn't want to hijack the thread on the Winogrand article, so . . . something Kevin posted got me thinking:

I have that exact thought every time I read about somebody's method of street shooting strangers in cities. I'm in the part of the suburbs where from our house 2 miles in one direction is downtown 'main street' while going 2 miles in the opposite direction are orchards and dairy farms; if I was to walk around taking pictures of people randomly it wouldn't be long before I'd be quickly well known around town with a given nickname, warnings will spread around town & online to avoid me if seen on the street, I shouldn't be surprised if anybody was to react physically after having their picture taken, sooner-or-later a statement released by the local police department that while random picture taking in public is legal that residents should still take caution and report individuals to the police if they feel threatened, and I would end up either moving away or becoming a hermit.

🤣

What I really, really, REALLY don't understand are the street photographers who shoot with a wide angle and then try to get extreme close-ups. It appears they are running an experiment to see how far they can invade a subject's personal space before they get stuffed into a storm drain . . .

. . . which leads to another thought: why are there no street photographers using superzooms? They're small, quiet, discreet, stealthy, and offer enormous range. My Sony HX400V offers 1200mm e native, with more in digital zoom. and the size comparison isn't bad either:

sony leica2.JPG


sony leica.JPG


If your goal is to capture people acting naturally without being conscious of being observed, why not a superzoom?

Cheers, Jock
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Location
Troy, NY
It's simpler than that. They are bigger, and unwieldy. They take more time to frame the shot. You become more obvious.

With a tilt screen, it's possible to look like you're adjusting your camera at waist level while actually taking photographs.

But since the closest I get to street photography is wildlife . . .

1583234982840.png


. . . I'll defer to those who actually shoot "street."

Cheers, Jock
 

gryphon1911

All-Pro
Location
Central Ohio, USA
Real Name
Andrew
I think part of it is that some street photographers are nostalgic. Historically, some of the best street photographers have shot with a specific type of camera or focal length so they tend to stick with that.

Some think that 35mm or 50mm is the true/best street focal length so shooting with anything else doesn't appeal so they don't get anything else.
 
Location
Milwaukee, WI USA
Real Name
Luke
I also think that some of it is that one needs to be IN the scene. Not in the frame, but in the moment...in the crowd....in the "instant". Across the street, taking your time lining up your shot while "pretending" to be reviewing your images at waist level is NOT shooting street. It may be taking pictures of people on the street. But the experience (and also to an extent the results) will not be the same.
 

Richard

All-Pro
Location
Marlow, UK
What I really, really, REALLY don't understand are the street photographers who shoot with a wide angle and then try to get extreme close-ups. It appears they are running an experiment to see how far they can invade a subject's personal space before they get stuffed into a storm drain . . .
Me neither. I dabbled with that approach myself when I was young and foolish, and it resulted in large numbers of poorly-composed images of unphotogenic subjects taken from unflattering angles, and generally out of focus. After a while I decided that the close-range up-the-nose school of photography was not for me, and I packed it in before somebody thumped me.

If you look at the famous work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bert Hardy and other doyens of street photography and photojournalism, none of it involves shoving a camera into the subjects' faces.

-R
 
My dad used to do a lot of street work with the 55-200, and I think some with the 18-135.
That's correct. Most of my street was done with the Fuji 55-200mm. It's much safer that way but I have had a couple of negative incidents even with the telephoto. I do shoot some with wide angle but it's best to stay in one place and let people walk into your space. Be as stealthy as you can. Use flippy screens at waist level if you can. In the southern US, don't be a
Tatsuo Suzuki. It will provoke a bad scene for you. We live in Louisville, Ky.
 
With the current cameras available, it’s not so simple as saying telephoto compression. I would simplify it to just compression. With apsc and micro 4/3 sensors. There is a nice middle ground to play in with telephoto lenses. For both including more of the scene in the photo. As well as less compression. And that’s even before taking into account each individual’s comfort levels. As well as regional issues. Like street photography in the south, where it’s uncommon, unlike major northern cities.

With all that said, it does not mean I disagree about losing soul in the photograph. It’s the same reason why I prefer shooting portraits with wider focal lengths as opposed to the longer traditional focal lengths. There is an intimacy from being closer with wider focal lengths.
 
The problem is that it is not possible to be "in the scene" with a telephoto/zoom lens, the angles are all wrong.
An analogy would be, you need binoculars to have a view of a wide scene when stargazing and a telescope for deeper sky tracking.
 
Sure, if you let internet norms determine how you use a telephoto lens. But, one can get a great street photo with a telephoto lens. Just as one can get a great portrait with a wide angle. Despite the countless people on the web screaming it can’t be done.



Nothing says creep faster than someone standing dozens of yards off with a big 'ol camera and zoom lens.

you’ve obviously never heard of terry richardson.
 

agentlossing

Top Veteran
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I think the answer(s) to your question may have been touched on already, however some of what's being discussed is more related to telephoto street photography than using a superzoom per se. Perspective and angle are big reasons why telephoto lenses are not liked for street. But for what is specific to superzooms, I think slow apertures, sluggish power zoom response and a lens that extends a ways out from the camera are the reasons why I personally don't like superzooms. That cannon barrel sticking out of superzoom bodies is pretty suspicious looking in my opinion. Small primes are a lot less intrusive on the street. Also wider lenses look less like you are aiming the camera directly at people that you want to get in the frame than telephoto or long barreled superzoom lenses.
 

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