If I had to pick ONE question that I have been asked the most on street photography, it has been about pro lens.
Although most of the professional Nikon lenses and other camera manufacturers are all of professional grade, each street photographer has his own preference.
What to consider for pro lens for street photography choice:
1. Weight of lens – Since street photography involves a lot of walking, I prefer to use a lens that i very light weight. The pro lens choice hence comes down to whether the lens has a plastic barrel or a metal one. The difference in weight could be huge based on the material used for the lens barrel.
2. Widest aperture of lens – aperture determines the amount of light that you would need to make a decent shot. Wide aperture lenses allow you to shoot in low lights but it also adds to the weight and the overall size of the lens.
3. Sharpness and distortion of the lens – this is a very important factor that decides the pro lens choice. Most of the pro lenses will have minor barrel distortion that can be easily corrected in software. But this problem comes into play only when you are using ultra wide angle lenses and is very negligible in 35mm or 50 mm lenses.
4. Portraits lenses – portraits need a slightly different characteristic of lenses to make them professional grade. Photographers who shoot portraits outside of the studio would prefer to carry lenses dedicated for such work.
My Choice of Pro Lenses for Streets
For my street photography style, weight is the most important consideration. Since I shoot my subjects up close, a small size lens will not distract or threaten people who I am photographing. But since I tend to push my gears a lot, I prefer to use strong metal barrel lenses.
Sharpness or distortion does not bother me as much for street photography and most of the Nikon normal lenses have acceptable distortion.
What lens do I use for street photography
I prefer to use a wide angle to normal lens. I do most of my street photography with Nikon 35mm lens and Nikon 50mm lens. But when I am shooting on assignments or for purposes of selling, I use either a Nikon 24mm or 28mm lens.
Though several photographers have questioned the contrast quality of these lenses, personally I have found them to be just great for my work. They have manageable barrel distortion that I can easily correct in Adobe Lightroom.
Coming to shooting portraits, as I mentioned earlier, I prefer to use the 85mm or the 200mm pro portrait lenses. Except for the 85mm lens, the others are quite large and heavy. I have also used the 105mm lenses extensively and like the effect on the bokeh produced by them.