The leading visionaries among today’s new breed of street photographers have been setting aside their DSLRs in favor of compact fixed- and interchangeable-lens models. These cameras are reminiscent of a generation of film-based models that were favored by photojournalists for their simplicity, reliability and high-quality optics. The mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have been gaining in popularity for a few years, and more recently, a cadre of high-end fixed-lens, fixed-focal-length cameras with excellent optics and large image sensors have come along. The latter group of "large-sensor compacts" are impressive, to say the least. Built with APS-C and full-frame sensors and coupled with fast lenses, these cameras have excellent low-light performance. They’re versatile and small, and you can use high-end lighting tools with them.
Fujifilm FinePix X100S
The FinePix X100S features a versatile hybrid optical/2360K-dot electronic eye-level viewfinder to handle just about any viewing need, with rich information display in both modes. The 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor uses a highly random RGB pattern that eliminates the need for the sharpness-reducing optical low-pass filter found in most digital cameras, and is complemented by the EXR Processing II with Lens Modulation Optimizer for added sharpness. The sturdy, 5.0×2.9×2.1-inch, 14.3-ounce body incorporates a fast 23mm (35mm-camera equivalent) ƒ/2 lens and a 2.8-inch, 460K-dot LCD monitor. ISO range is 200-6400, expandable to 25,600. Other features of special note include quick Intelligent hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF, RAW recording, up to 29 frames at 6 fps, a built-in three-stop ND filter, and 1080 full HD video at 60 and 30 fps. Estimated Street Price: $1,299. Contact: Fujifilm, www.fujifilm.com
Featuring the classic Leica rangefinder "look" (without the rangefinder), the X2’s 4.9×2.7×2.0-inch, 11.2-ounce German-made body contains a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a 35mm (35mm-camera equivalent) ƒ/2.8 Leica Elmarit lens and a 2.7-inch, 230K-dot LCD monitor. The X2 can shoot up to eight frames at 5 fps, record in RAW (DNG) as well as JPEG, and get up to 450 shots per charge with the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Autofocusing is quick and nearly silent. ISOs run from 100-12,500, and there’s a built-in pop-up flash unit (as well as a hot-shoe for external units). There’s no built-in eye-level viewfinder, but electronic and mirror external finders are available. Estimated Street Price: $1,995. Contact: Leica, us.leica-camera.com.
Nikon Coolpix A
The Nikon Coolpix A features a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor without a low-pass filter and a 28mm (equivalent) ƒ/2.8 lens. It can shoot still images at 4 fps, as well as 1080p full HD video at 30, 25 and 24 fps and 720p HD at 30 and 24 fps. Normal ISO range is 100-3200 (expandable to 25600), with 14-bit RAW (NEF) as well as JPEG recording. Contrast-based TTL AF goes from 1.7 feet to infinity (down to four inches in macro mode). The 4.4×2.6×1.6-inch, 10.6-ounce body incorporates a big, 3.0-inch, 921K-dot LCD and an optional optical eye-level finder can be attached to the accessory shoe (which also accepts external flash units if the built-in one doesn’t provide sufficient power). You can even transfer photos to any WiFi-enabled device using the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. Estimated Street Price: $1,099. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com