Is A DSLR APS-C Camera More Likely To Create Creamier Bokeh than A Mirrorless APS-C?

Started Nov 20, 2012 | Questions thread
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S Barr
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Is A DSLR APS-C Camera More Likely To Create Creamier Bokeh than A Mirrorless APS-C?
Nov 20, 2012

With my very limited knowledge, I expected results to be the same, but here's my confusion, which is making my next purchase decision more painful than it should be! I take pictures of wild flowers and currently use a p&s Olympus XZ-1, possibly the best compact for any kind of bokeh, with 2.8 at the long end. But I would really like a creamier, smooth bokeh, and having trawled thousands of images for many hours looking at the kind of examples I want to achieve, the best examples are almost always produced by a DSLR - even entry-level DSLRs. Lenses vary, the obvious macro lenses such as the Nikon 105 are up there, but very often, the creamy bokeh I want is also produced at the long end of 200mm and 300mm lenses. So with a variety of lenses, even entry DSLRs produce the bokeh I would like, which led me to look at the Nikon D5100. But I couldn't commit before looking into the more compact mirrorless possibilities.

I've never been sure about the bulk of a DSLR, and can fully understand why many people given them up for mirrorless systems. So I looked for examples of the same kind of bokeh from mirrorless cameras, APS-C sensors in particular, on the basis that I expected them to produce similar results to a DSLR APS-C camera. However, there seems to be very few examples of really creamy bokeh from mirrorless cameras. I can understand that it would be more difficult to achieve with the smaller micro-four-thirds sensor, but why should a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor not have exactly the same ability to produce creamy bokeh as a DSLR? There is the odd example on Flickr with either a macro lens or the long end of a telephoto lens, but the vast majority are all from DSLR cameras. Which is leading me to think that a DLSR is the only way to go, and that's fine provided I know there's no better alternative. I would have loved to have the more compact and less bulky mirrorless system, but if it's less likely to produce the bokeh I want then I'll have to rule it out, because that's my priority.

But before I commit I would really appreciate understanding why such bokeh appears to be much less likely with a mirrorless camera. Why should that be the case when the sensor size is the same? Of course, getting the right lens is vital too; but a search of creamy bokeh on Flickr reveals that with a whole gamut of different lenses, DSLRs produce that kind of creamy bokeh far more readily than any mirrorless camera. Or have I got something wrong? Thanks in advance for any help with this.

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Nikon D5100 Olympus XZ-1
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