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Mirrorless Cameras vs. dSLRs

Mirrorless cameras are picking up fans among knowledgeable photographers, and they may well be the wave of the future, but they still have limitations when compared to larger dSLR cameras.

Bokeh or Depth of Field

Have you ever taken a look at a beautiful portrait of a person where their eyes are in sharp focus, but the background’s blurred? That effect is called bokeh, and you’ll also hear people call it “depth of field”.

Advantages of Aperture Control

A camera with adjustable aperture lets you change the amount of light that reaches the sensor and with that, control bokeh.

The Problem with Smaller Sensors

Another big factor in the equation is your sensor size. A “micro four-thirds” sensor needs to be multiplied by two to equal the physical area of the size of the full-sized sensor. This also effectively multiplies your aperture changing an f2.8 lens to something closer to a f5.6, and drastically reducing bokeh.

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About The Author

Avatar of John P.
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John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter and Google+.

38 Responses

  1. dav1dz

    There wouldn’t be as many people posting about the same depth of field vs. bokeh here had you pronounced bokeh correctly.

    And you said it so many times. Come on…

    Since this is GeekBeat, your target audience, being geeks, are going to be passionate about what you say. Explaining crop factors, aperture, focal length equivalents is difficult in 5 minutes. I understand. But I do believe you deserve all the rage from mirror less users. After all, they are the upper echelon of photography geekdom at the moment.

    Your audience is right.

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      dav1dz,

      I’m not sure where you learned to say bokeh, or how exactly you are saying it, but my pronunciation is perfect with the sole exception of perhaps a little bit of a Texas accent:

      The English spelling bokeh was popularized in 1997 in Photo Techniques magazine, when Mike Johnston, the editor at the time, commissioned three papers on the topic for the March/April 1997 issue; he altered the spelling to suggest the correct pronunciation to English speakers, saying “it is properly pronounced with bo as in bone and ke as in Kenneth, with equal stress on either syllable”. The spellings bokeh and boke have both been in use at least since 1996, when Merklinger had suggested “or Bokeh if you prefer.” The term bokeh has appeared in photography books at least since 1998. It is sometimes pronounced /ˈboʊkə/ (boke-uh).

      As far as “rage” is concerned, lets be clear that the tens of thousands of people who have watched this video are not represented by the maybe 20-30 people who have disagreed with me on one level or another. And those mirrorless owners, or others who are attempting to argue that smaller format cameras are the equal in any way of their bigger brothers are absolutely NOT right. They are wrong. This can be proven scientifically, mathematically, and subjectively. (That is not a statement, nor has it ever been, that fantastic photos can’t be made with smaller cameras.)

      Of course, the difference here is that I never set out to prove them wrong. I did set out to educate the people who have no knowledge and have not yet formed an opinion to make them aware that there are differences between various cameras with similar markings on them.

      The fact that some people are choosing to argue over word choices and definitions doesn’t hurt my argument – it actually helps! This is all very educational for rank amateurs, so long as it spurs them on to learn more and approach the topic skeptically.

      John P.

  2. Don

    Gee John, did you think all this discussion would result from a simple video? I think people miss who your intended audience was and that a generic explanation was fine.

    I’m amazed that people assume they know the demographics of your audience.

    Why were they watching in the first place if they know all this?

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Actually Don, I’m happy for all this discussion! It’s exactly what I hoped for. We need more discussion, and I already knew how many people are passionate about this topic, even though a few are a little misguided. ;-)

  3. Lynn Bennett

    The single driving thing that keeps people buying the APS sensor cameras and not the full frame versions is the cost. The full frame cameras are 2 to 5+ times more.

    While in theory the results can be better if sharpness of the image is the measure but in my experience which includes sheet film cameras, 2 1/4 Hasselblads, Mamiya 645, and over 50 years of doing photography, todays APS sensors give amazingly sharp images. I have several 20 x 30 inch prints hanging on my home walls from a Pentax APS entry level DSLR that rival and even beat images (for sharpness) I have done with medium format cameras and film. The results and the apparent sharpness is what counts not the cost of the equipment or the kind of view finder. When the sensors are made even better in the future, there will be no need for full frame DSLR regardless of the view finder mechanism. In my opinion today’s APS sensor cameras can match or exceed the apparent image quality of film cameras of the medium format size. But full frame DSLR offers features not found in some of the APS cameras that some photographers may need. I don’t and use my APS DSLR in manual exposure mode, hand metered for exposure, and only shoot in RAW. But that’s just me.

    Now, if you are a professional then you need a camera WOW factor. The customer will not be impressed with your professionalism if you use the same APS camera their teenager uses. It should be the skill of the photographer not the cost of the camera that impresses. It is not right for the camera to so impress a customer but that is the way it is.

    The math to prove that the depth of field is greater for the smaller format sensors should be done but I am not about to do it . It involves the circle of confusion, the ability of the eye to detect differences in sharpness, the viewing distance, the lens focal length and tons of calculations but I suspect (the math is left for the reader) it might turn out that there may be no difference when both the FF and APS images are compared under equivalent variables for the same final image size. Anyone done the math?

    I have to agree that the so called BOKEN should not be used as comparison of mirror-less cameras to mirrored DSLR cameras or APS to FF or smaller sensors. There are many feature that cameras have that a buyer needs to consider and BOKEN is such a small factor for most of photography as to be useless as a measure. Perhaps the total novice needs to graduate through various types and sizes of cameras to accurately determine what they need and not so much what they think is technologically advanced. Mirror-less cameras may be the future as they eliminate a bunch of mechanical parts and pieces that wear over time which could impact image quality in the end. I’ll be doing a bit of waiting to see how it all shakes out before I dump my mirrored APS DSLR camera. But I do think mirror-less view finding will eventually be the norm, just to eliminate all the moving parts of the mirrored SLR body. Economics may in the end be the deciding factor for the manufacturers.

    Anyway, John P, thanks for trying anyway. You r example was interesting if not conclusive for most of us.

    LDBennett

  4. Mal

    I think most viewers are dismissing your video because you leave the impression (and almost state outright) that a bigger sensor is better than a smaller sensor. You achieve this by focusing only on depth of field as the measure of quality, and talking up that shallower depth of field provides better bokeh. Talking up one argument and leaving out all other counter arguments or considerations is the culprit here.

    Clearly depth of field is not the only measure of image quality. In fact, the shallow depth of field effect that can be achieved on the Micro Four Thirds system (the smallest sensor in this discussion) is considerable when mated to a suitable lens. Or to put it another way, the extremely shallow depth of field that can be achieved on FF systems that is not achievable on APSC or M43 is rarely required. Even further, the bokeh from the best mirrorless cameras is as good as anything available on APSC and FF DSLRs. And finally, the obvious counter argument is that a greater depth of field is usually needed. In your video, none of these considerations were mentioned.

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Mal,

      I’m not almost stating that a bigger sensor is better – I’m saying it outright. A bigger sensor is better.
      Having said that, I never said that just because a sensor size is technically superior you can’t use something smaller. Nor did I say that any camera type was always the correct choice for anyone.

      The ONLY point I was making is the one you so eloquently stated:

      the extremely shallow depth of field that can be achieved on FF systems that is not achievable on APSC or M43 is rarely required

      There are technical differences, despite the fact that some numbers are the same on small vs big cameras. Amateurs need to be aware of this, and indeed the discussion on this thread and others are accomplishing exactly the education I hoped to achieve. ;-)

      And by the way, I disagree that “most viewers are dismissing your video”. On YouTube it has 143 thumbs up vs 14 down. I think the info is hitting home with the people who need it most, namely those who had no idea there was a real difference between two cameras that both say f2.8.

      Cheers!

  5. John

    Wait a minute… This is not telling the right story. What you do not talk a out is focal length and that is what is more important then sensor size. The fact is a 50 mm 2.8 lens on a full frame has the same bokeh as a 50 mm 2.8 lens on a smaller sensor camera. Of course to get the same angle of view on the four-thirds camera you would need a 25 mm lens, and that is why it would have less bokeh. So f stop and focal length are what effect bokeh, not sensor size.

    • Tamas

      Wait, you still mix bokeh and DOF…

      DOF: depth of field, means simply the range, where your object are sharp. This depens only on the actual diameter of your lens (e.g.: 2.8/50 lens has the same diameter as a 1.4/25)

      bokeh: “creamyness” of the background. Of course, for good bokeh you need shallow DOF – but you also need premium lenses with a good (9 blade or 7blade curly) diafragm for that! Just picking up any 1.4/50 prime won’t necessarily give you a nice bokeh! (Although DOF will be shallow)

      • Ken

        You two are right.
        FF has an edge over FT in IQ, but no difference to ordinary users. Just like today any CPU is good enough for a PC. On the other hand, the size, thus the cost, advantage of FT and mirrorless over FF is so huge that most people should go for micro FT!

  6. Adam

    I couldn’t disagree with you more regarding the assertion that “Sensors are getting larger and larger, and even the mirrorless cameras will continue to increase until they virtually all have full frame sensors. It’s the natural progression of things.” That is a silly statement for several reasons. First of all, one of the things that attracts people to mirrorless cameras is their smaller size and weight with respect to dSLRs. They are more convenient to tote around, plain and simple. And if these cameras increase the size of their sensors, then they must also increase the size, and weight, of their lenses. This also makes the lenses more expensive, BTW. Just look at the difference between the Olympus E-M5 versus the Sony NEX system. While the camera bodies are similarly sized, the NEX lenses are significantly larger and heavier than their Oly counterparts. Overall a much more compact package with negligible difference in IQ. That’s a tradeoff many gladly accept. So to extrapolate that further, you would basically be putting Nikon FX lenses on a Sony NEX or Oly body, which would be incredibly unwieldy. Plus, as sensor technology improves, the smaller sensors can pack more and more punch into their IQ. They are to the point that they are so good that the additional incremental improvement in IQ isn’t detectable on anything other than large prints or by the most discernable pixel peepers. Granted, things like DOF will never measure up to FF, but again, size for DOF is a tradeoff I’ll take all day long. I almost never am confronted with a situation where I say to myself, “Gee, I really wish I could have a narrower DOF here!” It is so rare as be inconsequential to me. On the flip side, I quite enjoy having a larger DOF in many situations. It cuts both ways! I fully believe that more and more people will see the benefits of a smaller system that can achieve everything they need in terms of IQ and shooting style, relegating FF dSLRs to more of a niche than they are currently. Surely there will be more mirrorless FF options in the future, but they will be the exception, not the rule. I think M4/3 and NEX are both well positioned to usher in the future or digital photography for hobbyists and pros alike.

      • Avatar of John P.
        John P.

        Hey Adam,

        Not ignoring you on purpose. We generate a LOT of content, and I have MANY discussions going in different places. Plus, I’m packing to leave for LA in the morning with Cali and we have a huge list of stuff to do including writing new shows and making even more content – so I can get further and further behind! ;-)

        I just kind of run out of time and don’t see all of the posts and comments on everything after a few days because I have to move on to what is new. Please don’t take it personally! I’ve enjoyed the discussion so far, and hoping that others will also join in and express additional opinions.

        Cheers,

        John P.

  7. Tamas

    As earlier said, there are popular MILC bodies out there using apsc sensors (NEX, Fuji) and FF is NOT mainstream, it never will be.

    If you browse through sensor tests, made by reputable websites (dpreview, DXO), the DOF remains the last, weak line of defense of APS-c “against” mft: the Olympus OMD (and now its cheaper successors, epl5, epm2) has roughly the same noise and dynamic range as the nikon D90 or canon 650D. The D7000 has an edge because of its great DR ISO100. But anyway, if one needs such a huge DR, the D7k, D4, and any god-given camera won’t be enough, just take an HDR-set. Besides, modern mft sensors easily produce shots enough for 20*30inch prints (see http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/omd-em5/omd-em5A5.HTM). If you really want larger, then you need a medium format camera.

    Full frame of course is a different league, it always has been. The typical DSLR today is APS-c format, both because of price and weight considerations. I know a few people jumped on the relatively “cheap” 2nd hand D700 or new D600 – and feel sorry for their backs, when they carry the almost 2lb camera + 2.8/24-70 + 70-200 lens. Of course, they get shallow DOF (bokeh I don’t know, depens on lens QUALITY/build, as Peter said) – so do I, with an mft body +1.7/20, 1.1/50 lenses.

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Tamas,

      I disagree with you 100% when you say, “FF is NOT mainstream, it never will be.”

      This statement is very, very misinformed. Sensors are getting larger and larger, and even the mirrorless cameras will continue to increase until they virtually all have full frame sensors. It’s the natural progression of things.

      The problem is, everyone is assuming that dSLRs are going to remain stagnant when it comes to sensor design. Why in the world would that be the case?

      You really think that Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma and others are going to let their dSLRs stagnate while investing in smaller body cameras? I can tell you from speaking with them personally – that is not their intention.

      John P.

      • David

        I found your discussion confusing. DOF is a way to describe how much of the image in front of and behind the focal point appears to be sharp. It depends on sensor size, aperture, distance between what you are focusing on and the camera, and distance between what you are focusing on and the background/foreground. Bokeh is the quality of the out-of-focus areas. it depends on the characteristics of the lens and to some extent on the light and the background content. Some people may confuse them, but you have only added to the confusion.

        And your basic statement that FF cameras are “better” than smaller formats is absurd. “Better for some things and not for others” would have been more accurate. Small sensor cameras really are “better” if you want everything in the image to be effectively in focus (you’d need an f/64 or smaller aperture lens on a FF camera to accomplish that, with the same FOV), or when you are in places carrying a heavy DSLR and lots of lenses is impossible. FF cameras are “better” when you want to shoot with very shallow DOF or when you want to shoot in very low light situations handheld or with moving subjects, or when you want to shoot at higher ISOs and still get very good dynamic range in high-contrast shots. Cameras that use the phase-detect method of autofocus are better for continuously tracking moving objects, regardless of the sensor size. Cameras that combine phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus are the best of both worlds. Etc.

        A really useful post would pick one area and accurately describe the differences. If you want to focus on aperture and sensor size, great, talk about DOF and stick to it, make that point clearly, and then maybe introduce that a shallower DOF combined with creamy bokeh makes for the kinds of shots you start your video with.

        You also say somewhere that the better lenses have lower minimum apertures. This is also not true. There are plenty of CCTV lenses, for instance, with very low apertures, and they are simple designs with multiple defects, while a slower lens with more complex and careful design will eliminate those defects and produce more realistic images.

        Etc.

        An article explaining all this would be useful to a novice. Your article/video confuses things more.

      • Avatar of John P.
        John P.

        David,

        There is no way for me to respond. You’ve “quoted” me without actually quoting me. Example:

        You also say somewhere that the better lenses have lower minimum apertures.

        or

        And your basic statement that FF cameras are “better” than smaller formats is absurd.

        I have never said either of those things. Ever. To the latter point I do assert that FF cameras are technically superior in virtually every way to smaller sensor cameras. But that does not translate to better, and I never said it did.

        If you can give me specific instances of exact things I’ve said that I’m happy to respond if you think there is an inaccuracy. But we have to stick to direct quotes so I’m not being mis-characterized.

        John P.

      • David

        Your exact quote, at approximately 2 minutes into the video, is “The lower the [aperture] number, the higher the quality of the lens.” If that’s not equivalent to saying that better lenses have lower minimum apertures, then I don’t have any idea what you meant by that statement. It seemed to me my sentence was an accurate paraphrase.
        As for the second statement, no, you don’t come right out and say, “FF cameras are better,” but you mention none of the advantages of the smaller format, and although it may be erroneous for the viewer to infer that you are saying “bigger is better,” it is hard to come away from this video with any other impression.

        You also, over an over in this video, confuse DOF with bokeh. Do you deny this, too? They are not the same thing, and they are neither is dependent only on sensor size.

      • David

        Listened to the end of the video again. At 5:18, you say that the smaller-sensor cameras “aren’t capable of the same range of photography as DSLRs, even in the hands of a professional.” If that’s not essentially equivalent to saying they are “better,” then I don’t really know what you are saying.

      • David

        Well, I’m still waiting for a response. Although you “never said” either of these things “ever,” you’ve said a pretty close equivalent. It’s not a crime to say, “You know, I was wrong about a few things in this video and thanks to you all for correcting me.” That would be much more interesting than denying you got things wrong.

      • Tamas

        Hi John,
        For the “FF being – or not being – mainstream” question one argument: lens size and weight. To cover a larger area, you will need more glass. One day maybe someone invents an actually usable zero-distortion lens element, that might solve the problem and make larger sensors mainstream. Until them, you have to carry 2 pounds if you want a fast, standard zoom (2.8/24-70), 6 pounds for a 2.8/300 tele – while equivalents on mft or even APS-c are much smaller/lighter. True, FF will deliver you more valuable pixels, the picture (given pro lens quality) IS better, no objections. But do you really need that? You need an 8kTV to watch the files from a D800 at 100%! Some applications truly need this resolution today – and needed it in the film days – but these are not the everyday customer, taking sunset shots on his holiday flash on…

        As for the Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma DSLR-businesses. I am not a fortune-teller, what I see, is that mirrorless systems started to emerge from their factories too (e.g. the EOS-M, aps-c cam). The mirror is the legacy of the film days, where that was the only option to adjust sharpness and compose precisely. Now you can do that with an EVF – which is currently below the mirror quality, but being improved rapidly. Being mirrorless of being FF are different things again, there ARE ALREADY fullframe mirrorless cameras (RX1 from Sony and a few Leica models). Maybe both of us will be 50% true, and the future is for FullFrame but MirrorLess cameras:)

  8. Andy Crowe

    Ahem, the mirrorless camera you show in the video is a Sony NEX which contains an APS sensor which is exactly the same size as most DSLRs, with only the most expensive top of the range DSLRs being full frame.

    The video is actually quite misleading and you should clarify the difference between full frame DSLRs, APS DSLRs / Mirrorless cameras and Micro Four Thirds cameras, and the fact that APS is a lot closer to M4/3 than it is to Full Frame (Full Frame at f5.6 is equivalent to f3.7 on APS and f2.8 on M4/3)

    At the moment if someone doesn’t fully understand sensor sizes they may well think that all DSLRs are full frame and get an APS DSLR when actually an APS mirrorless system would better suit them.

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Your argument is misleading.

      • The majority of mirrorless cameras being sold have smaller than APS-C sized sensors.
      • The majority of dSLRs sold have APS-C sized sensors or larger.

      These are facts, so there is nothing misleading about my assertion.

      Having said that, this 5 minute video was not designed to fully educate people on every possible alternative. You have to remember we’re dealing with people who never even heard of bokeh. Literally. You have 5 minutes to explain it to them in a way that your mother can understand. GO!

      What we want to do is give a little education, use some examples, and take the bigger questions off line for those who need more detail. Then we can have those conversations.

      • Fraser

        Hi!

        I do like your video, I think you did well in the short time frame and it’s a good talking point. It’s also a brave one as tech heads are always going to disagree on these kinds of subjects.

        Personally I think the only problem is the (all be it correct) technical point that you make is very unlikely to be relevant to the demographic you are aiming at. ie how likely is it that a person off to buy a full frame camera doesn’t know about depth of field?

        I feel your demographic are much more likely to be choosing between an APSC sensor DSLR and a mirrorless. In this respect the real world differences are either null (sony/samsung/fuji) or very negligible (m43). For m43 vs apsc there’s 3cm DOF difference at an equivelent 50mm f1.4 and 5ft.

        Your point would have been better made to your demographic comparing an apsc dslr or a mirrorless system with a compact camera or super zoom.

      • Andy Crowe

        The thing is, if you’re trying to educate people who don’t know about depth of field by telling them that “full size DSLRs offer lots of depth of field control” without making it completely clear that only applies to expensive full frame DSLRs and not APS DSLRs (which is exactly what someone who doesn’t know much about depth of field would likely be buying) then you are misleading people.

        You mention “full size DSLRs” 3 times and “larger DSLRs” once without drawing any distinction between APS DSLRs and Full Frame DSLRs, which when talking about “smaller mirrorless cameras” makes it sound like you are referring to all DSLRs (being physically larger than mirrorless cameras). You mention 35mm film in passing and one image is labelled “Full Frame” but for someone who doesn’t understand the difference between FF and APS DSLRs that’s not going to help.

        I think the piece is almost there but you’re giving people the impression that regular consumer DSLRs have the same quality as full frame DSLRs, really all you need to do is say that “This is micro four thirds bokeh, this is APS mirrorless bokeh, this is APS DSLR bokeh and this is expensive full frame camera bokeh”

  9. PeterB

    Two major miss-statements:

    1) DOF and Bokeh are two entirely different things. DOF is the amount of blurring of foreground-background, wheras Bokeh is the subjective quality of the blurring – anywhere from harsh to creamy, depending mainly on lens and diaphraghm construction – how many diaphragm leaves, and whether curved or straight. Apparent DOF is greatly affected by sensor crop factor, but Bokeh mainly by the lens design.

    2) The crop factor of micro 4/3 and 4/3 cameras is indeed 2X, as their linear diagonal is half of a FF camera. The sensor area, however, is only 1/4 that of a FF, since each dimension is 1/2 a FF sensor, and only one quadrant of the FF area.

    All in all a very mis-informed communication.
    PB

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Peter,

      I think it’s unfair to call this video “very mis-informed”. But hey, if that’s how you feel…

      1) What I said – exactly – is “…that effect is called bokeh, and you’ll also hear people call it depth of field…” This was not a misstatement on any level.

      2) Yes, that was technically a MINOR misstatement. I should have clarified the diagonal measurement was 2X and not the area. But you know what, that doesn’t matter in the least. The point I was making is still valid, and the concept here was to get people talking about the differences – not the similarities.

      I should have gone on in the video to state that you can’t find a dSLR that can match the bokeh of a medium format camera like a Hasselblad. Which goes to prove the only real point I was making in the video.

      ==> Smaller cheaper cameras with similar markings are not the equals of their bigger brothers. <==

      You’d have thought that after all the megapixel hype from the past, we’d have learned our lesson about calling little cameras equal to bigger ones. But we still have a lot of education to do.

      John P.

      • BillL

        This is not a subjective nor debatable issue, paraphrasing PeterB, Bokeh is not synonomous with depth of field—aside from being related to blur, they are otherwise unrelated. Depth of field describes _what_ is in or out of focus; Bokeh describes what the out of focus blur looks like (not how out of focus it is)—the look or _character_ of the out of focus area. You can have two lenses set to yield the same depth of field, yet exhibit different Bokeh.

        Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh to get a better understanding of what Bokeh really is. Though you may have to listen to lots of other knowledgeable discussions on this topic to better understand Bokeh and why it is a controversial issue (though I have never heard anyone confuse it with depth of field, before).

        Bokeh is a geeky topic for photographers, so it is often misunderstood. Too bad your video adds to this confusion and, for the uninformed, misleads those being exposed to this term for the first time.

        Bill…

      • Avatar of John P.
        John P.

        Sorry Bill, but everything you said here is a restatement of things I’ve already said in the comments on this page, and on the YouTube video page. Yet your description is clearly aimed at me, not the uneducated. I literally own $50k worth of high end camera equipment, and you really assume I don’t know what depth of field is? ;-) Come now.

        You guys are arguing against a point that I never made. You act as if I presented bokeh as the definition of depth of field – something I never did in my life. Again, what I said was:

        “…that effect is called bokeh, and you’ll also hear people call it depth of field…”

        The fact that so many people here are trying to “straighten me out” only demonstrates that so many people use DOF and bokeh interchangeably – right or wrong. As part of my job, I communicate with a LOT of people. Likely far, far more than anyone responding here in these comments. And I also speak to a much broader range of people. And I’m telling you that they routinely call depth of field bokeh, and vice versa.

        Go to Best Buy and ask someone in the camera department. Odds are extremely high you’ll hear these words interchanged.

        So, you may know as much about cameras as I do – or even far more – but give me a little credit for knowing something about our audience, and also understanding the kind of challenges they face.

        John P.

  10. Matt

    While you comments on depth of field and sensor size is correct, you’re implying that all mirrorless cameras have small sensors and all dslr’s have “full” frame sensors. The vast majority of dslr’s sold are crop sensors either 1.5 nikon/sony/pentax or 1.6 canon’s and the sony/fuji mirrorless cameras share the same 1.5 crop with mft being 2, now is there really that much difference? Also bokeh and shallow depth of field are not the same thing, which is why two same aperture lenses on a full frame could have very different bokeh, I’ll let you research why this would be the case. Finally, what if you want the opposite of shallow depth of field, then there are obvious benefits to smaller big sensors in aps-c of mft formats.

    • Avatar of John P.
      John P.

      Matt,

      I chose bokeh only as a single representative example of why larger and more expensive cameras are better than cheaper and smaller cameras, even though many might have the same exact aperture rating on the lenses.

      My hope is not to get bogged down in the minutiae. And I assure you that I am well versed in this topic in general. Don’t let my giving a single example mislead you into thinking that’s all I know about this subject. ;-)

      The general points I’m making are:
      1) You can make a great photo with just about any camera, if you try hard enough.
      2) Mid sized cameras can definitely make technically better photos than pocket cameras. Full sized make technically better than mid sized. And so on.

      The main take away is that people shouldn’t look at a pocket camera from Canon that costs $200 and think it’s as good as the T4i because they both have an f2.8 lens on them. And unfortunately, many, many people do.

      Cheers,
      John P.

      • Matt

        While I couldn’t agree more with a comparison of point and shoot vs t4i dslr, I would say that a mirrorless panasonic/olympus/sony will have either the same or very minor bokeh differences against that same t4i. After all theoretically a sony NEX mirrorless camera (1.5 crop) will have better bokeh than a t4i dslr (1.6 crop).

        Also another point is critical sharpness, the micro four thirds 1.4 and 1.8 lenses are much sharper than the full frame equivalents at that same aperture wide open, now the 2x crop even on aperture isn’t really 2 but actually less.

        I guess what I’m saying is your video implied mirrorless are like point ans shoots but the fact is even the olympus and panasonic models have a much much larger sensor much close to dslr’s than point and shoots.

      • Avatar of John P.
        John P.

        We are both in agreement that my implication was that larger, more expensive cameras are indeed better. I believe that 100%, and furthermore I can prove it at every single level. I know this for a fact.

        However, I am not saying that a Canon 1DX is the right camera for everyone. Indeed it is not! It would be a terrible, terrible, disastrous choice for a rank amateur.

        The thing I hope to accomplish with this video is to get people who know nothing to start investigating the differences. WHY do these two cameras seem to have some similar performance numbers? Most people know they can’t be the same, the problem is that no one is educating them as to what the real differences are.

        Rather than people pointing out exceptions where the 5 minute video example I created isn’t true, I’d love to see someone pick up the torch and carry it a little further. Let’s explain what the real differences are between the performance of a $200 camera and a $1,000 camera so people can decide where in the spectrum they need to be purchasing.

        I’m just sick of all the hype. We need to get back to facts and stop the love affair with mirrorless as if it’s the greatest thing out there. For some people – it is. For others, not so much. How can they decide which of the two they are?

      • Matt

        I guess the only disagreement I have is calling mirrorless hype, the fact is mirrorless cameras have caught up to dslr’s in terms of image quality, again remember the vast majority of dslr’s sold aren’t full frame and actually have the same sized sensors as all the crop dslrs! Full frame no doubt has it place, but traditional crop dslr’s are basically dead and are wisely being replaced by smaller and lighter mirrorless system cameras that pack the same punch. I’m personally sick of all the hype that a bigger camera is better and the average consumer has this ridiculous perception about the physical dimensions. The best camera is the one you have with you, do you carry your 5d mark3 with you everywhere simply because you get better bokeh?? Anyway I think it would be great to have this topic covered by some pro photographers who use both systems, either for pro or personal use and explain their merits.

      • tgutgu

        You totally mislead people. Where it is written that smaller depth of field (which you incorrectly call “bokeh”) is an advantage per se? I have seen more images spoiled because of not enough depth of field. Micro Four Thirds has the tremendous advantage of having more depth of field at larger apertures, thus allowing shorter shutter speed to acquire enough depth of field.

        Your post is biased and as such useless.

      • Tom

        Sorry

        You get the technical trerms wrong, point to a very technical, fringe, area of comparison then refuese to argue the point because you dont want to get bogged down in minutae.

        Kinda lost credability there dude.

      • Don

        One other thing, a bit of minutiae (sorry), my Canon T3i can shoot either way! Mirrorless or SLR. Also my lowest f/ratio lens is a 55mm f/1.8