Bokeh or not Bokeh

bodoman

Distinguished Member
Been laid up with a nasty flue for the past 5 days and have not been able to get out (or up for a couple of days)

Anyway when i was in a delirium i started thinking about bokeh, never even heard the word before i joined you lot on here, then did not dare ask what it was on here for ages in case i sounded silly, then i realised i had nothing to loose:laugh:

So i thought i would have go at taking a photograph purely to see if i could create one with decent bokeh.

Is this what is known as bokeh or is it something else, i took it from my kitchen window though a double glazed glass, had to up the iso to 800 to get a fast shutter speed (hence the noise) and taken at 200mm end of the zoom
2154518229_961a070c17_b.jpg


Happy New Year to you all and thank for your company on here in the past year
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
That's nice and smooth, certainly. I'll wait to be corrected, but bokeh has come to mean the nature of the out of focus areas of a picture. Hence you get 'good bokeh' and 'bad bokeh'. You can actually get some rather nice funky bokeh that isn't that nice even smooth stuff, but pleasing to the eye nevertheless.
 

Tobers

Well-known Member
Yes - that looks like good effective bokeh. Essentially, the blurred background makes your subject "pop" or stand out from the background significantly. Ideally, it should be "creamy" i.e. smooth and not containing harsh lines or shapes.

Some lenses make better bokeh than others due to the shape of their aperture blades. Also, the wider the aperture the better the bokeh should be as the DOF will be much shallower.

In your shot, had you got a bit lower and had less hedge, with the bird more "on top" of the hedge, the bird would have stood out even more.
 

bodoman

Distinguished Member
I think i have got it now, probably my question should have asked is it good or bad bokeh, not just is it bokeh:)

Tobers, i could not get any lower as the kitchen sink was in the way:D
 

Tobers

Well-known Member
Yours is good bokeh. This is bad bokeh. You can see that it is all scrunchy and has lots of distracting lines & shapes. Although taken with an aperture of f2.8, it was at 55mm with a fairly close background. I'd have been better with a longer lens from further away, whilst crouching down a bit.

142649914-L.jpg
 

Brammers

Banned
Some lenses make better bokeh than others due to the shape of their aperture blades. Also, the wider the aperture the better the bokeh should be as the DOF will be much shallower.

You're not quite right there Tobers.

Aperture blades only determine the shape of specular highlights in the bokkeh. This has an effect upon the overall bokkeh appearance, but it's not the be-all and end all. Look at the dog shot. The horrible drawing of the twig is the overall poor bokkeh performance, but only the bright white highlights in the bokkeh are effected by the aperture - here they're nice and round, showing that the lens either has rounded aperture blades or in this case that the lens is being used wide open, in which case the roundness of the lens gives the specular highlights their shape.

You also mistake the quality of the bokkeh with the aperture. A wide aperture will only give more bokkeh - not better. Other things that give more bokkeh are a close focusing distance, a large sensor and a long focal length, ideally a combination of all 4.

Quality of bokkeh is very subjective - but it's generally defined by specular highlights being well controlled (they should appear smoothed into the overlall bokkeh, not sticking out as pinpricks of light) and smoothness. Quality bokkeh is a design feature of a lens as much as sharpness or AF speed is, and you can design lenses specifically for good bokkeh.

Over in the Minolta/Sony world we're discussing this a lot because our pro lenses are changing. They used to be made by Minotla, and one of the key features of pro lenses was that they should feature good bokkeh - often at the expense of absolute sharpness. Check out reviews of our 35 1.4, 70-200 2.8 or 85 1.4 compared to competitors - they tend to sacrifice absolute sharpness at wide apertures for superior bokkeh.

Nowadays it looks like we're not going to see many more true Sony G lenses, but that our pro glass is going to be Carl Zeiss. Zeiss have a different design philosophy to Minolta, in that they do favour biting sharpness over bokkeh. The jury's still out on the 85 1.4, but the 16-80 and the 135 1.8 are generally acknowledged to have 'only' average bokkeh, but to have superior sharpness. Different idea.

Anyway, here's an old Minolta gem, 135 2.8 STF which demonstrates superior bokkeh:

378308679_26ce2a2e95.jpg


1449220842_9e7cf5658c.jpg


7D-2007-01-03-1531020148.jpg


Here's specular highlights from the original Minolta 135 2.8:

pict2242_dileva.jpg


The bokkeh overall is good - nice and smooth, but the highlights bloom out. Now you know what you're looking for, you should be able to spot them in the following shot:

pict2830xb7.jpg


And here's the Zeiss that uses a different idea - the sharpness should be apparant, but equally the bokkeh isn't quite up to the Minolta STF. It's by no means bad, but it's just not as good:

401943432_b704dce068_b.jpg


Hope that helped :)
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
Good post Brammers.

I'm a big bokeh nut and it's essential for any lenses I use, and is the main reason for spending what I did on the 85/1.2. This is an extreme idea at 50mm & f1.2:

381952752_807262787f_o.jpg


This with a 70-200/2.8

442616426_de2c4b808e_o.jpg


35/1.4

2132702465_1e8e289678_o.jpg


135/2

1777572465_3e280deefd_o.jpg


24-70/2.8 (and one reason why I much prefer this lens to the 24-105 which I know from experience would really struggle with this background)

1241811650_670c5c2912_o.jpg
 

Brammers

Banned
Radiohead's shots are great examples of specular highlight blooming - check out the trees in the last shot and the white discs in the first and second. This something that people who shoot wide open a lot have to be careful of - if you're going to use bokkeh a lot in a shot then you have to make sure that it's pleasant - pay attention to high contrast or metallic surfaces.

Please note that specular highlight blooming doesn't automatically mean bad bokkeh - it's present in almost every lens, bar those specially corrected for bokkeh. What we're after is a smooth transition between specular highlights when they appear. A mirror lens is a great way to show this - contrary to popular opinion, mirror lenses actually produce great bokkeh!

386131640_c3d12fc337_o.jpg


However what they don't do at all well is deal with specular highlights, which take on the do-nut shape of the mirror itself:

7D-2006-01-11-PICT1004.jpg


So while the best bokkeh lenses don't even display specular highlights, everywhere else you're looking for how well they're controlled.

The 35 1.4 and 135/2 are both impressive - look how the tones merge smoothly in the shots there. Sure, a couple of white discs, but as I said, unless you correct the lens for bokkeh at the expense of other characteristics, unavoidable.

Also note how the best bokkeh, with few exceptions comes from primes. IIRC it's down to the simpler construction. The 24-70 is quite poor imo, very bitty in the background. I'm also disappointed in the 50 1.2, although that may well be down to the particular background - metal obviously being very contrasty.
 

bodoman

Distinguished Member
Very well explained and demonstrated Brammers i fully understand it all now:smashin:
 

bodoman

Distinguished Member
In hindsight i should have called this thread "bring out your bokeh for the boys" :D
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
Radiohead's shots are great examples of specular highlight blooming - check out the trees in the last shot and the white discs in the first and second. This something that people who shoot wide open a lot have to be careful of - if you're going to use bokkeh a lot in a shot then you have to make sure that it's pleasant - pay attention to high contrast or metallic surfaces.

The 35 1.4 and 135/2 are both impressive - look how the tones merge smoothly in the shots there. Sure, a couple of white discs, but as I said, unless you correct the lens for bokkeh at the expense of other characteristics, unavoidable.

Also note how the best bokkeh, with few exceptions comes from primes. IIRC it's down to the simpler construction. The 24-70 is quite poor imo, very bitty in the background. I'm also disappointed in the 50 1.2, although that may well be down to the particular background - metal obviously being very contrasty.

I put that last shot up as an example of a challenging background, particularly for a zoom. The 24-105 would have fared far, far worse, so here it's a case of best-case-in-the-circumstances. A very sunny, contrasty background with a large change of foliage/sky is always going to present problems. It's something I generally will have limited control over with the way I shoot a wedding (ie. no direction or staging) so I opt for the best lens compromise I can here.

The 50/1.2 was disappointing for other reasons to me, and went back. Here's another example with it, albeit with a much more forgiving background:

383933578_4343810908_o.jpg


Here's an 85/1.2 shot:

2094472889_cf2f3b227a_o.jpg


and another couple with the 24-70, again the first is a challenging shot here:

1413323564_f984a589fa_o.jpg


1390892774_5e9e68d36c_o.jpg


Another 135/2 shot:

1777570619_767b2bfdcb_o.jpg


And the (IMO) superb 70-200/2.8

251396346_b56434a03b_o.jpg


This I think is the 85/1.2 as well (albeit an older MkI)

415409466_43d6a6aea8_o.jpg
 

Brammers

Banned
That's better from the 50. 85 1.2 is lovely. Still not liking the 24-70 - yeah it blooms the discs, but it's the rest of it - it's just not smooth for me. Very streaky, very harsh.

Anyway, bokkeh is a very subjective thing :)

Steve - 30 1.4 is looking good! I also find my 20 1.8 to give lovely bokkeh when I give it the chance.

If we're all showing off now, here's some of mine. I won't tell you if it's good or bad - up to you :)

Minolta 58 1.2:

720882150_8c2bf2b0ce_o.jpg


2001394198_3691d32039_o.jpg


1253102310_e29279e755_o.jpg


Carl Zeiss 135 1.8:

1845458502_e2d44ea6e1_o.jpg


1845523816_7763a853c3_o.jpg


Sigma 18-125

2038365954_9028c1f28f_o.jpg


379243087_05aba126f9_o.jpg


Minolta 50 1.7

1096141849_7a31b006cc_o.jpg


967906170_812d265ee4_o.jpg
 

Radiohead

Well-known Member
Still not liking the 24-70 - yeah it blooms the discs, but it's the rest of it - it's just not smooth for me. Very streaky, very harsh.

It does best out of contrasty light - this sort of thing is more typical

479016202_e1868b5ad2_o.jpg


161008039-L.jpg


185469281-L.jpg


As you say, it's a compromise and the best I've found for a standard zoom.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Just out of interest.
While the 50mm 1.2 Radiohead used is out of the league of us mere mortals:rolleyes:, one of the reasons the 50mm 1.4 can justify its cost over the nifty fifty ( 50mm 1.8) is the fact that its bokeh ( amongst other features) is that much better:thumbsup:

This is I think "acceptable" bokeh from the SIGMA 70-300DG APO at 70mm

494971811_3296aaf3cb.jpg


Macro at 200mm

406637800_d4ab8a5fa2_o.jpg


and

50mm

649955200_a6927edc12.jpg
 

Yandros

Well-known Member
Since we're playing all getting our bokehs out :D...

A nice medium length macro lens will give the portrait lenses a fair run as well.

(Nikon 105 f2.8 VR) You've actually got to be pretty unlucky to get bad bokeh out of this baby.

hebe-borders-small.jpg


DSC_2874-final-borders-small.jpg


DSC_1765-borders-small.jpg


marmoset1-borders.JPG


DSC_1638-border-small.jpg
 

peskywinnets

Active Member
Canon 50mm 1.8 taken about 5 days ago in low light on a tatty farmhouse verandah in Brazil (eg paint peeling off the walls, hence wanting to blur the background!) ....




For £35 s/h on Ebay you just can't beat the lens for bang per buck (or should that be bang per bokeh?)
 

T0MAT01

Well-known Member
Very interesting thread guys. :thumbsup:

Radiohead, that 85L is a gorgeous lens!
It became my next most wanted lens after seeing 'Julia in the leaves' over on POTN.
Then I saw the price.... ;)

Anyway, here's one I took yesterday with my 70-200 @ f/4. Opinions welcome!



:)
 

loz

Distinguished Member
Some flower bokeh



Sony A100 + Minolta 70-210 beercan + Nikon 6T Close up lens


KM5D + Minolta 70-210 beercan


Sony A100 + Minolta 70-210 beercan + Nikon 6T Close up lens
 

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

HiFi Rose announces all-in-one RS520 audio streamer
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
LG Display set to launch its own 27 and 32-inch OLED panels in 2023?
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
What's new on Netflix (UK) for October 2022
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Starzplay streaming service rebrands as Lionsgate+
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
JVC adds Filmmaker Mode to latest D-ILA projector firmware
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom