For those who never heard about it, the Brenizer method is just a special case of panorama stitching from multiple partially overlapping shots, with one specific goal - to create a very shallow DoF composite photo, ideally much more shallow than any existing lens can do. Apparently it was promoted by a (wedding?) photographer Brenizer, hence the name. But the guy didn't invent it obviously.
I had only one experience with Brenizer, some time ago, with 135L on 50D, 9 shots stitched together:
In the shadow by syamastro, on Flickr
Now I am starting to think about it again. What I am interested in now is what lens/camera combination would produce the most "wow" Brenizer effect?
Those who experimented with this method - what is your opinion?
From my limited experience + lots of googling, it looks like the best lens for Brenizer is
- 85mm for FF; and 50mm for a crop,
- the fastest lens you can get, and
- the lens with fairly smooth and circular bokeh.
I think the last point is critical - those old manual 50-55mm f1.2 lenses may appear very interesting for this method (on crop camera) but are likely not suitable, given how harsh and non-circular their bokeh is, especially away from the frame center. (Hard to stitch such shots together!) Anyone with real life experience with such lenses for Brenizer shots? May be you can prove me wrong.
In terms of FL - I think it is important to use short telephoto for your sensor (that is, 85mm for FF or 50mm for crop). The reason: by merging multiple shots you effectively mimic a super-fast wide angle lens, and from many Brenizer shots I've seen the strong perspective effect of a WA lens combined with an unnaturally shallow DoF (for such a lens) is what makes the strongest "wow" effect.
These are photos (not mine) to illustrate the point (one per lens; all on FF):
So in this context, my only experiment with Brenizer - 135L on 50D - wasn't going to produce anything spectacular. I think I'll need something like 50mm f1.4 on my 50D, or even better - upgrade to FF and get something like 85mm f1.4. (Perhaps re-purchase the Samyang 85mm - I used to own it.)
But these are my personal opinions/observations. What do you think - which specific lenses are best for Brenizer method? May be, with some examples?
EDIT: I did a bit of math (using the DOF equation), and computed the following table. Assumptions: we want to have the subject all sharp (so the target DoF=0.5m) - this determines the distance to the subject, for given FL and f-number; the overlap between photos to stitch is 0.25 in each dimension (in frame units); the target effective FL of a stitched photo is 30mm (on FF) - this will ensure a pronounced wide-angle effect, and seems to be the typical value Brenizer himself was using. I used thecircle of confusion equation for the case of background at infinity to compute the "bg blur" column - size of CoC in standard CoC units (0.03mm for FF); the larger the number, the stronger is the background blur. Finally, the last column shows the frame height at the subject's distance in the composite shot (meters; landscape orientation):
Lens Distance(m/ft) N_shots f-number bg blur height(m)
135L 8.7m / 29 ft 36 0.44 11.0 4.9
85/1.4 6.6m / 22 ft 14 0.49 13.2 3.7
85/1.2 7.1m / 23 ft 14 0.42 14.2 4.0
55/1.2 4.6m / 15 ft 6 0.65 14.3 2.6
50/1.2 4.2m / 14 ft 5 0.72 14.3 2.4
50/1.4 3.8m / 13 ft 5 0.84 13.3 2.2