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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 17 Nov 2006 (Friday) 03:57
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Best lens for bokeh

 
sirsloop
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Nov 27, 2006 10:50 |  #16

I think a lot of it depends on how you setup the equiptment and compose the shot. You can make a 50 f/1.0 look like it was a point and shoot, and you can make the 50 f/1.8 look like a $1,000 lens. Like shown above, getting close to your subject with an open aperture, with a distant background will create GREAT bokeh.

Which lens is the best? Really any 8+ blade aperture lens will do great if used correctly. Heck, even 5 blade aperture lenses are fantastic in some cases... but if there are bright lights or reflections they will show up as pentagons.


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Nov 27, 2006 12:40 |  #17

themirage wrote in post #2317736 (external link)
What about the 50 f1.0

Give me one and I will test it for you. :lol:


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Longwatcher
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Nov 27, 2006 14:12 as a reply to  @ kwsanders's post |  #18

Just being picky for a moment, the second shot is not good bokeh as the bright area in the upper right corner is distracting from an otherwise good photo. As in my eye keeps going to the upper right hand corner away from the subject - thus not so good bokeh.

Bokeh is not just about the lens, but the lens contributes to good or bad bokeh.
Bokeh is not just a really blurry background either.

Good Bokeh is a pleasing effect of correctly blurring the background in a way that enhances the photo and subject rather then detract from the photo.

The other two are great examples though, especially the squirell.

Just my opinion and understanding of the word Bokeh as mutated from Japanese.


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In2Photos
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Nov 27, 2006 14:21 |  #19

Longwatcher wrote in post #2320052 (external link)
Just being picky for a moment, the second shot is not good bokeh as the bright area in the upper right corner is distracting from an otherwise good photo. As in my eye keeps going to the upper right hand corner away from the subject - thus not so good bokeh.

Bokeh is not just about the lens, but the lens contributes to good or bad bokeh.
Bokeh is not just a really blurry background either.

Good Bokeh is a pleasing effect of correctly blurring the background in a way that enhances the photo and subject rather then detract from the photo.

The other two are great examples though, especially the squirell.

Just my opinion and understanding of the word Bokeh as mutated from Japanese.

No problems being picky. :) I agree very much so with the bold statments above. My knowledge of bokeh has come from this forum and I also learned from this article (external link). As explained in the article bokeh is refering to the quality of the OOF highlights. As you pointed out in my second example the highlight is distracting, but not because of the bokeh (IMO). The transition from inner to outer edge is smooth with no halos (good bokeh). Perhaps this is where my confusion lays. Do you agree?


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Double ­ Negative
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Nov 27, 2006 14:36 |  #20

Exactly. Any lens can produce an OOF background. That's not bokeh. Bokeh isn't a blurred background - it's the QUALITY of the OOF areas and highlights.


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Nov 27, 2006 14:39 as a reply to  @ Double Negative's post |  #21

how's this bokeh?

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/mdjak/image/66654633.jpg

135L

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In2Photos
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Nov 27, 2006 14:45 |  #22

MDJAK wrote in post #2320195 (external link)
how's this bokeh?

mark

Do you really care about the bokeh Mark? I think all you see is her midriff.:p


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Double ­ Negative
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Nov 27, 2006 15:35 |  #23

In2Photos wrote in post #2320219 (external link)
Do you really care about the bokeh Mark? I think all you see is her midriff.:p

It is impressive... The bokeh, that is... :)


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sirsloop
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Nov 27, 2006 15:44 |  #24

i would acutally crop out most of that background... too bright and distracting.


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rdenney
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Nov 27, 2006 16:21 as a reply to  @ sirsloop's post |  #25

We should keep in mind a few points when discussing bokeh:

1. Bokeh is about the rendering of out-of-focus highlights, not specifically about depth of field. Out-of-focus highlights may be rendered with a harsh edge, a neutral edge, or a faded edge. The neutral edge shows a lens with the best overall correction, but the faded edge is the thing most people are meaning when they talk of good bokeh.

2. Bokeh is not about quantity of blur. You'll get more blur with longer camera-to-subject distances (allowed by longer lenses) and with wider apertures. It's quite possible that a fast lens with poor bokeh will provide a more nicely blurred background than a slower lens with excellent bokeh. The Canon 70-200/4L provides excellent bokeh, but it won't blur the background as much as an 85/1.8 when used at 1.8, though you might get close by backing up and using the 200mm end. A photo with profound use of selective focus to isolate the subject is not necessarily an example of good bokeh, but rather an example of selective focus. If the blur is smooth rather than edgy or clumpy, then it also has good bokeh. Good bokeh is mostly what produces the creamy three-dimensional effect for which old Sonnars are justifiably famous.

3. Bokeh is not about aperture shape, though you can see the shape of the aperture in out-of-focus highlights, especially if the lens has bright-edge bokeh. Some lenses have poor bokeh even wide open when their apertures are round.

4. It's not about lens quality. In fact, good bokeh depends on a bit of undercorrected spherical aberration, though that usually is corrected out at smaller apertures.

5. You can't generalize about bokeh. Lens design is the primary influence, but not the sole influence, and can be overcome by other factors. Each lens really should be evaluated on its own merits. Lenses with more aperture blades may or may not have smoother bokeh. Lenses with more or fewer elements, faster or slower, prime or zoom, or any of the other things people generalize about, may have good or bad bokeh.

6. A bare midriff always looks better than a blurred background, no matter how nicely blurred it is. Therefore, the best bokeh is the one where the subject is so compelling that nobody cares about the background.

See here: http://www.rickdenney.​com/bokeh_test.htm (external link)

Rick "who likes a wide, smooth brush" Denney


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Double ­ Negative
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Nov 27, 2006 22:40 |  #26

rdenney wrote in post #2320659 (external link)
3. Bokeh is not about aperture shape, though you can see the shape of the aperture in out-of-focus highlights, especially if the lens has bright-edge bokeh. Some lenses have poor bokeh even wide open when their apertures are round.

True, but typically the rounder the aperture (as is the case with 8-bladed apertures vs. 5-bladed ones and the new "circular aperture" feature in some new L lenses) the better the bokeh. I'd rather see slightly worse bokeh from an 8-bladed aperture than slightly better from a 5-bladed aperture... Pentagons all over your background aren't "cool." ;)


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KevC
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Nov 27, 2006 22:49 |  #27

rdenney wrote in post #2320659 (external link)
We should keep in mind a few points when discussing bokeh:

1. Bokeh is about the rendering of out-of-focus highlights, not specifically about depth of field. Out-of-focus highlights may be rendered with a harsh edge, a neutral edge, or a faded edge. The neutral edge shows a lens with the best overall correction, but the faded edge is the thing most people are meaning when they talk of good bokeh.

2. Bokeh is not about quantity of blur. You'll get more blur with longer camera-to-subject distances (allowed by longer lenses) and with wider apertures. It's quite possible that a fast lens with poor bokeh will provide a more nicely blurred background than a slower lens with excellent bokeh. The Canon 70-200/4L provides excellent bokeh, but it won't blur the background as much as an 85/1.8 when used at 1.8, though you might get close by backing up and using the 200mm end. A photo with profound use of selective focus to isolate the subject is not necessarily an example of good bokeh, but rather an example of selective focus. If the blur is smooth rather than edgy or clumpy, then it also has good bokeh. Good bokeh is mostly what produces the creamy three-dimensional effect for which old Sonnars are justifiably famous.

3. Bokeh is not about aperture shape, though you can see the shape of the aperture in out-of-focus highlights, especially if the lens has bright-edge bokeh. Some lenses have poor bokeh even wide open when their apertures are round.

4. It's not about lens quality. In fact, good bokeh depends on a bit of undercorrected spherical aberration, though that usually is corrected out at smaller apertures.

5. You can't generalize about bokeh. Lens design is the primary influence, but not the sole influence, and can be overcome by other factors. Each lens really should be evaluated on its own merits. Lenses with more aperture blades may or may not have smoother bokeh. Lenses with more or fewer elements, faster or slower, prime or zoom, or any of the other things people generalize about, may have good or bad bokeh.

6. A bare midriff always looks better than a blurred background, no matter how nicely blurred it is. Therefore, the best bokeh is the one where the subject is so compelling that nobody cares about the background.

See here: http://www.rickdenney.​com/bokeh_test.htm (external link)

Rick "who likes a wide, smooth brush" Denney

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rdenney
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Nov 28, 2006 10:34 |  #28

Double Negative wrote in post #2322357 (external link)
True, but typically the rounder the aperture (as is the case with 8-bladed apertures vs. 5-bladed ones and the new "circular aperture" feature in some new L lenses) the better the bokeh. I'd rather see slightly worse bokeh from an 8-bladed aperture than slightly better from a 5-bladed aperture... Pentagons all over your background aren't "cool." ;)

If the shapes are faded, they aren't that easy to see. I can see the aperture shape in this image:

IMAGE: http://www.rickdenney.com/images/CRW_2789.jpg

But the shape is not objectionable at all. On this one, the aperture is round, but the bokeh is objectionable:

IMAGE: http://www.rickdenney.com/images/CRW_2791.jpg

For lenses used wide open, it doesn't matter because the aperture will be round.

My point is that many folks will say something like, "this lens, with its 7-blade diaphragm, has excellent bokeh." That statement does not follow. The lens that made the second image above has 10 or 12 blades in the diaphragm, but the bokeh still sucks. It has to be designed as a package.

Where you see the aperture shape is when you have out-of-focus specular highlights using a smaller aperture, in the 5.6-8 range, perhaps. At smaller apertures, the points on the diaphragm are more apparent because of the geometry of the mechanism. The lenses I own with good bokeh have never, however, made me wish for more aperture blades.

Rick "thinking most lens diaphragms approximate round pretty well at wide apertures" Denney

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sirsloop
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Nov 28, 2006 10:47 |  #29

thing is...most people dont shoot absolutely wide open. Lots of great lenses like the ef 50mm f/1.4 and sigma f/1.4 are pretty lousy open, but are GREAT f/2-f/2.8.


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Nov 28, 2006 12:00 as a reply to  @ sirsloop's post |  #30

If I were judging the two wine bottle images for just Bokeh:

The first is okay bokeh in that the out of focus (OOF) areas are still somewhat distracting, but do add somewhat to the overall image. Reducing the brightest highlight would add even more to the bokeh of the image (this is not a lens issue in this case, but a lighting placement issue). However good composition and the points of light add more then take away. Just that one bright highlight is distracting.

The second one is just plane bad bokeh as the OOF areas distract the viewer away from the subject. The primary reason is the bright edges of the points of light. So the lens is the primary contributor to the bad bokeh in the second image.

Thus while the lens contributes or subtracts from good bokeh, the lens is not the only factor contributing to good or bad bokeh.

Just my opinion,


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Best lens for bokeh
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