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04-28-2011, 02:14 PM   #1
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lets see your "ugly" bokeh!

could you please post some "ugly" bokeh, or is there such a thing?
I see post after post of great bokeh but little if any of the opposite
is there such thing? is bokeh just a matter of taste?

good, bad or ugly?

this shot


all photos welcomed!


Last edited by slip; 04-28-2011 at 02:21 PM.
04-28-2011, 02:32 PM   #2
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Quick search for "ugly bokeh" on Google images came up with images and here's one:

I'd say it's ugly. It makes the photo look like a composition of an in-focus image and an image that was taken with a shaky camera with slow shutter speed.
04-28-2011, 02:37 PM   #3

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From where I sit, that one you posted is . . . pretty much the opposite of ugly. Nice 'n' smooth!

I don't have any examples handy to post, but here are some categories of "bad" bokeh:

Donut bokeh (center missing - most often seen with mirror lenses)
Onion bokeh (concentric rings within the bright disc in an OOF highlight)
Cats-eye bokeh (off-center highlights are oblong rather than circular)
Swirly bokeh (maybe the same as cats-eye, but multiple highlights appear to encircle the center of the image)
Ring bokeh (OOF highlight is a disc with a bright ring around the edge)
Purple or green bokeh (from chromatic aberration)
Hard-edged bokeh (not a bad failing in my opinion, just not as smooth as what you posted)

There are probably others I'm not thinking of.

Many of these can be minimized, or even used artistically to good effect. So I wouldn't call them "bad" or "ugly," per se. Maybe "non-traditional."

Google searches will turn up examples of each of these.
04-28-2011, 02:42 PM   #4
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I'd call that good Bokeh.

It's even, it's heavily blurred, but I think any lens with that shallow a depth of field can render decent bokeh.

For example, I wasn't a big fan of some of the Bokeh I got out of the 50mm 1.4 I rented, but other times it was fine.

For example, with the forks at f1.4, with a very close focal length, it does a nice job rendering the candles in the background though it does have some cats-eye bokeh as mentioned above.

But with Riley, at a medium focal length at f1.6, the borders of the lamp and the fringe of the chair have a hard-to-soft transition that I don't like.

In the second Riley shot, I'm at f8/45mm on my 16-45 f4. And I'd consider that to be good bokeh. The highlights are a little hexagonal, but given the settings I'm happy with the bokeh.

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Last edited by Ryan Trevisol; 04-28-2011 at 03:17 PM. Reason: Added third photo
04-28-2011, 05:12 PM   #5

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QuoteOriginally posted by slip Quote
is bokeh just a matter of taste?
Yes. Yet, don't most people feel that smoother is better? I usually do. But, out of focus with "character" can also be appealing.

Here's a shot I took with my Chinon 55 f/1.7 @ 1.7. When I saw the result, my first thought was "funky".
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04-28-2011, 05:55 PM   #6
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Certainly different bokeh to the smooth sort, from a DA21 Ltd:

04-28-2011, 08:05 PM   #7
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Mirror lenses are famous for it. Here I was comparing a Vivitar/Samyang 500/8 mirror to a Tamron Adaptall 55BB 500/8 mirror lens. The extra sharpness and contrast of the Tamron makes the shot look twice as bad.

For me, "bad" is distracting from the main image content. Some flawed lenses have unconventional bokeh that can add to an image (Helios 58/2) if used with care. When my wife asks, "Is that the weird mirror lens again?" I know she isn't seeing the subject, just the bad bokeh.
04-28-2011, 08:28 PM   #8
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dave, you're right, that is some of the worst i've seen.

04-28-2011, 08:31 PM   #9
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The Helios 44-2 has really wonderful bokeh wide open , but stop down a couple clicks and sometimes things look pretty bad. Here is a combination of busy and swirly. Not very nice.

04-28-2011, 08:47 PM   #10
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There's already an ugly bokeh club - Mirror Lens Club.
04-28-2011, 09:10 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeSF Quote
The Helios 44-2 has really wonderful bokeh wide open , but stop down a couple clicks and sometimes things look pretty bad. Here is a combination of busy and swirly. Not very nice.
I actually kinda like the look - granted - it would only be acceptable in certain situations.
04-28-2011, 10:16 PM   #12
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As much as I LOVE my Tammy 17-50, it's bokeh is at best sketchy. Point lights are onions. Here are a couple of daylight shots, both @ f2.8:

04-29-2011, 06:01 AM   #13
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very bad bokeh ??
like this ??
04-29-2011, 06:03 AM   #14
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or like this ??
its also with helios 44
04-29-2011, 08:07 AM   #15
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I was doing some bokeh tests with my FA43 @ f1.9, shot with a Pentax K2 film camera. A bit harsh for my liking. (Scan of original slide)


Last edited by gofour3; 04-29-2011 at 08:16 AM.

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