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12-26-2013, 05:37 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Vivitar is cheapo now, buuuut then the brand was quite a game changer in the photo biz. Do some online homework to learn more.

True. Vivitar used to market some incredible lenses. "Series One" used to mean something very special.

12-26-2013, 06:15 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Hate to give squishy answers, but "sometimes" seems about right here. As with the excellent examples above, I favor the bokeh of older lenses. But some can be pricey.
The Helios is a bargain, and I kinda regret selling mine years ago. Fortunately they are around in good condition. Here's a shot from mine.


My favorite bokeh lens is the Mamiya/Sekor 60mm f2.8 preset M42. (Tomioka is the same thing.) These are hard to find. When I was younger a cranky guy who owned an amazing old-style camera repair place that seemed like it was co-occupied by Dr. Emmett Brown, dug this one up for me from some mysterious cavern. These are from the *DS years ago.

Purple Heather


Finally, to the opposite cost spectrum, the Voigtlander SL 125mm is quite special all the way around.

Purple Violet


I like your reference to Back To The Future. I have framed copies of two Hill Valley Journal newspapers from the movie. One has a headline that reads, "Emmet Brown Committed" and the other says, "Emmett Brown Commended." Two possible alternate outcomes...

Your bokeh samples are quite nice!
12-26-2013, 07:09 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by davids8560 Quote
Perhaps this thread of examples will help.
12-26-2013, 03:25 PM   #19
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OK Bokeh?

Hello again David,
There are several types of 'good' Bokeh, and many more examples of 'bad' Bokeh, too. It's one of those very subjective concepts, hard to describe perfectly, but you know it when you see it.
Also, Bokeh isn't just one thing, one single characteristic, although that's a common misconception. One distinctive feature is the glowing or airy 'rings' of out-of-focus (OOF) highlights. Sometimes these have a donut effect, darker rims and lighter centers. Most lenses, when stopped down, will show the aperture blade shape, better ones remain circular. Straight or hard-edged lines and good Bokeh are generally not used in the same sentence.
Some Bokeh has a slashing or swirly effect, a dizzying comma-shaped effect. This can be pleasing or 'nervous', depending upon the shape of the OOF objects and their distance from the in-focus subject. Oh, yes, the f/stop, too. Again, generally, the more wide-open the aperture, the better the Bokeh.
A major good Bokeh factor is the 'painterly' effect, the pastel or water-color wash of blended background colors (or elements), like some classic paintings, sort of what you see if you squint your eyes slightly. Again, no hard edges and a dream-like quality, not hazy or blurred, exactly, more like 'blended'.
Last, another quality that's hard to describe but easy to spot; The transition or gradiation between in-focus and out-of-focus. Imagine focusing on an single object that slowly goes from sharp focus (closest to the camera) to completely OOF (furthest from camera). As the sharpness (distance) changes, do you spot the transition, or does it 'blend' or bleed into the next stage without noticeable edges? Does it flow smoothly, guiding the viewer's eye, or are there 'jumps'?
This last is a very subtle and prized quality of good Bokeh lenses and many otherwise-great lenses don't have it.
I've looked for a few photos to demonstrate some of these qualities, here's what I found. All taken with the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 Bokina.

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12-26-2013, 05:01 PM - 1 Like   #20

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Close up "macro" type shots are not good for judging bokeh. Any lens can turn generate "smooth/dreamy" blur if close enough that the background is unrecognizable. The real bokeh test comes at medium distances where the background is noticeably blurred, but still recognizable as distinct objects. This is where "bad bokeh" rears its ugly head.

The lens with the most consistently smooth bokeh that I own is the FA 31 Limited. I own the FA 43 and 77, as well as the A50 f1.2 and Sigma 35 f/1.4, and it's really not that difficult to generate jittery bokeh on any of them if you know how (medium distance subjects on backgrounds with lots of high contrast lines). The 31 is very smooth at any distance for all but the busiest backgrounds, though there is quite a bit of longitudinal chromatic aberration (green/purple bokeh fringing) if that bothers you.

Also, wider aperture doesn't necessarily mean smoother bokeh. On the A50 f/1.2, f/1.2 is noticeably more "nervous" on high contrast lines than at f/1.4-2.

Last edited by Cannikin; 12-26-2013 at 05:07 PM.

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