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07-02-2008, 09:42 AM   #1
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Bokeh Masters - samples, notes, suggestions?

Hello all, I am beginning to really feel like there is a reason to own more than one lens in a focal range and that reason for me has become BOKEH. Like sipping wines, getting a taste of the bokeh of each lens is for me, an ever increasingly important aspect of a lens quality. Above sharpness, above contrast, bokeh for me lends specific qualities to a shot that are often unique to a lens.

I'd like to qualify this discussion though - all lenses can produce an out of focus image area. Technique can emphasis the effect, also with virtually any lens in existence, and I'd go so far as to suggest most lenses with appropriate background selection and skill can do a good job of it. That isn't the topic I'm proposing.

I'm at the point where I've tasted enough 'wine' to find a few that really are special - unique to the point you can make educated guesses as to a lenses manufacturer or lineage by its bokeh. But there are just too many - and many rare - lenses out there to access them all.

As an artist, I'm hoping to borrow from the experience of other Bokeh fans, what secret weapons they carry everyday just for bokeh, just in case. THE lens in your bag you go to for bokeh. I'd also love to hear why you use them as compared to other lenses you own or have experienced.

(For those that want to get into this whole bokeh thing, start here - Bokeh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia get yourself an inexpensive, fast 50 and have fun )

07-02-2008, 09:48 AM   #2
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The lens for bokeh...
MC Jupiter 9 85/2
07-02-2008, 11:30 AM   #3
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I'll put my vote in to the Pentax FA 31mm/1.9 Limited and the Vivitar Series 1 105mm/1.5 macro. The 31mm overlaps my DA 16-45mm/4.0 (which is a fine lens), but the picture is almost like using rich fresh cream versus non-dairy creamer in your coffee. Same with the Macro vs. a Pentax A 100mm/4.0 I just solid. It gave just a little bit more. The DA 35mm/2.8 macro Limited is nice as well, haven't had much chance to play with it. Same with the FA 77mm Limited.
07-02-2008, 01:14 PM   #4
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.

It would be nice, but probably difficult if not impossible, if we could categorize bokeh 'types' in some significant way. I know that bokeh is maybe the most subjective image-related category there is, but I think we've all seen bokeh that's 'creamy', 'harsh', etc, and I wonder if we can break it down even further - maybe by setting some lens standards, and then using them for labeled comparisons - for example, "that lens creates very 'Nokton 1.4' bokeh", or "77ltd bokeh", etc.

Another example - Mike Johnston (Luminous landscape, The Online Photographer contributor) has said this about the Pentax DA 35 limited :

QuoteQuote:
.....By all means, don't waste time looking at my ugly mugólook at the important part of the picture: the bokeh. I must say that even in light of my affliction (no one should pay as much attention to bokeh as I do), my early impressions of this lens are quite favorable. The bokeh resembles nothing so much as that from an old Leica Summarit.
So, there you have it - a point of reference - and we can now say that bokeh that looks like that of the DA 35ltd is "Summarit-like"

Any other points of reference we could establish?


.

07-02-2008, 01:53 PM   #5
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My bet on: 1.Mamiya Sekor (probably around 50mm) Macro, 2.Tokina 90mm Macro (Bokina, 3.Pentax A f1,2, 4.Vivitar (Lester Dine) Series1 Macro

sorry, too lazy to dig up the specific FLs and f's, but imho these lenses could easily qualify as "bokeh" lenses to me..
07-02-2008, 02:54 PM   #6
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Though not in the same league as some of the lovely primes already mentioned here, I have always found the bokeh of my Vivitar Series I 70-210 ( Kiron version ) to be very pleasing. In fact it seems to me that ALL of my vintage glass.....SuperTakumar 200mm, TeleTakumar 300mm, SuperTakumar 55mm, Vivitar 135mm f2.8 and a Topcor ( made by Topcon ) 55mm f1.7......they all produce beautiful bokeh.

Doesn't surprise me, as the images/build quality/feel of all these old lenses is very high( and value in the last year! ) .

Anyone have a thought on how much the SMC and MC coatings of yesteryear have to do with creating stunning out of focus areas? Just curious
07-02-2008, 03:35 PM   #7
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Nice subject,

why not start here, bokeh

I've seen so many pics with horrible bokeh to my eyes and the next one says: 'sooo beautiful'. Could be the other way round as well, if you're confused ask a Japanese, they know best :-)

Pictures I found to have nice bokeh are Voe's pictures here https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/28773-russian-limited-s-2.html

... and not so nice (to my eyes) but very unusual from the superfast-people here https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/27552-zeiss-je...iotar-m42.html

From a professional female photographer I have learned (well try to) that I shall not want to hide behind effects or gear. This is easier said than done and it's always hard for me to know where artistic tools will end and the razzle-dazzle begins. I am probably as guilty as anyone of being a gear fetishist, but speaking out is the first step .-)

All the best, Georg (the other)

Last edited by georgweb; 07-02-2008 at 03:46 PM.
07-02-2008, 05:06 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by georgweb Quote
Nice subject,

why not start here, bokeh
Great link Georg. I saw it about a year ago as I first began into DSLRs and had no idea what I was reading back then, its exactly along the lines of what I'm interested in learning now, I'd forgotten all about it.

It makes it seem like about the only way one could objectively classify bokeh would be how a lens rendered circle of confusion both foreground, background at close, medium and long ranges. From there, the mixture of results might shake the lenses down into similar catagories, for better or worse. This would be a heavy undertaking however...

QuoteOriginally posted by georgweb Quote
I've seen so many pics with horrible bokeh to my eyes and the next one says: 'sooo beautiful'. Could be the other way round as well, if you're confused ask a Japanese, they know best :-)

Pictures I found to have nice bokeh are Voe's pictures here https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/28773-russian-limited-s-2.html

... and not so nice (to my eyes) but very unusual from the superfast-people here https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/27552-zeiss-je...iotar-m42.html

From a professional female photographer I have learned (well try to) that I shall not want to hide behind effects or gear. This is easier said than done and it's always hard for me to know where artistic tools will end and the razzle-dazzle begins. I am probably as guilty as anyone of being a gear fetishist, but speaking out is the first step .-)

All the best, Georg (the other)
Funny you should point out that 75/1,5. I saw that thread too and thought "+1 for Zeiss bokeh", heh. For my eyes, its soft and uniquely shaped, almost swirly - pleasant and 'artistic' I suspect it explains the second hand price for such a lens.

07-02-2008, 05:25 PM   #9
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interesting thread, Kelly

one good place to read is Michael Johnston's article here Bokeh Ratings and Lens Awards which includes a link to his ratings and some discussion, i've linked it here http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_1/129000/129691/4/print/bokehrankings5.pdf.

i don't think i'm familiar with my lenses enough to call one a cream machine yet, but the FA31 is very nice for a wide lens.

as well the new Sigma 50 seems very impressive from the initial samples. some discussion here Sigma 50mm: Marmite Bokeh - FM Forums very impressive how the Pentax and Zeiss render hard rings but the Sigma is smooth. however the fact that a lot of people are using the Takumar 50 1.4 as a comparison shows how good that lens is as well.

Last edited by k100d; 07-02-2008 at 05:43 PM.
07-02-2008, 05:38 PM   #10
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I'll put the DA* 50-135mm and 200mm to a test with any other lens out there for a bokeh competition.
07-02-2008, 06:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
interesting thread, Kelly

one good place to read is Michael Johnston's article here Bokeh Ratings and Lens Awards which includes a link to his ratings and some discussion, i've linked it here http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_1/129000/129691/4/print/bokehrankings5.pdf.

i don't think i'm familiar with my lenses enough to call one a cream machine yet, but the FA31 is very nice for a wide lens.

as well the new Sigma 50 seems very impressive from the initial samples. some discussion here Sigma 50mm: Marmite Bokeh - FM Forums very impressive how the Pentax and Zeiss render hard rings but the Sigma is smooth. however the fact that a lot of people are using the Takumar 50 1.4 as a comparison shows how good that lens is as well.
I've just read the thread on the Sigma 50/1.4 and it certainly does its own take on the genre, I'll give it that. The bokeh is like a bunch of small marbles that form up a picture in the background of the more scenic, open 1.4 shots of the yard with people. I will give it unique (and yes, very sharp). The Tak has crossed borders as a great, cheap fast 50. With adaptors, Canon users seem to regard it highly as well.

I'll read your other link shortly, I'm 'working' at the moment
07-02-2008, 07:44 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
I'll put the DA* 50-135mm and 200mm to a test with any other lens out there for a bokeh competition.
I would say so. Using the 200mm is a bokeh generating exercise. The background is understandably blurry at F3.2.








But this recent one at F13 is unreal against harsh midday sun in the background






Daniel
07-02-2008, 07:58 PM   #13
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This was the actual original with very distracting background.









Now with the model a bit further away from the background, I can literally paint the background with the 200mm lens into something like this. You can still see the blurred out Chinese characters in the background. I am still exploring this process








Daniel

Last edited by danielchtong; 07-04-2008 at 12:45 AM.
07-03-2008, 09:20 AM   #14
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Is this bokeh "creamy" enough?



I'll post the lens later.
07-03-2008, 09:42 AM   #15
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Smooth and crisp too, though I should clarify as the OP, I'd like to learn why people use a certain lens expressly for bokeh shots, and samples.

Every lens can make bokeh and with skill or luck its sometimes great, but there are certain lenses that time and time again pull shots out of nothing because of spectacular OOF rendering or render in such a way as to provide a tangible character to an image.

Is this a lens you would say does this for you? I'd love to hear!

FWIW, I would consider the CZ 75/1,5 Biotar mentioned earlier to be a real good example of what I mean. Subjective tastes on its bokeh aside, it has unique and (to me) quite dramatic and pleasing qualities. If you're a person who likes that lens, then time and time again, you're going to get shots with it that possibly no other lens could do. It would be a 'go to' bokeh lens, for those times when its personality was called for.
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