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03-09-2009, 03:49 AM   #1
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improving bokeh

I have been dedicated now to improve the bokeh in my macro shots. I found a nice gallery at Flickr Flickr: setsunasky's Photostream

Any idea, how she gets these shots? Some of them appear to be done by using lensbaby, whereas others have a really interesting radial blur in the background.

I am also looking for suggestions for macro lenses or short telephoto lenses with interesting bokeh or postprocessing tips.



Cheers!

urmas

03-09-2009, 04:33 AM   #2
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Well part of the answer is simply in the glass she uses. Carl Zeiss Planar, Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar, all legendary lenses with awesome, and sometimes interesting (in the case of Biometar, I'm guessing it's the 80/2.8 but could be 120/2.8) bokeh. She's pretty good taggin her photos with lens info so you should check that.
03-09-2009, 04:48 AM   #3
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Also, what you probably mean is not macro (few of her shots are true macro) but closeup. So, you want lenses that have small minimal focus distance. Since you're interested in bokeh, you want to combine that with bokeh quality, but since the former can be achieved with the use of entension tubes, focus first and foremost on bokeh quality.


I'd recommend any number of great 50-58mm primes for bokeh, roughly in the order of price:

Helios-44M-6 or 7 (but good going back to original 44)
Pentacon 50mm f1.8
Super-Takumar (SMC, whathaveyou) 50mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50mm f1.8
Voigtländer Color-Ultron 50mm f1.8 (<- my fave)
Carl Zeiss Ultron 50mm f1.8
Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.4

Obviously, lenses like FA 50/1.4, FA 50/1.2, etc. would also be great.

If you want swirls, go for the earlier Helios-44 (44-2, 44-3). Cheap, and very swirly at wide open ;-). If you have the mula, get a Cosina/Tomioka/Revuenon 55/1.2.



Once you've got good fast primes with bokeh quality you like, just attach to an extension tube (the shortest one will suffice) so that you can get to within 15-20 cm of the subject, and there you go.
03-09-2009, 05:24 AM   #4
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"Obviously, lenses like FA 50/1.4, FA 50/1.2, etc. would also be great"
- actually they aren't I prefer the 50mm f/2.5 macro.

besides there isn't any FA 50/1.2 - there is only an A and the K version. and I prefer the K version simply because it's a bit sharper in the corners at wide to medium apertures. and aesthetically it looks better ;-)

but I would not recommend a f/1.2 lens for macro work, at any rate. However, I would recommend the Zeiss 100mm f/2 or the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 - both lenses focus to 1:1 and offer only what I could describe as superlative bokeh. Both are manual focus, feature rather long focus throws which assist in precision focusing. From my experience longer macro lenses are better than shorter ones because macro lenses have this nasty habit of increasing their field of view at high magnifications the DFA macro is a culprit of this, the FA macro ends up at 82.3mm instead of 100mm at 1:1.

03-09-2009, 06:34 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Urmas R. Quote
I have been dedicated now to improve the bokeh in my macro shots. I found a nice gallery at Flickr Flickr: setsunasky's Photostream

Any idea, how she gets these shots? Some of them appear to be done by using lensbaby, whereas others have a really interesting radial blur in the background.

I am also looking for suggestions for macro lenses or short telephoto lenses with interesting bokeh or postprocessing tips.



Cheers!

urmas
The type of shot she is showing with overwhelming, yet articularted bokeh is relative to lens choice, proximity to subject and most importantly, background selection. Most of her shots aren't (as pointed out here) 'macro' (ie 1:1 life scale). Working near the minimum focus distance of fast lenses will be the first step to this type of result, and exploring the world of fast lenses can be a fun yet expensive journey. Starting with older manual lenses and adapters is a great way to see a lot different bokeh for a reasonable price.

There have been topics about this which will give you some more detailed thoughts and samples.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/31244-bokeh-ma...ggestions.html

My favorite lens for bokeh -
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/18979-voigtlan...-4-review.html

K.
03-09-2009, 07:00 AM   #6
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Apart from lenses (M42 is your friend here), if you use extension tubes to get closer focus (thus changing the geometries of the oof areas) and/or tele multipliers (thus 'ruining' what perhaps verges on over-correction in the prime lens), you can generate these bokeh effects with greater variety and control.
03-09-2009, 08:15 AM   #7
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here's an example...of superb bokeh. though I will admit that I was using a SMC Pentax K 50mm f/1.2 wide open. but for good reason...I was TRYING to make this lens stuff up. superspeed lenses are really bad at minimum focus at their widest apertures, especially with contrasty backgrounds But my 50 f/1.2 amazed me by creating this image...

the first frame is unsharpened, the 100% view has some sharpening applied.

Last edited by Digitalis; 05-08-2009 at 12:32 AM.
03-09-2009, 08:48 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
here's an example...of superb bokeh. though I will admit that I was using a SMC Pentax K 50mm f/1.2 wide open. but for good reason...I was TRYING to make this lens stuff up.
Very nice shot! Good example for the OP.

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis:
...superspeed lenses are really bad at minimum focus at their widest apertures, especially with contrasty backgrounds But my 50 f/1.2 amazed me by creating this image...
Perhaps you'll enjoy to try this technique more in future. It is for results such as these I would disagree with the bolded part of your statement, unless you are looking only for MTF scores. These sorts of shot are the bread and butter of my fast lenses.

K.

03-09-2009, 09:01 AM   #9
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I won't make a habit of it. I'll admit to aiming for technical excellence in my images. It has something to do with me being a musician...we are always trying to wring that last 10% out of ourselves.

That image was a lens test really....just an test to try and find a weakness in the Pentax 50mm f/1.2 - there aren't many.

the first image is an example of what in my opinion,is BAD bokeh. the second image is a good example...both images were taken using the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 (c1964) and they were both f/1.4 shots.

Last edited by Digitalis; 05-08-2009 at 12:32 AM.
03-09-2009, 09:04 AM   #10
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The plain old Takumar 50mm f/1.4 can produce pretty nice bokeh
03-09-2009, 09:09 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote



The plain old Takumar 50mm f/1.4 can produce pretty nice bokeh
it certainly can, but it also has the capacity for some pretty hideous effects too..the Leica noctilux 50mm f/1.0 is like that too. Sometimes it's bokeh is gorgeous silky smooth...and other times I just cut that negative out and burn it.
03-09-2009, 09:11 AM   #12
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I like that sepia shot; nice and dreamy! Further proof that "perfect" focus is best not always being dead-on sharp focus.
03-09-2009, 09:15 AM   #13
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Thanks for the flickr link. Great thread.

And great shots, Nesster.
03-09-2009, 10:32 AM   #14
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Thanks for the interesting replies and keep them coming!

Great photos as well. As a scientist and long time close-up/macro photographer I have always concentrated on getting the whole subject in focus and use as small apertures as possible. Although the shots might come out technically perfect, they lack something and are more and more boring to do. So I guess I'm now drifting to more artsy style.
03-09-2009, 03:49 PM   #15
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improving bokeh with noise reduction software

This might sound obscene, but how about using noise reduction software? I stumbled across this "hidden" feature when I overprocesses some noisy images as a joke. With Neat Image, for example, you can retain high frequency "noise" (=focus plane) and suppress mid and especially low frequency "noise" (=bad bokeh).

Of course this is no serious method, but for an untrained or trustful eye you can turn a FA43lt/f4.5 pic to a FA31lt/f1.8. At first sight.

Just as a proof of concept some quick and dirty "noise reduction" with some examples from this thread. (I didn't use the "bad bokeh" example as it has no focused area, so this makes no sense as one could as well just use a global blur filter)

one:


two:


three:


You might see that there is also some slight loss of detail. Which cound easily be improved with Photoshop and some layers.

C&C is welcome!
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