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10-31-2011, 04:42 PM   #1
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Bokeh. What's 'good' & bad' Bokeh

I'd never heard the term before getting onto the forums and whilst I think I understand what it is I'm not sure what defines good or poor Bokeh.
In the out of focus background is it good to just have a smooth oof or is 'good' Bokeh where you can see the circular patterns in the oof area?

10-31-2011, 04:53 PM   #2
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As one bokeh newbie to another, I have a hunch beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally speaking I like when the colors kinda meld together in an abstract pattern.

I am sure some of the more learned will reply soon.
10-31-2011, 04:56 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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GOOD is what you like, BAD is what you don't like. Some like lots of Xmas-tree-ornament bokeh balls; they can be interesting, or over-used. Some like 'creamy' bokeh. Some hate 'nervous' or 'jagged' bokeh, and 'donut' bokeh from mirror lenses. Most like bokeh that doesn't call attention to itself. I have a rule: If the subject is detailed, I want bland, creamy bokeh. If the subject is smooth and bland, I want nervous bokeh, as a counterpoise. I may take that to extremes, but I'm a perv.
10-31-2011, 05:16 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
. I have a rule: If the subject is detailed, I want bland, creamy bokeh. If the subject is smooth and bland, I want nervous bokeh, as a counterpoise. .

Thanks,Actually that comment makes good sense to me. As my personal preference I prefer the smooth & Creamy style.

10-31-2011, 06:01 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Generally speaking, you have bokeh and highlight bokeh. In an ideal world, bokeh is perfectly smooth, without any odd highlights, shadowing, or hard edges; highlight bokeh should be either round, or not round for an effect, it could be with or without a distinct edge, but it shouldn't have rings inside the bokeh, or at the edges.
10-31-2011, 07:13 PM   #6
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10-31-2011, 07:42 PM   #7
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I agree, it comes down to personal preference and the situation.

There is a thread by Voe and a group of us Melbournians where you can see a wide array of lenses at work on the same subject. There is all sorts of bokeh to be seen there.

Thread is HERE: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/78029-melbourn...parison-7.html
11-01-2011, 04:11 AM   #8
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I think Clinton's description is pretty accurate. In general, smoothness is what I am looking for. I like highlights to have circular features rather than hexagonal that are common on many lenses. Many lenses do well in some situations, but give them a really busy, harsh background and things get kind of chaotic. That is where a lens like the A 50 f1.2 really shines.

11-01-2011, 09:11 AM   #9
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Sometimes lenses are described as having good or bad bokeh, but the photographer has a lot of control over how that shows up in the final image. Say you want to photograph one rose on a rose bush, with the rest out of focus. If you choose a blossom that's in the same focal plane as other blossoms, they'll all be in focus. If your chosen blossom is only a little bit closer than the rest, the background might look messy even with a great bokeh lens. With enough physical distance difference, even a lens with awful bokeh can produce a smooth soft background. You don't always have to blow your budget on the great lenses to get a nice effect.
11-01-2011, 10:37 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies guys.
11-01-2011, 10:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I think Clinton's description is pretty accurate. In general, smoothness is what I am looking for. I like highlights to have circular features rather than hexagonal that are common on many lenses. Many lenses do well in some situations, but give them a really busy, harsh background and things get kind of chaotic. That is where a lens like the A 50 f1.2 really shines.

In general, circular boked is achieved when the lens is fully wide open, hexagonal is because the lens was stop down.

However, you also have old and highly sought lenses that have many aperture blades that can also provide circular boked when stop down.
11-01-2011, 12:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ducdao Quote
However, you also have old and highly sought lenses that have many aperture blades that can also provide circular boked when stop down.
And that's why I'm queer for presets, Meyers, Ennas, enlarger lenses, Exakta mounts, etc. Bokeh monsters! Sometimes they get weird. My ultimate is a very old Vivitar-Kiron 200/3.5 with 18 iris blades. Ah, those Xmas-tree-ornament specular highlights! My 12-blade lenses aren't so extreme.

I've seen speculation that one difference, besides the number of blades, is the iris placement. Presets and other lenses without apertures tend to have apertures near mid-lens, whilst auto-aperture lenses see the iris closer to the lens base. Does this really affect bokeh? I don't know for sure.
11-01-2011, 12:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ducdao Quote
In general, circular boked is achieved when the lens is fully wide open, hexagonal is because the lens was stop down.

However, you also have old and highly sought lenses that have many aperture blades that can also provide circular boked when stop down.
I don't know. The DA *55 and D FA 100 WR seem to give pretty circular bokeh when stopped down as well as when wide open. Sigma 30 f1.4 seems hexagonal just about all of the time...
11-02-2011, 08:48 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
And that's why I'm queer for presets, Meyers, Ennas, enlarger lenses, Exakta mounts, etc. Bokeh monsters! Sometimes they get weird. My ultimate is a very old Vivitar-Kiron 200/3.5 with 18 iris blades. Ah, those Xmas-tree-ornament specular highlights! My 12-blade lenses aren't so extreme.

I've seen speculation that one difference, besides the number of blades, is the iris placement. Presets and other lenses without apertures tend to have apertures near mid-lens, whilst auto-aperture lenses see the iris closer to the lens base. Does this really affect bokeh? I don't know for sure.

Yah Meyers/Pentacon and old Russian (Jupiter for example) presets are killers. They have so many blades. I didn't know about the iris location could potentially affect the boked shape. Time to try and find that out
11-02-2011, 09:17 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ducdao Quote
Yah Meyers/Pentacon and old Russian (Jupiter for example) presets are killers. They have so many blades. I didn't know about the iris location could potentially affect the boked shape. Time to try and find that out
We need some test shots of lenses with similar optics but different iris positions and blade counts. Any volunteers?
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