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01-27-2013, 03:44 AM   #1
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Bokeh at f2.8

I took my Hanimex 28mm lens on a walk to get myself used to taking photos with it. It is a cheap, old manual lens so I didn't have high expectations.

I like the colours it produces, but I don't like its bokeh when wide open (f/2.8):



It is a bit better when stepped down a little:



How can I make better pictures despite this limitation? Do I need to choose dull backgrounds (no contrast) so that it is less distracting?

I don't want to just get rid of the lens, I like its compact size and again, its colour rendition. I am having fun with manual focus on old primes. This one can also focus pretty close so I can do crop macro photography:



Thanks for your advice.

01-27-2013, 03:54 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Bokeh is almost always better stopped down a bit (in my opinion). It smooths it out and gives it more texture. But yeah, if you're going for a bokeh background, imagine if it was all in perfect focus, how distracting it would be. Try and limit the distractions and then blow it out with a wide aperture. Put as much distance between the background and your subject if you want it to disappear, or ensure that the background is composed to make the bokeh a good backdrop, more part of the photo but not distinct enough to pull away from the subject.

Old manual primes are amazing, but you've opened a whole new can of LBA (lens buying addiction) for yourself ;P Enjoy the lens!
01-27-2013, 05:37 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I think the first photo is nice, with that bokeh. If anything, you could get even closer so the branch fills up more of the frame, so it doesn't get drowned in the bokeh. The sample photos you posted show that its a fine lens
Also, wide angle lenses like that are usually used for types of photography that have very little or no bokeh, like landscape or street photography. For bokeh-centric shots, people tend to use fast medium-tele lenses (50-85mm). But on the other hand, any lens can used for many different things and its up to the photographer to find good uses (or good lenses for the use that they need)

Edit: I'm just not sure why the exif of your photos says 35mm, not 28mm. If you input the lens focal length, you dont have to adjust it in any way.
01-27-2013, 06:20 AM - 1 Like   #4
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You have just discovered one of the issues related to bokeh that people often overlook. With a wide angle lens, the difference in perspective makes the background smaller than the foreground, so although the background is out of focus, the blurred points are small, appear more as dots and offer confusing background. I would venture to say any 28 mm lens would produce a similar shot. You need to really concentrate on the overall arrangement of the scene more with a wide angle. If you took the same shot with a 50-85 mm lens the out of focus patches would be at least twoce the size, and as a result less confusing

01-27-2013, 06:55 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I think the first photo is nice, with that bokeh. If anything, you could get even closer so the branch fills up more of the frame, so it doesn't get drowned in the bokeh. The sample photos you posted show that its a fine lens
Also, wide angle lenses like that are usually used for types of photography that have very little or no bokeh, like landscape or street photography. For bokeh-centric shots, people tend to use fast medium-tele lenses (50-85mm). But on the other hand, any lens can used for many different things and its up to the photographer to find good uses (or good lenses for the use that they need)

Edit: I'm just not sure why the exif of your photos says 35mm, not 28mm. If you input the lens focal length, you dont have to adjust it in any way.
I entered the wrong focal length by mistake, I guess in my mind I still think of it as a 35mm (or more 42mm) despite all the reminders on this forum that it still has a 28mm lens focal length/depth.

For the bokeh, let's say we have differing tastes :-)
I could always cut out the out-of-focus area like I did in the leaf droplets picture.

I did not know about fast medium-tele for that kind of photography, thanks! I am expecting a Helios 44M-4 2/58, will try with that one.
01-28-2013, 05:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jido Quote
I am expecting a Helios 44M-4 2/58
Swirly tiiiiiime!

But yea, in regards to the 28, because it expands perspective, you get a lot of the background in the frame. If you kept the subject at the same size and increased focal length, you'd find that the background compresses (zoom's in) so there's less detail there to distract from your subject.

If you want to lessen the impact of bokeh in with your 28 you could try - filling the frame with your flower/subject more, frame the shot so you have a cleaner background (fewer branches for example), or increase the distance between the foreground and background. Wide lenses are much better suited, as Na Horuk mentioned, for street photography, or landscape shots, where you want a greater depth of field.
01-29-2013, 02:06 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
You have just discovered one of the issues related to bokeh that people often overlook. With a wide angle lens, the difference in perspective makes the background smaller than the foreground, so although the background is out of focus, the blurred points are small, appear more as dots and offer confusing background. I would venture to say any 28 mm lens would produce a similar shot. You need to really concentrate on the overall arrangement of the scene more with a wide angle. If you took the same shot with a 50-85 mm lens the out of focus patches would be at least twoce the size, and as a result less confusing
Some wide lenses manage passable bokeh - DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited wide open :


01-29-2013, 10:12 AM   #8
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Personally I love wide angle bokeh, it's more like a subtle overlay rather than OMFGBLOWITINTOACIRCLEZOMG. Like a painter painting a background with less detail. You do have to watch out it isn't eye-catching though.

01-30-2013, 12:03 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom Woj Quote
Swirly tiiiiiime!
The Helios 58mm arrived. I didn't try it in real life situation to see what bokeh I get, but I can already tell it lets in a lot of light. Nice :-)

My copy was nastily cleaned (no growth though) and locked on full open unless I pressed the pin, so I had to give it a gentle wipe and remove the four screws at the back to install a blocker for the pin (I cut it from a biro pen).
02-04-2013, 11:28 AM   #10
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I had this thread, especially the first shot, in my mind since it was posted. I thought I'd try to duplicate that first shot with some of my lenses. I wasn't really successful because it's too deep into winter here, and I couldn't find that kind of background anywhere. Maybe in a few weeks. Here's one attempt with a 28mm Sears lens with a lot of coma, f2.8:



Here's an example of the coma on some distant streetlights. They should be little points of light.



I don't think bokeh was a design consideration when these lenses were built for film. But some lenses do it well anyway. Here is the Pentax-F 28mm f2.8 wide open:



You can get the same optical formula in the Pentax-A version, around $100. I think it's a great all-around lens.
02-04-2013, 11:37 AM   #11
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My old Sears 28mm has passable bokeh. I think the big difference is that the Sears is labeled as a macro (its not, really, it just has an insane minimal focal distance), which means it may have been designed to actually have better bokeh than a normal 28mm would have.

Of course this is the same lens that was driving me crazy for a while because I'd smudged the rear element and was getting crazy-go-nuts flaring.










02-05-2013, 03:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
I had this thread, especially the first shot, in my mind since it was posted. I thought I'd try to duplicate that first shot with some of my lenses. I wasn't really successful because it's too deep into winter here, and I couldn't find that kind of background anywhere. Maybe in a few weeks. Here's one attempt with a 28mm Sears lens with a lot of coma, f2.8:



Here's an example of the coma on some distant streetlights. They should be little points of light.



I don't think bokeh was a design consideration when these lenses were built for film. But some lenses do it well anyway. Here is the Pentax-F 28mm f2.8 wide open:



You can get the same optical formula in the Pentax-A version, around $100. I think it's a great all-around lens.
I need to check the coma thing.

I think I have come to grips with that lens bokeh now, getting better results.

Examples

Moss on a wall:



And wide open:



Otherwordly:



An interesting one:



Almost spring:



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