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Bokeh is in the Eye of the Beholder


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Bokeh is in the Eye of the Beholder

26 Nov 2020 3:24PM   Views : 536 Unique : 389

At some point that I can't precisely identify we started talking about bokeh. Prior to that we did quantify the nature of the out of focus areas in an image, but the term bokeh happily summed up the whole concept, rather than having to describe the effects in more abstract language. That doesn't stop me trying though, because bokeh is something that I look at in every lens review. It gets described as, maybe, fluid, smooth, or similar words, or maybe as slightly ragged sometimes.

As a general observation, very high resolution lenses may not have as smooth bokeh as a lower resolution one. An example is my delightful SMC Pentax-FA J 75-300mm, which is sharp, but not the razor sharpness of some lenses, but it does have the most incredible gorgeous bokeh. It is perfect for flower portraits and indeed human portraits as well. And all that without rounded aperture blades. As another generalisation, longer focal lengths lend themselves to nice bokeh, helped along by the relatively narrow depth of field. We can also look at those aperture blades, and basically the more the better, aspiring to the 19 or more blades of a vintage brass lens, but certainly 8 or more and perhaps rounded as well. Every lens aspires to that rounded aperture, and of course every lens achieves it wide open.

It leaves us probably with a favourite lens, where with all the technical data in the world we can add that indefinable something that is sometimes called "pixie dust", the magic that makes the overall rendition leap out at us with images that glow with a vitality that defies MTF charts. Without naming names, here's some images where I like the bokeh.











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