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What makes great bokeh?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the samples above showcase those bokeh as fade-away kind, they might as well disappear so you won't be "distracted".

I know it's not everyone's taste, but I happen to like photos where bokeh is a significant part of it, that makes a picture. If you take away the bokeh, it won't be as nice. Of course, the bokeh still should not be nervous or displeasing to look at. Often the bokeh has a painterly quality to it. IMHO this is a lot of fun, maybe more difficult to achieve, and takes bokeh pictures to the next level.

Some samples from the painterly_bokeh flickr group (some were mine, some photos I admire, some are from fellow members here):



_DSC4837 by Brian Zhou, on Flickr



Hay there! by Peter Nyhlén, on Flickr



Life is a journey by Yu-Lin Chan, on Flickr



Fenced roses by Angelina Todorovic Stanic, on Flickr


DSC05618 by Brian Zhou, on Flickr



Puffins in Grímsey by Laszlo Nagy, on Flickr



_DSC6613 by Brian Zhou, on Flickr



DSC05582 by Brian Zhou, on Flickr


Edit: some were not linkable, only viewable in flickr. You can follow the link in my signature.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeeeah now you lost me. The only thing I find interesting there is the bird standing in a pile of shit.

But hey, let be real here, If you like Bokeh for the sake of Bokeh who am I to tell you any different. Go nuts Like 1 small

As for "bokeh style" these is nothing discerning from those samples that would hint towards a brand of lens over the other. Any lens of the similar focal length could just about produce those.

Something something gear not important something something Wink


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tromboads wrote:
Ok gotcha, so you like long focal lengths shot at large apertures, or short focal lengths with great subject distance from the background.
I can dig it.


...doesn't have to be only those particular combinations, this is a 35mm on FF with roughly equal distance to subject and subject to background.

DSC06249 by David Wimmer, on Flickr


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tromboads wrote:
yeeeah now you lost me. The only thing I find interesting there is the bird standing in a pile of shit.

But hey, let be real here, If you like Bokeh for the sake of Bokeh who am I to tell you any different. Go nuts Like 1 small

As for "bokeh style" these is nothing discerning from those samples that would hint towards a brand of lens over the other. Any lens of the similar focal length could just about produce those.

Something something gear not important something something Wink


That's why I said it's not every one's taste. I view it more like some in-focus subject and an impressionism painting two in one.

Regarding lens choice, it's more about focal length selection, sometimes 3D pop of the subject, the in-and-out-of focus transition, and the paintbrush drawing style. To me at least, it's not about swirly or bubbly, and cardboard backdrop is boring.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love bokeh Smile
That love started when I bought the Meyer Trioplan 100. I have added some more special bokeh lenses like the Nikkor AF 105mm DC Nikkor lens with its variable bokeh due to controlable spherical aberration. And I made a kind of cheap copy of this with an old Sigma telephoto lens. And made some apodization lenses, where front and back bokeh are both smooth, and the focussed parts are still sharp, while the bokeh is extreme smooth.

Wollensak Aero Raptar (likely Kodak Aero Ektar copy) 6" f:2.5 with 0.7x speedbooster on Sony A7II
Sunny by Markus, auf Flickr

Rubinar 500mm f/5.6 with 0.7 Speedbooster and Sony A7II
Cherry Blossoms by Markus, auf Flickr

Canon FD 400mm f/2.8L with 0.7 Speedbooster and Sony A7II
Lady Long Legs by Markus, auf Flickr

Canon Fd 300mm f/2.8L with 0.7 Speedbooster and Sony A7II
Streetwear by Markus, auf Flickr

Helios 40 on Sony A7II
Schwangerschafts-Photosession / Pregnancy by Markus, auf Flickr

ROW 200mm/1.9 (not the common Visionar)
Winter Morning by Markus, auf Flickr

Trioplan 100mm/2.8 classic
Cold Blue Winter Morning by Markus, auf Flickr

DIY Lens made of unnamed lens parts
Flower And Bokeh by Markus, auf Flickr


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Visionar 109mm/1.6 as DIY apodization lens on Sony A7II
Mushroom / Pilz by Markus, auf Flickr

Helios 44 with self made apodization element, on Canon EOS 5D
Löwenzahn by Markus, auf Flickr

Some short focal projection lens on Sony A7II
Swirl by Markus, auf Flickr

Visionar 183mm/1.9 likely on Canon EOS 5D
Audi R8 car by Markus, auf Flickr

Domiplan 50mm on EOS 5D
Domiplan50 by Markus, auf Flickr

DIY speedbbooster on ? lens on I think Canon EOS 5D
Contax Rangefinder Colordial by Markus, auf Flickr

Wild-Bokeh by Markus, auf Flickr

Small-DOF by Markus, auf Flickr

Minolta 58mm f/1.2 on EOS 5D

Wood by Markus, auf Flickr

I love lens bokeh, not photoshopped ones Smile
And I am much to lazy to photoshop it, love more to take photos or tinker with lenses.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:36 pm    Post subject: Re: What makes great bokeh? Reply with quote

awa54 wrote:


Is it "bokeh" or "boke"?


calvin83 wrote:


The Japanese coined the term, so "boke" is correct, but the common usage variant is fine too.


Both are correct. Any spelling of Japanese in western alphabet is an approximation of the original Japanese. (this depiction is called "romaji")

The meaning in Japanese comes from ボケ味 (boke-aji), which means "blur flavour", or the "taste of blur". Blur = ボケ.

"Boke" is correct, but the last "e" must be pronounced, so it is often depicted in romaji as "eh" so it is pronounced.
If it was always spelled as "boke", then it would cause confusion and sometimes be pronounced like "boak", so the standard is "bokeh".


The pronunciation in Wikipedia is INCORRECT, which shows "BOH-Kay", effectively saying that the "e" ="ay", when it should be like the "e" in "egg" in English English.
Any US English pronounced "e" is slightly similar to "ay", so this is probably where the Wikipedia" pronunciation comes from.

The "o" is not pronounced like "lock", but like "no".
The correct pronunciation is like "flow-keg" without the "g". Or "So", "No", "low", etc.


As for bokeh itself, I like smooth bokeh when the focus of the photo is on the central subject. However, if I want that surreal look, swirly bokeh is good. I find it hard to like mirror lens bokeh, so when I use a mirror, I try not to have bokeh in the shot.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much dnas for bokeh pronunciation!


PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although the term is relatively recent I think the bokeh of a lens has always been something good photographers have been interested in. they would just have referred to the lenses look/feel/rendering. Perhaps without knowing quite what it was about the lens they liked. Having a specific term has encouraged us to look for it & explore the possibilities, it's a shame that many people miss-use the term confusing it with shallow DOF - giving rise to 'lots of bokeh'.

The bokeh I like can vary hugely with the shoot. In some shots I like the donut bokeh of mirror lenses, but in many shots it combines with linear objects to produce a double image - generally this just makes the background to fussy & distracts.

Smooth creamy bokeh pretty much always works well, unless the bokeh itself is real the subject.


PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a person who studied Japanese on and off for several years, I can attest to the accuracy of dnas's comments.

Usually when Japanese is transliterated into the Roman alphabet, it is done based on what is known as the Hepburn system of Romanization. It isn't really important that you know that, unless you tend to be a language geek -- like I am, being a linguist and all. But anyway, the Hepburn system does indeed indicate it should be spelled "boke".

American English speakers often get sloppy with our vowel pronunciation. Not so in Japanese. This is why, as dnas points out, the Wikipedia pronunciation of bokeh is incorrect. In order for it to be pronounced 'bokay' as WP indicates, in the Hepburn system, it must be spelled 'bokei'. the -ay (or -ei in Japanese) suffix is actually a diphthong, a combination of two vowel sounds. As I mentioned above, we Americans can get casual about our vowel pronunciation -- especially making diphthongs out of vowels where there isn't one, which, in Japanese, leads to mispronunciation and possibly even confusion over meaning, since creating a diphthong where there isn't one can possibly change the meaning of the word.

"Diphthongization" is generally not phonemic (look it up) in English, but it is in Japanese. That is, by creating a diphthong, one can possibly change the meaning of a word.

Americans are not the only ones who can get creative with our vowel sounds. For example, I've noticed that the way some Aussies pronounce the word "no" (or "know") is actually anywhere from a triphthong to a quadraphthong. I've heard this same sort of shading in some British dialects as well. Probably drives the Japanese batty. Cool


PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
As a person who studied Japanese on and off for several years, I can attest to the accuracy of dnas's comments.

Usually when Japanese is transliterated into the Roman alphabet, it is done based on what is known as the Hepburn system of Romanization. It isn't really important that you know that, unless you tend to be a language geek -- like I am, being a linguist and all. But anyway, the Hepburn system does indeed indicate it should be spelled "boke".

American English speakers often get sloppy with our vowel pronunciation. Not so in Japanese. This is why, as dnas points out, the Wikipedia pronunciation of bokeh is incorrect. In order for it to be pronounced 'bokay' as WP indicates, in the Hepburn system, it must be spelled 'bokei'. the -ay (or -ei in Japanese) suffix is actually a diphthong, a combination of two vowel sounds. As I mentioned above, we Americans can get casual about our vowel pronunciation -- especially making diphthongs out of vowels where there isn't one, which, in Japanese, leads to mispronunciation and possibly even confusion over meaning, since creating a diphthong where there isn't one can possibly change the meaning of the word.

"Diphthongization" is generally not phonemic (look it up) in English, but it is in Japanese. That is, by creating a diphthong, one can possibly change the meaning of a word.

Americans are not the only ones who can get creative with our vowel sounds. For example, I've noticed that the way some Aussies pronounce the word "no" (or "know") is actually anywhere from a triphthong to a quadraphthong. I've heard this same sort of shading in some British dialects as well. Probably drives the Japanese batty. Cool


Heh, heh. Japanese are polite enough not to make a point about it!!! Wink
I'm an Aussie but I've lived in Japan for 11 years!! I've adapted my Aussie "a" so it's more understandable. The Aussie "no" triphthong is a more recent phenomenon (last 20years), which came mainly from a development of the "Aussie women's accent"..... Personally, I find it strange and annoying. It's actually very similar to the Irish "no".

One big advantage of living in Japan is the access to all sorts of Japanese MF lenses and cameras. I fix them in my spare time. The really cheap MF lenses have been disappearing for a while, 7-10 years ago, they could be dirt cheap.... e.g. I picked up a Minolta MD 85mm f2.0 for 1000yen (about $12). These days it would be 20x as much!!!
However, I can still get broken cameras for a good deal