What makes good bokeh?

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Questions thread
Cytokine Contributing Member • Posts: 688
Amazing Bokeh control

This is one of my favourite Bokeh shots I found on flickriverhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/bimo_marwoto/3545419861/lightbox/

Taken it says with the 85mm 1.4D. one of many at this site under this lens, Here Nikon designer explains this lens http://imaging.nikon.com/history/nikkor/41/index.htm

What I think makes a good Bokeh lens (No order)

1) Isolation of subject.

2) Ability to blur a background very smoothly in a very short distance.

3) Many blades, at least 9 for round bokeh,.straight or rounded.

4) Smooth blur in front and behind the subject and in the transition zone.

5) High quality optical glass that transmits all colours strongly (New 1.4 G seems less transmissive of blue).

6) Clean defined circles with clarity that have little edging

7) No over complicated patterns that are nervous.

8) Designed specifically for purpose.

9) Have a mix of characteristics that can be applied to different requirements. (its a tool) too sharp not good for portraits, so open up, or stop down to increase sharpness but still retain blur.

I think the Nikon 85 1.4D version is so good because it is intentionally compromised in the corners at wide open stops, in exchange for rapid blurring, in effect it gives an extra stop open, of blur synthesised by its optical design, giving  an effective blur of a 1.2 lens, but the centre sharpness of a 1.4 aperture.

Compare this lens with the Canon 1.2L MK2 at photo zone, the depth of field in the playing cards, it also seems to have more contrast in the centre than the Zeiss, and 1.4G,  all but the Canon, and because the rapid blur is engineered, it gives better subject isolation than the Canon. Though the Canon is smoother in the transition zone by a tad.

The Canon costs even more than the Nikon 1.4G, circa $2,200. You can buy a used 85 1.4 D for circa $750 us dollars. (It is the combination of contrast and sharpness and optical design especially in the centre that makes this lens such a creative gem).

PS Nikon have many lenses with good bokeh and on a budget have a look at the old/new 80-200 2.8's  or the new 70-200's or the medium / long 2.8 primes, The DFC lenses. This 85 1.4 D lens is a specialist for portraits and photos that draw the eye to the centre of the image.


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