Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Started Apr 22, 2013 | Questions thread
scorrpio Veteran Member • Posts: 3,595
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Many 50 mm lenses, even though they are often used for taking portraits, may not be designed to produce good looking bokeh, since they are more designed for overall sharpness and lower cost. These lenses will have harsher-looking out-of-focus areas, which will give the impression of being less blurry and more rough. I think this is the phenomenon you are seeing.

A good portrait lens with high quality bokeh will produce smoother out-of-focus areas, even if they are stopped down a bit. Good bokeh lenses usually have focal lengths which are longer than 50 mm, with 85 mm f/1.4 being a very popular size for these lenses, and with 105 and 135 mm being commonly used by 35 mm film photographers in the past.

It is really not the focal length, but the construction of the lens.   Specifically, the ultra-cheap 50 f/1.8 with its 5-blade aperture.   Step up to the $350 50mm f/1.4, and things begin to look a lot better.   Go up to a $500 Sigma f/1.4, which has a rounded 9-blade aperture, and it gets even better.

And going up to $1500  50mm f/1.2L  will give an even smoother result.

But, while a more expensive lens will render the out-of-focus areas smoother, a longer lens  will render those areas more out of focus.

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