50mm f2 vs 35mm 1.4 - which has more bokeh?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
KariP
KariP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,486
Re: Is "bokeh" necessary for portraits ?
1

Truman Prevatt wrote:

KariP wrote:

Spazmaster wrote:

Im working on filling in my prime lineup, currently have 18f2, 23 f2, 27 2.8, 35 1.4

Was thinking about adding in a 50mm f2 to round it out and have something for portraits. Im wondering if anyone has input on how much bokeh I would get with the 35 f1.4 at f1.4 vs 50f2 at f2

Would you guys grab this lens or go for something longer like the Viltrox 85 or Fuji f2?

Very often I see people buying or planning to buy some lens for portraits because it has very shallow DOF and "speed" ( 56mmf 1,2 or something)

Nice bokeh looks good , sometimes. I have been looking at some portraits - especially from old masters and of course some modern . Extremely shallow DOF is actually used very seldom - if ever. Some photographers also use the surroundings/landscape or persons home so that it is not blurred away and also tells something of the persons personality. Perhaps also some statue or art can benefit from very shallow DOF - anyway a lot of background blur is not a measure of quality - of the lens or the photographer.

A lot of old masters did not have fast lenses. Shallow DOF is but a tool and it is often a tool that is the difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot. Putting a person in his environment can provide more interest but if there is a toaster and water faucet with specular reflections in the background - the eye is drawn to the toaster and faucet not the subject and hence they are distractions. The solution is narrow DOF and melt the distractions away in a smooth bokeh.

This shot taken with the XPro2 and 56 f1.2 at 1.2 would not have been possible without narrow DOF because of the shiny objects in the background that were sunlit from a window. The bokeh of this eliminated the distraction.

One doesn't need the tattoos in sharp focus to know that Dan here is a die hard Marine Expo vet.

For outdoor portraits pine and fur trees make a wonderful back ground and open overcast sky lighting is the most flattering. But again the pine needles don't need to be in focus to give a feel for the environment. If they were - the eye might be drawn to the needles instead of the subject.

Taken on TriX using a Mamiya RB67 with a 127 f4 lens at f4

DOF is a tool that comes in very handy to focus the viewers eye to the subject and mitigate distractions in the frame. If used correctly - it is one of the more powerful tools at the photographers disposal. Can it be over used? Anything can be over used. The reason I prefer fast lenses is they give me options. With a slow lens I don't have the option to isolate a subject and control background distractions and in many cases the only option is just to walk away from a shot.

Dorothea Lange was a master in the creative use of DOF to give the viewer just enough to get a feel from the environment while focusing the viewers eye like a laser to the main subject.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-dorothea-langes-5-iconic-images

I understand perfectly, that shallow DOF CAN sometimes be very useful. It is not an absolute  necessity IMO.  Portrait photography does not start from getting a f1,2 lens. If someone wants to try portrait photography it is more important to think how the focal length /distance works. Long enough focal length makes the perspective more like natural - and then f 2,8 or 4 gives enough of DOF  (With a 85mm lens) .

Portraits are difficult and really good portraits are rare.  The best ones I have seen are not taken with f 1,2. They were taken by photographers who understand the personality of their model...  f2,8 ... f 11 ,  right light and psychology is more useful that f1,2  

f1,2 is a style decision - useful if you know what you are doing.   In reportages/ street  and such it can look great ,  separating the background.  I mean that serious portraits of some person should be taken with time and serious pre meditation/thinking . Not just fast grabs.

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Kari
I started SLR film photography in 1968, first DSLR was Canon 40D in 2007. Now Fujifilm X-E3 and X-H1 for nature, walking around ,traveling/landscapes - fantastic 5DMkIV for landscapes, macro , BIF ... .

 KariP's gear list:KariP's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Fujifilm X-E3 Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +10 more
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