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

Started Apr 22, 2013 | Questions
RasiWick New Member • Posts: 6
Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct? If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

This is the example of what happens when I shoot f/1.8 or f/2.2. Here you will see that my daughter's eye is sharp in focus, but the rest is slightly out of focus.

This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection. I see pics were the ENTIRE subject is in incredible focus and the background is nicely blurry. The shots also don't look like they were taken with telephoto lenses to create that effect. They look like standard 50 mm lenses.

What am I doing wrong? If i make the aperture smaller, a greater area gets in focus, but then the background looks more distinct (and less bokeh). Am I making comparisons to folks who are doing a lot of post processing, or is it possible to get images like this...

http://www.lynnquinlivan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Worcester-Holden-Massachusetts-MA-6-Month-Old-Outdoor-Portrait-Photographer-Girl-with-Owl-and-tutu-hot-pink-and-lime-green-Image.jpg

With minimal postprocessing and all through the use of a good lens and camera and skill? Do I need to use a different lens?

ANSWER:
Canon EOS 6D
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ARShutterbug
ARShutterbug Veteran Member • Posts: 8,959
Your composition is not the same

You are getting what you expected.  The face is in-focus, and the background is blurred.  If you aren't happy with the sharpness on the face, you need to focus manually and decrease your aperture size for more depth-of-field.  Your example lacks the resolution necessary to notice the problem you are describing.  In your third-party example, the camera is probably much closer to the child.  If you want that appearance, you have to use the same arrangement as shown.  What you have is a child standing up against a tree and not paying attention.

trekkeruss Veteran Member • Posts: 3,899
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

RasiWick wrote:

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct?

First, an explanation. Bokek is a a quality, not a quantity. It is a word used to describe the look of the out of focus elements. A photo can have good or bad bokeh, but not more or less bokeh.

If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

If you want a little more in focus, you need a little smaller aperture.

is it possible to get images like this...

http://www.lynnquinlivan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Worcester-Holden-Massachusetts-MA-6-Month-Old-Outdoor-Portrait-Photographer-Girl-with-Owl-and-tutu-hot-pink-and-lime-green-Image.jpg

As far as focus is concerned, that doesn't appear all that much different than yours, although I can't see either all that well since I can't see them in full resolution.

You can calculate how much will be in focus using this tool: http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Watch this video as well: http://youtu.be/OUYuUs1aaCU

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,509
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?
2

RasiWick wrote:

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct? If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

This is the example of what happens when I shoot f/1.8 or f/2.2. Here you will see that my daughter's eye is sharp in focus, but the rest is slightly out of focus.

This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection. I see pics were the ENTIRE subject is in incredible focus and the background is nicely blurry. The shots also don't look like they were taken with telephoto lenses to create that effect. They look like standard 50 mm lenses.

What am I doing wrong? If i make the aperture smaller, a greater area gets in focus, but then the background looks more distinct (and less bokeh). Am I making comparisons to folks who are doing a lot of post processing, or is it possible to get images like this...

http://www.lynnquinlivan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Worcester-Holden-Massachusetts-MA-6-Month-Old-Outdoor-Portrait-Photographer-Girl-with-Owl-and-tutu-hot-pink-and-lime-green-Image.jpg

With minimal postprocessing and all through the use of a good lens and camera and skill? Do I need to use a different lens?

Hi

Get her away from the tree with nothing but air behind her and I am sure you will be a lot happier with the same settings.

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 11,022
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

I think your photo looks pretty good, I and wouldn’t think that you failed the shot.

You may not know, but ‘bokeh’ usually means the quality of the background blur, not the quantity of blur. Portrait lenses which are famed for the quality of their background blur are typically designed so that certain lens defects are under-corrected; these may also have rounded aperture blades so as to make the aperture more circular when it closed down, instead of being a pentagon or hexagon.

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.

Due to geometry, if you photograph a subject with two different length lenses at the same f/stop, and the subject fills the frame identically in both, then there will be an equal depth of field on the subject in both images. However, a distant background will be blurrier with the longer lens. Because of this, you can use a longer lens and stop it down more, but still get a blurrier background.

For example, if you stand 10 feet from your subject using a 50 mm lens at f/2, you will have a depth of field of say 1.4 feet. If you use a lens twice and long and stand twice as distant, with a 100 mm lens at 20 feet at f/2, you still get 1.4 feet depth of field, but distant backgrounds will appear to be twice as blurry. This might help:  http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

So I see two problems: 50 mm might be insufficiently long, and the quality of the blur of that lens may not be significantly smooth, leading to a rough-looking blur. A longer lens, stopped down enough to get enough of your subject in focus, may still deliver a significantly more blurry background. You might not even need an expensive portrait lens to get the look that you want — a less expensive telephoto lens, say 135 mm or longer, might work very well for you, since even a coarse background blur will eventually look smoother if it is really out of focus. It is often suggested that you use a focal length of lens so that you can stand about 10 or 15 feet away from your subject: on a full frame camera, I would use a 50 mm for a full-length portrait.

Baroque painters often used “depth of focus” in their paintings, making the closer eye of a subject slightly sharper than the more distant eye, and making the background indistinct. If you find the backgrounds on your 50 mm unacceptably coarse, like them, you might try to find a more subdued, uniform background, one which is darker than your subject.

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +2 more
selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
corneaboy
corneaboy Contributing Member • Posts: 565
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

It is difficult to see from your photo how much blur exists.

Your daugter is too close to the tree to have the tree appear to be very blurred.

Get to know what results to expect from your 50mm lens.  Take a series of shots with your camera different distances from your daughter, say 20, 15, 10 and 5 feet.   Choose bacgrounds that are at least 20 feet behind your daughter.  Use a tripod.

Olaf Ulrich Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Background blur with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

RasiWick, first of all—what trekkeruss said. Bokeh is not the degree of background (or foreground) blur but the quality or character thereof. An entirely different thing! So please stop talking about bokeh when you actually mean blur.

RasiWick wrote:
I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. [...] To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

So what you want is the subject in focus and the background out of focus, and you're disappointed to get the subject in focus and the background out of focus. Huh!?

RasiWick wrote:
This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection.

That's because your picture is just bad.

My suggestion for the particular picture shown above is: Stop down to f/2.8 or f/4 and move closer to your little model—cut the subject distance in half, or closer still. Consider rotating the camera to portrait orientation. For a face-only or head-and-shoulders portrait, a longer focal length would be preferable, such as 80 - 135 mm or thereabouts. For a portrait that includes some of the environment/background, a 50 mm lens on a 35-mm-format camera is fine ... but in the picture above, you included way too much background. And while a 50 mm lens can be used for this kind of picture, separating subject and background generally will be easier with a longer focal length.

Also keep an eye on how subtle variations of the shooting position—from slightly above your model's eye level, from exactly the eye level, or from slightly below the model's eye level—will have a significant influence on the result.

OP RasiWick New Member • Posts: 6
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks! Great answer. Really helped explain things to me.

Limburger
Limburger Veteran Member • Posts: 7,812
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Everything basicly said.

Have a look at these photo's , probably this is more the look you have in mind.

As pointed out, now you're further away from your subject but fill the frame just the same, your background is blurred out more.

Note as well that the background itself as the lens (shape and number of apertureblades) have an impact on the bokeh too.

-- hide signature --

Cheers Mike

 Limburger's gear list:Limburger's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Canon EOS 7D Sony Alpha a7 Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM +3 more
Olaf Ulrich Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Background blur with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Many 50 mm lenses [...] 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.

No, it's not. Don't send him down the wrong road.

AnthonyL Senior Member • Posts: 2,544
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

RasiWick wrote:

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct? If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

This is the example of what happens when I shoot f/1.8 or f/2.2. Here you will see that my daughter's eye is sharp in focus, but the rest is slightly out of focus.

This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection. I see pics were the ENTIRE subject is in incredible focus and the background is nicely blurry. The shots also don't look like they were taken with telephoto lenses to create that effect. They look like standard 50 mm lenses.

What am I doing wrong? If i make the aperture smaller, a greater area gets in focus, but then the background looks more distinct (and less bokeh). Am I making comparisons to folks who are doing a lot of post processing, or is it possible to get images like this...

http://www.lynnquinlivan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Worcester-Holden-Massachusetts-MA-6-Month-Old-Outdoor-Portrait-Photographer-Girl-with-Owl-and-tutu-hot-pink-and-lime-green-Image.jpg

With minimal postprocessing and all through the use of a good lens and camera and skill? Do I need to use a different lens?

It would have been handy if you had left the Exif information intact.  In the example you have cited the Exif shows: (stripping out non-relevant items)

Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: EF50mm f/1.2L USM
Focal Length: 50mm
Focus Distance: 1.11m
Aperture: f/1.6
Exposure Time: 0.0031 s (1/320)
ISO equiv: 160

So the photographer has used a better (sharper) lens than yours and has not shot wide open.  The subject is quite near and there is no immediate background such as the tree.

The light is good and the photographer has clearly got strong focus on the eyes and minimal opportunity for motion blur.

The DOF is around 2", so 1" in front and 1" behind.

Your lens will be softer wide open, you may have some slight motion blur (did you use a tripod).  Did your subject move after you focussed.  You have a tree right behind detracting from your objective of having a nice out-of-focus background, compared with the sample which has a soft complementary background.

Try again and post again.  Watch the lighting and consider reflectors and/or gentle fill in flash.

 AnthonyL's gear list:AnthonyL's gear list
Canon EOS 700D Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM +3 more
scorrpio
scorrpio Veteran Member • Posts: 3,595
Re: Background blur with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Olaf Ulrich wrote:

RasiWick wrote:
I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. [...] To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

So what you want is the subject in focus and the background out of focus, and you're disappointed to get the subject in focus and the background out of focus. Huh!?

His problem is that the rest of photo is SLIGHTLY out of focus.   The caption under the photo describes the problem more accurately.

RasiWick wrote:
This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection.

That's because your picture is just bad.

No, that's because despite being soft, background in OP's photo is still very much recognizable.   While the background in the provided link is blurred beyond recognition.   That is what clearly different.

My suggestion for the particular picture shown above is: Stop down to f/2.8 or f/4 and move closer to your little model—cut the subject distance in half, or closer still. Consider rotating the camera to portrait orientation. For a face-only or head-and-shoulders portrait, a longer focal length would be preferable, such as 80 - 135 mm or thereabouts. For a portrait that includes some of the environment/background, a 50 mm lens on a 35-mm-format camera is fine ... but in the picture above, you included way too much background. And while a 50 mm lens can be used for this kind of picture, separating subject and background generally will be easier with a longer focal length.

I don't see OP asking for compositional advice.   Do not try to push YOUR idea of what would make a better portrait on others.   Chances are, the photo is composed exactly to OP's own liking.  The question is about the scenery to the sides of the tree.

To OP:   For this type of shot, 50mm on FF camera is a bit short.   You need something in 85-100mm vicinity.   If you had a crop camera like 60D, 50mm would be 80mm equivalent, and you might get (marginally) the effect you are after.   When I want to really kill the background, I use my 70-200 f/2.8, zoomed to 130 and longer.

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 11,022
Re: Background blur with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Olaf Ulrich wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Many 50 mm lenses [...] 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.

No, it's not. Don't send him down the wrong road.

Dunno. The background does have some coarse blurring artifacts, especially near the tops of the trees. It isn’t horrible, and back in the days of film, such quality of blur was usually considered quite acceptable. But we do have lenses these days which produce smoother blurring.

 Mark Scott Abeln's gear list:Mark Scott Abeln's gear list
Nikon D200 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +2 more
nelsonal Senior Member • Posts: 2,464
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

There are three factors you can change:  Subject magnification, aperture diameter, and to some extent background magnification.  With a 25ish mm aperture diameter you'll probably need to be pretty tight (the image you linked was shot at a 1.1m distance) yours was probably shot at 2-3m.  Notice that the baby's elbow to head distance takes up more of the frame than your subject's longer torso.  Framed similarly and those distant trees will be far less recognizable.

If you want to keep the distant framing, you'll need a wider aperture opening (and likely a longer lens to achieve that, which would help on the background magnification as well).

Finally, from a less technical standpoint, the lower photo's background appears to be trees in full leaf, back lit by the sun, while yours have more contrast between the sky and leaf, the contrast makes the shapes more obvious, than if both leaf and sky are nearly the same brightness.  Also, trees before their leaves fully obsucre the branches tend to be very difficult background objects for blurring (I suspect because they're very linear objects so even blurry lines remain quite recognizable).

Olaf Ulrich Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Background blur with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?
1

scorrpio wrote:
I don't see OP asking for compositional advice.

Well—he asked what he was doing wrong.

.

scorrpio wrote:
Chances are, the photo is composed exactly to OP's own liking.

Chances are, the original poster did not waste a single thought on composition at all. Instead, he simply aimed at the girl's face and fired a frame from where he happened to stand. And that's the actual reason for the picture being so bland. It's not the depth-of-field, or lack thereof. It's the photographer's lack of thought about composition. A step or two closer to the little girl, and shooting from a slightly lower angle, and putting the little girl's eyes not just exactly at the frame's center, would yield a picture much closer to what he had in mind I bet. Shooting from a closer distance would also have helped with blurring the background even more.

To RasiWick: Try following my advice the next time you take your little girl's photograph. If the result is better then have a beer to my health. If not then try something else ... like, purchase another lens

scorrpio
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.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/883531/0

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

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/reviews/canon-ef-50mm-f-1.2-l-usm-lens-review.aspx

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.

Olaf Ulrich Contributing Member • Posts: 953
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

scorrpio wrote:
It is really not the focal length, but the construction of the lens. Specifically, the ultra-cheap 50 mm 1:1.8 with its 5-blade aperture. Step up to the $350 50 mm 1:1.4, and things begin to look a lot better. Go up to a $500 Sigma 50 mm 1:1.4, which has a rounded 9-blade aperture, and it gets even better. [...] And going up to $1500 EF 50 mm 1:1.2 L will give an even smoother result. [...] But, while a more expensive lens will render the out-of-focus areas smoother ...

Oh please! Don't try to suggest all this bunkum to a beginner photographer. He might start thinking it was true ...

.

scorrpio wrote:
... a longer lens will render those areas more out of focus.

Okay—this much is true indeed, for a change.

beagle1 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,597
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

RasiWick wrote:

I have been doing basic amateur photography, but rather haphazardly. I recently invested in a new Canon EOS 6D (full frame) camera with its kit lens, and a 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens to start off (more to come). Back in the day, I used to gush over photos from wedding/portrait photographers and dream about getting shots where the subject is tack sharp is bokeh in the background with a 50-80 mm lens. But I am having problems getting it with my 50 mm f/1.8 prime. Here is what happens:

To get Bokeh, as I understand it, I need to have a wide open aperture so that the subject remains in focus, but the background is out of focus. Correct? If I photograph my daughter under the tree (as in the photo below) and I want my daughter to be sharp and everything in focus, I set my camera to an aperture of f/1.8 or f/2 and have the focus point precisely on her eyes, and snap the picture.

To my disappointment, what I get is a very small area of razor sharp focus and the rest of the background out of focus.

This is the example of what happens when I shoot f/1.8 or f/2.2. Here you will see that my daughter's eye is sharp in focus, but the rest is slightly out of focus.

This is clearly distinctly different that some of the portrait shots you'll see in a professional photographer's collection. I see pics were the ENTIRE subject is in incredible focus and the background is nicely blurry. The shots also don't look like they were taken with telephoto lenses to create that effect. They look like standard 50 mm lenses.

What am I doing wrong? If i make the aperture smaller, a greater area gets in focus, but then the background looks more distinct (and less bokeh). Am I making comparisons to folks who are doing a lot of post processing, or is it possible to get images like this...

http://www.lynnquinlivan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Worcester-Holden-Massachusetts-MA-6-Month-Old-Outdoor-Portrait-Photographer-Girl-with-Owl-and-tutu-hot-pink-and-lime-green-Image.jpg

With minimal postprocessing and all through the use of a good lens and camera and skill? Do I need to use a different lens?

like others have said,  in the example they used a different lens, different settings and the distances were different.  Experiment with changing the background distance and also consider that a longer focal lengths (greater distance and zooming in) will create a more blurred background

scorrpio
scorrpio Veteran Member • Posts: 3,595
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

Olaf Ulrich wrote:

scorrpio wrote:
It is really not the focal length, but the construction of the lens. Specifically, the ultra-cheap 50 mm 1:1.8 with its 5-blade aperture. Step up to the $350 50 mm 1:1.4, and things begin to look a lot better. Go up to a $500 Sigma 50 mm 1:1.4, which has a rounded 9-blade aperture, and it gets even better. [...] And going up to $1500 EF 50 mm 1:1.2 L will give an even smoother result. [...] But, while a more expensive lens will render the out-of-focus areas smoother ...

Oh please! Don't try to suggest all this bunkum to a beginner photographer. He might start thinking it was true ...

Well, it IS true.   Bokeh depends on the number of aperture blades, their shape, and their edge profile.  Of course, there are quite a few other factors distinguishing these lenses (max aperture, optical quality, focusing speed, build quality etc) and a more complex aperture is just one of these factors.  I am not saying everyone should run out and get a 1.2L - that lens is an overkill for most of us.

The 1.8 nifty-fifty is a workable compromise for someone on a tight budget.     but if this beginner can afford a 6D, I think that suggesting a $350 lens is reasonable.   Though of course, for what the OP wants, EF 85 f/1.8 USM will work better.

nelsonal Senior Member • Posts: 2,464
Re: Bokeh in the background with a 50 mm lens. What am I doing wrong?

The only impact the blades have on the aperture is the shape of highlights when stopped down.  Everything else depens on the lens design (primarily spherical aberration).

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