The Wilted Bokeh


I cannot remember when I first became aware that bokeh was cool. Possibly 5 years ago…before that it was just called out of focus and was generally a pest. Indeed I spent hours and dollars obtaining lenses that would reduce it as much as possible. I could have saved my expensive efforts and just kept the old screw-mount Meyer lenses. They had enough bokeh to clean the fish guts off a mackerel boat.

The reason this speculation has come up is an article on FUJI LOVE website written by a chap who compared the effects of similar lenses on full-frame and APSC-frame cameras. He knew from the physics and optics of the thing that the full-frame camera would exhibit more fuzzy images in the out-of-focus areas than the smaller sensor…but he wanted to see the comparison side by side.

A wise man – it never does to take pronounced wisdom exactly at face value. If you can experiment and see for yourself you always know better…in the best sense of that phrase. And you can relate the findings to your own work.

Well, it was as he expected – with a similar large aperture – in this case f:1.2 – he was able to get nearly double the size of a point of light in the background of a portrait. The full-frame DSLR lens was 85mm, the APSC one was 56mm. Same size main subject in focus but different background. You could measure the difference, but it was not all that different to look at.

When he shifted to a 50mm for the full-frame and 35mm for the APS-C there was a bit more definition in the backdrop…but still a pleasing bit of softness there – and both example images were successful.

So do we need to lash out for new cameras and lenses to pursue the bokeh? No we don’t. And if we want to sharpen that backdrop for artistic purposes, the APS-C camera is the way to go. Indeed, the smaller micro 4/3 sensor is a good choice here too.

Bokeh? Well it’s not entirely bunk, eh, but it’s not the fulcrum of the photographic world.



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