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Optics Theory - This forum is aimed towards the TECHNICAL side of photographic OPTICS THEORY. There will be some overlap by camera/manufacturer, but this forum is for the heavy duty tech discussions. This is NOT the place to discuss a specific lens or lens line, do that in the appropriate forum. This is the forum to discuss optics or lenses in general, to learn about the tech behind the lenses and images. IF you have a question about a specific lens, post it in the forum about that type of camera, NOT HERE.

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Old 01-02-2010   #41
Andy Kibber
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chippy View Post
i think this thread was begun because the OP is really on a private vendetta to stamp out cats and coffee mugs... probably a cat knocked over a hot cup of coffee into the OP lap or got fur on his lens or maybe licked it ooh yuck
Cat saliva is notorious for destroying lens coatings.

Last edited by Andy Kibber : 01-19-2010 at 17:36.
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Old 01-02-2010   #42
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Judging by a lot of photos I see around the net posted by someone trumpeting their bokeh, I suspect those photographers are more interested in getting what they think is an interesting background -- lots of shiny but blurry little spots -- than in exploiting shallow depth of field.
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Old 01-02-2010   #43
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Slightly off-topic, but reading this thread made me think about the low-budget indie filmmaking community where for so many, OOF = production value/35mm look = professionalism.

In the last ten/fifteen years the trend has been for sticking so-called DOF adaptors onto relatively cheap prosumer camcorders. So your tiny 1/3" sensor films the image projected by 35mm lenses (often Nikkor AIS) onto a piece of randomly-moving ground glass. What with the 5d, 7d, d90, GH1 entering the 'HDSLR' market recently, the OOF fetish has got even worse. And it's not what you'd call 'bokeh', it's simply shallow DOF of whatever rendition.

In that world anyway, it definitely is a case of association (subconscious or otherwise) between shallow DOF and quality.
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Old 01-02-2010   #44
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OT -- About cat pictures:

I peruse a few sites every morning over breakfast. Before I get into the news, I take a look at the day's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" and then I look at the new cat pictures at ICanHasCheezburger. Sets me up for diving into whatever overnight miseries have taken place.
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Old 01-02-2010   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
Well, to me there is bokeh and bokeh. There is the coffee cup bokeh that melts away (C Sonnar):



There is a coffe cup bokeh that starts to be more structured (Planar):



and then there is the coffe table bokeh that starts taking over the picture (Summaron):



And finally a coffee table bokeh, that IS the picture (Summitar):



While initially I have been very much attracted to the Sonnar type bokeh, lately I am more intrigued by the bokeh of older Leica lenses. In fact, although I do not care at all for the f1.0 Noctilux's sharpness, I think this is the most interesting bokeh machine around:



Finally, I think that 99% of great pictures of this fellow (HCB) were sharp front to back ( at times I ask myself how he did it, considering that there were no high speed films available at the time). But in case of this shot, I really think that the blurred part is so good, that it could be a photo on its own - judge for yourself:

http://www.ldesign.com/Images/Essays...06/windsor.jpg

*applause*
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Old 01-02-2010   #46
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Originally Posted by -doomed- View Post

I bought a fixed lense RF and decided I wanted to learn photography instead of my typical guess and hope the AF took care of the focus and the auto exposure figured out the light.
Sorry to be blunt but I'm simply amazed at the number of people in these forums who blame digital for being lazy. Fact of the matter its the user's choice of how much or how little control he or she hands over to their equipment. Case in point you made the choice to use your 20D on auto exposure rather then manual and you made the choice to let the AF decide what to focus on instead of telling it what to focus on.


Rangefinders and film camera are wonderful tools that stand on their own merit without the need to make excuses about how digital make people lazy. People are lazy because they choose to be and can decided not lazy to be at anytime no matter what equipment they're using.
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Old 01-02-2010   #47
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No different than any other tool in a photographer's arsenal. It can be used well and it can be used badly.
But at times, I'd argue that it can a make an average shot better. Just like changing lenses can make a difference. Or changing perspective.
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Old 01-02-2010   #48
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I have always understood "bokeh" to be a term used in describing HOW a lens renders out of focus areas ( primarily stuff behind the subject/sharp bits).

"Bokeh for Bokeh's sake" seems to be either "playing around", or trying to demonstrate / market a given lens's performance. Bokeh-speak gets as flowerly / ridiculous as "winespeak".

I doubt there are many "serious" photographs where Bokeh is the main subject ?


(Personally, I like the geometric / polygonal bokeh offered by some of the older lenses.)

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Old 01-02-2010   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcary View Post
Sorry to be blunt but I'm simply amazed at the number of people in these forums who blame digital for being lazy. Fact of the matter its the user's choice of how much or how little control he or she hands over to their equipment. Case in point you made the choice to use your 20D on auto exposure rather then manual and you made the choice to let the AF decide what to focus on instead of telling it what to focus on.


Rangefinders and film camera are wonderful tools that stand on their own merit without the need to make excuses about how digital make people lazy. People are lazy because they choose to be and can decided not lazy to be at anytime no matter what equipment they're using.
No offense taken.

Perhaps I wasn't clear, I am not simply blaming the camera for my laziness when it came to just using the 20D as an overpriced point and shoot. I did use it manually once I became more confident, hence why I learned the plastic fantastic was capable of fantastic out of focus areas once I tried using it manual . I used it manual nearly full time once I understood some basics of photography.

I started using rangefinders with my canonet because I was fascinated by what a rangefinder was. The canonet can allow for one to be lazy as well with its shutter priority and ease of use. I made a decision that I enjoyed rangefinders and they fit me best over the SLR which I have sold off due to lack of use.

I'd never go out of my way to blame digital for my laziness at the time I was using it exclusively , nor would I blame shotgun shoot 1000 pictures and use what I like best and delete the rest. I was lazy at first because of my unwillingness to learn what it was that I was doing. When I realized I could shoot better if I took the time to learn what exactly it was that I was doing , I stepped up and made the effort to learn so i could become more consistent with my results.

Rangefinders fit my style better than an SLR , i rarely use zooms , or macro close ups. I still use digital but with a good point and shoot which I feel compliments my RF kit and is nice to throw in a pocket . Digital is fantastic , and if I could afford an Rd-1 , M8 , or M9 I'd buy and use them.

Maybe my initial statement was too broad .
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Old 01-02-2010   #50
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Quote:
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Nope. Completely, and respectfully, disagree. Thoughts on bokeh:

2. However, it emulates - at almost a symbolic level, how we perceive the world and is therefore indispensable. When my concentration is focused on a specific object, I have less attention focused on its surroundings. I'm conscious of them, but... Bokeh emulates this...

3. Of course, when I am perceiving or have my perception "fixed" on something it background doesn't go all "out of focus" - but it's exactly traits like this that makes photography so enigmatic.
my thoughts exactly, hold your hand in front of you and focus your gaze on it... is the background razor sharp or somewhat fuzzy?

Relax folks and let the 'bokeh' take over
I guess I'll never advance my amateur status..







and here's my obligatory 'fuzzy backgrounded' coffee shot...haters
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Old 01-02-2010   #51
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I consider my self a serious shooter and bokeh is often a factor in my photography. Just as is lighting point of view/perspective shutter speed point of focus , subject matter ...00. Why else have a Noctilux 50 1.0 for my M system and Nikkor 300 2.0 IF ED AIS for my Nikon system. . Because at f 8/11 almost all lens are the same.
I disagree that bokeh is passing fad, Iv seen taken with large format from 100 years ago that had great bokeh.
Now in saying that I do feel that a mediocre image is often made better with pleasing bokeh. But come on , is that really a bad thing? And I have taken/sold images that where nothing but bokeh. So it goes both ways.
Iv noticed that there are many shooters that for the lack of a better word are bokeh haters. Just reading the word makes them cringe. Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh...00

I think the fact that not all images exhibit what is for that lack of a better word pleasing bokeh stick in some people crawl. I personally believe that a photo need not have pleasing or any bokkeh at all to be successful, however having a pleasing bokeh certainly never hurts.
I think there is a place in the realm of art photography for images that are taken for no other reason than pleasing bokeh.
I think the people that Iv dubbed bokeh haters have tried it and were not successful so they turn there backs on bokeh as a coping mechanism.

And there is the factor that the best bokeh dosnt always come cheap. While I agree that many affordable lens can exhibit pleasing bokeh. What's funny is that the opinion of what good bokeh varies from one person to the other.
I know that in my photography Iv had several people comment that my most recent work taken with the Lecia M3/M6 at f 8/11 look more like snap shots than the ones taken with the Nikkor 28 1.4 D AF used wide open or my Nikkor 300 2.0 IF ED AIS at f 2.0.
And for me thats okay because it's about the being true to the subject and my own vision than in bowing down to what others expect or desire.
By the same token one cant help but be influenced by the images around us as well as the monetary consideration of selling there work if there in the business of selling /exhibiting there work.

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Last edited by Nikkor AIS : 01-02-2010 at 08:16.
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Old 01-02-2010   #52
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I think that the knee-jerk reaction of hating something because you don't like it is very fashionable "anti-bourgeois", specially a bit retrograde when they don't even know when "bourgeois" means to be "anti" -it.

Like those people that would say they hate Mathematics because it's so not full of rhyming poetry in German. Bery bery stoopid.
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Old 01-02-2010   #53
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There are bokeh haters. I can't help but think that some may not like it because their relatively expensive high-end digital point-n-shoot cameras with their blazing f3.5 zooms and tiny sensors are incapable of producing it (though they do have an abundance of megapixels - now that's important, especially when posting pics on the web). So it's "overused", "overrated", "ugly", "distracting"... etc. In other words, sour grapes.
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Old 01-02-2010   #54
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Anyone else think that "bokeh"(really shallow DOF)

Bokeh has been widely discussed, but to appreciate the different kinds of bokeh, you should try several lenses. Bokeh remains one of the variable qualities among lens designs. By that I mean that at one time portrait photographers in particular used to search out the lenses that had just the right look, usually various degrees of spherical aberration, and there were many kinds of looks (bokeh, too). Most lenses today are designed toward MTF, color accuracy, and so-forth so that the old look has been just about designed away. (Exceptions remain, but they aren't many.)

Regarding Chris' statement that LF is never shot wide open, I would qualify that as "most professional assignments for LF require small apertures", but it is fun to shoot LF wide open, and there are adequately sharp lenses for such. The 135mm F/3.5 Planar is one. It's not a great general use lens due to limited coverage to allow movements.

Oh, and to stay on-topic, The Linhof Super Technika is a rangefinder, of course, and the 135mm works very well on their 4x5.
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Old 01-02-2010   #55
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Large Format wide open

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yes it is
Old 01-02-2010   #56
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yes it is

Check my latest blog post of photo in the dark @ 1.4 and ISO 800. I would have loved to go to 1.2 or f1 and ISO 400 or 200 and just capture the face if I had a faster lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gho View Post
Sometimes a shallow depth of field is hard to avoid, especially in low light conditions.
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Old 01-02-2010   #57
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Quote:
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Large Format wide open
Todd
Todd - that image looks spooky real. Like there's a live kid on the other side of my monitor who lives in an alternate black and white reality. Excellent. I'm sure the print must be something to behold.
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More LF wide-open
Old 01-02-2010   #58
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More LF wide-open

One of them is a 250 Fujinon SF... wide open (yellow disk, I think).

The other is 12 inch Kodak Commercial Ektar... wide open.

Neither would have worked at F/22.

(Please forgiven the dust spots.)
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Old 01-02-2010   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phew!finder View Post
Slightly off-topic, but reading this thread made me think about the low-budget indie filmmaking community where for so many, OOF = production value/35mm look = professionalism.

In the last ten/fifteen years the trend has been for sticking so-called DOF adaptors onto relatively cheap prosumer camcorders. So your tiny 1/3" sensor films the image projected by 35mm lenses (often Nikkor AIS) onto a piece of randomly-moving ground glass. What with the 5d, 7d, d90, GH1 entering the 'HDSLR' market recently, the OOF fetish has got even worse. And it's not what you'd call 'bokeh', it's simply shallow DOF of whatever rendition.

In that world anyway, it definitely is a case of association (subconscious or otherwise) between shallow DOF and quality.
Seems that dSLR's are becoming favored. I use a D90 instead of a gg adapter that I tried out with my HV20 (consumer camcorder with 24p). Not enough light, the lights I would have needed would have cost what the D90 did, even if I ran diy guerilla lighting... I would have needed lights on 3 different residential circuits to light a wide shot of a medium sized room to f2.4 on the 35mm lens without using camcorder gain- ACK!

Cinematographers use a variety of tools to manipulate their audiences emotions. One of these is dof, of course, and shallow DOF is more often used due to a desire for it than the lack of suitable lighting and emulsions. Hollywood DOPs get all the lighting they want, lenses that in many cases can't be owned, and a staff of dozens just for the photography. Sometimes less is more, shallow dof increases their "production value" by better conveying the intended story and better suspending disbelief.

Suspension of disbelief- In a portrait you have only the model there... not the room behind her. With a vase of flowers you might have only them, setting a romantic mood. Images are emotional tools, not intellectual ones- sometimes a dreamy blurry background best conveys the intended emotion, so use it if it works for your style and the shot.
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Old 01-02-2010   #60
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Getting good bokeh need a lot of thinking and control and you can create very magical effect. Rogvon on flickr is one brilliant example.
I have no choice as I shoot in really really dark places...
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Old 01-02-2010   #61
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Maybe if someone could simply decide if 'bokeh' is the use of OOF (as in shallow DOF), or the pleasing rendition of OOF when it is used. One is an artistic decision; the other is the rendition of an optical characteristic.
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Old 01-02-2010   #62
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haha

now we need a cat with a coffee cup bokeh picture
What about a cat with coffee mug bokeh picture contest?
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Old 01-02-2010   #63
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Seems that dSLR's are becoming favored. I use a D90 instead of a gg adapter that I tried out with my HV20 (consumer camcorder with 24p). Not enough light, the lights I would have needed would have cost what the D90 did, even if I ran diy guerilla lighting... I would have needed lights on 3 different residential circuits to light a wide shot of a medium sized room to f2.4 on the 35mm lens without using camcorder gain- ACK!

Cinematographers use a variety of tools to manipulate their audiences emotions. One of these is dof, of course, and shallow DOF is more often used due to a desire for it than the lack of suitable lighting and emulsions. Hollywood DOPs get all the lighting they want, lenses that in many cases can't be owned, and a staff of dozens just for the photography. Sometimes less is more, shallow dof increases their "production value" by better conveying the intended story and better suspending disbelief.

Suspension of disbelief- In a portrait you have only the model there... not the room behind her. With a vase of flowers you might have only them, setting a romantic mood. Images are emotional tools, not intellectual ones- sometimes a dreamy blurry background best conveys the intended emotion, so use it if it works for your style and the shot.
The "shot on video" look is horrible. If you do a good job of incorporating it into the script, like Paranormal Activity did, it's fine but that's not the norm. Shallow Depth of field or "Bokeh" - (what the OOF areas look like) is a problem for low budget shot on video productions. There is a reason why independent filmmakers are jumping to DSLRs of late... plus, many shoot at 24fps. These are (truly) poor man's Red cameras. There is a marked difference between film look and the awful look of digital video. Wanna know the real difference in image quality between film and digital? It really shows up in motion pictures digital video = blown highlights, flat images, low dynamic range, no depth (bokeh) and even the completely untrained eye can see it, it's a distraction, and it prevents the ability to suspend disbelief. It's also true of film vs digital but not as evident in still photographs.
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Old 01-02-2010   #64
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Anyone else think that "bokeh"(really shallow DOF) is often the refuge of the unskilled/lazy shooter?
So are "sharpness", "lens signature", "red dot", "L glass", "contrast", "stealth", "RF", ... [insert any photographic buzzwords here].

Some "shooters" got over obsessing on those concepts and start using them effectively, some others stay "amature" for a long time.
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Old 01-02-2010   #65
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I applaud the OP for posing a provocative question around one of our favorite hot button issues.

FWIW, I also love me some bokeh.

Apparently mfogiel does also. That's some good bokeh.
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Old 01-02-2010   #66
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Maybe you're just tired of the discussion. If so, don't engage in it.
But, the 'effect' has been around since the beginning of photography. Some of the greatest photographers throughout history have employed it. It's no more of a 'gimmick' than 'extensive' DOF.

With your argument, you could say that 'black and white' is a gimmick. Or, wide angle lenses. All of these things are part of an equation. If you don't like the result, then you just don't like that particular image. Move on.
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Old 01-02-2010   #67
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A good photographer can coax a 5-star shot out of a mobile phone camera with a sensor smaller than the nail on your pinky toe.
That's such BS. This is a romantic notion some people have in their heads that a good photographer will be able to take a great picture no matter what image capturing device is handed to him. This is utter nonsense. A good photographer will know what image capturing device he will need to achieve his desired results.
Tell me something, do you think a good carpenter will make you a 5-star table if you hand him a Swiss army knife and show him a tree??

Sure, some photographers might get a decent shot out of a mobile phone if it fits their style but many others will not and it doesn't say anything about their qualification as a photographer. Somehow I doubt that there's much greatness to find on Andreas Gursky's mobile phone...
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Old 01-02-2010   #68
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If you focus on the quality of your images no one will care about the bokeh. Quite frankly unless you come into forums such as this, you probably don't even know what the word means.
Absolutely. I first read the word about two years ago on Ken Rockwell's website and I've since seen it used extensively - and often wrongly - here. 'Bokeh' has nothing whatsoever to do with good or bad photography, it's simply one of the characteristics of a given lens.
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Old 01-02-2010   #69
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While I don't generally use the term "bokeh", I don't really have a problem with it. AFAIK (i.e. if Wikipedia is right) it comes from the japanese word for "blurry" or something similar. I don't know why it's such a big deal if a japanese term finds its way into the english language. I'm sure there are lots of english terms used in Japan.
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Old 01-02-2010   #70
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People that really matter (ADs, curators, gallerists) do not give a rats @$$ about bokeh and don't know what it is. I have never been asked about it from anyone outside of a place like RFF. I guess that answers the OP's question from my viewpoint. The discussion of bokeh is amateur bling.

Egad!
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Old 01-02-2010   #71
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By which I probably mean it's just one more thing for gearheads to wrangle about, in preference to actually taking pictures...
Even a non gear-head would prefer to consider his lens adequate to the task and sharp enough for the money paid and the task to be done. Bokeh is the same: a semi-formal or contextual portraitist is going to be bummed by zeiss bokeh (generally speaking) because it's often calls attention to itself. Really bad bokeh has a nasty, eye-ache vibrational quality.

The paradox is that many bokeh hunters are looking for bokeh that gives the subject just enough 'focus' , as Nick Trop explained, but that otherwise gets out of the way of the overall picture. The reason they are 'hunters' and generate so much forum commentry is because smooth bokeh clashes with the design needs of sharpness. The over-use of too much oof is a common fad at the moment as so many amateur d40 users get blown away by a friend's f1.8 (I'm guessing), but the mature shooter may well choose a low degree of oof but will not want it to be 'harsh'; and the gear does make a difference.

But this issue is confounded by at least three factors. Firstly the people who don't require or see the aesthetic or compositional value of oof backgrounds (including the OP) and often seem to assume that everyone should be just like them. Secondly the nutty bokeh admirers who either persue bokeh as a kind of subject or actually like the distracting artifacts that mature shooters are trying to avoid; and give much justification to the first. And third the fact that many who do want bokeh nevertheless don't have a discriminating eye for it and zeiss bokeh is just fine thankyou.

The result is chaos because of the confused debates that follow among people who haven't discerned the distinctions within the clans or aren't generous enough to accept the validity of another person's tastes as if it were a matter of moral right and wrong.

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Old 01-02-2010   #72
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What I think is that some pro and long term amateurs must have felt frustrated to see millions suddenly embrace a hobby that has become more accessible with digital. Therefore it becomes more difficult to stand out in the times of flickr and so on, pictures are all over the place. So maybe, instead of raising one's own game and focusing on its own work, the easiest way is to critize those invaders.

Maybe thin DOF is overused, just like B&W, sepia, fake grain, slow speeds, and the thousands I see every day take the same freaking pictures of the Arch of Triumph when I go to work. As long as people enjoy the pictures they took, it seems fine to me. At least, they don't force their photography in experimental crap that only themselves understand, like some pros and serious amateurs nowadays, in the remote hope that their work will ever get noticed.
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Old 01-02-2010   #73
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"Boke" has originally nothing to do with photography at all, it is a (blurry) state of the mind .... Lately, the term "Bokeh" is used to describe how a lens renders out-of-focus areas.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ade-oh View Post
Absolutely. 'Bokeh' has nothing whatsoever to do with good or bad photography, it's simply one of the characteristics of a given lens.
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Old 01-02-2010   #74
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QUOTE
If you focus on the quality of your images no one will care about the bokeh. Quite frankly unless you come into forums such as this, you probably don't even know what the word means. It seems amoung amateurs that the oos and aahs of comments are directly proportional to the price or unobtainium of the lens. Most professionals only give it a passing thought. If bokeh is your biggest concern when buying a lens or taking a picture, you have bigger problems than paying for the lens. On the other hand, if you are just having fun, then no harm, no foul.

The one good and bad thing about the internet is that everyone has an equal say regardless of their experience or knowledge. Since Robert Frank has been mentioned in this thread, I will use him as an example. What if he posted this image here-



How many miserable things would be said about it? Some armchair quarterback would insult him by letting him know all of the things that he should have done. That is why you will see very few serious photographers post their images in forums unless the forum is private. Who needs the aggravation? I stopped doing it years ago because of this. People that really matter (ADs, curators, gallerists) do not give a rats @$$ about bokeh and don't know what it is. I have never been asked about it from anyone outside of a place like RFF. I guess that answers the OP's question from my viewpoint. The discussion of bokeh is amateur bling.


Worth repeating,
Bokeh seems a religion sometimes, needs a good chant - bookeeh-bookeeh-oom-bookeeh-bookeeh-oom
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Old 01-02-2010   #75
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Originally Posted by Krzys View Post
Whatever works
Agreed.

I've never considered if I'm using shallow DOF too much. If it works for the photo I do it.
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Old 01-03-2010   #76
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Originally Posted by Jamie123 View Post
That's such BS. This is a romantic notion some people have in their heads that a good photographer will be able to take a great picture no matter what image capturing device is handed to him. This is utter nonsense. A good photographer will know what image capturing device he will need to achieve his desired results.
Tell me something, do you think a good carpenter will make you a 5-star table if you hand him a Swiss army knife and show him a tree??

Sure, some photographers might get a decent shot out of a mobile phone if it fits their style but many others will not and it doesn't say anything about their qualification as a photographer. Somehow I doubt that there's much greatness to find on Andreas Gursky's mobile phone...
Getting a good shot out of a mobile phone or box camera or whatever is a party piece: something you do to show off that you can do it. Most good photographers can do it, because they know how to work within the lmitations of whatever camera they're using. Voluntarily choosing to work within those limits is something else again, and pretending they don't exist is indeed sheer lunacy.

Cheers,

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Old 01-03-2010   #77
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Originally Posted by lorriman View Post
Bokeh is the same: a semi-formal or contextual portraitist is going to be bummed by zeiss bokeh (generally speaking) because it's often calls attention to itself. Really bad bokeh has a nasty, eye-ache vibrational quality.
What absolute, unadulterated, rubbish. You are actually saying that you cannot take a good photograph unless you have bought the right brand of lens.
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Old 01-03-2010   #78
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What absolute, unadulterated, rubbish. You are actually saying that you cannot take a good photograph unless you have bought the right brand of lens.
What an absolutely hysterically ironic reply. I can't believe that you read the whole of my post and managed to come up with that.

Made my day.
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Old 01-03-2010   #79
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What an absolutely hysterically ironic reply. I can't believe that you read the whole of my post and managed to come up with that.

Made my day.
At root, it would be difficult to interpret your post in any other way, despite the blather.
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Old 01-03-2010   #80
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Originally posted by lorriman:
Quote:
a semi-formal or contextual portraitist is going to be bummed by zeiss bokeh (generally speaking) because it's often calls attention to itself
Could you kindly back this statement with some images? From my experience with lenses (Zeiss, Leica, CV, Nikon) the Zeiss glass tends to have very pleasant and "normal" bokeh, as opposed to "articulated" or "harsh" or outright "disturbing" bokeh from other manufacturers. It would be interesting to find out what are you basing your statement on.

Thanks

Marek

Zeiss Makro Planar 100/2 ZF



Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 ZF



Zeiss Planar 80/2.8 (Rolleiflex)



Zeiss Planar 50/2 ZM



Zeiss C Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM



Zeiss Makro Planar 120/4 (Hasselblad)


Last edited by mfogiel : 01-03-2010 at 03:34.
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