Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by luvcameras, May 31, 2005.
Okay, I'm in my worst European mood: honest, straightforward and without any sense of tact or political correctness.
About the site:
too many adds and pop-ups for our (ancient browser's) taste, I would rate this site as a ....
just kidding! It just seems to me it is hard to rate something as subjective as bokeh and assign values to lenses. Smells to me of driving prices of lenses up (or down) unnecessarily.
But: I miss bokeh tests for larger format lenses or old and obscure lenses.
The summicron bokeh pic lookes nice, but I wanna know which lens would do the same for me on the scale of let's say, a 2x3 or 4x5" lens - and I'm probably not alone either.
Or am I...? Hello hello ..... (echo) hello hello...
(.... 'orm, 'orm)
When I squint my eyes and look at a photograph, the bokeh looks really good no matter what lens they used
Lots of Leica's on that list wasn't it. Who knows, maybe a few years from now, bokeh won't be the word on photo lists but something else.
Lets start a new technical term on something "Pleasing Flare". Yah, that's it...my lens has bad bokeh, but good pleasing flare.
While I agree that bokeh is an important ingredient in the way a photo looks and that it can be classified. Since it is aesthetic I believe that one can only determine for themselves wether a given lens has pleasing or displeasing bokeh.
I think it is all a conspiracy for owner's of those lenses (and future suckers...err, owners) to up the price even more in the future. Usually, photos that say "umm , nice bokeh"...is kinda like saying "ummm, yah, my date was okay, she had a nice...umm...personality". I guess its a fallback to say if the photo wasn't that good, then complement the parts that are "out-of-focus".
My $10.00 Spiratone Portragon has nice bokeh...wonder why it didn't make the list? Imagine if it was! Man, I can sell it for like $1,000 bucks! I know, I"ll make another web page, copy all those links, and post non-scientific data (because EVERYTHING you read on the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T is True!) about my Portragon and jack up the price of that lens!
I've always found the bokeh on the 135mm f/4.7 Graflex Optar to be very pleasing. I'm surprised that they sell so cheaply. (Perhaps the fact that about a zillion of them were manufactured helps keep the price down. )
Lots of tessar-types like that Optar have nice bokeh. They're plentiful and cheap.
Am I wrong?
First time I heard the word Bokeh was when a japanese photographer mention it about an image of mine. I ask him what was the meaning of it, he answered that there are no translation, but what it means is how some lenses because the design of their diaphragm renders polygonal figures in the reflexions or highlights that are out of focus, and a good Bokeh is that that keeps it's shape even if the focus goes really out. As I understood, Bokeh is kind of "mood with a shape".
Now I discover out of the web page mentioned that it is something so complicated that need an explanation the lenght of some pages full of diagrams and formulas.
The photo Bird of Paradise enclosed is an example of what I think Bokeh means.
the lense is a Carl Zeiss Distagon f 4, 50 mm
It's not just about the shape of the aperture. The only good explanation is on http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/bokeh.htm
Luvcameras, your page is nice, but I find the real test of bokeh is shooting with small sources of light in the background, such as streetlights or sunlight streaming through leaves. Any lens will render low-contrast background with no point light sources acceptably.
The Ken Rockwell article is pretty good, but "bokeh" isn't just about specular highlights.
Another distracting feature can be double lines in the out-of-focus area. Long before anyone used the term "bokeh" in photography, the Wollensak advertised the Verito as a lens that did not create distracting double lines in the out-of-focus area.
There is also the "plastic" (in the positive sense) "three-dimensional" look that occurs when there is a sharp separation between the in-focus and the out-of-focus area, that is a sign of good bokeh. Heliars are particularly known for this effect.
I don't really care about Bokeh...
Except that my Verito should be here any minute now (someone picked it up for me and is supposed to stop by with it).
My "new" Heliar should ship in the next day or so...
Other than that, it isn't a concern...or an obsession.
the reason, I think, so many old timers dont believe in bokeh is because, most lenses, pre 1970 or so, were not as technically good as post 1975, thus most older lenses have decent to very good bokeh....at least thats my hypothesis...
luvcameras, you're wrong.
As far back as before 1930 the lens makers were concerned about Bokeh, they just didn't use such a fancy term for it. The Voigtländer Heliar lens is a classic example; about 90% of the marketing focused (sorry) on the remarkably smooth transition from focus to out-of-focus areas. There are examples of horrible bokeh as well as exellent bokeh right back to the beginning of photography, although the easiest way to make it "bad" is by over-correcting spherical aberration.
Incidentally you can move the point of change back from 1970 to 1945: The introduction of antireflex coating has done more to change the lens design than anything else since Schott glass by allowing more glass/air surfaces without loss of contrast.
Ole - thank you for your curt and definitive ?? answer..I still think I am correct with my hypothesis...just because the Heliar MAY have marketed this, I still think the pre 1970 lenses are better, overall, bokeh-wise because of the lack CAD design and (affordable) glass types of later lenses...can you point me to an older image with bad bokeh?
I'll check tomorrow - I'm leaving work in a little while, and won't get home until late tonight.
Do a search on "biotar" and you should turn up a thread where I posted an image of particularly bad bokeh from a vintage Zeiss Jena 58mm/f:2.0 Biotar. Given the competition among the soft-focus lens makers and their advertisements, I'm sure there were lenses that had bad bokeh at the time. Here's a link to the image--
My theory is that in the 1960s and 70s as cameras got smaller and coatings made it possible to design lenses with more elements and better correction lens marketing came to be all about sharpness. Magazines like _Popular Photography_ and _Modern Photography_ pushed this with resolution tests and such, and you never saw a word about the rendering of the out-of-focus area. So a photographer of the 1920s and 30s might be very concerned about out-of-focus rendering, but someone who came of age in the 1960s and 70s might think of concern about bokeh to be the invention of obsessed Leicaphiles who have too much money and nothing better to worry about.
As I see it, in the visual arts and in music one is always concerned with the relation of figure to ground. Sharpness is about figure, and bokeh is about ground. Usually we think of the figure as the more important thing, but the ground isn't irrelevant.
David - one image does not a theory make...here is a shot with the same lens with decent to good bokeh
That might be a different version of the same lens. Mine looked to be from the 1950s. Look in the upper left side of those images, and you'll see examples of bright ring bokeh, which would be more of a problem if there were more specular highlights in the background. Usually if I want to test this, I look for a scene with light filtered through trees.
My theory isn't based on one image, but since you asked for an example of bad bokeh, and I had an image handy, I just added a link to it.
David - my point is that, in general, I am hard pressed to think of images from the 1920's to 50's, lets say, that have bad bokeh....If you look at HCB's work, most done with Leica - no bad bokeh there....other photogs used larger format...Weegee - dont find bad bokeh....etc
On the one hand that may just mean that photos with bad bokeh by and large don't become famous.
Weegee didn't use a wide variety of equipment--mostly the Speed Graphic and 127mm Optar, which has pretty good bokeh. Lots of photojournalists used that same setup. The same is true of HCB--just used a couple of lenses, all pretty good with regard to bokeh. For the f/64 group it wasn't as much of an issue, because they didn't use selective focus as much.
That said, I think you are right that it's harder to find older lenses with bad bokeh than it is to find modern 35mm/digital lenses with bad bokeh. "Overcorrection" only becomes an issue with lens coatings, when it becomes possible to add more air-glass surfaces without losing too much contrast. From the 1920s to the 1950s, a lot of lenses were tessar-types, which are pretty sharp in the center and have decent bokeh.
I've been following this, rather closely. I see examples here of various optical pheomena ... but I can't really grasp the idea of (choosing words carefully), "GOOD" bokeh, and "BAD" bokeh.
Is it possible to post an image of each ... intensely "Good" and intensely "Bad' for comparison?
Go back to my "bad bokeh" example and look at the clutter in the trees. If the lens had better bokeh, you would see smooth transitions between light and shadow, not clutter. For the explanation of why that is, read the Ken Rockwell article linked above.
Here's an example of what I think to be good bokeh (Bessa II, 105/3.5 Color-Heliar). The subject is well separated from the out-of-focus background and no double-lines in the background--
Here's an example of "bad" double-line bokeh from a 500/8.0 mirror lens (I think it was a Soligor)--
I can see where the rendering out of focus areas when shooting birds can be a real issue.
I think double lines may be a consequence of very poor bokeh in Rockwell's terms. If you take a line, then defocus it by turning every point on the line into a circle, you will get two parallell lines to either side of the original line.
Here is bad bokeh - from a digial throwaway for ebay
Seeing stuff like this gives me the sensation of fingernails across a blackboard.
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