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  1. #11
    MattCarey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    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.

    Matt

  2. #12
    luvcameras's Avatar
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    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...

  3. #13
    Ole
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    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 Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  4. #14
    luvcameras's Avatar
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    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?

  5. #15
    Ole
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    I'll check tomorrow - I'm leaving work in a little while, and won't get home until late tonight.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  6. #16
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    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--

    http://www.photo.net/bboard/image?bb...ad_id=14727084

    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.
    Last edited by David A. Goldfarb; 06-01-2005 at 07:30 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Thought that lens was a 2.0, then a 2.8, then checked, and definitely a 2.0.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #17
    luvcameras's Avatar
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    David - one image does not a theory make...here is a shot with the same lens with decent to good bokeh

    http://www.tcn.ne.jp/~bochi/slg/gallery/h442_1.htm

  8. #18
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    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.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  9. #19
    luvcameras's Avatar
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    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

  10. #20
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    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.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

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