Is Bokeh overrated?

Discussion in 'Articles of Interest' started by VidThreeNorth, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. n614cd

    n614cd TPF Noob!

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    Then what labels would you use to define such concepts?

    Tim


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Dave Etchells, the owner of Imaging Resource, admits that his stance on bokeh has changed over the years. As he writes in the comments section of his site's article about Olympus's new f/1.2 lens line here [ The new bokeh champs? Olympus cracks the code for beautiful bokeh with its F1.2 Pro prime lens series ]

    Dave Etchells Mod Micaha year ago
    "It's funny, years ago, here in the US, "bokeh" was mysterious, and people tended to view it as some Japanese fetish that nobody else cared about. I've become increasingly aware of it, ever since shooting a college rugby game my son was in with a Pentax 200mm f/2.8, and noticing all these little "rainbow donuts" in the background, in specular highlights from cars. As you might expect, other background objects were pretty much a mess as well.

    Now that I've been schooled a bit more on what to look for, I can't *not* see it any more! :-0
    "
     
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  3. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yup ... now that you all talk about it ... it's now become a visual element ... and it really slapped me in the face when I used my first Mirror lens.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    See I see the same thing in different artistic and creative forms.
    Take Warhammer Models (toy soldiers with dice on the tabletop). When I started it was a case of buying models, clipping them off the sprue, glue them together, splash paint on and go! A model could be done in minutes.

    Now it takes me hours because I'm removing mould lines, filling in gaps in the joins, making sure bits line up right, thinning paint, painting in layers, using washes etc... So basically the process became more involved.


    Now there's a few things to realise here:
    1) As you learn more and as you expose yourself to more creative works your criteria and standards will change and evolve. You also become more overtly aware of things many people are aware of, but only in the background of their mind. I knew when I started with models that mine were painted way worse than the pro-ones on the box - but I didn't have the skill, language nor understanding to really grasp the difference. I could see it in side by side but didn't know what I was looking at.

    With photography people might well see a more pleasing background and foreground, but might not have the language nor understanding on how to order their thoughts or convey that to someone else.

    2) As a result of point 1 your standards might well change over time and they can flip flop around a lot even at the same point in time. A fast snap of your child or dog doing something fun and the busy background is just part of the scene - its a great shot. Others might not think so, but that's them. Meanwhile when you go off to do that portrait session with a friend you are making sure that background is creamy smooth without any major distracting elements.

    3) Gear Lust and Anti-Gear Lust. A pattern I notice is that the internet has loads of gear chat and very few artistic chats. Others have spotted this too and there's almost a sort of blog-war between the two. The "arty" blogs will push for cheaper gear and empowering people to appreciate their photography without "oh all that fussy gear porn and that fast glass you don't need"; whilst the other side will talk about how great their gear is and what they can achieve with it that you can't with lesser or other gear etc...
    Basically I view it as a huge amount of click-baiting titles on both sides of the coin that ultimately boils down to the fact that a "photographer" can be any one of a vast number of people and that individuality is a key element. Some want a light kit; some don't mind a heavy kit; some want a technically capable kit; some just want snaps; some want to be stealthy; some want weather sealing; some want etc........ It's not that any one blogger is right, its that they are all right for a given person and background and situation (save for those who are more open with their viewpoints).

    4) I personally think anyone who takes the hobby "seriously" and is enthusiastic should aim to learn more than they need and then make the choice of what they like to produce from a position of empowerment. Granted this can be difficult for some who simply cannot afford some specific gear; but I think the point in general still stands. Once you can do more you can choose what standard you want freely; meanwhile if you only learn what you need (and worse let people talk you out of learning more) then you are fixed at a limit that is not your full potential through your own lack of understanding. You can't make a free choice on how or what to use.




    Anyway Bokeh is both over and under rated depending on who you talk to and at what stage in their photography they are at. For some its the holy grail for others its just a feature and for some they just don't care. You'll never have an answer that fits all save for the answer to try all and find out what works for you.
     
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  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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  6. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are a couple of things that have been on my mind about this since the beginning:

    First, the quality of the out of focus is not a new issue in the west. Some photographers and lens designers have known about it long before 1997. I know this because I remember a German fellow ("Dieter") who basically described it to me long before that. He was describing why "perfect" lenses were not necessarily the best, and I remember him describing that if it was good behind the focus plane that it would be bad in front of the focus plane. Back then, I didn't understand what he was telling me, but when I read the Olympus article, I realized what he had described. But it shows that there were people, probably going back pretty far who knew about it. Also, it shows that not having a special term for it didn't mean it was not understood. It is convenient to have the term, and I think we benefit from having the term both because it makes discussion easier, and also the fact that there is a special term for it now brings it to the attention of more photographers.

    Second, the reason why it has not become an issue more generally in the past is that for the whole industry, since around 1970's (and maybe earlier) has striven for "best general optical performance". Included in that is the attempt to eliminate spherical aberration. If you get rid of spherical aberration, then that leaves you with "solid" bokeh. And generally, "solid" bokeh is "ok" for most photography. It might not be literally the best for a given picture, but you have to be very fussy (and very knowledgeable) to see the result and feel badly about it.

    Third, I remember back in SLR days that some lenses were known to not having circular apertures. I don't know whether it was true or not, but one fellow said that it was deliberate because it was felt that circular apertures tended to make pictures look unnatural. Actually, I really would like to find of that was true. I think some of the Canon lenses were like that weren't they?
     
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  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One of the unfortunate (?) side effects of this ongoing lens refinement is the loss of depth rendering. When photographers complained about color aberration (fringing), lens makers dutifully made corrections to try to eliminate color fringing, only to have inadvertently (?) reduced the lens's ability to dynamically portray depth. That is why many of the latest lenses produce flat images. Sharp, and no CA, but flat. Oh, well.
     
  8. n614cd

    n614cd TPF Noob!

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    Can you give an example? I am not following.

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  9. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Absolutely. :) See Nikon's 1001 nights regarding the 105/2.5 original rangefinder design from the late '40's:

    Nikon | Imaging Products | NIKKOR - The Thousand and One Nights No.45

    A lens's purpose is to render an image on a 2D surface for reproduction as a 2D image so I'm at loss as to how you think the *3D rendering* qualities of lenses are diminished. If you mean the natural inclination of humans to interpret 2D images as 3D spaces and therefore interpret a 3rd dimension because we try to understand 2D representations as 3D space then I think you are talking about *illusion*. Illusion is about us, as humans, seeing something that's not there because we neither look nor interpret what we see correctly. It is then quite simple to understand that the *apparent 3D POP* of older designs is simply due to the fact that they did not render correctly, that they had flaws. Most notably distinct barrel distortion and a tendency to produce softer and therefore lower contrast at the edges.

    If you do a quick study of Leonardo Da Vinci then you'd find that the basic principles for creating this illusion, (of 3D on a 2D surface), were well understood in the 16th century. They can be created with far greater effectiveness and consistency with more modern lenses if you know what you're doing.

    Images are flat 2D surfaces, any impression of a third dimension is therefore pure illusion, (because if we see something that's not in a 2D image...) . We need to understand this rather than invent some voodoo and attribute it to one's *refinement and taste* in which lenses we buy. It's rubbish, complete and utter.

    I feel a little disturbed that it's beginning to creep into this well balanced and informed forum. Sorry for the rant, but I'm fed up with all this rubbish about *3D POP* in older lenses and how it's being designed out of modern ones... ;);););)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Call it what you like. Read or don't read. Why would it matter to me? It doesn't.

    What is exactly the '3D pop' in photography?

    The Death of Beautiful Rendition and 3D Pop on Modern Lenses - Photography Life

    https://petapixel.com/2016/03/14/problem-modern-lenses/

    The flattening of modern lenses or the death of 3d pop

    lens rendering - Google Search

    Do low element lenses have more "depth" than high element lenses?

    Lenspire

    Micro contrast and why it is important - MartijnKort-Photography
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  11. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, if I trawled the internet I could find dozens of articles that would support anything that I choose to believe. I looked briefly at one of the links you posted and got the the part where it declared that lens manufacturers were, "lying to us," and that it was all a conspiracy...

    But it's difficult to believe.

    You see photographic art is rooted in observation so the claim that we are deceived by the words of manufacturers rather than actual observation of real results is a little far fetched to those of use who look rather than read... ;);););)

    If you wish to believe that a lens can capture this depth information from reflected light and then display this on a 2D computer screen so you can see 3D, or that one coloured dot is further away than another on your screen then you may continue in you delusion and your belief that your photography jumps of the page because of the lenses you bought. (Though I also find it a little of a dichotomy that on photo forums we spend so much time declaring that it's the photographer rather than the equipment then only to argue that it's the equipment... ;);););)).

    One more link to add, from this site:

    Careful observation and it's role in developing the eye

    Perhaps you'll read it and see for yourself, remember the principles involved were among those used by Leondardo Da Vinci.

    P.S. The whole 3D POP argument falls apart on one major contradiction. It involves the belief that somehow the older lenses capture less *corrupted* information. The exact explanation is unimportant but consider this; it hinges on the belief that an older lens somehow captures these depth cues more accurately and that we see them more correctly and therefore *see* greater depth in a 2D image. But it relies on the assumption that what you see is absolute and correct, that you see the depth cues in a more absolute manner. But surely if your vision was absolute and what you saw was correct you would not fail to see a 2D image as what it is, a 2D image. Whereas common thought runs along the lines of; if you see a third dimension in an image where no depth exists then you see something that's not there. Which is explained by the nature of illusion, not lens design.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  12. n614cd

    n614cd TPF Noob!

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    Did you read the photography life article?
    It was really good. And the last paragraph says it best.
    This was satire and full of it. I love the statement that those who believe modern lenses are better believe the earth is round. Basically they implied people who advocate old lenses belong to the flat earth society.

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