- Boke is a Japanese word that refers to soft out-of-focus areas of the photograph.
- sometimes people will confuse limited depth of field with bokeh, yet they are not the same.
- Overall the more shallow the depth of field or further you are away from the background and more out of focus it would be.
- Bokeh is rendered by the lens, not the camera although bokeh is actually a characteristic of a photograph.
- the lens used determines the shape and size of the visible bokeh. Usually seen more in highlights.
Aperture: Depth of Field
- There is nothing magical here, the shallower the lens’s depth of field (DOF) is, more regions of the image will be out of focus. Longer DOF will keep more of the image in focus and give you less out-of-focus regions.
1. Use the right lens.
All lenses can create a bokeh, but the REALLY nice, drool-worthy bokeh is from prime lenses with large apertures, like f/1.4 and f/1.8.
2. Select a large aperture.
The larger the aperture (the smaller the aperture number) = a narrower depth of field and more bokeh! Usually f/2.8, 1.8 and 1.4 create the best results.
3. Get close to your subject.
4. Focus on what you want to have sharp.
I know, I know…. duh. But there may be someone out there who isn’t sure!
5. Put your subject far from the background you want to be blurred out.
Lenses with Adjustable Bokeh
There are a few lenses in the world with systems that allow the photographer to specifically adjust the way the lens renders out-of-focus areas. These lenses include:
• Nikon AF DC-NIKKOR 105mm f/2D – DC = Defocus Control
• Nikon AF DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2D – DC = Defocus Control
• Sony 135mm f/2.8 – STF = Smooth Trans Focus
• Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD – APD = Apodization Filter
• Sigma 135mm f/2.8 YS – Focusing System
In general terms, bokeh can be one of four elements in a photograph:
- A part of the subject: the cliché bokeh-as-part-of-the-subject image is the cup or bowl with holiday lights “pouring” into it
- The subject: usually an abstract image comprising out-of-focus specular highlights
- A complement to the photograph
- Distraction from the photograph.