A Good Example of Bad Bokeh

I have talked in previous entires about “bokeh.” Every lens exhibits bokeh, a word of Japanese origin that describes the characteristics of the out-of-focus areas of an image. Some lenses are noted for being able to produce good bokeh, while others, particularly cheap zoom lenses, routinely yield bad bokeh. Lots of photographers on internet forums love posting their “great bokeh” images.

The Minolta DiMage 7i; in many respects, an excellent camera.
The Minolta DiMage 7i; in many respects, an excellent camera.

The lens isn’t the only player in the bokeh equation, but it is the biggest. I have some lenses that usually produce decently flattering bokeh, but can be tricked into giving me bad bokeh if conditions are just right. And each lens I own has its own “bokeh personality,” giving me the backgrounds I like for certain situations and failing in others.

Tonight I was shooting in the yard at sunset with a camera I’ve owned for ten years, the Minolta DiMage 7i. It’a a neat little camera with a very sharp, versatile lens of 28-200mm “equivalent” focal length. It’s a marvelous hiking camera, and was on my shoulder on the trail with me a lot over the years.

The lens, however, has always been noted, at least in my shooting, for bokeh I would describe as “ratty.” Shooting tonight really showed off that rattiness. See for yourself…

This image, made with my Minolta DiMage 7i at 200mm and f/3.5 (wide open) shows out-of-focus highlights that are, well...not so smooth.
This image, made with my Minolta DiMage 7i at 200mm and f/3.5 (wide open) shows out-of-focus highlights that are, well...not so smooth.
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