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How's your bokeh?


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#1 Filip Plesha

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 05:24 AM

so :)

Are you cinematographers also picky about the bokeh of your lenses?

What kind of bokeh do you like most? What is considered "beautifull" among your kind?


I must confess that I don't like what is considered to be a "perfect" bokeh (round smooth falloff with bright center), it just looks like photoshop gaussian blur to me, which is boring, at least to me.
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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 08:02 AM

so :)

Are you cinematographers also picky about the bokeh of your lenses?

What kind of bokeh do you like most? What is considered "beautifull" among your kind?
I must confess that I don't like what is considered to be a "perfect" bokeh (round smooth falloff with bright center), it just looks like photoshop gaussian blur to me, which is boring, at least to me.


Bolex Switar zooms (PTL and POE) both have an auto iris function that use only two blades in each case - they form a sort of diamond shape that tends to a square when fully stopped down ...

The bokeh corresponds directly to these shapes, and are very pretty when picking up out of focus point source lights, distant standard office type flouros can look like crystals ...

When the lenses are fully open you would get a round circle of confusion but the light sensor prisms butt into the lens forming a truncated circle ... :ph34r: ...


As for the fall-off do any cine lenses have those disk type systems like I've seen in stills soft focus lenses (eg. the Mamiya RZ VSF) ???
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 10:01 AM

The only time I've gotten some odd bokeh was when I shot something wide-open on a 40mm C-Series anamorphic lens, a low-angle shot of someone walking at dawn with a canopy of tree leaves over their head.

The out-of-focus circles of light through the trees were bizzare -- first they were sort of half circles, but then they were stretched vertically because of being anamorphic... plus the lens had barrel distortion, so the pattern of stretched half-circles sort of swirled in a curved pattern around the sides of the lens, becoming moon-shaped. Plus the lens has a half-stop fall-off on the edges. Very strange-looking.
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 11:28 PM

I guess it depends on what kind of stuff you do. For narrative storytelling, everything you put in the frame should enhance, rather than distract from, the story. So what you might consider "boring" might be just the right thing when you're trying to focus the audience's attention on the actor and not the background.

But other times you want to make an expressionistic or simply aesthetically beautiful bokeh, like in commercials or music videos. Then it's all a matter of what works right for the piece.

Personally I love the way anamorphic lenses turn out-of-focus highlights into ellipses, but I find it distracting when they go from round to elliptical during a focus pull. I also love when there's just a slight bit of "texture" or distortion to round unfocused highlights when using various diffusion filters, but not so much that your eye picks out a distinct pattern. And I hate it when a hard matte "clips" the edge of a highlight near the edge of frame.

I guess releated to bokeh is the flare characterisitcs you get from the number of iris blades. Triangular lens flares always look odd to me, and the 6-bladed iris in most ENG lenses always make a distinct star pattern to bright highlights that alway signals "video" to me.
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#5 Nick Mulder

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 06:13 AM

But other times you want to make an expressionistic or simply aesthetically beautiful bokeh, like in commercials or music videos. Then it's all a matter of what works right for the piece.


I always liked the shot of the car headlights at the beginning of Crash ...
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 03:46 PM

I always liked the shot of the car headlights at the beginning of Crash ...

Yes, it looked great. I love that kind of stuff.

There was another thread here about the TV show "Smallville," and the beautiful texture to the bokeh in the closeups. I forget now what the filter is (SoftFX?), but it looks gorgeous. As does the lighting on that show.

There was trend in commercials back in the early 90's where things were shot on long lenses that would dolly past glass and refelective objects in the foreground, just for the odd unfocused distortions they would give. That's not exactly the same thing as "bokeh" (do the Japanese have another word for this?), but it's still an example of exploiting optical distortions of focus for aesthetic effect.
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#7 Daniel Stigler

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 06:50 AM

The only time I've gotten some odd bokeh was when I shot something wide-open on a 40mm C-Series anamorphic lens, a low-angle shot of someone walking at dawn with a canopy of tree leaves over their head.

The out-of-focus circles of light through the trees were bizzare -- first they were sort of half circles, but then they were stretched vertically because of being anamorphic... plus the lens had barrel distortion, so the pattern of stretched half-circles sort of swirled in a curved pattern around the sides of the lens, becoming moon-shaped. Plus the lens has a half-stop fall-off on the edges. Very strange-looking.


Hi David!
I'd like to see this. Did the scene appear in the movie? Can i get it on DVD?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 10:41 AM

Hi David!
I'd like to see this. Did the scene appear in the movie? Can i get it on DVD?


No, it was cut out of the movie.
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#9 Kim Sargenius

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 12:26 PM

so :)

Are you cinematographers also picky about the bokeh of your lenses?

What kind of bokeh do you like most? What is considered "beautifull" among your kind?
I must confess that I don't like what is considered to be a "perfect" bokeh (round smooth falloff with bright center), it just looks like photoshop gaussian blur to me, which is boring, at least to me.



Personally I prefer bokeh the rounder the better. Zeiss Super Speeds MkII with the three bladed aperture drive me nuts, and I have to admit that I'm not too fond of the Cooke SK4's either, as I find the octagonal aperture rather distracting. Add to that I kind of dislike pentagonal and hexagonal as well, and you start getting some pretty limited choices :angry:

I agree with you that the so called "perfect" bokeh is quite boring. I like something which if you graph it would look like a table top with ever so slightly raised edges and a pretty rapid fall off.

In fact these days I'm getting more and more into optical "flaws" - eg, Cat's Eye bokeh used to distract me quite a bit but now I'm looking for ways of incorporating it as an expressive tool, much like lens flares.

I'm still on the hunt for the "perfect" bokeh for me.



cheers,

Kim Sargenius
cinematograper
sydney
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#10 Sam Wells

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 12:45 PM

Cat's Eye bokeh used to distract me quite a bit but now I'm looking for ways of incorporating it as an expressive tool, much like lens flares.


Now that's one I like also.

One of my favorite flares was getting an oof shape just like a traditional 'non bai tho' conical hat while shooting in Vietnam ! With the camera moving it was kind of three dimensional...

-Sam
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#11 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 01:10 PM

so :)

Are you cinematographers also picky about the bokeh of your lenses?

What kind of bokeh do you like most? What is considered "beautifull" among your kind?


My kind?

Anamorphic is best. It's not just the eliptical lights. Vertical lines are sharper than horitonal, giving something of an outline down the sides of out of focus objects.

As for spherical, some lenses give an out of focus circle which rather than being uniformly smooth has a bright ring with the filling not as bright.
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 02:11 PM

I was thinking bokeh when I shot this:
File0860.jpg
Just thought I'd share.
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