Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/11/18

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Subject: Re: Bokeh:a mythical construct
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 09:57:26 -0800

I agree, there ARE differences in the out of focus areas of a photograph. Since 
I started using Leicas I have used and loved images from the (final v 4) 35 
Summicron. I wondered why I had never much liked the images from my old Canon 
35/2 FD SSC. Took some test shots at F2.8 and F4 with both oof foreground and 
background. Big difference the Summicron oof areas were much smoother.......


On Tue, 18 Nov 1997, Joe Berenbaum <> wrote:
>At 13:57 18/11/97 +0100, you wrote:
>>'Bokeh' to state it quite clearly does not exist. The concept is supposed
>>to elucidate the out-of-focus characteristics of certain lenses, some of
>>them made by Leitz and Leica.
>>In fact is a marvelous piece of self-suggestion, of the kind David
>>Copperfield should be proud of. It is a well known fact that vision can be
>>influenced by what you think or like to percieve. 'Bokeh' falls in this
>>catagory: it has no sound scientific, not even factual basis.
>I noticed a characteristic with Nikon 50mm lenses with apertures greater
>than f2.0; the out of focus parts of the picture, usually noticable in the
>background of portraits, had an unpleasant quality where edges of out of
>focus background objects was doubled or fragmented in some way and was very
>distracting. I noticed when I started using Leica lenses a few years ago
>that this appeared to be absent with the 50mm lenses. This was before I'd
>ever headr of "Bokeh". I've used five Leica 50mm M lenses and two 50mm R
>lenses of maximum aperture f2.0 or greater and these have all been like
>this. Looking back to a number of pictures taken about ten years ago with an
>old Minolta 58mm/1.4 Rokkor, it compares well with the Leica lenses in this
>respect; the same smoother out-of-focus background is visible in the
>portraits. More recent portraits with a Nikon 50/1.4 AF Nikkor are spoiled
>by the effect this lens has at full aperture on one of the subjects who is
>not in focus; frankly it looks awful. Similar shots with a 50mm Summicron M
>and Summilux look very different- the out of focus subject is simply out of
>focus and is not otherwise altered. My current Nikon 50mm/1.8 af lens sits
>unused in a drawer- I have no inclination to use it whatsoever, and should
>probably sell it. I have the images I'm talking about here- I'm not just
>imagining this. The difference between the out of focus parts of the picture
>with these standard Nikon and Leica lenses, when compared, is very visible.
>If it is visible, I'm not overly worried about whether it has a scientific
>basis. I expect it will be said to have a scientific basis eventually- maybe
>when it is better understood. I'm no expert. I'll just keep using the lenses
>that don't mess up the out of focus backgrounds of my pictures.
>Joe Berenbaum