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Blur/Bokeh is overrated?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by tkbslc, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Interesting informal study and video over at PetaPixel:

    Bokeh is Overrated: Blurry Isn't Best


    Two things stood out to me:

    "The average person cannot really tell a difference between photos taken at a difference of one or two aperture stops, even when they are specifically looking for differences."

    "People might prefer a little bit more definition that an f2.8 or an f4 aperture might provide over a lens being shot wide open (at least at distances I tested)."
     
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  2. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    TL;DR: Non-photographers care more about the context and subject of the photo than they do the technicalities of the image and equipment used.
     
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  3. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    978
    Sep 10, 2016
    So it's more important to have the subject in focus than the background out of focus? Wow... Now I have to rethink my whole life.
     
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  4. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Hey, it seems obvious, but how often do we have equivalent DOF and prime vs zoom battles?
     
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  5. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    Surely true. Sharpness, which photographers obsess over, hardly matters, as long as the subject is not actually blurry.
     
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  6. ralf-11

    ralf-11 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    602
    Jan 16, 2017
    Huh - what would Haskell Wexler say??
     
  7. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    I didn't watch the video, just read the article, but to be fair he seemed to imply the WHOLE subject (front to back) should be in focus as opposed to using a DoF so thin that only one of your model's eye is in focus but not the other nor the tip of the nose or the ears which is what you often get from those who think if their lens can do 0.95 then, dag nabbit, they are going to do 0.95 regardless of how the photo turns out.
     
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  8. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    You're not a pro unless 90% of your photo is blurry!
     
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  9. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I started out better than a pro!!! 100% of my shots were blurry!!
     
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  10. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    I believe that makes you avant garde then.
     
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  11. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    216
    Oct 9, 2017
    And every editor I've worked for/with.
     
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  12. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    As a photographer who prefers a nice large depth of field I enjoyed the video, the one thing missed on my period of using a FF was losing a load of apparent in focus zone at apertures like f2.8 for a similar angle of view. I shot for a while with a pair of higher end P&S due to their wonderful DOF. I will say in some of the pictures though especially one of the dog ones I could see in the dog that the 1.2 blurred out a fair bit of the body to the average person that I would guess be less desirable so Im not sure how perfect the test was.
     
  13. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    To me when it's all said and done it is only the end result that counts. It can be appreciated the technical difficulties and skill required to take the image, but the final result will how it is seen / judged in the public eye. Well to me anyway. :) 
     
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  14. archaeopteryx

    archaeopteryx Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    550
    Feb 25, 2017
    This is in good agreement with my personal experience. I've generally used f/5.6 (m43), f/8 (APS-C), and f/11 (full frame). Never had a client ask for less DoF. Did have one reject an entire batch of f/4 APS-C portraiture for not having enough DoF. (Would have used a smaller aperture but I was forced to f/4 by light limitations---there's kind of a story there---and that was before focus bracketing was a thing.)

    It's beyond the scope of Andrew's tests but the customers I have who care about DoF don't really want anything that's not focus stacked. f/16 or f/22 might occasionally be OK but mostly they're looking for the equivalent of f/64 and up.

    From a behind the camera standpoint I've had glass to f/1.4 and enjoyed using it there at times, though for the resulting portraits I'd prefer if f/2.8 or slower had been possible. Computational photography for background blur and removing subject motion has obvious uses here but, other than blur on phones, the tools are really there yet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  15. ralf-11

    ralf-11 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    602
    Jan 16, 2017
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  16. ralf-11

    ralf-11 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    602
    Jan 16, 2017
  17. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I find it a bit odd when people say they like to shoot with more or less DOF. Seems like just a tool to me. Busy background? Blur it. Interesting background? More DOF. I remember getting my first fast lens and thinking (for about two weeks) that you had to use it wide open and obliterate the background. Then you realize that is just an option.
     
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  18. Seems to be an obsession to want "the only one right answer".

    More crucial issue is, IMO, the question. In other words, what are you trying to achieve with the image you are making?
     
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  19. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I think photographers do too. To the extent that the content and the subject of the photo count more than the technicalities.
     
  20. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    What I was attempting to convey was that you average, non-photographer individual likely won't care if you shot it at f/1.4 or f/2.8. They won't care whether or not the lens is sharp right in to the corners. What they care about is a nice image that tells a story.

    But at the end of the day, we are most critical of ourselves, which is why we justify that we need that f/1.4 prime lens, or that lens that is sharp across the frame at f/8, or that camera that has the most dynamic range. All of that matters to a point, but your typical client would never notice the difference.
     
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