Dirty Bokeh? Clean Your Front Element!

Having some dust or smudges on your lens’ front element generally doesn’t have a noticeable effect on your image quality, but photo enthusiast Alex Bowler recently discovered that having a dirty front element can do nasty things to bokeh. The before-and-after comparison above shows what Bowler’s out-of-focus areas looked like before and after cleaning his lens.

Image credits: Photographs by Alex Bowler and used with permission

  • MrRocking

    I daren’t. Already lost a screw for one bit of old glass.

  • Dave

    Thank you, captain obvious!

  • Hans_vfx

    Before = character

    After = Clinical

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    Thanks for this helpful hint, it’s useful for me. Never knew what caused that and sensor cleaning didn’t get rid of this. Now if only my eyeballs could be cleaned of their aberrations, I could finally lay in the grass on a warm spring day and watch the clouds without chasing those ‘germs’ around.

  • Anthony Burokas

    Yea, I’m kinda liking the “character” of some dirty glass. But now that we know, we can do something creative with it. Now… tiny little stars on the front glass for prettier bokeh. 

  • Ben

    Anthony, you can still buy star filters. Very big in the 70’s and 80’s.