Not All Bokeh is Created Equal, DigitalRev Explains Why

Defined by Google as, “the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens,” Bokeh is a term that has become much more prominent in the past ten years or so than ever before, thanks to the photography community.

But while many believe bokeh is best achieved by focusing on the subject close to the camera and keeping the background at a great distance, Kai from DigitalRev uses the above video to show you why that’s far from the only determining factor.


He explains that while that approach will give you more bokeh, it doesn’t mean it will give you better bokeh, and then goes on to share some tips and tricks that are very useful, particularly for the beginner photographer who just picked up their first large aperture lens.

Coming in at four and a half minutes, the video combines Kai’s always-entertaining presentation along with plenty of helpful information, so press play and then let us know what you think in the comments down below.

(via The Phoblographer)

  • Richard

    Even though Kai goes overboard, it works and this video is useful.

  • UHU

    Kai over the top? Never! :) BOA – KA!

  • Earl Von Tapia

    The opening line got a laugh out of me. :p

  • D. Lambert

    The use of “more bokeh” vs. “better bokeh” shows a misconception (albeit popular) of what “bokeh” really means. According to the definition you yourselves quoted, bokeh is an indication of quality — *not* quantity. Bokeh, quite literally, *is* the quality of the OOF areas of a photograph.

    It’s so common for us to confuse the degree to which the background is OOF (ie, really blurry) with bokeh, that we lose sight of the more subtle origin of the term. Consider the differences between different lenses used in similar settings: due to lens and aperture construction, some lenses show a “nervous” or jagged quality in OOF areas, vs. a lens with “higher quality” OOF rendition, which might be considered better because it’s smooth. Thus, the actual quality of the OOF areas as shot through two different lenses can differ from one another — much more in keeping with the original meaning of “bokeh”.

  • Richard

    You’ve got really big bokeh-balls* making a comment like that. (joke).

    *I’ve been using “bokeh-balls” for lights and other round out of focus elements for years.

  • wlicari

    I like the way he holds the camera at 2:40

  • Albin

    When I first read of bokeh, about ten years ago, the prevailing idea was to capture the aperture blade polygon of the shutter in close review of the OOF area. Now any blur seems “good enough” and all kinds of compacts are shooting f/2.0 with alacrity.

    My favorite bokeh artist is the Anglo-Japanese photographer Martin Bailey, who has beautiful garden shots with blossoms or leaves composed sharp within both foreground and background bokeh.