November 25, 2014, 07:26:47 PM

Author Topic: Which Bokeh Monster?  (Read 7876 times)

Sabaki

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Which Bokeh Monster?
« on: July 23, 2014, 03:57:18 PM »
So Bokeh Monster is a term I use for those primes that weigh in with apertures larger than 2.8.

Now with photography being very expensive here in South Africa, I've only got space (and money) for one Bokeh Monster in my kit.

Which would you recommend?

I'm aware that the number of aperture blades plays a big part in creating bokeh but I'm also looking for decent AF performance and sharpness. I'm less worried about those abherrations (fringing/vignetting) that can be 'ticked' away in post.

I'd also like an opinion as to whether IS benefits the photographer when working at these extreme apertures.

Looking forward to hearing some opinions, especially those with working experience of these primes.

Thanks in advance guys :)
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Which Bokeh Monster?
« on: July 23, 2014, 03:57:18 PM »

mackguyver

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 04:03:46 PM »
So Bokeh Monster is a term I use for those primes that weigh in with apertures larger than 2.8.

Now with photography being very expensive here in South Africa, I've only got space (and money) for one Bokeh Monster in my kit.

Which would you recommend?

I'm aware that the number of aperture blades plays a big part in creating bokeh but I'm also looking for decent AF performance and sharpness. I'm less worried about those abherrations (fringing/vignetting) that can be 'ticked' away in post.

I'd also like an opinion as to whether IS benefits the photographer when working at these extreme apertures.

Looking forward to hearing some opinions, especially those with working experience of these primes.

Thanks in advance guys :)
Sabaki, the best bokeh monsters are probably the 85L II and 135L for portraits, but you didn't mention what you're shooting.  That would influence things quite heavily.  Also, IS doesn't matter much at f/1.2-f/2 in all but the lowest light, unless you're going past 135mm.  The one aberration many of these lenses have is longitudinal CA and that's not easy to fix in post, even with LR and DxO, but it's not too bothersome.  Tell us what you're going to shoot and we can help you more.

Sabaki

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 04:14:12 PM »
Hey Mackguyver :)

Primarily as a portrait lens and the defocussed effect photography.

I imagine focal lengths 85mm+ helps compress facial features which any client would see as a positive ☺️
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mackguyver

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 04:19:58 PM »
Hey Mackguyver :)

Primarily as a portrait lens and the defocussed effect photography.

I imagine focal lengths 85mm+ helps compress facial features which any client would see as a positive ☺️
I have used and owned most of these "monsters" and unless you need fast AF for action and such, I would definitely go with the 85 f/1.2L II if you can afford it. It is a really special lens and I think it's the most versatile in terms of focal length, though the 135 f/2L also makes a great lens if your subjects are a bit further away and you either have a big studio or don't shoot many indoor portraits.  It also doubles as an amazing indoor sports / events lens.  The 85 f/1.8 is also a nice lens if your budget is a bit less and it has some CA wide open, but it's not too hard to correct.

Ruined

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 07:26:15 PM »
So Bokeh Monster is a term I use for those primes that weigh in with apertures larger than 2.8.

Now with photography being very expensive here in South Africa, I've only got space (and money) for one Bokeh Monster in my kit.

Which would you recommend?

I'm aware that the number of aperture blades plays a big part in creating bokeh but I'm also looking for decent AF performance and sharpness. I'm less worried about those abherrations (fringing/vignetting) that can be 'ticked' away in post.

I'd also like an opinion as to whether IS benefits the photographer when working at these extreme apertures.

Looking forward to hearing some opinions, especially those with working experience of these primes.

Thanks in advance guys :)

If you primarily do head&shoulders indoors and/or have a large working distance (outdoors) and want the best quality even if it requires extra care/work then I would recommend the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II   

If you need a lens that is able to be more flexible, such as faster focusing or using it indoors in tighter spaces, outdoor groups or with less working distance then I would recommend the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L

The 50 and 85 offer very similar "bokeh monster" "looks" but the 85 is sharper w/ better bokeh - though also larger, not weather sealed, focus by wire, heavier, slower focusing, requires more working distance, and much greater care in mounting on camera compared to the 50L.  The 200L f/2L IS is excellent too, but very expensive and a headshot or outdoors only lens. If I were able to finance it, I'd own all three! :)  135L is a good value but I do not like it due to the angular bokeh ball highlights when stopped down.

Generally distortion is not an issue at 50mm+ unless you are using the whole frame for a headshot, in which case 135mm+ is optimal. 85mm won't be as bad for headshots as 50mm, but its not ideal either.  85 works great for shoulders up shots.

Image Stabilization I find is most useful at 100mm+, as I generally keep the camera at no less than shutter speed 1/125 to avoid motion blur.

So, in summary, if you have good control over the situation, good working distance, can take the time to do very careful lens swaps, and don't need fast focus then the 85L II will deliver the best portraits.  If you need something that is a bit more flexible both in focal length/speed and does not require as much TLC, the 50L looks great too but not quite as good as the 85L II.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 07:34:02 PM by Ruined »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 07:39:53 PM »
85L II.  I have both that and the 135L, the 85 gets more use.  For use outdoors, consider a 3-stop ND – even 1/8000 s often isn't fast enough in bright light.
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Perio

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 08:03:39 PM »
If you need larger aperture and IS for portraits I'd recommend 200 f2.0. I own one and it's great. All other lenses with shorter focal length lack either larger aperture or IS.

I've used 85 f1.2ii and 135 f2.0 and although both are nice, I like 135 f2.0 lens better. You can try 100 f2.8 macro IS, but it's f2.8... I've heard that Zeiss 135 f2.0 renders bokeh very nicely but it's manual focus.

If you can wait, many people expect 135 f1.8 IS to be announced soon. Good luck!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 08:21:28 PM by Perio »

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 08:03:39 PM »

Besisika

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 08:28:20 PM »
85L II.  I have both that and the 135L, the 85 gets more use.  For use outdoors, consider a 3-stop ND – even 1/8000 s often isn't fast enough in bright light.
Totally agree!

For portrait bokeh, 85 1.2 is the way to go. You will need to consider 3 things though
1 - pricing. 85 1.2 is the most expensive, if it is too high then choose between 135 f2, 85 1.8 and even 50mm f1.4 (my least favorite)
2 - body. I don't have much success using my 85 1.2 on older bodies. You will have to learn to use it if wanting to shoot at 1.2 on older bodies (I tried one day and never used it again on T1i). That is not a problem if you use newer body (I have above 95% keeper on my 5D MK III)
3 - As stated above, you will need a filter, especially that you are in Africa. Last time I went home, I had one almost all the time on my 85
Finally, even though I bought mine for 1.2 f-stop capability, 85% of the time I shoot at 2.0. It is very, very sharp at that f-stop and bokeh is still yummy.
Like many bokeh lovers, I have 4 of them (85 1.2, 135 f2, 200 2.8 and 50 1.4) and this summer 80% of my portraits are on the 85 at F2.0, the rest mainly on the 200 2.8 and 135 f2 has been only for indoor sport.
I rented as well the 200 f2.0 but first it is sooo expensive and second it's heaaaaavy like hell (sorry, I couldn't control myself). You need a justification to use it for a portrait session.

Tabor Warren Photography

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 08:30:11 PM »
I would say the 85ii. It can be finicky when you are trying to nail a portrait at 1.8 or wider, however, when it hits, it's sharp enough to make your eyes bleed, and the bokeh it produces is incredible.

I hope this helps!

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wickidwombat

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 08:30:20 PM »
OP is using a crop body

so I would say the sigma 50mm art in this case

if a full frame

It's a tough call between the canon 85 II and the sigma 85
I would wait on the sigma though and see what the do with an art version
the sigma AF is faster than the canon especially on non 1D bodies
however wide open the canon has an edge in IQ and sharpness
by f2 the 2 lenses are basically identical and perhaps the sigma might even be a little sharper
but the differences are so minor its harldy noticable

the canon 85 II has slightly smoother bokeh though but it is 3 times the price of the sigma

so main considerations with an 85 are
price   sigma wins
bokeh  canon wins
AF speed  sigma wins
IQ sharpness pretty much a wash

the 50 ART is flat out amazing and you can use the dock to adjust focus to work on your 500D which does not have in body AFMA so that should also be considered...
also the bokeh of the 50 ART beats everything except MAYBE the ziess 55

My recomendation for a crop body is the 50 ART
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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 08:30:58 PM »
85L II.  I have both that and the 135L, the 85 gets more use.  For use outdoors, consider a 3-stop ND – even 1/8000 s often isn't fast enough in bright light.

I am sure you mean for "wide open use outdoors".

The 85L is versatile indeed, and not as "slow" as some people will like to claim. I tried it first hand at B&H recently, and it is fine for moving subjects. Having said that, I would really love an 85/1.4 that costs a bit less and focuses immediately.
IMO, 85mm provides the perfect perspective for a half to quarter-body portrait.

BTW, I thought "bokeh monster" referred to the 200/2 IS- a giant among non supertele lenses, and a giant in its ability to produce blur.
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sagittariansrock

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 08:36:08 PM »
OP is using a crop body
..
My recomendation for a crop body is the 50 ART

I don't know- to me, the 50mm perspective is a little odd except a full body portrait. The fact that an APS-C sensor crops it doesn't alter the perspective for the lens.

BTW, wicked, I used a 85mm Sigma quite a bit to test as I was interested in an 85/1.4, as I mentioned above. But the AF isn't always accurate. Could be the copy I had, but I have heard this elsewhere too. OTOH, the 85/1.2 might have slower AF (not as slow as people say), but it is very accurate.
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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 08:45:06 PM »

Another vote for the 85 f/1.2. My camera generally has this lens or my 35mm mounted on it.

It's tack sharp wide open. And it should be, you don't buy an f/1.2 lens to shoot at f/8. It's an incredible lens, one of my favorites.

AF is a little slower than other lenses, it's heavy, but - it will give you a look that almost no other lens is able to.


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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 08:45:06 PM »

Tabor Warren Photography

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2014, 09:29:30 PM »

Another vote for the 85 f/1.2. My camera generally has this lens or my 35mm mounted on it.


Sooooo very true. If the OP is wanting something more versatile than just a head shot lens, the 35L is by far our most used lens. When I have executive head shots, the 85 is a no-brainer, however, for a wedding, engagement, or simply capturing the kids, the 35L is there for me. Food for thought, potentially.

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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2014, 10:38:27 PM »
If you go with the 85 1.2 be ready to throw out half your photos. I love the lens but it is touchy on the focus. I never shoot at 1.2. 2.0 seems to give great results.
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Re: Which Bokeh Monster?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2014, 10:38:27 PM »