A quick search on Wikipedia succinctly defines “bokeh” as; “(Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ boh-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ boh-kə, Japanese: [boke]) the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.”
When deciding what lens to go with for a particular scene, choosing between the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens and the Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 85mm T/1.5 Super Speed can seem like only a matter of personal choice or budget, but when bokeh is desired either during night scenes like the exagerrated examples below; or day scenes, where the use of shallow focus is used to isolate the subject in the frame, the choice can actually make a bit of a difference.
To show the difference between to the two lenses, we went down to the Las Olas Riverfront area of Downtown Fort Lauderdale where they’ve strewn beautiful lights over the roadway. All shots were taken with the aperture wide open.
It’s widely accepted that having a rounder bokeh is considered the most desirable. However there is always artistic freedom, and some like the imperfect bokeh. Some also make and use bokeh filters to create artistic effects in photography. In the case of these two lenses the Zeiss CP2’s are superior in the roundness due to the 14 Blade system which creates an almost perfect circular bokeh. On the other hand, the Canon L series lenses have an almost perfect bokeh in some situations. This is due to Canon’s 8 blade system.
In order to understand what would create the difference, take a look at the two polygons below and imagine the corners of the blades inside the lens coming together and light shining through them. It’s easy to see then, in the images below why the Canon pictures have cut corners and the Zeiss lenses have mostly perfect circles. In the shots from the zeiss lens, it is noticeable that there were some oval shapes due to the angles of light, and curvature of the lens, but none of the abrupt cuts that were found on the Canon lenses.
We love having both sets of lenses and have found very satisfying effects with both, but our choice would definitely be the Zeiss lenses for bokeh shots. If your interested in learning more or testing the differences in the bokeh from Zeiss to Canon email us at info (@) facetmedia dot com.