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How To Create Amazing Bokeh With Any Camera and Lens

By Joseph Cha on December 19th 2013

It’s Christmas Time!

This time of year there are plenty of Christmas light decorations everywhere, it’s basically bokeh heaven. I’m going to show you how to create amazing bokeh with any camera and lens, and to prove my point I’m going to be using a Canon 40D with the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. This camera/lens combo goes for about $200-$300 on ebay.


What Is Bokeh?

Bokeh is the “out of focus” area of an image. When you start experimenting with backgrounds and how they look out of focus, you’re adding another dimension to your photography. Your depth of field directly effects your bokeh, the shallower your depth of field, the more out blurred out your background will be. Being able to control your bokeh will make your pictures look less point and shooty and will increase the quality of your photos.

3 Things To Consider When Creating Bokeh

  • The Distance Between Your Camera and Subject
  • Aperture
  • Focal Length

The Distance Between Your Camera and Subject

The closer you are to your subject, the more blurred out your background will be. I’m shooting all of these photos at the lens’ minimum focusing distance (MFD) to get the best results. The Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 has an MFD of 0.5m / 1.6 ft.


The wider your aperture (the lower the f-stop number) the shallower your depth of field will be. I took two photos at 28mm, one at f/3.5 and the other at f/8. Check out how much more pleasing the bokeh is in the f/3.5 photo.

28mm f8

28mm at f/8

28mm f35

28mm at f/3.5

Focal Length

Your focal length also effects your depth of field. When you shoot at more telephoto focal lengths, you’re creating a shallower depth of field. These 2 images were shot at the same MFD (which is why the composition changes) and the same f/5.6 aperture, but one is shot at 28mm and the other at 135mm. Look at how much bigger the bokeh get at the 135mm focal length!

28mm f/5.6

28mm f/5.6

135mm f/5.6

135mm f/5.6

My Personal Favorite

One of my favorite lens’ to use when it comes to creating bokeh is the Canon 85mm f/1.2 II. This lens has saved my portrait sessions before because of it’s ability to create beautiful bokeh. Here’s a shot I took with the Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 II. This lens has an MFD of 1m or about 3 feet, and this image was shot at f/1.2. I’ve named this photo “The Bokexplosion”

85mm f/1.2

85mm f/1.2

If you’re going to be taking photos during the holidays, be sure to try to get some amazing bokeh shots! Let me know how it turns out, and share your results!

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I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. moyrom

    Hi there, I am not a photographer but I love the amazing bokeh effect. I am looking for someone who can create he effect on one of my wedding photos. Please help me. I am not creative and woud rather someone do this for me

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    • Kendell


      I think there is a filter in Photoshop that will let you add bokeh out of camera. Not quite as nice as getting it in-camera though.

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  2. Hanssie

    Very cool Bokeh and I love the use of the Star Wars guy

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