I’ve just got to get out and try this bokehrama thing (see my first post on it here if you have no idea what I’m talking about) in a better setting but I’m posting this quick experiment for my friend Pete Talke (check him out here, here, and here). At lunch today Pete was asking how this compared to just a straight shot with f/1.4 for example so I grabbed a couple of shots out in the yard to experiment. For starters, you’ll just have to trust that my subjects were standing in the same place for each photo. That’s not obvious given my differing position in the shots. The top image is a bokehrama created from a stitch of almost 20 frames. The second image is from a single frame. Both were shot in manual mode with the same exposure @ f/1.4. I bumped the exposure of all frames up equally but they are otherwise straight out of the camera. I’ve made them a bit smaller in this post in hopes of allowing them to be viewed together on most screens.
I really don’t intend to scientifically analyze the shots. I design microprocessors for a living and I get enough technical stuff at work and am not interested getting too deep into the techie stuff with photography. Some random qualitative observations: You’ll notice that the bokehrama (top) has a wide-angle look and that’s simply because my panning around from a position close to the subject mimics what a wide-angle lens would do. I cropped both shots to get make the subjects roughly the same size and you’ll note that the subjects in the single frame are super soft — the 50mm isn’t known for being all that sharp at f/1.4 and being cropped from a single frame it’s not a big surprise to see this. The subject in the top image is very sharp (at least when viewed outside this post — hopefully you can see that on WordPress too). Even if I zoom in quite a bit he’s still sharp because his image comes from a single frame where he filled much of the sensor. Finally, with respect to the depth of field you’d be hard-pressed to get this bokeh out of many wide-angle lenses. Note how the tree trunks have completely lost their detail in the bokehrama at the top image compared to the bottom one (which was also shot at f/1.4).
As I said, I want to try this in a different setting. I also want to experiment with longer lenses (toward the longer end of my 70-200 f/2.8) to see what this does to the perspective and DOF. There are probably different looks that can be achieved and your mileage may vary on how much you like it (both the bokeh effect and the wider perspective), which is of course one of the cool things about any art — it’s all subjective and personal.