The Best Bokeh Lenses for Blurry Backgrounds

23 July 2021

Bokeh is one of those remarkable things, in that as a beginner photographer you were probably captivated by it and wished to recreate it, long before you'd ever heard the word.

 

For those not in the know, bokeh refers to the dreamy blur often seen in the background of images. Popular amongst portrait photographers, in particular, this look is achieved by shooting with the aperture of your lens at its maximum value. But which lens will help you achieve this look with greater success? Read on to find out.

The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh

 

 

Made for use on Canon’s premium EOS R Mirrorless cameras, the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L is exactly what we mean when we talk about a portrait lens. As well as a short-telephoto focal length, which helps you achieve a tighter crop for your portraits, this lens features an ultra-bright f1.2 aperture - this spells very shallow depths of field and creamy bokeh. This lens features a sturdy build, fast autofocus and a customisable control ring. It’s a great addition to your full-frame Canon lens kit.


Note: Canon DSLR users should take a look at the Canon EF 85mm f1.2 L II USM.

The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh

 

 

The Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S lens is designed for use on Nikon’s full-frame Z mirrorless cameras. This lens features a premium optical design that allows users to make the most of the high-resolution results that their camera is capable of. As well as exceptional optics, this lens is made tough, with dust and moisture-resistance.

The focal length of this Nikon prime lens is a general-purpose 50mm, which it pairs with a bright f1.2 maximum aperture for beautiful bokeh and low-light shooting.

 

 

The Fujifilm XF range of Mirrorless camera is know for its high-quality results and classical approach to camera design. These qualities extend to their lenses, as can be seen in this XF 50mm f1.0 R WR lens. As well as a tried and true focal length, this lens features an astonishing f1 maximum aperture and a physical aperture ring - you can turn this ring to unleash the wide-open setting on the lens and go about capturing bokeh until your heart’s content.

Top tip: Shooting wide open lets in more light. If you are shooting outdoors and want to use your maximum aperture, use a Neutral Density filter to avoid overexposure.

The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh

 

 

The Olympus OMD 25mm f1.2 Pro lens is made for use on the compact and lightweight micro Four Thirds system. When mounted on compatible cameras, this lens delivers a 50mm equivalent focal length. Thanks to its internal focus mechanism this lens remains relatively compact throughout performance, while its inclusion of Movies and Stills compatible Autofocus, allows users to harness these shallow depths of fields for their snapshots, as well as their vlogs.



Note: If you are a MFT user looking for a fast lens with a longer focal length, consider the Olympus OMD 45mm f1.2.

 

 

Another option for Micro Four Thirds shooters, the Panasonic Lumix Leica 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron is an excellent choice for those wanting to enhance their portrait photography portfolio. The equivalent focal length of this lens is 90mm, which gives you a nice tight crop on your models, without you getting too close. The main drawcard of this lens is obviously its bright aperture of f1.2 - perfect for depth of field control and low-light shooting performance.

Panasonic lenses with Leica in their name are known for their exceptional optical and physical designs, and this rings true with the 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron.

The best lenses for bokeh
The best lenses for bokeh

 

 

Suitable for use on Sony’s premium full-frame mirrorless system, is this Sony 85mm f1.4 FE GM lens. The GM stands for Grand Master, and when you see this on a lens, you know that it is capable of extremely detailed and sharp image quality. The bright f1.4 maximum aperture takes care of things on the bokeh front, while Sony include a specialised XA element along with ED elements, which is said to improve the overall appearance of out of focus areas. 

 

The Sony 85mm f1.4 FE GM lens features dust and moisture-resistance, a manual aperture ring for quick access to wide-open shooting, as well as a handy focus hold button.


Budget-friendly Bokeh options

 

 

If you want to improve your chances of capturing bokeh with your camera but don’t have room in the budget for the lenses that we have recommended, there are a number of options available that can still produce pleasing results at a fraction of the price. Here are our favourite budget-friendly bokeh lenses:

 

The best lenses for bokeh

Select the right lens to up your bokeh game

If you still need help deciding which lens would suit you and your DSLR or Mirrorless camera, talk to thw knowledgable staff at your local Ted’s store.


To learn the meaning of some othe key words, check out our photography glossary for beginners.


Bokeh is a firm favourite amongst photographers. As a beginner photographer, you were probably captivated by it and wondered how to get the bokeh effect in your photos, long before you'd ever heard the word.


When it comes to capturing bokeh photos, choosing the right lens and selecting the right camera settings are key for a nice, blurred background. Your choice of lens will determine how much bokeh you can produce, and mastering camera settings for bokeh will create the best results. Read on to find out how to capture beautiful bokeh photos.


What is bokeh?

For those not in the know, bokeh refers to the dreamy blur often seen in the background of images. Coming from the Japanese word “boke”, it literally means “blur”. It’s a popular technique amongst portrait photographers, but also features in many macro, sports and wildlife photos. It’s an easy photography technique to make your subject stand out against a soft out-of-focus background.

How to capture bokeh with my camera?

The capture of bokeh is mostly dependent on the lens you’re using. However, it is worth noting that to set yourself up for success, you should use a Mirrorless or DSLR camera. These are the best cameras for bokeh as they feature interchangeable lenses, meaning that you can select the best one for your camera and your shooting style.

Bokeh is produced by shooting with your lens at its maximum aperture, or “wide open”, as this is sometimes called. This itself is quite easy to achieve: you only need to change one setting! The trick is balancing this change in conjunction with your other key settings in the exposure triangle, ISO and shutter speed.

Shooting with your lens wide open means it is capturing plenty of light, which is good in low-light conditions, but can cause some over-exposure in bright conditions, such as shooting in broad daylight. To avoid capturing over-exposed photos, you will need to set your ISO to as low as possible, and use a faster shutter speed. If your photos are still over-exposed, or if you are wanting to use a slower shutter speed for creative effect, you will need to invest in a Neutral Density filter for your lens.


The best lenses for bokeh

Your choice of lens will make the most difference in your bokeh photography. Here are the best lenses for a blurred background.

1. Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L

Made for use on Canon’s premium EOS R Mirrorless cameras, the Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L is exactly what we mean when we talk about a portrait lens. As well as a short-telephoto focal length, which helps you achieve a tighter crop for your portraits, this lens features an ultra-bright f1.2 aperture - perfect for creating shallow depths of field and creamy bokeh. This lens features a sturdy build, fast autofocus and a customisable control ring. It’s a great addition to your full-frame Canon lens kit.


Note: Canon DSLR users looking for a bokeh lens should take a look at the Canon EF 85mm f1.2 L II USM.

2. Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S

The Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S lens is designed for use on Nikon’s full-frame Z mirrorless cameras. This lens features a premium optical design that allows users to make the most of the high-resolution results that their camera is capable of. As well as exceptional optics, this lens is made tough, with dust and moisture resistance.

The focal length of this Nikon prime lens is a general-purpose 50mm, which it pairs with a bright f1.2 maximum aperture for beautiful bokeh and low-light shooting.

3. Fujifilm XF 50mm f1.0 R WR

The Fujifilm XF range of Mirrorless cameras is known for its high-quality results and classical approach to camera design. These qualities extend to their lenses, as can be seen in this XF 50mm f1.0 R WR lens. As well as a tried and true focal length, this lens features an astonishing f1 maximum aperture and a physical aperture ring - you can turn this ring to unleash the wide-open setting on the lens and go about capturing bokeh until your heart’s content.

Top tip: Shooting wide open lets in more light. If you are shooting outdoors and want to use your maximum aperture, use a Neutral Density filter to avoid overexposure.



4. Olympus OMD 25mm f1.2 Pro

The Olympus OMD 25mm f1.2 Pro lens is made for use on the compact and lightweight Micro Four Thirds system. When mounted on compatible cameras, this lens delivers a 50mm equivalent focal length. Thanks to its internal focus mechanism this lens remains relatively compact throughout performance, while its inclusion of Movies and Stills compatible Autofocus, allows users to harness these shallow depths of fields for their snapshots, as well as their vlogs.

Note: If you are a Micro Four Thirds user looking for a fast lens with a longer focal length, consider the Olympus OMD 45mm f1.2.

5. Panasonic Lumix Leica 42.5mm f1.2 Noticron Power OIS

Another option for Micro Four Thirds shooters, the Panasonic Lumix Leica 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron is an excellent choice for those wanting to enhance their portrait photography portfolio. The equivalent focal length of this lens is 90mm, which gives you a nice tight crop on your models without you getting too close. The main drawcard of this lens is obviously its bright aperture of f1.2 - perfect for depth of field control and low-light shooting performance.

Panasonic lenses with Leica in their name are known for their exceptional optical and physical designs, and this rings true with the 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron.

6. Sony 85mm f1.4 FE GM

Suitable for use on Sony’s premium full-frame mirrorless system, is this Sony 85mm f1.4 FE GM lens. The GM stands for Grand Master, and when you see this on a lens, you know that it is capable of extremely detailed and sharp image quality. The bright f1.4 maximum aperture creates a beautiful bokeh effect, while Sony includes a specialised XA element along with ED elements, which is said to improve the overall appearance of out of focus areas. 

The Sony 85mm f1.4 FE GM lens features dust and moisture resistance, a manual aperture ring for quick access to wide-open shooting, as well as a handy focus hold button.


Creating bokeh on a budget

If you want to get a bokeh effect with your camera, but don’t have room in the budget for the bokeh lenses that we have recommended, there are a number of other lens options for blurred backgrounds that can still produce pleasing results at a fraction of the price. Here are our favourite budget-friendly bokeh lenses:


Select the right lens to up your bokeh game

If you still need help deciding which lens would suit you and your DSLR or Mirrorless camera, talk to the knowledgeable staff at your local Ted’s store. To get familiar with other photography terms, check out our photography glossary for beginners, and browse our photography blog for more photography tips and tricks!


Save $10*

When you subscribe to ClubTed today!

Learn more about ClubTed benefits