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edited August 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
How do I create bokeh with my 18-55mm kit lens?
I set my camera on Aperture, f/5.6 and ISO on 800, and even when I am right infront of my subject, it does not create bokeh.


  • I would try the following approach.

    I assume you are shooting in daylight. In that strong light situation, you do not need to have ISO at 800. You can take it down to 400, 200 or even 100. On principle, you should probably always work with the lowest ISO possible since higher ISO produces grain or noise. You only really need higher ISO for low-light situations.

    Then take your F number as low as it can go i.e. largest aperture means smallest depth of field.

    Then focus very carefully on where you want to be in focus i.e. if you are in a garden, if you focus on a flower and it’s crystal clear then background should be out of focus with a bokeh or impressionist effect.
  • edited August 2016
    Hi @SUZETTE,
    As @MAISON_DE_VERRE has mentioned, in bright light, 100 ISO would be best for quality. He also mentioned that you need to set your aperture to its widest setting, in your case f/3.5. However, f/3.5 is not a particularly wide angle and its depth of field is too big for great bokeh.
    All is not lost though. Now is the time to look at your surroundings. If your subject is standing in front of a hedge for example, simply move them further away so that the hedge is no longer inside the lenses depth of field. The hedge will now be blurred. Also try to fill the frame as much as possible with the subject. By cutting out the background as much as possible, bokeh becomes less of an issue.
    Happy shooting.
  • edited September 2016
    Good advice above. I would just add that although your variable aperture zoom does not open as wide at 55mm as at 18mm, it's still going to give slightly better bokeh at 55mm owing to the longer focal length, so you're probably best off at 55mm.

    Try then to get as close as you can to your subject, and as mentioned to keep your subject as far as possible from background objects. Sometimes it can help if you get down low and shoot upward, so that you see sky rather than ground behind the subject. Practice with different kinds of background. Some things are more distracting than others. In a pinch, you can reverse the process, and look for a background so interesting or relevant that it contributes - what is sometimes known as an "environmental portrait." You see this often in portraits of people at their jobs or in their chosen world.

    Watch out for overhead light that tends to shadow your subject's face and eyes. A little fill flash can help, or exposure compensation to brighten the face. If the subject is against a very bright background, then when you brighten the subject, the background will tend to blow out, losing detail to overexposure rather than focal blur. Done right, that kind of high key portrait can work well, but you have to make sure there are enough dark elements either in the subject or elsewhere so that it doesn't just look overexposed.
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