Lenses and settings are for capturing bokeh

edited August 2013 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
I was talking with a fellow 60D owner over on my Facebook page and she had some questions related to lenses and settings for capturing bokeh ...also known as the buttery smooth background blur that makes subjects "pop". I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation...

Samantha's Question: I have a question...are there any lenses that are better than others for taking bokeh photos? I have an 18-135mm (and a 55-250mm). Also what settings should I set when shooting bokeh? Thank you!

Moose's Answer: Yep, the lenses you speak of are capable of obtaining apertures between f/1.4 and f/2.8. Lower f-numbers allow you to isolate subjects against buttery smooth backgrounds/foregrounds...also known as bokeh.

If we look at your current lenses, the 18-135mm can only go down to f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 135mm. Your 55-250mm can only go down to f/4 at 55mm and f/5.6 at 250mm.

The most popular starter lens for "bokeh" type shots is the "nifty fifty" Canon 50mm f/1.8 II. As you might of guessed, this lens will allow you to go all the way down to f/1.8.

As for settings, just enable Aperture priority (Av on the mode dial) and select the lowest available f-number using the smaller command dial. Happy shooting! :)


  • I have a question, i just bought my 60d last week im using 18-200mm lens, what is the best lenses for video shooting? Thank You.
  • Howdy Syahrezaarman,

    What types of subjects or scenes do you plan on filming? You might look at the same Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens mentioned above. It'll allow you to capture an extremely shallow depth of field which will give your movies that true indie film look.
  • edited February 2012
    Hi Moose, totally second the advice on the "nifty-fifty". Here's a pic of my cat Ollie taken at f/1.8 in low light. Wonderful lens! :).
  • @kingsglade - Thanks for sharing!
  • Try the Canon 50mm 1.4 over the 1.8 if you're planning on using a geared follow focus. It's about triple the price of the 1.8 but, that's still a sub-$400 lens and completely worth it.

    Also, make sure your subject is farther away from the background. Most people say to move the camera further out and zoom in (zoom lenses only, of course) when that effectively does nothing but change the distance of your camera to subject.

    To see how moving the subject, instead of the camera works, try holding one finger in front of your eyes, close one eye and focus on your finger. As you move it farther away from the background and then closer, what happens? When the subject (finger) is closer to the background, you will have more or less both in focus but, as you move your subject farther from the background yet, keeping your camera in the same position you effectively create a better looking bokeh just by moving your subject either a few inches or feet, depending what lens you're using.

    Wider lenses allow for less options for bokeh whereas longer, faster lenses can help achieve that nice DOF.
  • @CJH_Prod - Thanks for sharing. For those who are just starting out, I usually recommend going with the 50mm f/1.8, solely based on price....with that being said, the 50mm f/1.4 is fantastically sharp and produces much better bokeh (background blur) than the nifty fifty. :)
  • edited March 2012
    And furthermore, the f/1.8 produces more visible pentagon bokeh balls as compared to the f/1.4...of course, the price is 3-4 times that of the f/1.8 :)
  • @adam_lss - Thanks for sharing. Yep, the 50mm f/1.4 produces a silkier, smoother blur when compared to the 50mm f/1.8. Happy shooting!
  • Can I get a good bokeh with 18-55mm EOS 60D lens?
  • edited December 2016
    Both of my daughters are successful YouTubers, and I can tell you that hands down the very best lens for video is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. It is expensive ($500), but it is flawless.
  • edited December 2016
    Thanks for all the advice on bokeh. I will start looking for a 50mm f/1.4.
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