Fuji 18mm Bokeh

While I am on the subject of how much I love the Fuji 18mm f/2 R, especially on the XPro-2 I thought I would share some really goofy crap with a few that might find how a lens looks out of focus interesting.

If you've not noticed I take more than a few pictures I rack the focus way out on purpose. Not all of them work, that's one of those things you just have to see and decide after you make it. You might have noticed the hero image at the top of the first XPro-2 field report I posted. That wasn't just a lame attempt at semi-work safety at the top of the post. That's one of the blurry shots I really like. Above is the first racked-out of focus shots I made on my trip out of town last week.

Here's one that didn't work at all unless you happen to like just any old out-of-focusness. Of course the reason it doesn't work has nothing to do with the way the 18mm renders, that's gorgeous from my point of view. It has far more to do with the way the highlights and shadows are arranged in this picture — not conducive to the story or conveyance of any sort of emotional value. It just subtracts rather than enhances in anyway.

Above another that doesn't work, it probably could have if I went even further maybe, or changed angles but I do the OOF thing here and there rather than shoot entire sequences out of focus. Maybe I'll give that a whirl sooner or later but it's not a "thing" with me that is required as an effect in anything I'm working on right now.

Happy Accidents

I started messing with this kind of thing decades ago like a lot of things one discovers, by accident. In the heat of the moment using manual focus cameras I blew the focus on occasion, not by a little bit but by a lot. The little bit is usually just bad, plain old bad. It may not completely destroy an otherwise great image but it rarely adds anything good. The strange thing was that I actually really liked a couple that were way off. Not all of them but every once in a while.


This one kinda works but not really. Combination of expression, gesture, not really being far enough out of focus. Too middle of the road. Below is one I think works a lot better.

One thing in common is how really good varing degrees of out-of-focus actually look with the Fuji 18mm f/2. No matter what aperture you use which matters a lot in determining over all effect they all look great. How a lens looks is absolutely dependent on lots of things beyond MTF resolution. One of the most important is how it looks where it's not in perfect focus and all the degrees in between.


For a wide angle that performs as well as the 18mm does on all the things most people measure or compare it's mind-boggling it looks this good. Actually better than many other lenses out there that are longer and considered by some to have really good bokeh. As a rule of thumb expect anything remotely wide and remotely high-performance to look really bad out of focus.

Another failure above for the opposite reason of way too out of focus.

Another rule of thumb. Generally all of Fuji's X-system glass looks pretty great out of focus relative to other manufacturer's line-ups. The 18mm in my opinion ranks up there with the best of them. Your opinion may vary as there are many different tastes out there for things as esoteric as how a lens looks in out-of-focus areas.

How about one more for the road. One that as of this moment I think works just right.

Out of focus look is about far more than the size of bokeh-balls generated by specular points of lite. It's about more than how those bokeh balls look too, although the 18mm does nice ones (see above reflections off silver buttons).

Here's another secret about why I do those beyond just seeing what it looks like or how it may feel for the subject. If I am feeling a little stressed out when I first start taking pictures and feel a bit too constricted on all the stuff one should get right, I'll fire off a few way out of focus pictures just to remind myself technical details are not the be-all end-all goal. It helps depending on your prevailing mood. Sometimes it even makes a fairly cool picture. The first shot of Melanie at the top of the post was a shot I fired off for just that reason after a very stress-ful week, and a very stress-ful trip.

End Notes

All photos make with the Fuji XPro-2 and 18mm f/2 R. Processing via Lightroom CC and VSCO FILM05 BW400CN.