Let’s talk about bokeh on the Fujifilm X100F! Bokeh is an often discussed aspect of an image, and this is especially true over the last ten or fifteen years. If you aren’t sure exactly what bokeh is, don’t worry, you are not alone, and a lot of people misunderstand it. Bokeh is defined as the quality of the out-of-focus area of an image. It’s how well a lens renders blur, the aesthetics of it.
I don’t remember hearing the word bokeh spoken even once when I studied photography in college almost 20 years ago. It’s not that it didn’t exist, because obviously bokeh did exist, but it didn’t really matter. You either liked how a certain lens rendered blur or you didn’t, and few were trying to quantify it or rate it.
Today you’ll hear terms like “bokeh monster” when describing a lens and “bokeh master” when describing a person. People will say that a certain lens produces a lot of bokeh, which, frankly, doesn’t make any sense, because bokeh is defined by character and is not a measurement. You can’t have more bokeh or less bokeh. You can only have nice bokeh or ugly bokeh.
People confuse depth-of-field with bokeh, but they are two entirely different things. Depth-of-field is the amount of an image that is in focus, determined by the aperture, subject distance and non-subject distance, as well as the physical size of the sensor or film. A lot of people mean depth-of-field when they say bokeh, it’s a misunderstanding of terms. Depth-of-field is a mathematical calculation, while bokeh is subjective, and what one person might think is nice another might think is ugly.
To achieve an out-of-focus area within an image, one needs to use a large aperture or focus really close to the end of the lens or both, which will create a shallow depth-of-field. The Fujifilm X100F has a maximum aperture of f/2, which is plenty large enough to attain a shallow depth-of-field. You can attain blur with a much larger aperture, even f/16, if your subject is really close to the end of the lens.
The quality of the out-of-focus area, or bokeh, on the Fujifilm X100F is smooth, pleasant, relaxed, creamy, and otherwise how bokeh should be. I rate it as good, perhaps even great. I give it two thumbs up! Again, it’s subjective, and just because I like it doesn’t mean that you will. Perhaps you like bokeh with a little more character, such as a soap-bubble or swirly effect that some vintage lenses provide. The X100F has a rather bland bokeh, but that’s not a bad thing, just as bokeh with a lot of character may not be a good thing. It’s all what you like and dislike.
I think rating bokeh is overrated. It’s something people on message boards talk about much too much. It doesn’t matter anywhere close to what some people would have you believe. The important thing is whether the blur is distracting or not. You don’t want bokeh to take the viewer’s eyes off of what’s important in an image, unless, perhaps, bokeh is what’s important to a particular image. And bokeh can’t be used to cover up something distracting in the background, because it’s just as distracting blurred as it is sharp.
You can have a great image with poor bokeh and a poor image with great bokeh. The quality of the bokeh has little to do with the outcome of a photograph. Since photographers often worry about insignificant things (while sometimes ignoring what is significant), especially on the internet, this is a topic that’s brought up over and over again. It’s worth discussing, but with the caveat that it is an extraordinarily tiny part of the big picture. Whether good or bad it’s not a big deal. In my opinion bokeh on the Fujifilm X100F is good, so take that for what it’s worth.