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Economy

Effect vs Weight vs Workflow

Camera equipment for shooting Bokeh Panos can be big, heavy and expensive, but if that thought is putting you off then this section is for you. High quality second hand equipment is coming down in price all the time and combinations that aren't painful to carry around all day are possible with some careful choices and a bit of compromise. 

 

Entrance Pupil is EVERYTHING with this technique (almost). This is how large your maximum aperture appears when viewed through the front of the lens. It's what determines how much light comes into the lens and thus how shallow your depth of field can be. Larger entrance pupils tend to be on bigger/heavier lenses with longer focal lengths. These things make them harder to use hand-held because you'll need to shoot more images and hold up the higher weight for a longer time. Although modern manufacturing has created some great options (like the ones above) physics will limit how far this can go. For those reasons, I start by choosing a lens with a focal length between 75mm - 135mm. This way you can still get pretty large entrance pupils without everything getting too difficult.

 

To help illustrate this, I plotted some options onto a chart. This starts by using an 'Entrance Pupil per 'Kilogram' (camera and lens) ratio (see more details below). I then take focal length into account, to give each combo a penalty for requiring too many images. Since those lenses are also very heavy it will make them exponentially impossible to achieve without a tripod and a lot of time.

 

Notes: Despite the raw potential of hyper expenisve 300-600mm prime lenses you will likely never reach a wide angle equivalent with them due to needing hundreds or thousands of images and the weight being far too high (unless you have a tripod and a ton of time). The Sirui 75mm f/1.2 lens is a standout here due to the sheer size of its entrance pupil while weighing very little.

Effect vs Weight

Let's ignore workflow and focus on bokeh effect and weight for lenses between 75-135mm. The ratio shows the lenses EP (Entrance Pupil / mmper total weight (kilogram) of the camera and lens, to show potential effect efficiency for the weight you're carrying.

​​          Weight - EP - Ratio - Camera + Lens

  • 3,090g - 7524:1 - Nikon Z9 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4

  • 1,865g - 71 - 38:1 - Nikon Z6II + Nikkor 85mm f/1.2

  • 1,860g - 71 - 38:1 - Canon R6II + Canon 85mm f/1.2

  • 1,400g - 61 - 43:1 - Nikon D600 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4

  • 1,670g - 75 - 45:1 - Nikon Z5 + Nikkor 135mm f/1.8

  • 1,396g - 75 - 54:1 - Canon R8 + Canon 135mm f/1.8

  • 1,108g - 63 - 56:1 - Fuji X-T50 + Viltrox 75mm f/1.2

  • 1,050g - 61 - 58:1 - Samsung NX500 + 85mm f/1.4

  • 1,281g - 75 - 59:1 - Sony A7C + Samyang 135mm f/1.8

  • 0,992g - 61 - 61:1 - Sony ZV-E1 + Samyang 85mm f/1.4 II

  • 0,759g - 47 - 61:1 - Fuji X-E2 + Fuji 56mm f/1.2

  • 0,563g - 40 - 71:1 - Sony NEX 5 + Sigma 56mm f/1.4

  • 0,573g - 42 - 72:1 - Sony ZV-E10 + Samyang 75mm f/1.8

  • 0,708g - 63 - 88:1 - Sony A5100 + Sirui 75mm f/1.2

Ratio Key:

  • 20:1 = Awful

  • 30:1Meh

  • 40:1 = OK

  • 50:1 = Not Bad

  • 60:1 = Good

  • 70:1 = Great

  • 80:1Amazing

  • 90:1 = Insane

The Sirui 75mm lens with the Sony NEX C3 get's a ridiculous score of 96:1, although the experience with that camera would not really be pleasant. I actually found the A5100 experience, which dropped the score to 88:1 (above), to be pretty good. It improved further still going to the ZV-E10, which still managed an 80:1 (total weight of 785g) ratio. However if you went for the more advanced and modern Sony A6700 the ratio (68:1) starts to feel a bit less special. Having an EFV and IBIS is going to weigh more and reduce that score, but it's equally about the lens too. The Sirui lens is very light for hat it is, but it also doesn't have any no custom buttons or weather sealing. APS-C cameras help a little, but not as much as you think. The Sony A6700 and A7CR weigh pretty much the same.

The Sirui lens and Sony A5100 combo weighs only 708g, which is less than some 85mm f/1.4 full frame lenses weigh alone and this has a larger entrance pupil (greater bokeh pano effect).

COST

Now let's focus on reasonably priced equipment, to see how much effect we can get for the least money. The last mentioned combo is also featured below, so the highest effect to weight ratio gear is amazingly also one of the cheaper options!! 

€175 APS-C DSLR

Nikon's first small purpose build DSLR can be picked up for next to nothing. This meant I could spend most of this budget on the lens, which worked out as a 127mm f/2.7 equivalent on this 22 year old, 6mp APS-C CCD sensor. I had to use JPG over RAW here, so as not to get frustrated with the poor buffer speed when shooting these 32 images (hand held). It's important to note that using a smaller sensor will not effect the results you can achieve from a lens, it will only mean you need to shoot more images to get to this same result (this would require only 15 images from a full frame camera).

Nikon D100 (€2000 in 2002) €25~

Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF-D - (1987) 150~

Entrance Pupil: 47mm

Weight: 1.2KG (2.65lbs)

Ratio: 39:1

# Frames: 32 | Equiv. Lens: 34mm f/0.72

€200 APS-C Mirrorless

Like the DSLR, this small n light Sony mirrorless camera also uses an APS-C sized sensor. The 'N' variant improved the original NEX 5's resolution, dynamic range and noise performance while not costing much more, so is worth choosing to get the best value today. Despite being 9 years newer than the DSLR (above) I still had to avoid RAW and use JPG, so as to not get crazy bored when shooting this hand-held burst (48 shots). The controls of these early Sony mirrorless cameras were terrible (compared to a decade older DLSR), but having the rear screen show a live view all the time was massively more helpful when trying to align the pano frames so this ended being a nicer experience overall. Being able to adapt to more older, cheaper and often prettier rendering lenses does limit you to manual focus, but it's much easier to use on mirrorless cameras.

Sony NEX 5N (€700 in 2011) 75~

Konica 85mm f/1.8 - (1970) 125~

Entrance Pupil: 47mm

Weight: 0.7KG (1.54lbs)

Ratio: 67:1

# Frames: 47 | Equiv. Lens: 27mm f/0.56

€375 APS-C Mirrorless

Upgrading the little old Sony mirrorless range as far as it went and combining it with the new Samyang 75mm f/1.8 AF lens can cut your weight down a further 200g to a ridiculously light half a kilogram for the entire combo! That's so light it feels like a toy and represents the one of the best entrance pupil for the weight that I can find.

 

If you are more interested in a full frame combo with this lens you could get the weight down to 740g with the Sony A7c (or 700g with the original A7R if you don't mind losing in-body image stabilization). If Samyang ever make this lens for the L-Mount (which they now might) then the weight could potentially come down to 650g with the Sigma FP although that would also be without in-body image stabilization or a shutter mechanism.

Sony A5100 (€700 in 2014) €175~

Samyang 75mm f/1.8 - (2020) €200~

Entrance Pupil: 42mm

Weight: 0.5KG (1.1lbs)

Ratio: 84:1

# Frames: 41 | Equiv. Lens: 29mm f/0.69

€500 Full Frame Mirrorless

This relatively small n light Sony mirrorless camera uses a full frame sensor, so will improve your workflow (using previously mentioned lenses) by reducing the number of images you need to shoot. For this example let's throw a longer focal length at it however. This rather obscure lens can get some pretty extreme results for the price. These classic lenses can give a very fun rendering to the image, this one is particularly hazy for example, but I find it reminds me of film images and find the results quite pleasing. 

Sony A7 (€1300 in 2013) 350~

Sigmatel 135mm f/1.8 - (1970) 150~

Entrance Pupil: 75mm

Weight: 1.45KG (3.2lbs)

Ratio: 52:1

# Frames: 47 | Equiv. Lens: 34mm f/0.46