Op ED: We’re Going to Need Ultra Fast Lenses or AI Developed Bokeh

The next step and evolution of mirrorless camera systems needs to be ultra fast lenses.

“Whoa, that’s some intense bokeh,” one of my best friends said to me the other day in a Discord hangout. He was referring to my using the Canon EOS R with the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM lens. It kept my face in focus the entire time and was quite fast about it too. And if you gauge the trends that people with smartphones do when it comes to artificial bokeh, this is going to need to be the next step. Otherwise, there may be a need to boost the bokeh artificially–unless the manufacturers wish to embrace the idea of the camera being a luxury. But otherwise, it’s very fair to say that due to the incredible efforts of engineers, we’ve pretty much reached peak lens.

What do I mean by us reaching peak lens and that we need ultra fast lenses? Well, think about it:

  • Engineers have created lenses that deliver pristine quality.
  • They’ve basically gotten rid of all the flaws to the point where they have to invent flaws like onion bokeh.
  • They’re also engineering the flaws back into the lenses.

It’s crazy, right? We live in a world where there is so much choice when it comes to lenses, and we don’t know what to do with it. I especially say this as the EIC of a website that has reviewed the most camera lenses on the web. And we’ll hold that title very proudly. So where do we go from here? More focal lengths? More lens options? What it seems people want though is more bokeh. Folks love that stuff, at least in the consumer stage. So we can do it using AI and technology to smooth it out even more. Just think, an f1.4 lens could deliver an image that looks like an f0.95 using artificial rendering. I mean, photographers have been doing it for years with Gaussian blur in some ways. But it could also be done with ultra fast lenses.

Except for the excellent products that Lensbaby is making, we also haven’t found ways to add more aesthetics organically. Why? Because there’s just been such a big emphasis on Photoshop. Eventually, folks are going to have to learn that one can’t do everything in post-production. Instead, they actually just need to be good photographers. Of course, I say this, and companies may see it as a challenge.

Does it sound like sacrilege? Sure! But it would probably get people to repurchase cameras considering how obsessed the world is with their own image.

The photo world could indeed go this way and eventually be outdone in some way or another by the phone. In fact, I feel like this is always the case–the camera manufacturers try to do things organically while the phone manufacturers win everyone over with convenience. And in the long run, I’m still of the feeling that camera manufacturers will need to raise the prices and make semi-luxury products. The phone replaced the watch, and it became a choice between a super functional piece or a luxury. The camera could do the same thing. Like watches, the professional needs specific things. But the consumer just wants to do it as a hobby since they have too much money to burn. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

What do you think about artificial bokeh?