5 Lenses with Gorgeous Bokeh Every Photographer Can Lust For

You probably just got over your gear acquisition syndrome. But in truth, it never really goes away. We’d know; we review a ton of products and then have to send them back. And there are lenses with some beautiful bokeh that we’ve always adored. Bokeh isn’t everything, but sometimes you can’t help but stare in awe at the photo you’ve made. And a lot of the time, it can make your subject look even better. So we dove into our Reviews Index to find some of our favorite lenses with gorgeous bokeh.

This piece is presented in partnership with Leica. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this round-up already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.

Pro Tips on Using Lenses with Gorgeous Bokeh

If you want to use Leica lenses with gorgeous bokeh, then the following are a few pro tips for you:

  • Want the most accurate, critically sharp focus? Use the LCD screen or the Leica Visiolfex. For better results, magnify the scene. This will help get your subject sharp and the bokeh looking beautiful.
  • Of course, getting the best bokeh works when you’re shooting wide open and focusing as closely as possible. While that doesn’t always make practical sense depending on your creative vision, it’s a rule to stick by.
  • To get a super clear, crisp, photo, always shoot for the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds. For all of these lenses, we’d recommend using at least 1/125th shutter if you’re newer. Some of us can handhold down to 1/15th and get a steady shot!
  • Don’t just use these lenses on M-mount cameras. Leica M mount lenses with gorgeous bokeh are an absolute dream to use on the Leica SL2 and Leica SL2-S. They’ll give your lenses new life!
  • Leica rangefinders have the focusing mechanism set to focus on the center. If you’re going to focus and recompose using lenses with gorgeous bokeh, don’t pivot the camera. Slide it along the same focus plane as much as possible.

Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M ASPH APO

What to Know

  • Unmatched image quality
  • Contemporary design
  • Easy to focus
  • Most compact 35mm full frame lens with this exceptional optical performance
  • Closest focus distance in M lens portfolio – up to 0.3m

In our review, we state:

“For a 35mm lens, the bokeh is off the charts good. It’s smooth, it’s creamy, and it’s dreamy. Bokeh balls are nice and round, and there’s hardly any evidence of cats-eye bokeh in the corners. Some of you will say, ‘Well, there’s some onion bokeh going on.’ Get over it. It adds to the charm and character of this beautiful lens. I’m sick of technically perfect, lifeless, clinical images. Thankfully, the Leica APO Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH knows how to deliver. Put the close focusing to work and then gawk at the gorgeous renderings.”

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Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctilux

What to Know

  • Contemporary designed reinterpretation of one of the most mythical lenses for the M-System
  • Similar optical design as the original Noctilux lens. Unique image quality with a vintage feel from the original lens.
  • Even though the lens has a unique look with wide open aperture, it is a very usable lens for everyday shooting.
  • The lens will come in a classically inspired transparent lens container, just like the original version.
  • This special edition model features a brass lens barrel and a front-ring engraving that reads the classic LEITZ WETZLAR branding just like the original.

In our review, we state:

“The bokeh from the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.2 is simply delicious. Backgrounds have a nice, soft blur. At times, the bokeh almost seems to have a slight twirl to it. The falloff from sharp to blurred is fast, making the subject really pop. This effect works well for the foreground as well as the background.”

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Leica 50mm f2 Summicron-M ASPH

What to Know

  • Diagonal picture angle: 47 °
  • Working range: 0.7 m to infinity
  • Largest scale: 1: 11.5
  • Number of lenses/groups: 6/4
  • Length * 1: 43.5 mm
  • Weight * 1: 240g
  • Lens hood: Pull-out
  • Filter/filter thread: E39
  • Made in Germany

In our review, we state:

“The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M isn’t as bokehlicious as its f1.4 brother. But it’s still pretty beautiful overall. You may get some cat’s eye-shaped bokeh. However, I don’t mind it all that much in situations like the above. I think it can be pretty cool. And not all bokeh needs to be perfectly round. I’m also of the camp that never cared about onion bokeh. It’s not really a problem.”

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Leica 75mm f2 Summicron-M ASPH

What to Know

  • Diagonal angle of view: 32 °
  • Working range: 0.7 m to infinity
  • Biggest scale: 1: 7
  • Number of lenses/groups: 7/5
  • Length * 1: 66.8 mm
  • Weight * 1: 430 g
  • Lens hood: Pull-out and lockable
  • Filter/filter thread: E49

In our review, we state:

“At f2, the Leica 75mm f2 APO Summicron-M ASPH lens is not the widest at this focal length in Leica’s lineup. However, we found that it produced similar quality bokeh to what we have come to know from Leica M-mount lenses. When shooting portraits wide open, the background becomes as smooth as a watercolor painting. We found desirable results with enough separation of the subject from its background, even when stopping down.”

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Leica 90mm f1.5

What to Know

  • 8 lens elements, two of which are aspherical in design and made of specialized glass types
  • Latest in the long line of famed Summilux lenses, for the very first time in 90 mm focal length
  • Perfect for portraits with an incredibly shallow depth of field
  • Brings portraits to life with a new level of sharpness
  • First Summilux lens with 90 mm f-length

In our review, we state:

“The Leica 90mm Summilux delivers plenty of bokeh at f1.5. The background just melts away. Grass becomes a blur so smooth, it almost looks like background paper. The longer focal length and full-frame sensor mean there’s still some bokeh to be had when stepping the lens down as well. Points of light are soft and circular. I didn’t spot onion ringing or soap bubble bokeh.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.