One Small Modification Allows This Lens to Create 'Magic Bokeh'

After flipping a single lens element, this Iranian photographer was able to capture the most stunning and unique bokeh.

For filmmakers, bokeh is probably the richest, most decadent type of sweet cinematic treat, but the bokeh that Iranian photographer Alireza Rostami was able to capture with a specially modified vintage lens has taken visual confectionery to a whole new level. How did he manage to pull it off? By reversing one single optical element of a $70 Zenit MC Zenitar 50mm f/2 lens. The bokeh that came out after mounting the lens to his Canon 6D (outfitted with an MFT-to-EF mount adapter) will certainly take your breath away.​

You can view these images and the rest in the series on Rostami's Instagram account.

Rostami explains to PetaPixel where his interest in optics and lens technology originated.

I am a researcher in the field of photography lenses from Iran, and my country doesn’t have the technology for manufacturing cameras and lenses. I’m motivated to research and discover this technology, so I began studying and collecting information about the history of photographic lenses and, consequently, the use of reverse engineering for camera and lens autopsy.

If you're interested in seeing how Rostami modified the lens, which I'm assuming all of you are, then check out the video below, in which he goes through his process step by step.

Taking apart a lens and adjusting its elements is definitely an undertaking one needs to have some knowledge of and experience with if they want to be successful. But keep in mind, if you have a desire to learn more about how your lenses' optics work or just want to try this modification out for yourself, the lens Rostami uses is just $70 (I saw it for as low as $40 on eBay), so it's not going to be a huge loss if you fudge it all up. I say it's worth a try!     

Your Comment


This is definitely scary...!! :)

August 4, 2018 at 11:56PM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

What an unusual and artistic look. It was probably an M42 mount, not MFT for that adapter. Thanks for sharing. It would be fun to experiment with older lenses to see what other creative distortions are possible.

August 7, 2018 at 11:32PM, Edited August 7, 11:33PM

Myke Scaffidi

fantastic pictures, this photographer has talent

August 8, 2018 at 12:47AM

manuela aumick
Freelance Writer

Would be even cooler if the subject was in focus

August 10, 2018 at 10:30AM

Douglas Patrick
Aerial Video/DP