How To Get Bokeh With Kit Lens – The Ultimate Guide (2021 update)

Now, this is a question that you’ve been asking yourself a lot, especially if you have just got into photography: can you get the bokeh effect with a simple, cheap kit lens? And if you can, how do you get it?
Yes, you can. Let me say this once again: you can have bokeh with a kit lens. And I’m talking about the 18-55mm kit lens.

How To Get Bokeh with a Kit Lens?

Here is a short guideline on how to get this:

  1. Zoom to the max focal length (55mm or more)
  2. Put your aperture at its widest
  3. Get as close to your subject for it to be in focus
  4. Have the background as far away from the subject as you can

And, of course, take the photo 🙂

Well, why not go and test it and come back and write a comment down below if it worked or not.

Quick disclaimer: you won’t be getting that creamy bokeh – a kit lens can go so far away – but you will get the blurred background you are looking for. If you want to go with a better option, you can easily use a better lens. You can check this article I’ve written about using an FX lens on a DX body.

If you are still here or you are skeptical, let’s see why this works.

Zoom to the max focal length to get bokeh

The more you zoom your lens, the greater the focal distance is (that is the distance from the point where the light enters the lens and the sensor in your camera), and the greater the focal distance is, the more compressed is the background. This way, you are able to achieve the blurred look.

The usual kit lens can go only so far as 55mm, but there are some other kit or cheap lenses that can go up to 105mm, or 200mm, or even 300mm (I have a 55-300mm crop lens that works great if you want the ‘crop sensor bokeh’).

Put the aperture at its widest

That is a most basic rule: the wider the aperture is (or the smaller the F-number is), the more light enters into the lens, and the more light enters into the lens, the more shallow the depth of field is – which gets the blurred background (or bokeh) effect.

This is the major drawback for a kit lens as an 18-55mm usually can go only to f5.6, and that is not that wide. But you have no other choice. The wide aperture combined with the other points will get the effect you are after.

Get at close to the subject in order to be in focus

The next step is to get the closest you can to your subject while keeping it in focus. This is a way to trick – if I can say it so – the kit lens to give you the blurred background you want to achieve.

If you are close to your subject and it is in focus, everything else will be out of focus, thus getting more and more blurred as the background is farther away. This brings us to the next and last point.

Have the background as far away as possible

This builds upon what we’ve discussed up until this point. The long focal distance will compress the background and the further away the actual background is, the more compressed it is, thus giving the bokeh (or blurred) effect.

This is made possible by the fact that the further back the background is, the more out of focus it. And, of course, the more out of focus it is, the more blurred it gets.

Let’s Test This – Getting the Bokeh Effect With a Kit Lens

But now, you don’t have to believe me. Let’s go on the field and test what I’ve just told you. I made an experiment in the coziness of my room. I grabbed my Nikon D5200 with the 18-55mm kit lens that is good enough to get bokeh.

Here is the first picture, it is a small toy. In this one, I’ve put the background as close to the subject as I could. Here’s what I’ve got.

bokeh kit lens

Notice that the background is right behind the subject, so it is just a little bit out of focus.

Now, let’s see the next picture where I’ve placed the toy at the edge of the bookshelf.

bokeh kit lens 2

See how the background got a lot more blurred? This is because the background is further back than it was last time. Further background = more blur. But let’s see the last picture where I’ve changed the place of the toy and the background.

bokeh kit lens 3

This is the ultimate bokeh I could get in my room with my kit lens. Everything in the background is blown out and blurred. It’s almost like you couldn’t tell if it is a kit lens or a f1.8 prime lens.


Can you get bokeh with a kit lens? Absolutely yes. Not only I’ve just shown you how you can get it, but also I proved to you that you are able to do this. So, if you want to get bokeh with your kit lens all you have to do is to follow these guidelines:

  1. Zoom to the max focal length (55mm or more)
  2. Put your aperture at its widest
  3. Get as close to your subject for it to be in focus
  4. Have the background as far away from the subject as you can

If you really want to upgrade in order to get better bokeh, you can go first with a 50mm f1.8 (Nikon / Canon).

What are you waiting for? Pick up your camera and go shoot something, try to get bokeh with your kit lens too. If you’ve done that, leave a comment below and maybe even show us some pictures. Cheers.

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