Your Photographic Hands-Free Device: The Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

Your Photographic Hands-Free Device: The Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I give Lensbaby a lot of credit. While many companies are busy spending their R&D funds on clinically sharp lenses that have next to no optical character, Lensbaby rolls out a tool that helps photographers put stuff like crystals and prisms in front of their lenses so that they don’t need to graft on a third arm and hand, or hire an assistant. While it falls short of functioning as a Vaseline-on-the-filter dispenser, the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System and OMNI Crystal Expansion Pack are well-designed solutions for those creative photographers who like to experiment and increase the photography fun factor.

The main OMNI Creative Filter System comes with a 77mm filter ring, four magnetic mounts, three effects wands, and a carrying pouch. The Expansion Pack adds three more effects wands. Step-up/down rings allow you to fit the filter system on lenses with different front thread diameters—either 49-58mm or 62-82mm. The magnetic mounting system is engineered well and is very functional. The magnets are so strong that it requires a bit of force to remove the wands, and sometimes you end up removing the mount instead of the wand. Magnetism fans rejoice! The mounting system and ball-and-socket magnets allow the wands to be positioned almost anywhere in the frame. Lensbaby obviously designed this for maximum flexibility and it works very well. You can easily mount every single wand over your lens simultaneously.

In the main kit, you get a Stretch Glass wand, a Crystal Seahorse, and Rainbow Film. The Expansion Pack gives you a Crystal Spear, Triangular Prism, and Scalloped Window. The crystals and prisms are made of high-quality glass and, as I found out, are very fragile. If you grab this kit, handle it with care—glass does not take kindly to drops and impacts.

I found that the Rainbow Film was the easiest to employ for special effects—especially in direct sunlight where a sharp or diffused rainbow color could be created. The prism gives a bit of a split image that you can position wherever you like in the frame. The crystals are a bit trickier to use because, when stepped down, you will see the outline of the crystals in your frame. Open up your lens aperture and the crystals vanish as the effect becomes subtler. I would likely employ the crystals for portraits or close-up subjects—placing the subject in the center of the crystal and letting the effect surround the center of focus.

One of the great things about Lensbaby lenses such as the Edge, Sol, Sweet, and Velvet, is their ease of employment. You just put the lens on and you can capture creative photographs almost instantly. Not all of the effects are for every photographer but, if you think and photograph out of the super-sharpness-box, then Lensbaby is a blast to use. The OMNI system is not as easy to use as a traditional Lensbaby lens. The photographer must work a bit harder and deal with more moving parts to get the desired effect. For what it is, it is brilliantly designed and obviously engineered with care. The OMNI system addresses a need that a few photographers have, and it addresses that need well. It is a fantastic solution to a problem that not every photographer has encountered.

For whom is the OMNI Creative Filter System? If you are the type of experimental photographer who has wished for a third appendage to hold funky stuff in front of your lens, then this system is perfect for you. If you are a portrait or wedding photographer who has the ability to step back from the “postcard” shots and give your clients a truly unique image, I would encourage you to try out the OMNI system, as well.

Do you have questions or thoughts about the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System? Let us know in the Comments section, below! 

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