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Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

The Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review message first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Anabel DFlux.

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

I don't know anything about you … but I like being creative with my photography. Everything that helps make my work stand out against the countless photographers in the world (let alone in my very saturated city) is a must-have. However, what I enjoy the least is that I only let my imagination rise in the editing room. If there is a practical way to do something unique, I use that method.

Fortunately there is a company called Lensbaby that understands this at a deeper level. Home to some of the world's most unique lenses (lovingly named ' art ' lenses), Lensbaby is proud of developing equipment that offers you a range of unusual effects in the camera.

Their lenses range from distortions such as the "Burnside" that turns your bokeh around and makes the edges darker, to the more subtle "Velvet" lens that simply softens the edge of the frame. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of giving up autofocus in their arsenal with built-in lens products.

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But now, instead of relying on purchasing new lenses, Lensbaby has launched a product to help you turn the glass you currently own into an effect lens. Best part? No manual focus anymore! Say hello to the OMNI Creative filter system.

So … What is the OMNI creative filter system?

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

"Shoot through crystals and other objects specially designed by Lensbaby to create professional and immersive effects in the camera. Designed to work with your existing lenses, OMNI offers control and repeatability without having to change your equipment. The system comes with unique effect walls that attach magnetically and distort the light when it enters the lens – creating countless magical effects in the camera."Lensbaby writes.

The Omni Creative filter system is a ring that holds different effect walls in front of the glass to produce an effect. These effect walls come in the form of crystals, panels, and other doohickeys that open up a world of possibilities when used. The great thing about this product is that you can make an existing lens from a lens baby.

The pain package

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The main filter system is supplied with the filter ring and various up and down rings, three effect walls, a long arm to hold the effect wall, a short arm to hold the effect wall, two magnetic holders (each holder can hold up to two Effect Wands) , and a small carrying bag to tie everything together. OMNI is available in the Small and Large versions and includes step-up and step-down rings for different filter thread sizes.

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

The three effect walls are known as the "Crystal Seahorse", "Stretch Glass" and "Rainbow Film".

Crystal Seahorse uses the edge shells to help produce complex flares, light diversion and radiant reflections.

The stretch glass can mimic a light glow by creating stripes and reflections.

The Rainbow film, one of my personal favorites in the set, is a diffraction panel that creates radiant reflective rainbows, offset by any bright light source.

The expansion package

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

If those three wands are not enough, Lensbaby has an expansion pack that adds three more crystals to the mix. The new additions are entitled "Crystal Spear", "Triangular Prism" and the "Scalloped Window".

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

The Crystal Spear reminds me of a kaleidoscope and can create similar dreamlike flares. The triangular prism mimics what some creative photographers are currently doing when they hold prisms against their glass (except that in this case you don't have to sacrifice a hand to hold it up!). The scalloped window is similar to the Seahorse of the main package, but with a larger surface that allows you to shoot directly through the middle.

How to use the OMNI system

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

Whether you look at the manual or not, the filter system is pretty obvious in terms of use. There is an annular disk with large rings that holds the magnetic arms that in turn hold the effect walls. Depending on the lens filter thread, this disc can be screwed directly on or attached to the glass element of your lenses with a step-down / step-up ring.

It is important to note that when using the 82 mm step-down ring, vignetting occurs at focal lengths wider than 50 mm. I personally like vignetting, but some don't.

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

In fact, I was able to attach the OMNI Creative filter system to both my variable ND filter from Tiffen (to see if I could), and to any old regular glass filter you might have to protect the glass. For the record, filter stacking is completely possible here (but whether or not it is recommended … that is at its discretion).

The OMNI creative filter system is designed for most prime and zoom lenses on the market. But in my user experience, the wider viewing lenses have the most prominent effect. That said, my 85 mm lens did really cool stuff with a few of the wands.

Build quality?

Sturdy, sturdy, sturdy – and did I mention sturdy? Nothing about this system feels thin. For the price it must certainly feel solid and inspire confidence. That certainly does it all.

How much weight and size does it add to the lens?

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My first concern was immediately how much weight and size the system would add to my equipment. I hold my things for a long time. Many of the types of recording I run well within the 6 hour range without much break. In addition, some of my shooting conditions are often tumultuous and take place in tight spaces. As such, the amount of bulk or discomfort that can add something to my current kit is a pretty big problem.

Fortunately for me (and for all of us, I would say), the OMNI is not such a nuisance. The system is lightweight and I rarely noticed a difference with the filter on my lens than with the off. The only lens on which I felt a difference was my cheap 50 mm many-round lens of $ 100, the weight of which is equal to that of a spring (metaphorically seen of course), but on all my L-glasses and G-Master lenses, a difference in weight was hard to notice.

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

The system adds a small mass and thickness to the front lens element, because the disk protrudes a tiny bit, but it didn't matter much. It didn't hinder my workday or the photo sessions!

The effect walls protrude. However, in situations where I needed a flatter system (such as a live concert setting), I simply pushed the wands down.

But is it comfortable?

Drum roll please …

YES!

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I found the system very comfortable to use. Depending on how handy your fingers are, I was actually able to move the effect walls and their magnetic arms consistently in position without ever taking my hand off the lens itself.

Once you understand the actual distance between the front of the lens and the filter, you can easily make the necessary adjustments without taking your eyes off the viewfinder.

Although the magnets are very sturdy and prevent the walls from flying off, the metal balls are still easy to rotate and maneuver. So much so that only the use of one finger was honestly fine for me.

Assessment in practical use

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

"That looks a bit like a steampunk device," one of my customers said when I first mounted the OMNI on my 24-70 mm f / 2.8 lens. At the first impression, all those people I started using the creative filter system on were very intrigued. Customer intrigues can open a fun and useful dialogue – an unintended benefit.

Connecting the system is quick and easy and takes very little time. I enjoyed the fact that it didn't look like I was messing around or struggling for a customer. That is always a good sign. If anything, the more wands I pulled out, the more interest I noticed that my subjects were.

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It took me a few minutes to search and experiment to get the most out of each wand. So I would suggest that everyone who buys the system needs a day to become familiar with every effect. Even then I notice that I am still discovering new applications for every stick with every photo shoot on which I use them! A very exciting thing indeed.

There is a very big difference between the use of the effect walls in a controlled indoor situation and outdoors. In combination with studio lighting inside, most of the walls produced very clear and striking results. They often drew colors that I didn't even know were present! When used outdoors in natural light, the effects became a bit more muted and more natural.

This is a big difference, depending on the look you are looking for.

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You really have to experiment with this equipment to see what works best for you. However, I discovered that the art of getting the most out of the system is to photograph with a wider millimeter lens and a larger aperture.

Thanks to the wide frame, the effect can really run into the image, while the shallow depth of field produced by the large aperture helps to mix the effect.

I took my OMNI kit to easily peasy, no-hassle photo shoots and chaotic and intense situations. The simple sessions were flawless, as expected, but the spontaneous and more chaotic recordings were where the real test was.

When I took the system on tour with a band, I came across the issue that the system was not strong enough in a live concert environment. Admittedly, if the location has a photo pit and the band does not encourage public surfing, the system can work perfectly. In my situation, however, I photographed in dive bars without a photo barrier, and the music certainly triggered more than one crowd surfer. Unfortunately, this system was not allowed in that area.

However, this is a very specific and niche problem, so I don't have any system errors in that regard!

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

The Omni is really a "what you see is what you get" product. In practical use this is simple and easy. Exactly as we like it.

Pros:

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  • Turn any lens into a practical effects system! Step-down rings are included.
  • Well built and lightweight.
  • Very easy to adjust.
  • Easy to use, immediately ready for use.
  • A good variety of effect walls to create all kinds of interesting looks.
  • The ability to create repeatable and consistent effects.
  • Comes with a carrying case that keeps everything neatly organized.

cons:

Lensbaby Omni creative filter system Review

  • You need to disassemble and reassemble most camera bags and packaging situations.
  • There may be some vignetting with the step-down rings.

Conclusion

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Yes, it is possible to achieve similar effects by simply holding a prism or another geometric crystal in front of your lens, but that can be annoying. Why not have something instead that you simply attach and hold tightly?

As such, the OMNI creative filter system is a valuable and sustainable product. It helps give the equipment you currently have an extra head start (without any permanent change).

Have you tried out the OMNI creative filter system? Let me know your opinion (or questions) in the comments!

lensbaby-omni-creative-filter-system

The Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review message first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Anabel DFlux.

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