Lensbaby has become a bit of a household name in recent years and for those of us searching for a more unique look to our images, Lensbaby has been there to provide a whole host of creative solutions. Their latest product is no different, but this time around they aren’t producing a new lens, but instead a ‘creative filter system’ called the Omni.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one of these Omni’s prior to launch and I also had chance to test it out on a couple of portrait shoots recently so I thought I would share my thoughts on it here.
Who is Lensbaby?
If you’re unfamiliar with Lensbaby then they are predominantly known for their creative lens solutions. These lenses, now more colloquially and affectionately referred to as ‘art’ lenses, offer a different perspective for photographers looking for something outside of the norm. Their lenses range from the more aggressive lens distortions like the ‘Edge’ that creates a tilt-shift look, to the more subtle ‘Velvet’ lens that simply softens the edge of the frame, creating a very reminiscent look of the bygone era of photography.
I’ve personally used Lensbaby lenses for many years and long before they ever reached out to me to get my feedback on some of their new products.
But Lensbaby is known for making products that ‘bake’ the visual effect into the actual shot at the point of capture. This style of creativity can scare some younger photographers who rely on the comfort of the ‘undo’ command in Photoshop, but for those willing to embrace a creative solution whilst actually taking a photograph with a camera, love what Lensbaby produce.
The Omni….is not a lens
As I mentioned, Lensbaby is known for their lenses so I think they are VERY keen to make it clear that their latest product is NOT a lens. Their marketing quotes the Omni as a ‘creative filter system’ and although that’s a fairly accurate description, let’s break down what that actually looks like.
The Omni is made up of multiple parts, but the key is the metal disc that screws directly to the front of your current lens via the lens filter thread all lenses have.
You then attach sliding magnets to that disc and to them you attach the actual ‘filters’.
It’s a very simple system but one that works perfectly.
What’s in the Omni Box?
When you receive your Omni, this is what’s in the box.
Inside the box will be some instructions and two grey fabric pouches. In the larger one will be the metal disc, magnet sliders and filters, and in the other will be a selection of step up/down rings for other sized lenses plus a grip to remove and attach them. I’ll talk more about these step rings later.
As I mentioned, it’s super-simple. Take the metal plate (affix the appropriate step ring if you need it), ensure the magnet sliders are already attached and then screw it to your lens via the lens filter thread. Once it’s on you’re then free to attach the filters directly or via the additional ‘stalks’ to give you more creative options.
Okay, but what the hell are these ‘filters’ you keep mentioning?!
So now we know how it works, what does it actually do? Well the purpose of the Omni is to hold a variety of filters in front of your lens so that they appear in shot when you take the picture. So what are the filters? Well the base Omni pack comes with three filters; the Crystal Seahorse, Stretch Glass and the Rainbow Film. And these three probably provide the most variations in looks.
By shooting through these you will get foreground distortions and light flares that can create some very unique looks indeed.
Unboxing and Assembly
Below is a short two-minute video from my Instagram Stories. If you want to see the Omni being unboxed and assembled for a sense of scale and ease of use then take a look. Just be mindful that this was recorded from a phone so the quality is pretty low.
So now that we know how it works and what it does, what do the images look like when you use the Omni?
The following images were taken by me whilst I was testing the new Omni system a few weeks ago.
I think the above images should give you a pretty good idea of what the system does, but if you’re still unclear, the out of focus foreground blurring and colours in these shots are all produced by the Omni filters.
Omni Crystal Expansion Pack
Also; to the eagle-eyed among you that may have noticed a fourth image and filter in use above, that is actually from the Omni Crystal Expansion Pack that contains an additional 3 filters.
The additional 3 filters are the Crystal Spear, Triangular Prism, Scalloped Window.