Putting stuff in front of one’s lens was once quite stocking. Back in the 1970s, it was usually stockings, which produced a nice soft look. It’s a bit dated and we try to forget it existed, but putting stuff in front of your lens is becoming popular again.
We’ve seen a number of products and techniques highlighted over the last few years, and the latest is the Simmod Synergy (buy here). It’s a DIY filter kit that lets you get more control of what you put in front of your lens.
Simmod Synergy Ring DIY Filter Creator
The whole point of the system is to be able to “roll your own” filters. Instead of just being limited to things like stockings, you can fasten all kinds of materials, items and bits of string in front of your lens to help break up the clinically perfect view through your fancy and expensive lenses.
[Related reading: Lensbaby’s new OMNI isn’t like any kind of filter system you’ve seen before]
It’s a four-part system comprised of a ring that securely holds onto the filters of your lens and a clear glass DIY FX filter (right, in the below photo), letting you use Vaseline, hairspray and other nasty smeary stuff without risking getting it all over your lens
The third item, which you see in the photo above, is what Simmod calls the DIY Flare FX holder ring. This is a ring featuring a number of holes that lets you run string, wire, fishing line and similar materials to create a pattern in front of the lens that can potentially produce interesting flare.
Finally, there’s the DIY Diffusion FX holder – the bit in the middle of the above photo – which you can cover with various sheer materials to break up your image while still allowing you to see through it to shoot a photo.
What can I attach it to?
The Simmod Synergy Ring clamps down onto an 80mm or 95mm outer diameter lens. This is a fairly beefy diameter for a photography lens, but such diameters are quite common with cinema lenses.
If you have a narrower lens, I’m not sure what your options might be. Simmod doesn’t appear to have create an adapter ring that screws onto your filter and provides an 80mm or 95mm diameter ring to bolt the Synergy onto, but I expect there might be something out there that will suit.
I don’t have a Simmod Synergy Ring so am unable to test, but it might be compatible with some of the mounting rings that come with certain matte boxes. You’d have to check the diameters, but this may be an option to look into if you want to use this on lenses with a diameter narrower than 80mm.
What does it look like?
Naturally, how your final results will look depends entirely on what you choose to place in front of the lens. Different substances smeared across the glass filter will present differently to the camera. Even the same substance can appear differently when smeared in a different way.
[Related reading: Lensbaby expands the OMNI Filter system with the new Flare Expansion Pack]
But essentially, the goal of anything in front of the lens is to help add a little imperfection and an organic feel to footage that’s often otherwise a little too cold and clinical. Most new lenses these days are designed to provide absolute perfection, taking away a lot of the character that older lenses have.
It’s not the lens manufacturers’ fault, of course. Customers keep expecting better and better. Less vignetting, edge-to-edge sharpness, no chromatic aberration, no pincushion or barrel distortion. Of course, some of these issues still exist, but customers keep demanding better, and manufacturers must keep giving us reasons to upgrade.
Lenses have just gotten too good. This helps you to make your shot your own again with a more creative and organic feel.