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Award-Winning VFX Specialists Boris FX Releases Software for Photographers

There are many apps for photographers. Developing a workflow and testing each of them is all part of the process of developing a style and unique look. Some of us use Lightroom, others prefer Capture One or Photoshop or a combination of them all. And every once in a while, something is released that invigorates your work in a new way.

Boris FX is known in the film industry, and it’s here where they’ve been developing effects for award-winning movies and series like Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Avengers: End Game. But Optics is for photographers. It’s the first time they’re catering to us. And now, we can use these effects to get completely unique and great-looking effects in our images.

It can be used as a plugin for Photoshop or Lightroom, or it can be used as a stand-alone application. I played around with it for a few days for the review, and I am still coming to terms with how many unique looks they were able to include for the price of $149 (use code Fstoppers_2021 for 25% off). It’s truly incredible what they’ve released in the package.

Every filter and effect comes with its own set of parameters that guarantees a look that is totally your own. When diving in, the chances of creating the same effect as someone else are almost as close to you winning the lottery a few times.

What's Included?

There are 160 filters each divided into 9 categories. These filters each have thousands of customizable presets and looks. You can simulate optical glass camera filters, specialized lenses, film stocks, lens flares, optical lab processes, grain and you can add natural light and photographic effects. You also get 75 curated, Emmy award-winning Sapphire filters to match Hollywood style lighting effects, lens flares, glows, lighting effects, and more. Here is a short video to see how it works:

In the Fstoppers video below, stars are added to the sky based on where the photo was taken, and light behind a person is added using the software’s EZMask, which might even be a lesson for the developers of Adobe Photoshop’s masking workflow.

The fact that you have so many options and effects to choose from is one thing, but the fact that it’s so much fun to see what you can get out of it is what excites me even more.

User Experience

The software has a lot of depth, meaning each effect has a lot of parameters to set. You can even go into the technical aspects of an effect and change each lens’ flare individually. And the best of all is that they’ve made it very easy to get started.

I must confess that I was searching for the masking feature for a minute or two, but I think I now have a grip on how it all works.

I asked myself whether I would use it as part of my consistent workflow. I was able to save my favorites, and I've created some actions that do the round-trip to apply the effects as a new smart object layer, so I can now apply and tweak the effect and have fun doing so. 

I played around with some of my images, and it was a pleasure seeing how quickly I could get something I liked out of the software. 

What I Liked

I really enjoyed the film lab effects, where I could add and the AGFA RSX 100 Lo-Fi preset, change the parameters a little to suit the image, and then finished off with some film damage and grain to give it more of a printed look. Just this part of the software is worth the money, and you get so much more than that.

I liked the fact that you can subscribe to the software too, so for $7 per month, you can have access to it if you have a project where you need to inspire your and your clients' imaginations. $7 is also very cheap to take the software for a test-run. I would, however, state that the best value-for-money offering would be the once-off $149, which is often what some photographers sell a few Lightroom presets for. Now, you can use the presets and edit parameters to give you exactly what you want or inspire some new approaches to your work. 

I also liked the fact that the Color Correct presets are all named after the movies they reference from. Want your image to look more like Minority Report 1? Maybe Minority Report 2 or even Mary Poppins? There are many to choose from, and it's as if you now have access to what Hollywood has been using in all the award-winning movies of the last century. 

What Needs Fixing

I wasn't able to delete an effects layer. It seems like you can only deactivate it. But, because it’s the first release, I am sure this will be made easier or get fixed with an update.

I found the panning tool, which I thought was the selection tool, but I am still searching for the selection tool button and perhaps a shortcut. I was stuck panning for a while. Again, this can be fixed in a small update.


Boris FX is going to be a no-brainer for commercial photographers who work in the advertising and product photography industries. The same goes for landscape photographers who want a unique approach, having the ability to add stars based on your location, add and modify lightning bolts, add northern lights, and much more. They've got wedding, fashion, and portrait photographers who want to give their images a unique, vintage look with lens flares and film stocks covered too. In fact, real estate photographers, as well as photographers more into lifestyle will all be able to benefit using this software. 

If you see yourself as an early adopter who wants to have the edge in the industry, they're offering a 25% discount off Boris FX Optics. Make sure to use our special coupon code: Fstoppers_2021.  

Wouter du Toit's picture

Wouter is a portrait and street photographer based in Paris, France. He's originally from Cape Town, South Africa. He does image retouching for clients in the beauty and fashion industry and enjoys how technology makes new ways of photography possible.

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VFX, not SFX.

You're welcome.

Does this also work with GIMP?

Hello Lee, it works as an independent app too, so you can use whatever software you want and add Boris FX to your workflow.

So Scary! I remember this old kind of filters graphic designers has used in the 90' made by AlienSkin. Overused at this time by the cheapest designer. Anyway, they are just filters and they won't give more quality or any meaning to an image.

Now in 2020, is the Boris Suite the new AlienSkin for the cheapest photographers? Or maybe is it the Pro version of IG and SnapChat filter?

I mean, creativity do not need filters.
What do you think?

Nice review. I am biased (I work for the developer) but for what it is worth, Optics is designed to give professional photographers tools that are either not found in Photoshop or would take a long time to recreate. It is definitely not a "1-click gimmick" type of software. If anyone is interested, there is also an image gallery that shows an example of each of the 160 filters (before/after) but the real power is combining the filters with EzMask. https://borisfx.com/products/optics/?tags=&search=#effects

How do you define creativity in this context?

I don't get a kick out of adding FX-generated stars, Northern Lights or lightning bolts to my photos. I get a kick out of trying to shoot these things myself.

So I'm not sure about this as a thing for landscape photographers, at least not for that reason! :D

if you are a landscape photographer, you may possibly appreciate Optic's masking tools to isolate filters and color correction, the large selection of film stocks, lens effects, and presets. The lighting filters while very exciting to many users are not the only filters. And for those that do not want to use PS or LR, Optics is also a standalone photo editing application with batch processing.

I've had this software for about 6 weeks. I'm not a pro, but I spend a bit of time on my photography.
Those that have commented things like "I prefer to capture the image in camera" or "I don't like to add phony effects to my photos", ...Great, do your thing, I respect that. Maybe this software isn't for you.

On the other hand, if you enjoy a form of creativity that includes what seems to be an infinite number of choices for editing your photos with unique tools including some that might feel downright nutty alongside the subtle and gorgeous, Optics might be your bag. As the reviewer mentioned, if nothing else, I have gotten $149 worth of fun just experimenting and wandering through the effects available.

The entire package is done very nicely and has a "Hey, they did this right" feel to it. I will admit I have had a couple of crashes with the software. I'm OK with that for now. It's new. I sort of expect that. Hell, LR and PS crash on me too. The crashes are infrequent and not part of a typical session with the software. Also, I have never lost any work due to a crash.

I'm having a blast with it. My only gripe is that it's so much fun, I find myself wandering down some crazy paths forgetting what it was I was trying to do in the first place. Sometimes, in those wanderings I find a nice creative idea that I would have never considered, until I saw it in front of me.