Lensbaby has announced a new set of filters which attach to a lightweight ring atop your lens via magnets. The new kit allows you to use glass and crystals in order to create novelty blur and bokeh effects hands-free, but is it worth using such novelty items in-camera, given that their rather niche effects are irreversible?
When I read of the announcement of Lensbaby’s new OMNI Creative Filter System, my immediate thought was “another one?” The formula feels tired and overdone, the effects often a novelty that are rarely used amongst serious photographers. The idea sounds promising, but the results rarely deliver.
The company announced:
The OMNI System offers control and repeatability when shooting through crystals and other objects engineered by Lensbaby to create distinct and compelling in-camera effects. This unique, professional system is unlike anything currently on the market and geared to work on photographers’ existing prime and zoom lenses.
The kit works with the user screwing a ring onto the lens’ filter threads. The “OMNI Effect Wands,” as they’re called, are then attached via magnets. The design allows for many different combinations in terms of placement of the wands, allowing for different effects.
There are a total of six wands available across two different packages — Crystal Seahorse (flare and reflections), Stretch Glass (stretches and streaks of light), Rainbow Film (reflective rainbows), Crystal Spear (specular highlights and kaleidoscopic reflections), Triangular Prism (prism reflections), and Scalloped Window (flare and reflection).
So are products like this worth investing in? Will they excite you for a week, then collect dust on your shelf for the rest of time? So outlandish are the effects these filters cause sometimes, that it raises the question of how often they will really find themselves in your camera bag. The risk with effects like this is discovering all your recent work looks the same. I once used a small glass sun catcher to create rainbow flare for some magazine editorial work. It served its purpose, but since then it’s almost never been touched.
The bottom line is the effects of many of these filters can just as easily be replicated in Photoshop, and their intensity amended. It’s largely considered safer to re-create them in post-production, given the intrusive nature of lots of these forced flare effects. Evidently, there is the market for this kind of product, but one that is likely made up of those new to photography who are still experimenting and finding their creativity, or those that shy away from extensive retouching. The issue remains that once an image has been shot using these filters, there is no going back, and the photographer and/or the client is left with very little choice in regards to how the final image looks.
The set of three, as well as the second expansion pack containing three more wands, are both available to pre-order now for $99.95 and $49.95.
Are these types of filters a fad that belong in the past, or are they a welcome novelty? Will you be purchasing, or do you prefer to add these kinds of effects in post?