Hands-On Review: Lensbaby OMNI Filter System Bundles

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When my test sample of Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative Filter System with the OMNI Color Expansion Pack and OMNI Crystal Expansion Pack showed up at my desk, I decided to revisit Todd Vorenkamp’s Explora review of the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System to see what he had to say about it. Long story short, his review was quite accurate in describing the design and real-world functionality of the system. He even had me chuckling a few times, which for me is always a welcome respite when reading product reviews.

Photographs © Allan Weitz 2020

Having improvised handheld filters and other lens doodads and then implementing with one hand while blocking stray light with the other on more than one occasion, I was curious to find out how the engineering team at Lensbaby’s Advanced R&D Headquarters addressed the problem. My verdict? Not bad. Not bad at all.

A combination of Lensbaby crystals, color filters, and rainbow diffraction strips produced these variations of tricked-out flag photos.

Considering Lensbaby’s tongue-in-cheek approach to product design and picture taking in general, I was impressed with the design and execution of the OMNI Filter System. The materials are first class, and everything fits together quite well. The use of industrial-strength magnets to hold components together is clever, and in the field the entire system works as advertised. Even the crystal effect wands were made of real glass—not plastic.

The Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System is designed around a large filter ring that screws onto the filter threads of your lens. Once in position, you magnetically attach one or more special effects attachments along the circumference of the ring to add colorful flares, flashes of color, reflections, and other creative visual effects to your pictures. It comes in two sizes: Small, which is for lenses with 49mm and 58mm thread sizes, and Large, which is for lenses with 62mm and 82mm filter threads.

Lensbaby’s OMNI Filter System is well designed and enables you to create a riot of special effects.

The Lensbaby OMNI Color Expansion Pack

The Lensbaby OMNI Color Expansion Pack: Teardrop and Multicolor Crystals, Criss-Cross Rainbow films, Lumi Films, and Color Gels designed to create a riot of special effects when used with a Lensbaby OMNI Filter System.

The Lensbaby OMNI Crystal Expansion Pack

The OMNI Crystal Expansion Kit: a Crystal Spear, Triangular Prism, and Scalloped Window glass “Effect Wand” that attach magnetically along the filter ring. They can create infinite variations of flare and light refractions.

During my time with these kits, I found them to be most effective with lenses 50mm and longer. You can use wide-angle lenses, but the wider you go, the more difficult it is to keep the filter attachments and crystals out of the frame. For the record, all of the sample images accompanying this post were captured using a Sony Alpha a7R III with a Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens.

Three variations of backlit daffodils using a 90mm macro with a Lensbaby OMNI Filter System with various combinations of Lensbaby Color and Crystal Expansion Pack attachments.
A weathervane on top of a Revolutionary War─era church steeple, viewed through combinations of Lensbaby OMNI Filter System filters and crystals. The possibilities are endless.

It’s worth noting the Lensbaby OMNI Filter System is also available bundled in two sizes: the Lensbaby OMNI System Bundle—Small, for lenses with 49mm and 58mm thread sizes, and the Lensbaby OMNI System Bundle—Large, for lenses with 62mm and 82mm filter threads. Each kit also includes incremental step-up rings to fill the gaps between the largest and smallest thread sizes in each kit.

Having used Lensbaby’s OMNI Filter System along with its various special effects attachments, I would advise first-time users to go slow and learn what each of the various components does before trying out the next piece of the puzzle. Once you understand what each piece does, you can start using them in various combinations to see what happens. Conversely, you can easily go into “chaos mode” by mixing and matching all of the filters and crystals helter-skelter—the choice is yours.

I found I got my best results when shooting at wider apertures because, as you stop down, you begin bringing the filters and crystals into focus. I would also suggest using the Lensbaby OMNI Filter System with either a mirrorless camera or a DSLR with Live View, which enables you to preview the effects of shooting at wider and smaller apertures, which vary greatly even at different half and third-stop intervals.

Have you used Lensbaby lenses or filter systems? What’s your experience been like? Do you have any personal favorites? Let us know in the Comments field, below.

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