Review: Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System (That Extra Pop We Need)

Photographers who enjoy introducing creative, in-camera effects and light distortions will find lots to love about Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative Filter System.

Any photographers who have experience shooting through objects like prisms, crystals, and mirrors to create unique effects in-camera will tell you that the results are often unpredictable. The process of using these optical modifiers can also be rather bothersome; you have to hold your camera with one hand while manipulating these modifiers with the other. Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative filter System aims to simplify this experience and make creating these in-camera effects less complicated and a more manageable affair. Being announced today, the new system uses prisms and your lens’ filter mount system to give photographers the ability to create some cool in-camera effects.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Innovative magnetic attachment filter ring system
  • Lightweight construction
  • Included felt pouches are nicely padded and help keep the many components of the OMNI system neatly organized
  • Included step-up/down rings make the OMNI system usable with a wide variety of lenses

Cons

  • Would’ve loved for the included filter wrench to be sturdier

 

Gear Used

We tested the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System with the Sony A7RIII paired with a Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master lens, as well as a Nikon Z7 paired with a Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S lens.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System taken from Lensbaby’s official press release.

OMNI is available in Small and Large versions and includes step-up or step-down rings to fit a range of filter thread sizes.

Small Ring Version

Native Size: 58mm

Step Up Rings: 49mm, 52mm, 55mm

Large Ring Version

Native Size: 77mm

Step Up/Down Rings: 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 82mm*

What’s included:

  • Filter Ring (Small or Large)
  • Crystal Seahorse Effect Wand
  • Stretch Glass Effect Wand
  • Rainbow Film Effect Wand
  • Step-Up/Down Rings
    • Small Filter Ring will fit 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, and 58mm lens threads
    • Large Filter Ring will fit 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm lens threads
  • 2 x Magnetic Mounts (each mount holds up to two Effect Wands)
  • 2 x Arms (one longer, one shorter)
  • Small Carrying Case

OMNI Crystal Expansion Pack includes:

  • Crystal Spear Effect Wand
  • Triangular Prism Effect Wand
  • Scalloped Window Effect Wand

*When using the 82mm step-down ring, vignetting will occur at focal lengths wider than 50mm. Lenses longer than 50mm will most likely not vignette.

 

Ergonomics

When you first open the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System and its Crystal Expansion Pack, you will find everything stored within nicely padded felt storage pouches. They have a pretty thin profile and help keep the different components of the OMNI system neatly organized, which prevents the different Effect Wands from getting scratched or damaged. When you throw them in your camera bag, you’ll see that they’ll lend themselves to secure storage.

Here’s the main Filter Ring with the two Magnetic Mounts attached, along with the pair of attachment arms which are also magnetic. The version of the OMNI Creative Filter System that we tested was the Large Ring Version and includes a 77mm Filter Ring (pictured). The Small Ring Version consists of a 58mm Filter Ring. The Filter Ring threads onto your lens as any conventional Polarizing Filters and Neutral Density Filters do. Once the Filter Ring is securely attached to the front of your lens, you can then attach the various Effect Wands to the Magnetic Mounts. Alternatively, you can first attach the Effect Wands onto one of the magnetic attachment arms and then attach them onto the Magnetic Mounts for added maneuverability and to adjust the distance of the Effect Wands from the front element of your lens.

Four Step Up and Step Down Rings are included with the Large Ring Version of the OMNI Creative Filter System (62mm, 67mm, 72mm, and 82mm). The Small Ring Version includes three step-up rings (49mm, 52mm, and 55mm). A 3D printed filter wrench is also included with both versions of the system to help remove any Step Up/Down rings that happen to be threaded onto your lens too tightly.

Included with the OMNI Creative Filter System are three unique Effect Wands that manipulate light entering your lens and thus create unique optical effects in-camera: the Stretched Glass (left), Crystal Seahorse (center), and Rainbow Film (right). These Effect Wands look almost like drill bits with a magnetic orb and light modifier attached at one end. Once they’ve been attached to the Magnetic Mounts or magnetic attachment Arms, you can adjust the orientation of the wands easily by rotating and pivoting the wands, enabling you to modify the light entering your lens and create effects and distortions to your liking.

Lensbaby has also created an Expansion Pack of three additional Effect Wands: Crystal Spear (left), Triangular Prism (center), Scalloped Window (right). These wands work in the same way as the three that come included with the OMNI Creative Filter System and distort images in different and unique ways.

Here’s a view of the OMNI Creative Filter System attached to my Sony A7RIII and 85mm f1.4 G Master lens. It definitely looks unconventional and I’ve had several different passersby do double-takes as I was photographing with this setup on the streets of New York.

 

Build Quality

Lensbaby did a great job putting the OMNI Creative Filter System together. All of the metal bits felt polished and precision machined, and the crystals attached to the Effect Wands feel 95% secure. The included carrying pouches were also nicely padded, and kept everything protected and in place while I was transporting them in my camera bag.

 

Ease of Use

Many things in life are easy to use but challenging to master, and such is the case with the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System. While the OMNI can effortlessly adapt to a variety of different camera setups, you will have the easiest time using the system with a camera that has excellent Live View functionality, or at least a high-res Electronic View Finder. Since you’re basically modifying the way light enters your camera, it helps to see what the various Effect Wands are doing as you’re repositioning them and making adjustments. You’ll also create the most impressive results using the OMNI Creative Filter System when shooting in well-lit environments, or have light sources directly facing your camera lens.

 

Image Quality

Here are some sample images that we created using the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System. As you can see, the effects range from subtle to rather dramatic. You can spend hours playing with the different Effect Wands to figure out how each of them affects your images. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced by this lens for yourself.

 

 

Conclusion

Likes

  • I can easily create a massive variety of creative, in-camera effects, and without having to hold my camera in one hand while juggling an optical modifier in the other
  • Takes up very little space in my camera bag and is very lightweight
  • Well designed overall

Dislikes

  • Besides the filter wrench being made from 3D printed plastic, I honestly can’t think of any

 

 

Modern cameras and lenses can sometimes be too sharp and clinical. They lack the imperfections that sometimes give images unique optical characteristics. As a photographer who occasionally likes to introduce distortions and other lighting effects into my photos for added visual impact, the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System allows it with ease, and without having to juggle between different crystals and prisms in one hand while holding a camera in the other. The magnetic Effect Wands stay put securely onto the Filter Ring thanks to powerful, rare earth magnets and can easily be re-positioned and adjusted to generate a near infinite amount of interesting in-camera effects without having to resort to adding them in post-production via Photoshop (cheating). My only wish is that Lensbaby will offer custom Effect Wands in the future so I can affix my own collection of crystals and prisms to them that I’ve amassed over the years.

We’re giving the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System our Editor’s Choice award as a matter of innovation. With this, you can make any other bland lens look so much better.

The Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System earns Five out of Five Stars and receives the coveted Phoblographer Editor’s Choice Award.