The new Lensbaby OMNI Universal Expansion Pack with Reflectors is a fantastic upgrade to the versatility of Lensbaby’s unique OMNI Creative Filter System. Packing nine new accessories for the OMNI Creative Filter system, the Universal Expansion Pack adds extras to the system for assisting creative capture. The new pack also offers additional clamps and magnetic bases so you can add even more accessories to the OMNI’s attachment ring.
Above photograph © Todd Vorenkamp
For those unfamiliar with the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter system, you might want to step back and get acquainted, in my review of the base OMNI system (required for employing the new Expansion Pack) and Allan Weitz’s overview of the first expansion packs.
OMNI Universal Expansion Pack with Reflectors
The new OMNI Universal Expansion Pack with Reflectors contains some great new creative tools!
The new pack adds the following reflectors: 1) See Through Silver Trapezoid, 2) See Through Silver Swiss Cheese, 3) Silver Gold Swiss Cheese, 4) See Through Silver Concave, 5) See Through Silver Convex, 6) Silver Gold Concave, 7) See Through Silver Barn Door, 8) See Through Silver Cuttable, and 9) a cuttable and customizable silvered reflector.
Also included are two low-profile universal clamps, two standard clamps, and two additional bases. All are contained in a dedicated pouch for storage and transport—a pouch identical to that of the base OMNI system.
In the Field
Lensbaby did a great job with the OMNI’s user interface, and the new expansion pack reflectors work seamlessly with the system. Using the OMNI takes some getting used to, though. It is not difficult; it is just very unique when compared to other filter systems..
To use the OMNI system, you screw the included OMNI filter to your lens or lens filter and then attach the accessories to the magnetic bases that circulate the OMNI filter. The system is designed well and, once you get used to it, you see how elegant it is. To me, it looks completely foreign to have shiny accoutrements protruding from a wide front lens filter but, when I was out in public with the Lensbaby OMNI system, I really didn’t elicit any perplexed stares or questions from passersby.
The magic of the OMNI system is that it allows you to position crystals, reflectors, transparent windows, etc., in front of your lens while freeing up your hands to hold your camera steady. In the photographic period Before OMNI (BO), you’d have to have a third hand—or try to get a sharp photo shooting one-handed while holding the modifier.
One of the most frustrating, but also most endearing, characteristics of the OMNI system is that the effects are unexpected and a bit random—especially when you only have the system to play with for a weekend. I am sure that repeated employment would allow you to predict the effects of each reflector—or allow you to visualize the effect you are looking for and quickly employ the right tool for that look—but I never got too comfortable with the system to achieve that level of proficiency. It’s frustrating because I felt like I was always experimenting. It’s endearing because I quickly became aware of the creative potential of the system and know that those who learn OMNI will be able to dial up the needed look for their images quickly.
While the base OMNI system and the Crystal Expansion Pack were friendly to lenses of different focal lengths, the Universal Expansion Pack reflectors are much more applicable to telephoto and macro shooting since the expanded depth of field of many wide angle lenses will simply capture the reflector in the image—not the effects of the reflections.
Another hot tip for the OMNI Universal Expansion Pack is that reflections and blur with each tool are amplified with larger apertures—the larger the aperture, the wider the reflection.
Like every Lensbaby product, OMNI and the Universal Expansion Pack are definitely not for every photographer, nor do they pretend to be. OMNI is designed for those portrait and macro photographers who want to inject some fun and unique looks into their images. If you have a patient portrait sitter or wedding party, you can twist on the OMNI ring and play around with your crystals, reflectors, and mirrors to create truly memorable images. Or, on a quiet day in the garden, you can forget the sterile and super-sharp flower close-ups and add a look to your images that make them stand out from others.
Are you a fan of the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System? Are you excited about the new expansion pack? Are you on the fence about adding these tools to your creative capture? Do you have questions about OMNI? Let us know in the Comments section, below!