I thought I would talk a little about 2 special effect kits that I have that allow a lot of creativity for the photographer. It just so happens that both kits are at opposite ends of the cost and quality spectrum.
Lets talk a little about the lensbaby system. The lensbaby system offers a few lenses and a variety of optics which can be swapped with the lens bases. The system started off with a lens that you can twist and bend to change the focal plane of the image. Lensbaby offers several types of these lenses. The one I own is the Composer Pro II. It is basically a lens with a locking ring that allows you to bend the front optics and keep it where you want it by simply twisting the ring to apply tension to the front bendy part. This lens also features hot swappable front optics. The front optics simply slide into the lens and lock in place with a twist of the lens case cap which features 3 little prongs that mate to 3 holes in the front optics housing. This allows you to change the effect of the photo simply by changing the optics of the lens.
This kit is very versatile and will allow any photographer to really explore many different special effects. The downside to this kit, it is not cheap, and all the accessories can add up quickly. Likewise, many of the optics require the use of metal aperture rings that you install and take out using a magnetic wand tool. These aperture rings are held via magnets. The higher up optics such as the Sweet 35 and the Edge 80 have built in aperture ring much like any standard lens out there. The lenses themselves do not have any electronics in them, thus you must use metered manual mode.https://lensbaby.com/
In case you were wondering, I have the following.
Composer Pro II (bendable lens base)
Scout (fixed lens base)
double glass lens (offers good clarity and sharpness)
single glass lens (less clarity and sharpness)
plastic lens (fuzzy dreamy quality)
pin hole/grid (The grid offers a nice hazy effect compared to the traditional single pin hole...this lens allows you to select either with an internal sliding plate)
fisheye (Ultra wide fisheye. On a full frame would see a circle. On an APS-C camera, you get dark corners)
Sweet 35 (35 mm premium optics that also offers aperture on the lens)
Edge 80 (80 mm premium optics that also offers aperture on the lens)
Soft focus (Lens with grid like aperture disks)
Macro extension set.
Macro filter set
Special effects aperture ring set
Tele and Macro adapter set.
Here is the whole kit hidden inside 3 carry cases that are attached by straps made for the purpose.
Here are some examples of the Composer Pro II with a double glass optics installed.
Some examples with the fisheye lens installed.
Next up is the Holga HLT special effects kit. This kit offers 18 special effects filters condensed onto 2 rotating disks and of course, the Holga cheap plastic lens base. This kit will turn your DSLR into a Holga plastic camera. It is a great way to explore the lomo photography style.https://thedarkroom.com/what-is-lomography/
The Holga HLT kit comes in a nice storage bag. The Kit consist of the lens base and 2 rotating disks which are held onto the base via a magnet.
The kit I have is the HLT-C kit. The C stands for Canon. You can get this kit for most camera mounts out there.
Here is the lens attached to the camera, along with the 2 filter disks, lens base cap and carrying bag.
The one disk offers a variety of colour filters. The other disk offers a variety of prism type effects along with 3 macro close up filters.
Here are some examples of the type of effects you can achieve by turning your expensive DSLR into a Holga. For your info, it was a windy day. I took these photos through my glass front door hand holding at absurdly long shutter speeds. I was trying to encourage a little blur.
The Holga HLT kit is great cheap fun that allows a slew of special filter effects. Tie this in with a crappy Holga plastic lens, and you have successfully turned your DSLR into a somewhat unique creative tool.
Both of these kits allow a photographer to explore and have fun with the whole randomness of it all. If you have a mind to it, they can also be used to extend a photograher's vision, a means to achieve a goal. The Lensbaby is a rather expensive venture, but offers the best quality. The system does have a steep learning curve...one I am still climbing today, but the end results are great if you put the effort into learning the nuances of the system. The Holga on the other hand, is the complete opposite in both quality and dedication. This kit sets you free in some ways. Just go out there and shoot anything and everything and do not fret the techniques, the composition, or the details. With that said, you can achieve good results with the kit as well. Either way, both kits are fun to use and more so to explore.