On a recent outing, I spotted a friend placing these strange bits of glass in front of his camera while photographing butterflies. Ever curious I asked him what they were, what they do and how to use them. I was quickly introduced into the world of fractal prism filters.

I was astounded at the results, granted I only played with two of the three he had in his kit, but instantly fell in love with these cool little filters. Holding them by hand, I found that I could maneuver the filter in front of the lens, but you could place a connector to your camera and hold the filter in front of the lens.

What’s in the kit?

The kit comes with three different filters, each one unique in design, there is a Penrose Filter, Pascal Filter, the Julia Filter (my fav) and a carry case for about $99. These three very different filters are great for creating blur, bokeh and prism effects. You can place them directly in front of the lens (the closer the better) or move them around as you shoot. They are 100mm in diameter — 7mm is the chrome profile ring, which also adds reflected light and bokeh.

Technical bits

Apparently, you will get optimal results with a focal length over 40mm, and aperture of f/5.6 or wider (I was using a 50mm lens and using f/3.2), it does not reduce the light input at all. They weigh between 20g-100g, and has a refractive index of 1.6.

“So what makes prisms so special? Well, prisms are uniquely able to bend light, glares, and reflections before they enter a camera’s lens. Prisming requires no Photoshop or post editing, and often creates results that are more natural and impressive than their photo-manipulated counterparts.” – Fractals

By placing them directly in front of the lens, they rely on the same properties of physics to manipulate light as your lens. They are both just glass, using the filters as an extension to your lens you can gain great creative outcomes.

Now I know these are not to everyone’s taste, and even a little outside my normal macro wheelhouse, but I can really see some creative aspects to these filters and have purchased my own set. I am keen to try them on various subjects from still life to creative portraits. The fun is in ALWAYS learning something new.