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Home Gear Accessories A Complete Guide to Lensball Photography

A Complete Guide to Lensball Photography

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lensball photography
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Lensball photography has become a top hit among photographers searching for new creativity in their imagery. They are lightweight, easy to travel with, and work on many surfaces!

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Lensball photography including tips, tricks, brands, communities, and fun techniques for your photos.

What is a Lensball and How does it Work?

A Lensball is basically a glass sphere or crystal ball that photographers shoot through to create a fisheye lens look, but for about a fraction of the price. By shooting through the glass ball it becomes a natural frame for your subject.

But keep in mind, the scene will be an upside down image inside the ball. The ball uses something called refraction to bend the light passing through. The result is a mini version of your scene within the ball because the Lensball has a denser mass than air.

How does Refraction Photography Work?

lensball with NYC bridge inside the ball

Refraction happens when light passes through an object of denser mass, as the light passes through, it becomes bent. This is why Lensballs or a crystal ball works so well at refraction. They are made from high quality glass that easily lets light pass through and keeps your image sharp and in focus.

You may not know it, but you are already a refraction photographer. To prove this, simply take off the lens front and rear caps. Look through your lens and you will see the image is upside down and projected through the concave glass just like crystal ball photography.

Crystal Ball Photography vs Lensball Photography

So what is the difference between a crystal ball and a Lensball? Well, not much honestly. Lensball became a coined term for crystal ball photography.

Some genius rebranded a crystal ball for photographers and the rest is history. You can buy either and capture these types of shots and scenes. When it comes to the world of camera lenses, lens balls and crystal balls are just much cheaper versions of wide angle and fisheye lenses. Lensball range from 20 dollars to 100 where camera lenses can be up in the 1000s.

lensball in a black bag

How do you Use a Lensball and What is Lensball Photography?

As discussed earlier Lensball photography is simply shooting through a glass ball to magnify and frame your scene in a different way instead of using your everyday camera lens.

They make for the perfect photography accessory because they fit easily in your camera bag and are light in weight.

How do you Take a Picture with a Lensball?

photography with glass ball

Think of a Lensball as a magnifying glass for your photos. You will want to place the ball on a flat even surface or have yourself or a friend hold the ball in front of your camera lens. There are many photography techniques that can be applied here, but the most important thing to remember is to try to keep your horizon line even.

Results vary based on the size of your Lensball and how far you are from the scene, but you will want to focus your camera on the center of the ball. Remember your image will be upside down inside the ball but this can be fixed later in editing software or with the techniques below.

If you don’t like the upside down look of the image inside the Lensball; consider using more bokeh so it’s not obvious in the photos. Another option is to try and only shoot the reflection since the reflected image will be right side up.


Also, make sure your scene fills the Lensball. Practice by checking with a wide angle lens, if it fills that glass you’re good. Furthermore, when it comes to focal length, use a macro lens or a telephoto lens with macro capabilities so that your images inside the ball are sharp and easy to focus. Start with an aperture around f/4. The focus should be on the Lensball, not the background. It’s important to use manual focus.

Take your time! Remember, your ball is made out of glass, so it can easily break. Make sure you place it somewhere steady before shooting, even a little wind can easily knock the ball over and could crack or scratch your new investment.

What kind of Photos can you Take with a Lensball?

photo with crystal ball in nature

So you may be asking, what are the advantages of Lensball over a wide angle lens? Well for starters, you are able to move the ball around to different surfaces and completely change your frame.

Another thing to consider is you are creating a more artistic feel to your photos which is fun to experiment with if you are feeling bored with your photography.

Lensball Photography Tips and Ideas

1. Place your Lensball in front of a bouquet of flowers or other nature element

floral lensball photo

2. Take your Lensball close to your favorite local landscape. The best way to keep your Lensball in place when working on a hilly surface is to place it in a crack in the street or hold it yourself for your photo.

lensball with waterfall background

3. Place your Lensball on the beach close to the water for a magic sunset photo.

sunset lensball photo

4. Capture a famous landmark photo.

Paris glass ball photography

5. Experiment with texture and abstract photography.

lensball photography abstract

Lensball Products and Reviews

Which Lens Ball is the Best and Where to Purchase your Lensball?

When it comes to buying a crystal ball you have a lot to consider especially about sizing and quality. But these were some of the top-rated balls we found online.

Amazon: Is full of a variety of crystal balls ranging in pricing and delivery options. If you want to compare brands and powerful reviews. These are the top 3 picks.

Lensball: This company has been around since 2017 and is based in the Netherlands. They are famous for their top-quality polished glass and pricing starts around $38. Since their whole company is dedicated to the Lensball market, they also offer a lot of great accessories and courses.

Use this special discount code to save 10% today: YESLENSBALL

Refractique: Offers a variety of photography tips and boasts some of the best Lensballs in the world. They offer flawless scratch-free, ultra-polished crystal balls that are designed in the US. The result is flawless shots. All their balls come with a starter guide to show you the technique way to your best images.

Which Size Lensball Should you Get?

lensball vs crystal ball

Sizes vary a lot when it comes to choosing a ball, keep in mind the size of the ball will change the weight in your camera bag as well. Most balls come with a size option of 60mm or 80mm. As a photographer, you have to choose what you prefer but we found most liked the 80mm size because it was big enough to frame the scene well, but not too heavy.

You can find balls up to 100mm to 120mm in size which is great for composition if you want your ball to be a more dominating subject. But, it’s important to remember the smaller the ball size, the more your photo will become distorted. This is why an 80mm size is an excellent starting point for image quality and a lighter ball.

The 60mm size is generally referred to as the Lensball pocket and the 80mm size is called a Lensball pro. The 80mm will offer you the most versatility while the 60mm is better for travel and creating a tighter frame.

Accessories

creative photography ideas

Tripod Mount– To keep an even horizon line in your photo, a tripod mount is an easy purchase for your ball.

Microfiber Cloth– Just like your camera or your phone, glass gets dirty. Avoid smudges and scratches by using a microfiber cloth to clean your ball and keep your image quality to its maximum.

Use a Sock– If your ball did not come with a protective box or cover, a sock works just as well to protect your ball for future photographs.

Battery Operated Holiday Lights– If you are shooting at sundown, a string of brightly colored lights can add fun bokeh effects.

Safety Considerations

creative crystal ball techniques

Fire- A Lensball acts as a magnifying glass, so be aware that when it’s placed in the sun it will magnify that light source and can create a fire in your home. This has happened to people and should be considered. Keep the ball in its box at home. This problem is less worrisome for images shot outdoors but can hurt your eyes if you place the sun behind it and into your face.

Cracking- Remember whichever ball you decide to purchase, it is made of glass and therefore breakable. So try to keep it in the box for safekeeping in your camera bag.

Courses

beach sunset crystal ball

Consider taking a class to inspire and teach you how to better use your lens ball.

Lensball– Offers this 12 part easy to follow course for photographers of all levels for just $25. You will learn nature vs city photography, iPhone, DSLR settings, and much more.

Globalise– This course was designed by Simon Bond and is two hours long. He teaches you everything from the basics, tricks, and how to use props in your photo.

Online Community

Consider joining an online photography community. These are some of our favorite communities to share tips and find excellent shots taken with a crystal ball.

PhotographyCourse.net: This is an online Facebook community is full of photographers coming from different backgrounds aiming to share fresh methods, styles, experiences, and wisdom. Here you can share photos, tips, and meet other photographers from around the world

Pinterest: This is a great place to get started if you are looking for image ideas. Pinterest is flooded daily with all types of crystal ball photography and will open your mind to all sorts of new possibilities.

YouTube: If you are a visual learner, YouTube is the place for you. There are tons of videos from people showing you the latest tips and exactly how to create them by video. Also, if you are struggling with which ball to buy, YouTube is full of video reviews as well. Simply type the brand you are considering and learn what others are saying.

Instagram: Head on over to the Lensball official Instagram to see the latest and greatest in images. From patterns to holiday decorations, to self-portraits there are endless ideas happening to get you started.

Conclusion

crystal ball photo

So do you think it’s worth the extra money? We think the pros outweigh the cons! Lensballs are creative, in-expensive, conversation starters that have taken over the Instagram world. Even more, they are a great tool for smartphone users too.

If you really want to get inspired join one of the many online communities for ball owners. You can share your favorite images and even exchange a shot list or create an image challenge with your peers. Creative photography is the ultimate goal.

Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, this is a new fun type of photography you will want to explore today.

Krystal Kenney is an award-winning photographer residing in Paris, France. She has been photographing for over 10 years and enjoys teaching others about the craft. She spends most days shooting events, portraits, and weddings around Paris and working on writing new books.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mark! They really are fun! Do you have a website where you post the photos, I love seeing what other people have created with them. Happy shooting!

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