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Creative or pure gimmick? Check out this unusual camera lens by Soratama

Soratama crystal ball lens
(Image credit: Sony Alpha Rumors)

Regardless of whether you like it or loathe it, the Soratama crystal ball lens is unlike any optic we’ve ever seen. Falling somewhere between a filter and a crystal ball, this bizarre invention enables the user to shoot scenes that appear to be floating inside a glass ball.

Shooting with a crystal sphere is nothing all that new; tools like Lensballs (opens in new tab) are very popular  among photographers who want to shoot something a little different to your average landscape or portrait. Lensbaby even makes an entire range of creative lenses including the super affordable, tilt-shift Lensbaby Spark 2.0 (opens in new tab) and the Lensbaby Velvet 28 (opens in new tab). However, this lens invented by Zenji Uehara is slightly different in that the crystal ball is fixed to a filter that you attach to the front of your lens via an extension tube.

• Read more: Best Lensbaby and Lomography lenses (opens in new tab)

While you could argue that this effect could be achieved in the best photo editing software (opens in new tab), there’s something nice about using an in-camera tool instead. Just like some music producers prefer to use hardware when creating sounds, it's nice to create something that feels more organic.  

Chances are if you’re a professional photographer, you’re probably not going to buy this to keep in your kit bag. But if you’re looking for a fun way to shoot something a little different, then this is an easy way to create images that won’t look like everybody else's. 

It seems the lens can only be bought from eBay (opens in new tab) at the moment and, as it’s shipped from Japan, you can't expect next-day delivery. It will fit most lenses so long as you have the right size step-up or step-down ring, and the extension tube it comes with is a must unless you’re shooting with a macro lens that has a really small focusing distance. Prices vary from $52-120 (approximately £40-90 / AU$70-160) which is still very cheap, even for a creative lens, and even better – shipping is free from certain sellers.

Read more:

Best film cameras (opens in new tab)
Best neutral density filters (opens in new tab)
Best filter holders (opens in new tab)

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Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.