OWLE bubo boxThe hol­i­days came a lit­tle bit ear­ly for me this year due to a ship­ping address mis­take (it should’ve been a sur­prise from my geek-girl wife) and when I saw the box label’s return address I was indeed very sur­prised! Thank­ful­ly she real­ly knows me and allowed me to open my gift ear­ly so I could play with it.
What is it? The OWLE bubo, an iPhone cam­era rig. The OWLE bubo is a sta­bi­liz­er and lens adapter, allow­ing you to get more sta­ble shots and a wider angle of view than with a stock iPhone 3Gs. Since it also includes a stereo mic, the audio is much improved as well. Let’s take a look!

OWLE bubo demo from Jere­my Wilk­er on Vimeo.

The Sta­bi­liz­er
OWLE buboMade of sol­id alu­minum, this thing real­ly has some heft to it. In fact, in a dark alley­way, this would make a very potent self-defense weapon! There are some sharp edges on the cold shoe mount, but you can avoid them eas­i­ly enough.
With the sup­plied rub­ber case the iPhone fits very snug­ly into the OWLE bubo, with vir­tu­al­ly no chance of it slip­ping out by acci­dent. In fact, there is a port through the device just for push­ing the iPhone out of the bubo from the front with your thumb. The iPhone “slot” has notch­es for access­ing the head­phone jack (for the micro­phone) and for access­ing the iPhone con­nec­tor port. Sad­ly, the bubo has no access to the iPhone’s pow­er switch. A big over­sight in my opinion.
The bubo fits com­fort­ably in your hands, although the left hand grip is a bit awk­ward due to the microphone’s posi­tion. You’ll get used to it, how­ev­er. It real­ly does allow for more sta­ble shoot­ing of pho­tos and video.
Each cor­ner of the bubo has a 1/4″ thread­ed recep­ta­cle for a tripod/support mount, an acces­so­ry (mics? lights? neck strap?), or what­ev­er you come up with. This is quite smart in my opinion.
The lens mount is a 37mm thread­ed size and I was able to suc­cess­ful­ly mount some old Sony cam­corder lens­es on the OWLE bubo.
The Lens
OWLE bubo lensThe OWLE bubo fea­tures a 37mm thread­ed lens mount and comes stock with a com­bo macro/wide angle lens of .45x size. To use the macro lens, sim­ply unscrew the wide angle lens and store it in the sup­plied lens bag. Both lens­es work great.
The Sony cam­corder lens­es I tried on the bubo fit well and worked fine, although the old 2.5x tele­con­vert­er I have assumes you can zoom through the bar­rel and, of course, with an iPhone you can­not do that. It does make for some inter­est­ing spy/telescope look to the video if you have such a need.
The Micro­phone
OWLE bubo microphoneThe hinged stereo mic, the Veri­Corder, works a treat with the iPhone. Hav­ing the inter­nal micro­phone on the end of the iPhone means you get mediocre (at best) audio when record­ing video at any dis­tance with­out an exter­nal mic. Since you can point the bubo’s mic in any direc­tion the qual­i­ty of cap­tured audio is bet­ter than the stock micro­phones. It does not, how­ev­er, elim­i­nate the need to be aware of your audio lev­els — audio over a cer­tain deci­bel lev­el will still break up and fail to record prop­er­ly. Also, audio with­in arm’s reach may tend to peak and clip with the stereo micro­phone so test it out and con­sid­er the dis­tance to your subject.
The OWLE bubo is a very well built iPhone sta­bi­liz­er and lens adapter that will improve your shoot­ing of pho­to and video with your choice of 37mm lens­es and a good stereo micro­phone. Lots of flex­i­bil­i­ty thanks to cold shoe mount and four 1/4″ mounts. Lack of access to the pow­er but­ton is a strike against the cur­rent mod­el, however.
I’m eager to use the OWLE bubo with a future ver­sion of the Hitch­cock Sto­ry­board Com­pos­er sto­ry­board­ing iPhone app. I imag­ine the com­bi­na­tion will make a fab­u­lous pre-visualization pre-production tool for indie film­mak­ers and oth­er cre­ative types.
For those of you who like the whole unbox­ing process, check out my OWLE bubo unbox­ing pho­to set on flickr.
Now I’m eager to get my hands on the Steadicam Smoothee!