Mobile journalism tool review: Owle Bubo

By Will Sullivan on November 2, 2010 0 Comments Ideas Experiments

By Andrew Dumas 

The Owle Bubo is a pretty handy, if bulky, piece of equipment. Essentially, it’s a oiece of metal that you can stick your iPhone into, and has a lens over the camera area of the phone. It’s meant to help steady your shots, make your camera more portable, and give you better pictures via the lens.

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What the Bubo DOES deliver on is making it easier to carry around your phone (kind of) and steadying your shots. It’s nice not having to hold your camera (phone) by the fingertips and then try and push the button to capture while also trying to remain steady. The grips are spaced enough that it’s comfortable, your thumb can easily push the button to take a picture, and it’s heavy enough to give you comfortable stability without tiring your arms. Slightly less, effectively, it makes it easier o carry around your equipment. The bubo comes with a neck strap, so when you need to jot down notes or fiddle with a microphone or something else, you can let your “camera” hang from your neck, freeing up your hands. However, since the iPhone is placed into the apparatus using only the friction caused by putting your phone (wrapped in the Bubo’s custom case) into the slot in the center of the device, I would show caution when letting it hang from your neck. My phone dropped out of the Owle twice in one afternoon.

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The Bubo also has a cold foot mount on the top for any special gear you want to mount (like a flash) and has an area on the bottom where you can screw it onto a mount, giving you the ability to make it extra steady for, say, video. These are both very welcome additions to the device, and make the Owle Bubo much more versatile in the field.

Now for the lenses. You have some options, you can go with the super wide angle, which will give you a slight bend on the corners of the picture, like a less powerful fisheye lens. It’s handy for crowd shots, but not preferable for a lot of other things. You can unscrew this (and stow it away, somewhere; there’s no place to put it on the actual Bubo) and then use the macro lens. If you’re going to do this, then be prepared to get really comfortable with your subject, because it’s definitely only good for one purpose, which is to get really fine detail extremely close up. Finally, you can unscrew this lens, leaving a large whole in the Bubo where your camera shoots from, so that you can simply use the iPhone’s camera.

In all, I was pretty impressed with this equipment. I eventually dropped the lenses, preferring to just use the internal camera instead of having to work around the super wide and the macro, but this was balanced by the actual usefulness of the tool. I can mount it, I can put flashes on it, I can get my hands free while not having to worry about where I’m going to put the phone, and best of all, it steadies those pictures. I definitely recommend this for shooting of any kind.

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