iPhone as Visual Story Telling Tool

Photo Courtesy of OWLE

Recently a company named Optical Widgets for Life Enhancement or OWLE has caught my eye. They make an add on that basically turns an iPhone into a multimedia story telling tool. Here is how it works: You slip your iPhone 3gs into the Aluminum OWLE Bubo, plug in the mic (yeah, better audio!), screw in the wide angle/macro lens, fire up the camera and hit record. You now have a more stable, wider field of view, better audio recording iPhone. Bam!

Since the introduction of the iPhone 3gs, many photojournalists have been anxiously awaiting a way to use it for story telling (and a way to justify buying one). A group of us sat around at the press club one night talking about how to overcome the problems with the phone to fit it into our work flow. OWLE has solved many of those problems. Even though the iPhone is fairly substantial in size it becomes difficult to hold steady. The OWLE Bubo is machined from a chunk of aluminum and not only adds a couple of hand friendly grips but also adds a bit of weight. The grip features the very photo-friendly 1/4 20 threaded sockets on each corner allowing you to mount just about anything you want to it. If the accessory will mount in a standard cold shoe, there is one located on the OWLE Bubo as well. This would work well for a light.

Photo Courtesy of OWLE

Another problem that was discussed was the inability to get decent audio out of the iPhone. While I haven’t actually shot with the mic that OWLE provides (yet), I can tell you from the videos that are posted, that the audio is much better than the built in mic. The best video story in the world is nothing without great audio to accompany it. The Vericorder mic provided with the OWLE is omni-directional and can be rotated or “pointed” at your subject to gather better sound. Even in loud situations the mic easily seemed to pick up the voice of the subject in the videos.

The field of view from the iPhone is a little long for much of the work that photojournalists do. We love a good wide angle lens for that “in your face” style of shooting. Included with the OWLE is a combination wide angle/macro lens. It screws onto the grip with a 37mm thread which is a fairly common size for accessory lenses in the consumer video category. I imagine that you could find a telephoto lens or two that would work as well.

With the ability to shoot, edit and upload with nothing but the phone, being a mobile journalist is becoming an easier proposition. Since most of us carry our iPhones with us everywhere anyway, why not use it to produce some content and justify that $100 plus bucks a month.

For $129, you get the grip, a case for your iphone, the wide angle/macro lens and the Vericorder mic. For more info and where to get one for your self check out wantowle.com. Be sure to click through and watch some of the videos shot with it at the 2010 Consumer Electronic Show so you can get a feel for how it looks and sounds.

If anyone has one of these I would love to here your opinions about how it handles and what kind of shooting you have done with it. Reply in the comments or hit me up on twitter @photojmatthew.

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