The video quality of the new iPhone 4S is already the best in the cell phone industry. However, this does not mean you cannot improve on it. With a help of a couple of choice hardware and software pieces, you can turn the iPhone into the ultimate video blogging rig.
The Owle Bubo
The first piece of the iPhone video puzzle is the Owle Bubo. The Bubo provides a nice stable housing for your iPhone 4 and 4S. The ergonomic design gives you the proper grip while adding just the right amount of weight to stabilize your device. One of the biggest problems with cell phone videos is shaky videos because of light weight and inability to hold them steady. The Bubo eliminates this problem. Designed specifically for Apple iPhone 4, the Bubo provides access to all ports and controls so you can make adjustments and plug in accessories without removal.
Integrated into the Bubo body are tripod and accessory mounts. This opens up a whole world of options for more complex shots. The 37mm lens mount enables you to attach a wide range of lens options. The included wide-angle macro combo lens allows you to get all the details in the shot, whether near or far. There’s even a kit to attach SLR lens if you want to get really fancy.
The iPhone snaps into the Bubo and is held in place with pressure created by the include iPhone case. Installing the iPhone for the first can be tricky, but once you figure it out, removing the and putting the iPhone into the Bubo becomes a snap. The Bubo provides access to all ports and controls so you can make adjustments and plug in accessories without removal. I recommend you put your iPhone in airplane mode when filming. You can answer phone calls with the Bubo installed, but you look pretty funny doing it. Below is my video review of the Owle Bubo.
Rode VideoMic Pro
Now that you have great video with the iPhone 4S and Owle Bubo, you’ll want sound quality to match. This is where the Rode Videomic Pro comes in. The Rode VideoMic Pro compact design is ideal for use with the iPhone. The mic attaches easily to the Bubo hot shoe mount.
Noise transference has been significantly reduced using both a revised, more elegant shock mounting system and a lightweight premium cable. The microphone has a broadcast-quality condenser capsule with a supercardioid pickup pattern to capture audio from the front, while minimizing pickup from the sides and rear. An integrated shock mount and foam windscreen minimize handling and wind noise to keep your recordings crystal clear.
On the rear of the mic, you’ll find a 3-way level control that offers -10dB, 0dB, and +20dB modes. There is also a 2-step high pass filter with 0 and 80Hz settings, letting you minimize the impact of low frequency hum, camera motor noise, and similar distractions. The mic has a standard camera shoe and a 3/8 inch threaded mount for easy attachment to cameras and boom poles. The 3.5mm input plugs right into the mic input of the iPhone. You will need to pair the VideoMic with a microphone adapter in order for it to work and to separate the audio input and output. The VideoMic Pro can operate for up to 70 hours on a single 9V battery.
Almost DSLR gives you almost DSLR level control over your iPhone’s camera. The $1.99 app allows you to lock exposure, focus and white balance so you don’t get all those shifting colors and focus when filming night scenes. The app also offers a self-timer, anti-shake and gridlines. You can see the app in action in the video below.
Apple iPhone 4S with Owle Bubo 1080P Video Quality Test
The following video was shot using an iPhone 4S and Owle Bubo. Editing was done with iMovie 11. The final result was pretty outstanding, and you would never expect that an iPhone was used to create it. Make sure you watch it in HD.
The total cost of the iPhone video rig is around $425 (plus your iPhone). That’s enough to buy you a nice camcorder, but it wouldn’t be as cool as an Owle Bubo, and the stock camcorder audio will never match a Rode VideoMic. If you’re on a budget, you can start with the Owle Bubo with Almost DSLR, and add the Rode VideoMic at a later date.