We've seen optical add-ons for the iPhone before, but the OWLE Bubo takes a slightly more holistic approach to giving the smartphone's video capture capabilities a boost. The Bubo is a hand-held video rig carved out of a block of billet aluminum that provides handgrips for increased stability, multiple tripod mounting points, a sensitive microphone and a wide angle glass lens.

The Bubo's handgrips help keep the iPhone steady while its weight, at just over a pound, enhances stability during long pans. There are also four tripod mounts and access to the dock connector and headphone jack.

The 0.45x wide-angle/macro combination lens doubles the iPhone's field of view and adds contrast and extra detail. The rig is threaded to accommodate any 3rd party lenses (37mm) and filters (49mm) and the macro lens allows close shooting.

Side-by-side comparison of iPhone vid capture with and without the Bubo

The adjustable VeriCorder microphone points out of the front of the Bubo like a mini boom mic, so the accidental blocking of the mic during filming should become a thing of the past. There is also a cold shoe accessory mount for shotgun mics, video lights and other accessories.

And yes, calls are possible when the phone is in the rig, though holding a Bubo to your ear may look a little weird.

Inside the retail box there is also a soft pouch for the lens, a polishing cloth, lens cap and a silicone iPhone case that holds the iPhone snugly inside the rig. The iPhone 4 and iPod Touch versions retail for US$169, the iPhone 3GS version $159.

The following OWLE video shows a side-by-side comparison of the iPhone with and without the Bubo:

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