Camera domes are absolutely fantastic and can bring a whole new dimension to your shoots. The GDome Mobile extends the possibilities from action cameras to mobile phones and for a relatively cheap price.
So far we have reviewed two GoPro domes: the KNEKT GoPro Dome and the TELESIN 6 Dome Port. When KNEKT dome is a more expensive and extremely high-quality dome the TELESIN dome is a cheaper alternative that comes with some drawbacks.
The GDome Mobile that works with practically every mobile phone and action camera is an interesting piece of equipment with sooooooooo much opportunities but also with some room for improvement. Take a read and see if this is worth buying.
GDome Mobile Features
- PDS Optic Dome Lens
- Lanyard tether rope
- Works with all smartphones up to 6.5 inches
- Compatible with action cameras
- Rear touch functionality
- Compatible with multiple lenses camera phones
- External filter compatible
- Waterproof to 15 fee
- Add extras (lighting, etc)
- Glass-filled nylon body
- Marine-grade stainless steel screws and bolts
- 800 grams
- 25cm (9.85 Inches), width 18cm (7 inches) & height 7.5cm (2.95 inches)
The unique feature that separates the GDome Mobile from other domes is that it works with so many cameras and for some, it might replace an action camera altogether. Think about it – a lot of people buy a GoPro just so they can take photos during the vacation. They take the cameras to the beach, to the pool in the rain or anywhere else where it can come in contact with water. Now that mobile phone cameras are really fantastic having the possibility to take cool underwater images without worrying if your 1000 dollar iPhone or other flagship phones can suffer any water damage is amazing.
GDome mobile turns ANY mobile phone into an underwater camera.
How GDome Mobile works
Being a universal dome, fitting your mobile into the rig needs some DIY tinkering. The Dome has a foam insert that keeps your device ( a phone or an action camera) in place and in line with the center of the dome. The GDome Mobile comes with TWO foam inserts in case you mess up the first one or want to use the dome with different devices – one for your mobile, one for your action camera.
Step 1 – Measure twice, cut once
The foam insert has a small hole that marks the center of the dome and that should be aligned with your camera lens. Now that mobile phones have more than one camera lens you need to adjust accordingly. I was testing the dome with iPhone 11 Pro so I aligned the center hole with the center of the camera module so that all three cameras are offset just about 5 mm.
Once you have the lenses aligned make sure you don’t move your phone around and draw an outline of the phone on the foam insert.
Once the outline has been traced, cut it with a sharp knife.
My suggestion! Cut just a bit inside the traced line to make sure the phone is really tight and snug inside the foam. I made the cut on the traced line and the phone was a bit too loose inside the foam and keeps falling out as the membrane is not against the phone. Make the cutout really snug and add a small cutout on one side for your finger to later pull the phone out easily.
If you catch a good deal and get a free Bluetooth remote you might want to make a cutout for that too to keep it in place.
Step 2 – Pinch and pull
Now that you have your phone sitting in the rig, nice and snug it`s time to close it up.
In order to maintain full touch controls of your phone, the GDome Mobile has a flexible membrane cover that needs to be not touching the screen all the time. To achieve this, you need to have some extra air in the housing. Follow these steps to close the housing the right way.
1. Screw the 6 screws in but don’t tighten them yet.
2. Pinch the membrane with your fingers and pull it up. Make sure you don’t pinch it with your fingernails or you might damage the membrane.
3. While pulling the membrane up, tighten the screws with your other hands to trap the extra air inside the dome.
Once you have tightened the screws enough to keep the air in you can let go of the membrane and tighten the screws a bit further with the provided wrench to make sure the housing is sealed and can be submerged deep.
This can be improved…
The screws are the one thing that made me think the GDome Mobile can be improved significantly and the usability can be a lot better.
The screw heads are very round with just a slight “flower” outline making it impossible to grip them with your fingers if you want to tighten them properly. I can imagine trying to unscrew them after coming out of cold water with your fingers numb – not a chance.
So having the wrench with you at all times is mandatory. And adding to the pain, the screw heads and the wrench are pretty slim so the wrench kept slipping off the screws making it a hassle tightening or untightening them.
Solution – replace the round screw heads with flat wind nuts or similar like this.
I will probably grind the round screw heads down to make them more usable as I don’t want to rely on the wrench.
You can also attach an extra handle on the rig for a two-handed operation. As I was traveling and couldn’t afford any extra weight or space in my backpack I did not install the handle and it was perfectly fine. The integrated handle is really good and offers a nice grip.
The lanyard provided is really solid and strong and offers that extra security. The dome itself is full of air so it floats but if you are in rapid waters you might want to install the lanyard just in case.
So how are the pictures?
I find the material of the dome itself is not that the semi-hemispherical acrylic dome on KNEKT is more water repellent than the GDome. Of course, the KNEKT dome costs a lot more.
With a dome, you need to pay attention and make sure you shake off any water droplets to get a clean shot.
I treated the dome with Clarifii Anti-Droplet Lens solution to make sure water slides off the dome and I don’t end up with ugly spots on the image later.
You get all the touch responsiveness through the membrane so you can use the camera controls as you normally would. I found that the touch controls worked even when the phone had a protector glass installed although it was not as responsive as without a glass protector. And it makes sense as you will be adding another thin layer on top. I kept the screen protector on and it did not bother me too much.
Use a remote for even better usability
I used a remote from BlitzWolf BW-BS5 Bluetooth Long Extended Tripod and I feel this made it even better. With a remote inside the dome, you don’t have to worry about hitting the shutter button on the screen when you cant see it. With the touch button on the screen, there’s no tactile feedback so you can’t really be sure if you pressed the right area on the screen, you have to rely on keeping your finger on the right spot. And if the dome is halfway underwater for that perfect 50/50 shot the water surface messes with the vision and it can be tricky to see your screen. So use a Bluetooth remote to get the perfect shot.
Gdome is throwing in a free remote until the stock lasts so be quick and order your GDome Mobile fast!
GDome Mobile – Verdict
So What’s the verdict?
I think this is a brilliant device and I am ready to ditch my GoPro next time i`m traveling, not kidding. The possibility to make my iPhone completely waterproof and submersible and take the cool over-under photos as well as just regular underwater photos is amazing. The extra foam insert allows you to use multiple devices with it so you have the freedom to fit multiple phones or an action camera inside.
The only two downfalls is the size – carrying it with you can be cumbersome but so is any Dome. Throw it in your backpack and you are good to go. The Dome comes with a really nice soft cloth pouch to keep the dome surface protected and you can clip it to your backpack if you don’t have spare room inside the bag.
The screws is my biggest beef with the GDome Mobile and I hate to rely on a small wrench that I can lose very easily. I will definitely make some adjustments to the screw heads to get rid of the wrench and eliminate this problem. I need to have the freedom to open the dome up any time, any place with no tools.
If you are into underwater photography, you can also check an interesting article on underwater cameras at Dive In.
Should you buy it?
YES – I love the 50/50 shots and with new phones (iPhone 11 Pro in this case) the multiple cameras, the wide-angle, the standard and the telephoto add even more possibilities to your social media game. The build quality is really amazing and the rig feels tough as hell and I completely trust it to take my expensive phone underwater.
The price is fairly affordable and for a hundred bucks, you get a really versatile and truly universal dome.
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