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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:01 PM   #1
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Which Matte Box?

I'm curious to know what others are using or what Matte box is best for the A1?

And -- do all effect the push AF function?

Thanks --
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Old May 17th, 2007, 12:30 AM   #2
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Yeah, so far most if not all of the boxes currently available obstruct the quick AF window, so unless you turn it off, only the OEM lens shade works.

It won't take long for the usual suspects (Chrosziel, Formatt, Cavision, et cie) to react, though, especially considering the reception this camera's had to date.

Just hang on a month or two, you'll see new product emerging pretty fast, I'd say.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 09:06 AM   #3
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One problem I still worry about even when a manufacturer comes up with a "cut-out" in the matte-box is how will the 4X4 filters and their holder frames affect the IF eye sensor. The filter and frames would still seem to block the send/receive sensor.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 09:48 AM   #4
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Yeah, I'd think it would have to be 4x565 or 5x5, and not 4x4.

That was one of the reasons I went with an FX7 instead. All my front end stuff is still 4x4, and it took me way too long to build up a decent matte box & filter set to start over in this day and age. Either that or have around three grand extra floating around just for the front end.

The 4x4s still retain something of their initial value but can still be had for a discount from people upgrading, whereas the larger filters are all at super crazy prices nowadays.

Don't forget that the most common filter sets used for video these days are NDs, the circular polarizer (the circular part refers to the way the polarizer is made, which doesn't affect exposure meters as the filter is rotated), and ND grads. I use a matte box with three rotating stages and a fixed. The fixed is for the NDs, one rotating is for the polarizer and the other two are for the grads. I also have the lower half of a set of double fogs, which I'll probably trade for the equivalent set of BPMs.

This may sound excessive, but I've used all four stages outdoors more often than not. Usually in the desert or other starkly lit exterior situation, or in bright overcast in the desert.

Magic Bullet and Video Film Toolkit both have ND and grad looks, but both specify that they can't replace lost detail if the video is overblown. The MB manual, such that it is, specifies grad NDs to control the sky. Then apply the effect in post with a subtle coloring and it looks great.

Why not just stop down? Depth of field characteristics, also what's known as bokeh, and the strict maintenance of visual mood. I've shot entire movies at T3.5, or T2, and commercials entirely at T5.6, which means lighting the dark scenes and ND'ing the bright ones. Most telecine houses today scoff openly at me when I ask them the cost of one light transfers. Then I sit in on the session and watch their jaws drop. Film discipline, I know, but it's all just cameras to me.

Anyway, as you can see, all the grads (I have Cavision's) are much longer than 4x4, so you can slide them much further out or in and get your grad point higher or lower in the frame. Thus 4x4 matte boxes can hold them but 4x565 boxes would probably be better.
This means another, secondary rail set, and larger and heavier front ends, but it looks way cool - the main people who used to use only 4x565 are Panavision...

Back to reality...

The Formatt filter set, in particular, is nice. 4 grades of ND with soft step, hard step and razor, so 12 filters in the full kit at a measly $75 per filter, no box included...

See where I'm going?

There are sets on eBay that are resin (plastic) and are cheap and pretty good too, based on the old Cromofilter/Cokin P design. I used to use them a lot for stills photography and even in the days when I first started shooting film (35mm commercials).

However, I seem to remember them getting damaged quite easily, and having to buy new sets almost every other assignment.

Which is a way to go too, if you need the effect but don't want to spring for the money.

Rentals would be another way too, if needs be.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 10:20 AM   #5
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Guys -- thanks for all the great the info. The AF issue aside, which ones are best suited for the A1 right now (models, names)? I’m new to using matte boxes (learning), and want to find something reasonably priced that is again, well suited for the camera.

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Thanks --
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Old May 17th, 2007, 11:01 AM   #6
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I've lived for many years without a matte box. I've always used Series 9 filters and a French flag when needed. It's been very rare that I've had to use more than 2 filters at a time, so I've never really needed a matte box. With the XH A1 I've switched to 72mm threaded filters so I can keep the lens hood on. I still don't see the justification for the expense of a matte box. If I did want one, I'd get a good one because it seems to me the cheaper they are, the heavier they get, and the camera is already nose heavy enough.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 12:07 PM   #7
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Agree with Bill.
I've had my 4x4 front ends for over 10 years, and I have three sets, since I have two 35mm movie cameras and a S16mm camera. All Chrosziels, but as I said, I collected them over the years, got one off a buddy who was upgrading for cheap, got another in a jumble sale that came in pieces, that kind of thing.
The third I had to buy because the two 35mm cameras were out on a shoot and I had a job on the S16 that needed the grads as well. Ah well, can't win 'em all.

If you don't have someone who's paying for it, then I'd say bide your time. Use lowcons, BPMs, double fogs, anything to keep the highlights from losing information. 72mm filters are a much cheaper and more available proposition and the factory lens shade looks great still, and works with filters on.

If I'm shooting run and gun or video look stuff with my FX7 I have a 62mm circ polarizer, a 62mm ND9 in my soft case, and sometimes in the car a box of S9 double fogs with an adaptor if I get into real trouble. Never used the double fogs with videotape yet, probably just the 1/8 or 1/4...

I keep on telling myself to get a Cokin P ring and some grad NDs but if I'm going to that trouble better just get the 15mm rods out and use the front end off the Aaton.

Boxes - I like the geardear and the cavision ones for the money. Geardear is pretty inexpensive, disassembles flat and is modular - start basic and cheaper, add stages as you need them. Cool and different looking too, and it the back of the hood mount looks wide enough to just drill a hole on one side for your AF setup. I'd talk to the people first about the mod, though.
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Old May 17th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #8
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B&H has a ton to browse through. Does anyone remember watching the NAB 2007 video by FreshDV that had one of the companies coming out with a mattebox that was pretty legit for around $500.00 I think Redrock.Heres the link see for youself.

http://www.freshdv.com/kmiller/video/REDROCK.mov
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