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Old November 13th, 2009, 08:56 PM   #16
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There's nothing "dumb or stupid" about making a client happy, so if that means adding an accessory for pure looks, so be it. However I think you've answered your own original question--the differences between an inexpensive mattebox or an expensive one are not much of a concern if your needs are simply based on looks. Probably all that you should be concerned with after that is build quality, so that it doesn't fall apart on you--and generally the cheaper the item, there more likely that is to happen (some of the cheaper eBay type have a good chance of showing up on your doorstep in that condition)!
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Old November 14th, 2009, 12:16 AM   #17
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Couldn't agree more.

As the sales rep told me .... half the reason you buy these things is for using filters, the other half of the reason is to make your camera look better.

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Old November 14th, 2009, 12:55 AM   #18
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It is true that a mattebox has a limited (but for some indispensible) function, but man does it make the camera (and perhaps the cameraman behind it, look good.

The first thing I did when I got my little super 8 camera when I was 13 years old (a GAF 64XL) was buying a large rubber sunhood which made the camera look so much more professional and even at that age I was looking at kompendiums (as matteboxes where called then) but could not afford them of course.
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Old November 14th, 2009, 02:04 PM   #19
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Well I finally bought my first real mattebox last summer, and the main use is with graduated ND filters for outdoor landscape shots. I don't think there's really any other way to accomplish this.

I got the Century/Schneider wide angle mattebox (which is actually made by Vocas) and it's a really nice product. The only plastic is the mattebox shell itself, and that is a very solid piece of PVC which looks and feels professional. It wasn't cheap - I agree that it seems like a lot of money for what you get. But I am not disappointed. And yeah, it does look cool as well.

If you're just going for the look, or the ability to use 4x4 filters, Century makes a lens shade/filter holder which looks pretty much like a mattebox but only costs $150: Century Precision Optics | VS-SS05-00 4x4 | 0VS-SS05-00 | B&H
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Old November 14th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #20
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Hey guys, thanks for all the answers.
Yeah, I just think I have to look for a kinda cheap mattebox if its for the looks.
The reason why I won't buy it, is because if it gives more trouble then doing good.
For example if it takes a lot more time when changing lenses if the mattebox is attached to the rig-rails.
I'll keep you informed and will post some pictures of it when I have it all put together. ;)
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Old November 15th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #21
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You get what you pay for.

I used the DVCity one recently (not my choice) it was the biggest waste of time piece of crap poorly designed camera accessory I have ever seen. Totally useless.

Arri is the best. Everything about it works, and will continue to work for years. When you look at the life you get out of it, you can justify the money.
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Old November 15th, 2009, 01:34 PM   #22
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One of the things I was disturbed to discover with my Chrosziel mattebox (and I'm guessing this may be true with most others) is that to use them for shooting sunset/sunrises, you generally have to take off the clear glass filter on the front of your lens. Otherwise, you get a science-fictiony double sun in the shot, as the specular image of the giant nuclear furnace in the sky gets bounced back from the protective lens element and projects onto the glass filter in the mattebox.

I generally am loathe to take the clear/skylight filter off the camera. I know there are others who always shoot naked, but I've replaced too many pitted filters over the years to want to have to do the same with my HD lens.

But, if you are shooting land/waterscapes without pointing directly at a low-level sun, the polarizing and ND grad filters can provide some killer effects.

Oh, and the matte box looks really cool on the camera...
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Old November 16th, 2009, 07:32 PM   #23
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I stopped using a clear/skylight filter quite awhile ago when I realized how it was degrading my image. But I generally only shoot in controlled situations where I'm not too worried about lens damage.

Each piece of glass you put between the lens and the real world takes a little away from your image quality, due to defects, dust, reflection and flare.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #24
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Oh well said Boyd! Can't count how many posts I've made on this subject over the years. Of course there will be shooters like Bill who keep pitting their front elements (what ARE you shooting, Bill? but for most of us 'protective filters' are just a low-grade front element that serves to reduce the hood's efficiency and give you 'double suns' - the most perfect example of total internal reflection (flare) as I've seen.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 04:11 AM   #25
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I got a matte box for my HPX301 mainly for using filters but I have to say it makes it look like a proper camera and the focus wheel was a real help during a drama shoot last week:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...s/JGN_1556.jpg
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:53 AM   #26
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I always get a good laugh out of the "why is it so expensive" threads. Other than material cost, manufacturing costs, engineering and whatnot, it's that expensive because people will buy it at that price.

Think of it this way, if you could triple your rate tomorrow and your customers grumbled about it but continued to come back then why wouldn't you?
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Old November 17th, 2009, 11:57 AM   #27
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Because I can...

Great point Ethan!

Brings to mind: Q: "Why do you charge so much for..." A: "Because I can".

Very few (if any) DPs even use a matte box for what it was originally designed for. The last time I actually used a matte, it was on a show that Al Whitlock was doing the background plates for.

Today it's pretty much a glorified lens shade, but the important thing to look for in a matte box is if you are changing lenses quite often, get one that swings away, if not, the next most important thing is that you can change filters very quickly (frameless filter stages are best) and that you can adjust the filter(s) in the stage(s) in very small incremental degrees (and have them keep that setting).

Tip: Put a thin strip of white tape on the inside of the top and side flags, so they don't creep into the frame on very low key shots, and NEVER use the side flags unless you actually have a flare you have to door off. The top flag will control 99.9% of the light spilling into the front element.

Clipping on the side flags just to make the camera look "KeWL" is just another possible element in the chain of disasters that are always lurking around a movie set.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Oh well said Boyd! Can't count how many posts I've made on this subject over the years.
Indeed. And I should really have given you the credit for this Tom, since your posts on the subject caused me to look more carefully at my footage and realize just how right you were. Thanks!
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enzo Giobbé View Post
The top flag will control 99.9% of the light spilling into the front element.
In natural light or toplit (aka TV studio style) sets, probably. In a feature/commercial/narrative environment, it's quite possible to have edge lights that would do their damage below the reach of the eyebrow, and this is where the siders come in. Sometimes it's as seemingly benign as a hot window out of one side of the frame. But yes, you do need to be careful and keep an eye out for incursion into the frame. A casual user may well bone the shot this way. But then again there are many other ways to do just that (such as insisting on shooting with super-shallow depth of field when you don't have the ability to consistently maintain focus on the subject).

Patrolling the edges of the frame for unwanted objects such as eyebrow/siders from the mattebox, booms, light stands, reflections and flares is the job of the camera operator. When one also happens to be the DP and the director and who knows what else, it's an extra burden to be sure. But for those who can't imagine why you would possibly need so many people on a "Hollywood" set, all it takes is a few mistakes like this to understand the need for delegation of responsibilities.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 10:45 PM   #30
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Of course...

Charles,

Yes, or course you are right on, side flags do have their place, and I do use them, just not that often. I have several matte boxes that I use depending on the widest angle of the lens I have up. If the CA sees a flare on the lens (best checked by actually looking at the front element or filter up), I usually have the CA flag it with a camera flag. I find that a camera flag gives me much more options in precisely controlling flares than just the side flags. I'm talking about a box mounted on sticks or a dolly, not a Steadicam rig, and a matte box that does not have a slot for lens angle specific hard mattes.

Most of the features I work on would probably be considered noir, so my lighting is pretty low keyed, working thin stops. I use a lot of flags, gobos, and scrims when I light a set. I also tend to favor shallow rim and thin backlighting for depth, with little punch lights in the "black holes" so that the director gets the look he wants, and I keep the lab happy at the same time. You're not likely to find much errant light on one of my sets, so my suggestions were given with that in mind.
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