Filter/mattebox advise for newbie shooting in Caledonia in two weeks! at

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Old June 2nd, 2007, 03:04 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: London, United Kingdom
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Filter/mattebox advise for newbie shooting in Caledonia in two weeks!

Hello everyone!

I've been asked by the company I work for (not film-related) to shoot a documentary for a team-building/charity event in Caledonia (Scotland) in two weeks time, as a favour for them, because some bright spark told my manager that I'm a budding film-maker with some of my own equipment. Ahem, anyway. This charity event is basically a 54 mile walk, that'll take the team 24 hours to complete, in the very scenic area of Caledonia.

I'm pretty rusty at this, as my film/documentary days only go as far back as my college years and DV was only just coming up then (yes, it was that long ago!), so it's like learning to swim again.

So, I have my camera gear (Canon XH-A1 - which I'm still learning how to use to its full potential -, RedEye wide angle adaptor, Libec LS-38 etc) but there is just one thing worrying me - mattebox and filters.

I have decided to go for the Geardear mattebox as this seems to be the most affordable option I have at present, and Gerhard - who pretty much IS Geardear - has been very helpful, and has advised me that 4x4 filters should be large enough for my .5x 72mm wide angle adaptor without vignetting. But my main concern are the filters themselves. I can't afford to buy them, so I would have to hire them for the weekend. Does anyone know of a reputable and affordable place here in the UK where I can hire decent 4x4 filters? And can anyone point me in the right direction for some good filters to have? Polarising and some grad colour filter for those beautiful Caledonian landscapes seem to be the right choice, and maybe black mist for interviews? Any suggestions? I already have the Canon 72mm polarising filter, would that be good enough?

As you can see, I really need your help here!
Mark Finch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2007, 07:58 AM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 1,961
If you have a really tight budget, you might want to look into the Cokin P filter system. It is like a poor man's mattebox as it uses square filters. The Polarizers are round and fit in their own slot and can be rotated independently of the square filters. In addition, the entire filter holder can be rotated without dropping the filters. A simple plastic square lens shade or a more elaborate bellows shade can be attached in front. The holder kit is about $16 and simple filters are about $20. The polarizers are about $40.

The filters you need the most are a polarizer, gradual ND (neutral density), and maybe a protective clear filter. You might also want to try a graduated blue and "gradual tobacco" which is an amber colored gradient. These allow you to tint the color of the sky. If you have a grey day, you can put some color back into the sky with a colored graduated filter. The graduated ND are probably more important because they will allow you to get the sky dark enough to get an exposure without blowing out. Putting ND just over the sky can turn it from blown-out white back into blue.

Whichever system you choose should be fine, the budget is greater for the mattebox as you likely also need a rails system. The 4x4 filters are also much more expensive, but you get better compatibility with other systems with the standard 4x4. You can also use some of the 4x6 filters which are taller to allow more adjustment of the gradient up and down in front of the lens.

Once you choose a system and get the basic filters, you can add some effects like diffusion and contrast filters. It is possible to do diffusion and color gradients in post production, so I consider the most important filters the ones that help you get better exposure. ND and contrast filters fulfill a function that can not be done in post. If you can't get good exposure, there is nothing a computer can do to help you. The other filters would be nice if you know exactly how you want your footage to look and can get that effect with a filter. Using an optical effect filter instead of rendering a digital filter in post could save a whole lot of time.
Marcus Marchesseault is offline   Reply

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