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Old September 7th, 2011, 05:18 AM   #1
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New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

I just received my new mattebox and need some 4x4 ND filters. This is my first mattebox and I have some questions how to best put this contraption to use. My mattebox has two rotating filterholders: I guess so you can put two different ND filters, like the ND1 and ND2 switch on my Sony EX1R. But why do they rotate?

I guess I would need not one but a set of 4x4 ND filters: which one do you recommend? What is the 'best bang for the buck' as they say..?
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Old September 7th, 2011, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

The matte trays rotate to allow you to set up graduated filters, either ND or coloured, at an angle, they also work for polarising filters.

The usual sets of ND filters reduce light by 1, 2 and 3 stops (Usually defined as 0.3, 0.6 & 0.9), although, in practise, you tend to use the 0.3 a bit less than the others. You can also get denser grades of ND, but this would depend on how wide an aperture you want to use. With the EX1 it could be worthwhile having IR versions of the ND filters, especially with the more dense filters.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 07:30 AM   #3
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Thanks, Brian, very helpful. I forgot to mention I will be using it mostly for my 'DSLR' GH2 and 550D.

Any suggestions for graduated filters or .6 and .9?
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Last edited by Jeroen Wolf; September 7th, 2011 at 10:41 AM.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 11:10 AM   #4
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Jeroen,

For most situations having a 2, 3, and 4 stop ND are the basic starting points. Also getting a good circular polarizer is good to have especially for outdoor shooting. Graduated ND filters come in handy but getting a set of those gets expensive since I've found the need for both hard and soft edge and it seems I never have the one I want on the camera.

I'm currently using Schneider filters with my MB and love them.

BTW the ND1 and ND2 switches on your EX1r are 0.9 and 1.8 or 3 stops and 6 stops.

-Garrett
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Old September 7th, 2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Thanks, Garrett. I am used to the ND's on my EX1-R and I don't find them overly dense. Wouldn't it be best to get similar ND filters for my DSLR's? 0.9 and 1.8?

Or, considering the price, just buy one solid 1.2 ND filter (at least for now).

Is $180,- what I should expect to pay for such a filter (B&H) or are there 'better deals to be gotten'?
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Old September 8th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #6
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Jeroen: the answer is a combination of:
- how much money CAN you spend? and
- what sort of lenses are you mounting?

If the lenses you are mounting are (relatively) low quality "kit" lenses, a DECENT set of NDs will likely work for you. But if you move up to better lenses, a good set of NDs will "grow" with you. If you are shooting with gorgeous glass, why would you consider "messing up" the optics with cheap NDs?

I much prefer glass filters from reputable manufacturers that are much more likely to be TRULY Neutral (not imparting a colour cast to the footage).

Of course, better filters (generally) cost more.
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Old September 8th, 2011, 03:48 PM   #7
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Hi Shaun,

I can't spend anything but I have so much invested in this DSLR-thing I can't go back :-D
I have some nice but inexpensive prime lenses like the Canon FD 50mm 1.4 and the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4, I have a Cosmicar C-mount 25mm 1.4, a few old filmlenses like the Wollensak Cine-Velostigmat 1.5 and a Hobson, Hobson & Taylor for Bolex 1.9 (also C-mount), an inexpensive but very nice Vivitar Series 1, 70-210mm 3.5 and a Tamron workhorse 17-50mm 2.8 VC plus a Canon EF 50mm 1.8 II (both for my 550D) and a very decent set of 6-7 Carl Zeiss Jena's(or the likes), ranging from 35mm to 135mm.

It's all relatively cheap: the cost of one decent Canon zoomlens and a Voigtlander .95 will buy you all these lenses and then some...

But I don't want to ruin my picture with bad filters. If 180,- is what a good nd costs, I'll just have to grind my teeth and take it like a man...

But is it a good idea to buy one ND 1.2 to start out with? (and is Formatt just as good as Schneider?)
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Old September 18th, 2011, 01:18 PM   #8
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Sorry Jeroen, I just noticed this now.

I PERSONALLY prefer the option to stack NDs if needed rather than having one "industrial grade" ND that I might need to bump up ISO to compensate for.

I normally take a .6 and 2x .9 with me if I expect to be shooting outdoors on large sensor cameras without internal NDs.

I don't know if Formatt is AS GOOD AS Schneider, but I use them (Formatt glass 4x4 NDs) regularly for my stuff that gets shown on the web. Your mileage may vary if you are shooting for display on a 15 metre screen at your local cinema...
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Old September 18th, 2011, 01:53 PM   #9
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Thanks, Shaun, also for the link. Looks good.

A few days ago I ordered a set of 5 Formatt's ND(.03, .06, .09 and .06 ND Grad plus a Circulat polarizer) on eBay- you're going to have to start somewhere. Cost me around 320 incl shipping from England.

Now I just have to get used to setting up my rig for every shoot... things were so much easier when I just shot with my EX1 and flipped on the ND2... (things also looked a lot duller then..;-)

I'll post some test footage when I have the filters!
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Old September 18th, 2011, 02:21 PM   #10
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Re: New (to) mattebox: what ND filters?

Great starting point. I think you'll be further ahead than having bought just a single ND.
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