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-   -   To matte box or not? (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-xdcam-ex-pro-handhelds/471124-matte-box-not.html)

Darren Ruddock January 16th, 2010 05:01 AM

To matte box or not?
This coming year I may have a few jobs coming up where outside shooting in the sun (providing we get some!) is the name of the game.

My colleague, and I, are looking into purchasing a matte box and filters. Just wondered how many of you use a matte box and do you find them invaluable?? Are they essential to really improve the quality of your output?

Many thanks

hangmanmedia - [video.concept.production]

Piotr Wozniacki January 16th, 2010 05:45 AM

This is a very good question. I can bet that most of (even "serious") hobbyists mainly use matte boxes to make their cameras look more pro... Several things should be considered, such as:

- with a 35mm adapter and prime lenses, using a matte box for holding filters (instead of buying those same filters in all different sizes for all these lenses) is essential

- controlling stray light (the main purpose of a matte box) can be tricky. In my experience, if I put ANY 4x5.65" filter into my matte box but don't use the french flag, I'm getting horrible reflections of the camera lens in the filter, bouncing back and being recorded over the picture. Using the upper brow and side wings can get rid of it, but is somewhat impractical for run and gun shooting.

Just my $ 0.02.

Gareth Watkins January 16th, 2010 06:48 AM

Hi Darren

Contrary to other opinions, I find for outdoor subjects a matte box really useful.... but if I don't need it I don't use it.... For most news stories, indoor stuff and interviews it serves no purpose.

I have no interest in making my camera look better...because it does make the camera more bulky and adds even more weight to the front end.

What it does do very nicely is allow me to use polarizer, and ND grads to get a much nicer look to a scenic, outdoors shot... Alos I find the French flag makes a big difference in bright sun to shade the lens. Its like wearing a peaked cap. It drastically reduces the flare that all these small cameras are succeptible to.

I use a model made by TLS called the Kestrel... which is well made light weight and not too expensive, at just under 300 quid.
My filters are either Schneider or Tiffen.

Voilą... I got mine from Prokit in Chiswick, but TLS does sell direct I believe.. try a google search.


Piotr Wozniacki January 16th, 2010 07:17 AM


Originally Posted by Gareth Watkins (Post 1473148)
What it does do very nicely is allow me to use polarizer, and ND grads to get a much nicer look to a scenic, outdoors shot...

Absolutely - ever since I bought my RR mattebox, I'm using it with an ND grad filter when out of my studio; frankly I can't imagine shooting against bright cloudy without it...

Olof Ekbergh January 16th, 2010 08:32 AM

I use a matte box about 10% of the time.

It is usually not needed inside. We use flags on light stands inside.

Mattebox and grad etc filters can be very useful outside. But these days I do a lot of that in Post. I can build any filter I want in PSD any special shape and color, and then apply it with varying opacity in M100 in real time. Love it!

I make small flags that velcro onto the lens shade of the camera. This works very well to control flare and is very portable.

I will probably make those "mini-flag kits" available on my website soon.

EX1 Stronger Plates

Darren Ruddock January 16th, 2010 11:30 AM

Thanks guys, I'm in two minds now. The box I was considering was the Chrosziel CMB-R20 Sunshade for Sony PMW-EX1 & EX3.

I'd imaging it would be hard to replicate grad filters in post effectively and convincingly!

Bob Kerner January 16th, 2010 12:14 PM

Are you running and gunning or will you be operating with full tripod set up? About 60% of my stuff is hand held and I can't imagine having a MB hanging off the front of my camera.

Filtration is very important. But keep in mind you can buy 77mm screw in filters for your EX1/3 lens and they're likely to be less expensive then 4x4 filter for a matte box. When I need a circ polarized I just screw it one and provide glare protection by holding a piece of cardboard in the correct spot.

Gareth Watkins January 16th, 2010 02:18 PM

Hi there
All my stuff is run & gun... with naturally some tripod for the scenics... the matte box I mention is fine hand held..

The problem with screw on filters is that if you change cameras or have more than one with different screw threads you need more than one set of filters... My last three cameras have all had different front element threads... yet my 4x4 filters cover the lot...


Denis OKeefe January 16th, 2010 03:11 PM

depending on which camera you are using you'll need to make sure the matte box clears the mic and monitor, especially on the EX 1. Mounting can involve rails, plates and adapters that may end up costing as much as the box itself. Then you have to carry it all while running around shooting.
That said, when you need to control lens flare, stack filters, rotate a polarizer or use a grad it makes thing real easy.
If you do buy one I suggest getting something that you'll be able to use on other cameras down the road. The Redrock Micro is huge, but it has everything you could want and is a bargain compared to many others, but you'll need rails and it bumps up against the EX1 mic/monitor .
If you're using it with a 35mm adapter remember the donuts, controling the reflections on the back of the filter is impossible unless you drape everything and look like Matthew Brady working a view camera.

Steve Kalle January 16th, 2010 06:22 PM

I will be getting the Arri MMB-1 for my EX1, which is about $1500 and the ND's are under $200 each. I played with one at Abel Cine and it didn't add too much weight. Arri states that it can be used with or without rails.

I recently read about a DP on a feature film stating that the french flag did help indoors with overhead flouros.

Dave Nystul January 16th, 2010 08:14 PM


a Chrosziel MB lives on our EX3 24/7. I find that besides flare control it helps my shoot at a 2.8-4 f stop with consistency. I often find myself using an ND3 or a SoftFX, or both during interviews. I consider the mattebox an essential part of the EX3 pkg.

Andrew Stone January 16th, 2010 09:41 PM

Gareth pretty much summed up what I would have said in terms of use. I almost bought a TLS mattebox as Gareth did as well but managed to score a Chrosziel off Craigslist at a decent price.

Depending on the mattebox you get you might have a rotating 4x4 stage for the polarizer and a larger 4"x5.650" stage requiring more expensive filters due to their size. Keep that in mind when you are chosing your mattebox. The cost of filters can add up quickly but all you really need to start out is a circular pola(rizer) and an ND set or at least an ND 3 (you can use the internal NDs until you can afford a full set (if money is an issue).

Steve Kalle January 17th, 2010 12:29 AM

Andrew and others: I was told to get a Linear Polarizer for the Arri MB but I always thought it should be Circular.

What say you?

Andrew Stone January 17th, 2010 03:04 AM

There has been a fair amount of (heated) discussion here about the topic of which polarizer to use over the past year. The evidence that was laid out pointed strongly towards using a circular polarizer with the EX cameras. I cannot remember the thread but a search would pin it down.

Piotr Wozniacki January 17th, 2010 06:23 AM


Originally Posted by Olof Ekbergh (Post 1473178)
Mattebox and grad etc filters can be very useful outside. But these days I do a lot of that in Post. I can build any filter I want in PSD any special shape and color, and then apply it with varying opacity in M100 in real time. Love it!

Yes - a lot of filter effects can be mimic in post. However, in the case of ND grad filter, this might not apply; having the bright clouds background blown out, and/or underexposed foreground with noise/low detail, cannot be corrected...

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