ACCESSORIES: FILTRATION

microMatteBox B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: The matte box fills two important roles in filmmaking – and unless you are using glass that can take screw-on ND filters – it’s a MUST.   Ergo if you are using a 14mm lens, or any cinema glass or the Zeiss ZEs – a matte box is absolutely essential.   The main advantage of this matte box is that it swivels out (rotates from the top right with a release pin.)  This allows you to keep your ND / ND Grad etc filters in place and very quickly change lenses.   When you use Zeiss CP.2 a lens change can take less than 10 seconds.  If you have a number of filters – especially grad NDs – changing lenses can become quite a chore.   This is a great matte box – but on the larger side.  I would not recommend you mounting it on a car mount on a high speed vehicle/aircraft for example.   One note:  don’t forget the Donuts!  The donuts is a round rubber piece that surrounds your lens and effectively seals the matte box to your lens – and doesn’t allow any light to creep in from behind.  Doing so can lead to some pretty terrible reflections on your filters that can be hard to diagnose the first time it happens to you.Matte boxes are also essential for moving Grad ND filters up/down and rotating them – something you can’t do with screw on filters. Keep that in mind (and see below for more on this.)

Description (from Redrock Micro): The microMatteBox Standard Bundle is a great base kit to get started using a matte box. It comes with everything you need to help control light and flare using a matte box and filters, and can be upgraded later with the microMatteBox Flag Bundle, additional filter stages, or a 19mm swing-away arm. Rubber donuts provide a flexible method of fitting your 35mm lenses or camera to the microMatteBox to prevent light leaks.

O Box B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: THE BEST MATTE BOX (outside of Arri) out there period.   Listen I’ve used dozens of other matte boxes  out there that are 1/8 – 1/2 this price, but nothing comes close to the build of this matte box.   I can’t recommend any of the cheaper models down the line.  So I say:  don’t buy a matte box if you don’t need one or can’t afford this… or wait to buy this one when you can afford it.  The good news:  you’ll use this same matte boxes on fancy cinema cameras down the line…

Description (from OConnor): The OConnor O-Box WM Mattebox Deluxe Set is a lightweight, wide-angle, mini-mattebox system that will accommodate lenses designed for full-sized sensors as wide as 18mm. The mattebox has 2 filter stages that accept either 4×4" or 4×5.65" filter trays and the rear stage rotates a full 360 degrees which is useful when working with polarizers or graduated filters. The O-Box deluxe set includes four filter trays, two each of the 4 x 4" and 4 x 5.65" trays, as well as the bellows ring that allows you to mount a 138mm filter as well. In addition to the standard eyebrow (top flag), the deluxe kit features lens siders and brackets to attach them to the mattebox, providing increased control over lens flares. The mattebox comes with a 15mm LWS bracket, and there are available brackets for a 15mm studio rods, 19mm rods, and adapter rings allowing you to use this as a clip-on mattebox. A distinguishing feature of the O-box system is that it incorporates 3/8"-16 threaded mounting holes into the mattebox itself. This allows you to attach available O-Grips to the mattebox for added stability when hand holding the camera, or other available accessories. Also included with the O-Box are two universal lens rings that are made from aluminum with a seamless flexible material that stretches over a range of lenses and prevents light leaks from behind the lens, which can reflect off filters ruining your image. The two rings cover lenses ranging from 55 to 134 mm in diameter. Rounding out the deluxe kit is a reduction ring that works with the included bellows ring.

MB 456 Academy Matte Box B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: More compact than the O’Box and w/o the possibility of O-Grips.  I still love it and use it all the time especially for time lapse given how compact it is.  For the price I would still go w/ the O’box.

Description (from B&H): The Chrosziel MB 456 Academy Matte Box is a great alternative to the microMatteBox. This matte box can be a rod mounted or clip-on style matte box (given the appropriately sized retainer ring for your lens). This matte box features two fully rotatable 5×5 or 4×5.65 drop-in style filter holders, as well as mounting points for an eyebrow and a set of french flags.

77mm Tru-Match Vari ND Filter B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: THE BEST Vari ND Filter money can buy with close to zero (I haven’t seen any actually) loss in image quality.  I don’t leave home w/o one of these.

Description (from Formatt): The Schneider 77mm True-Match Vari-ND Filter is a solid variable neutral density filter providing a reduction of about 1.3 to 11 stops. The 0.4 to 3.3 density creates a darkening of the entire image, allowing you to photograph with a wider aperture or slower shutter speed than normally required. The degree of density is easily controlled by rotating the front filter ring, allowing you to previsualize the additional exposure length required. By slowing your exposure time or increasing your aperture, you are able to control depth of field and convey movement more easily. Neutral density filters do not affect the coloration of the image and are ideal for pairing with other filters.

Fader Neutral Density Filter 77mm B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: These are the same filters as mentioned below – but these are meant to screw on directly onto your Canon EF lenses.  There is no longer a need for a matte box.  So I do carry these around with me as well – for car mounts etc. where mounting a matte box could become dangerous as they in effect become big wind sails.  These filters are also available in different threadings (58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 82mm, etc…)

Description (from Fader): Fader ND filter allows you to adjust neutral density freely from ND2 to ND400, providing 2 to 8 stops added density. Perfect for creating a slow shutter speed. With one single filter, you can change to a different density buy simply rotating it. Lens caps and filters can be attached at the front of this fader ND.

4 x 5.6" HD Neutral Density Set (0.3 – 1.8) B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: ND filters are an ABSOLUTE necessity when shooting video/film.   For still photographers: remember that in video you shutter speed is mostly locked down at 1/50th of a second – therefore when you go out into bright sunlight – you can find yourself at f/11 or f/16 at 100ASA depending on where you.   Therefore NDs are one of the single most common tools in film – to keep the apertures open and the depth of field shallow.   Unless you’re shooting indoors or at night – you can’t leave with a set of NDs – period.  These are of course rectangular filters – meant to work with matte boxes.  You can of course use circular screw on filters on your Canon EF glass to do the exact same thing.   If you are using cine lenses or CP.2 lenses – you’ll need to use a matte box and these type of filters.  (p.s. make sure you always get the correct sized filter for your matte box – there are different sizes out there to accommodate smaller and bigger matte boxes.) One important note:  people always ask me if they should spend money on their filters or go the cheap route.   My answer is: why in the world would you put a cheap/or worse plastic filter – in front of your $1,000-$3,000 lens???  It sounds insane when you think of it that way doesn’t it?

Description (from Schneider): Schneider Neutral Density (ND) filters are designed to control exposure or depth of field under various lighting conditions without affecting color or contrast.

Formatt 4 x 5.6" HD Graduated Neutral Density Set (0.3 – 1.2) Soft Edge B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: When you don’t have a huge lighting budget – or well frankly on pretty much ANY production – Grad NDs are a life saver. You will often find yourself in a situation where the foreground subject is much darker than your background or sky (or vice versa.)  You can either light the foreground the subject – or knock down the sky with GRAD ND filters – that go from dark to light in a gradual linear fashion.   Some have soft edges (very gradual shift from light to dark) or hard edge (pretty sharp line.)  I use both very frequently to get that perfect sunset sky – when the foreground is in shadow for example-  and not have to pull out a single light…  Grad NDs are worth their weight in gold.  (N.B: you’ll have to use a matte box with these.  Matte boxes will allow you to raise/lower and rotate these filters so that you place them perfectly on your frame… be careful when you move the camera though… as the Grad moves with you!)

Description (from Schneider): Neutral density glass filters (also known as NDs) produce a grey neutral tone and are used to reduce light, enabling more control over exposure and depth of field without affecting colour or contrast.  Our High Definition ND Glass Filters are available in graduated filters, both in hard and soft edge.

Formatt 4 x 5.6" HD Graduated Neutral Density Set (0.3 – 1.2) Hard Edge B&H Mfr. Site

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Description (from Schneider): Neutral density glass filters (also known as NDs) produce a grey neutral tone and are used to reduce light, enabling more control over exposure and depth of field without affecting colour or contrast.  Our High Definition ND Glass Filters are available in graduated filters, both in hard and soft edge.

4 x 5.6" Circular Polarizer B&H Mfr. Site

Comments: If you wonder why other videographers/filmmakers/DP’s films look so rich – have deep skies – or the water in their frames look so much better than what you’re shooting… chances are they’re using a polarizer.   Some never shoot without one.   Besides eliminating unwanted reflections/glare – these filters really help to saturate colors, darken skies, and lead to a richer image.   You do lose close to 2 stops of light as well.  Lastly – the part of the sky that is 90 degrees to the sun will go the darkest with a polarizer – in other words shoot at right angle with a polarizer.  If the sun is behind you as you shoot – the polarizer will do almost nothing.

Description (from Schneider): Polarizers are commonly used to control glare on water and to allow the camera to see below the surface. They are also used to reduce glare on car bumpers and to control reflections on plate-glass windows. Polarizers are so versatile that they can perform the opposite functions as well. Some cinematographers use polarizers to increase or enhance reflections, simply by changing the filter’s setting.

4 x 5.6" Classic Soft (1/4) B&H Mfr. Site

Comments:  We used the Classic Soft 1/4 filter while working with the C300 on "Mobius" to cut down on the harsher edges in the HD video. This helped promote an overall look that was as filmic as possible. While we used the 1/4 strength, the filters are available in strengths from 1/8 to 3.

Description (from Schneider): Schneider Classic Soft filters are made possible by state-of-the-art optical technology, and a proprietary Schneider manufacturing technique that produces a Micro-Lenslet™ array. This filter blends small wrinkles and blemishes while maintaining overall sharp focus that conceals the fact that a softening filter was used. In the normal range of exposure, this filter imparts only a closely confined, very subtle glow to highlights. If large amounts of overexposure exist in a scene, like a "blown" window, Classic Soft filters add a stylish glow that keep the scene’s contrast under control, while adding a romantic look. This filter is available in strengths of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 3. These strengths achieve a range from subtle to heavy diffusion.

4 x 5.6" Hollywood Black Magic (1/4) B&H Mfr. Site

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Description (from Schneider): Combining the best attributes of the Schneider HD Classic Soft and Black Frost, these stunning filters remove unsightly blemishes and wrinkles while providing an airbrushed texture to the image. Available in five strengths from 1/8 to 2, a wide range of diffusion can be selected: from slightly taking off a video edge to removing years off a person’s age. Pleasant softening of bright highlights helps control the exposure while maintaining rich blacks and colors. Available in standard video and cinematography sizes, these filters are also available in screw on sizes for professional DSLR photography.