A Matte box is not just About Looking Professional

Written by Barry Braverman

Sachtler/ RedSharkMatte Boxes

A professional matte box is not just for looking cool. It is essential equipment to ensure we are capturing images with adequate contrast at the highest maximum resolution

The performance of any lens is diminished by stray light striking the front element at an oblique angle. The off-axis rays are reflected internally, bouncing off multiple elements, which increases flare and lowers contrast and resolution. 


Fig 1 Flashpoint Matte Box WS 1Professional matte box is essential in order to maintain critical sharpness. Shooting HD, 2K, or 4K, without an effective matte box will quickly reduce the resolution of your images to standard definition!


 Fig 2a Wing Nuts  Rods 1   Fig 2b Wing Nuts CU 2 1

The Flashpoint matte box with rod support is a reasonably well-constructed low-cost system - with fashionable blue wing screws.

Fig 3 Light Leak 1

An effective matte box shields the lens from off-axis light striking the front element. Here a splash of light is able to strike the lens via an unoccupied filter tray.

Screw-in filters

Screw-in filters offer the advantage of low cost and easy availability, but the fumbling and risk of cross-threading when the chips are down (so to speak) can be disconcerting.

Consider the difficulty of screwing in a filter in the face of a charging rhino or panicked director pleading for one more take before a rapidly setting sun!

The square or rectangular filters used commonly with a professional matte box allow for more efficient handling with greater creative options, including more accurate positioning of graduated and effects filters as well as optimal rotation of the polarizer for darkening the sky or to control window reflections.

The Polarizer

A polarizer is the only camera filter that increases contrast and thus the perceived resolution of a camera system.
The cheap optics that plague low-cost cameras can look substantially better in bright daylight
when fitted with a polarizer. A circular-type is generally required for use with cameras fitted auto-focus; the linear type is adequate for most other applications.

Tags: Technology


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