What Is A Matte Box and Its Working
Do you want to take better photos? If so then this article is perfect for you! Matte boxes are one of those things that seem complicated at first but once you understand its simplicity it
A matte box is a device used to hold filters in front of lights, typically on top of a camera. It controls how much light reaches the film or digital sensor by allowing only certain portions of the image through it.
The size and shape are determined by what lens you are using on your camera. There are two types: standard height for cameras with shorter lenses, and low-profile for cameras with longer lenses that need more clearance from the ground when shooting at high angles.
It is essential that it be adjustable depending on the lens you are using. It should have a solid connection above the camera so that the image remains clear.
Types of common matte boxes
There are various other types of common matte boxes, however, the purpose is still the same. They include 4×4 Double Solid Matte Boxes, French Flags, Center Flags, Side Flags, and Super Penetrator Matte Boxes
Double solid matte box
the double-slot is for optical glass filters, while the solid matte boxes are used to prevent light scattering.
this attaches to the front of the lens and prevents light from striking it when you don’t want it there.
Center flags or side flags
attach in an L-shaped manner on either side of the camera body to control light.
Super penetrator matte boxes
are used for use on camera’s without filter threads, such as 35mm video cameras. They attach to a “Super” adaptor ring that fits a larger lens with built-in flange distance.
Each of these types has their own purpose and function but work toward the same goal: to control the light and image reaching the camera lens.
What is the cost of a matte box?
There are many different types of matte boxes (see above), and prices may vary accordingly. A standard, high-quality 3-filter Matte Box should cost no less than $250.
What is the size of the matte box?
A matte box usually comes in one of two styles:
designed for lenses at or shorter than 50mm Standard height matte boxes typically protrude about 20 to 23 inches from the front of the lens.
designed for lenses at or longer than 100mm Low profile matte boxes are designed so that when attached, they do not extend in front of the camera’s viewfinder, nor does it interfere with any part of the camera’s function.
Low profile matte boxes are typically about 28 inches long, to help keep the camera steady when shooting handheld.
What does a matte box attach to?
A matte connection attaches a camera to the matte box. It is a round, flat piece of metal that screws to the front of the lens. The connection has threads on both sides so it can be screwed into or out of the matte box as needed.
What does a matte box filter do?
A matte box uses filters to block unwanted light from reaching the camera’s lens by controlling what portions of the scene pass through the lens.
These filters can be made of many different materials, but the most common are glass filters that are either a single colour or multi-coloured.
A single colour filter blocks all light in that specific colour spectrum. A multiple coloured filter blocks a range of colours as desired by the filmmaker.
How does a matte box attach to your camera?
A Matte Box attaches to your camera with what is called “intensive configuration” (IC). IC basically means that you will need adapters in order for your matte box to attach to the front of different lenses.
For example, if you have an 80mm lens, the matte box has to be able to attach to an 80mm lens. If you have a 50mm lens, the matte box has to connect onto a 50mm lens.
Matte Boxes advantages
1 . Matte Boxes help create interesting lighting effects.
It allows you to selectively control what parts of the scene are in focus, and control how much light is diffused (thus controlling what areas of a scene appear darker or lighter).
They allow for more flexibility when using different lenses; matte boxes provide standardized filter threads on top of the lens, which allow you to use different lenses without changing your matte box.
4 . Matte Boxes can help achieve more depth in your scene by allowing certain areas to be focused on while others are out of focus. This is often referred to as “selective focus”.
5 . They give you greater control over light intensity and direction by diffusing light and stopping down the iris on your lens.
6 . Matte Boxes are used in all areas of photography, including but not limited to, motion pictures, still photography, television commercials, print advertising etc.
7 . A matte box can also be attached to a video camera which allows you to use external filters while maintaining a high-resolution viewfinder.
8 . Matte Boxes help prevent lens flares by allowing you to keep the light source out of your lens. This is especially helpful when working with bright lights or reflective surfaces.
9 . They give you more control over the depth of field and what areas of a scene are in focus, which enables you to better direct your audience’s attention.
How to use a Matte Box
1 . Setup: Customize matte box and lens adapter for your camera and lens, attach adapter to camera and matte box to the adapter (make sure you tighten all screws).
2 . Mounting: Attach follow focus system or focusing knob to square drop down bar.
3 . Focusing: Rotate the focus knob until it hits stop and then tighten the knob to secure position.
4 . Controls: Open up matte box front, turn a blue knob on side of follow focus system counterclockwise until it is loose enough so you can rotate the square drop-down bar back and forth. You should now be able to rotate the drop-down bar in and out of focus.
5 . Close up Matte Box front, rotate the blue knob clockwise until it hits stop then tighten.
Reasons why you need a matte box for your next shoot
The primary purpose of a matte box is to allow you to control and filter incoming light.
A number of lenses
A matte box allows you to use different lenses without making any changes; it comes with standardized filter threads for all typical camera lenses (52mm, 58mm, 72mm etc).
A typical matte box comes with its own adapter (called 4″x4″), which you attach to the camera. This makes it easy to quickly switch between lenses.
A matte box allows you more control over light intensity and direction by acting as a physical barrier that diffuses light, while also stopping down the iris of your lens.
Depth of field
When working with matte boxes, you can use one area of the scene to be in focus and another area to be out of focus. This is often referred to as selective focus and it can help direct your audience’s attention.
With a matte box, the light source will always stay outside of your lens so it will not cause lens flares.
How to choose the best one for your camera?
When it comes to choosing a matte box, you should consider the size of your camera’s lens. The reason for this is that you need to make sure that your matte box has an adapter ring that will allow the box to fit onto your camera’s lens.
The standard filter thread sizes are 52mm, 58mm or 72mm. You’ll also need to figure out how many stops of light loss you’re willing to accept. This will depend on which type of camera lens you’re using and the ambient lighting conditions you’ll be working in.
If you plan on using a zoom lens, it’s important that your matte box has a variable-height top flag so that the height of the flag doesn’t change as you zoom in and out.
What does a matte box do for filmmaking?
A Matte Box is used mostly for controlling how much light reaches the camera’s sensor or film stock. It allows specific portions of the frame to be in focus and others out of focus.
A matte box also helps filter light which is useful for shooting on bright days or dealing with reflective surfaces such as glass or water.
It’s often confused with a French Flag (which blocks light rather than controlling it) and an external follow focus (which doesn’t allow filters). A Matte Box can also be used to mount filters, the most common being circular polarizers.
How does it work?
A matte box is typically composed of two or three movable parts, which allow control over the light entering the lens
Drop-in Filter Holder
The first component is a sliding or folding filter holder that can hold up to three filters, typically a combination of a graduated neutral density filter and two circular polarizers. The camera assistant can quickly change the order of the filters as needed for each shot to achieve desired effects.
Filters used with a matte box
Graduated Neutral Density Filter
A graduated neutral density filter is a clear piece of glass or plastic that is tinted on one half of the filter with a neutral colour (typically grey).
The density (or darkness) of the tint varies from top to bottom. This allows you to darken specific areas of your frame while allowing other areas to remain unchanged, which can greatly benefit scenes shot in bright light or where it is important that certain objects or people remain visible.
A circular polarizer is a special type of opaque filter, which filters out light in a circular pattern. The dark areas are where the filter has blocked polarized light.
The light that is not polarized becomes polarized when it reflects off surfaces such as water or glass because some of the light waves are forced to align with each other and some remain perpendicular. This alignment makes the light waves cancel each other out leaving a dark area on your image.
Light loss & Image quality
The amount of light you lose when using a matte box depends on which filters you’re using and how many you stack (how many filters, graduated neutral density filters or circular polarizers you have stacked).