Review: Indie Snap! HD Matte Box—for 16:9 cameras with 52mm to 86mm lenses.
I think I am typical of many who comb the internet looking for an ever-expanding equipment list with an ever-constricting budget. When I saw a gastly-affordable ($289 for DVXusers) Matte Box for my HVX I thought it was too good to be true. Hearing good things about the DV version, however, I decided to give it a try, and I’m glad I did.
When I first opened my Indie Snap! Matte Box box, I was immediately struck by how light it was—feather-light and pretty. Something I thought was a nice touch was the inclusion of extra screws of each type as well as an instruction packet.
The assembly of the unit was intuitive and simple. The instructions were clear and offered appropriate warnings like, “don’t over-tighten the screws, you’ll strip the aluminum,” and, “this is bigger than you’re used to so don’t hit your actors.”
MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP
The matte box itself is made from sheet aluminum, but I was immediately pleased with the build quality. The lines were straight, the curves, smooth, and everything looked intentional. The reinforced edges seemed machine-bent: no signs of struggle or distress. Bolts are well placed, spaced and consistent. Somebody took their time and materials seriously.
Since this is lightweight aluminum, you won’t want to have your matte box double as a stool or a seat cover: it will not survive an encounter with a rump. This is no flaw but the nature of the design—cost savings come with tradeoffs (you also may not want to throw it into your case attached to the camera).
The paint is a pleasant matte finish, very well matched to the HVX’s finish. It even had an egg-shell texture. The paint job itself is free of drips or other imperfections and is evenly distributed.
The filter assembly is a slide-in friction filter mount that is bolted to the aluminum. The hardware looks good, and the match is fairly seamless. It does not look like two pieced-together components.
The entire matte box assembly attaches to the camera by a screw-on adapter. You have to remove your HVX hood (which also eliminates the hood-cover (aka lens cap) for the HVX–you will need to be mindful of this). I noticed that the clear screw-on filter I got when I purchased the HVX did not come with outside threads. Consequently, I had to remove the protective filter to install the Snap box. (I suspect that a double-threaded filter would handle the weight of the box nicely.)
The assembly has to be slid on from the bottom (the HVX’ mic is in the way from above). Once it slides on, three pegs are pushed forward to hold the matte box around the circular adapter. These pegs then allow rotation around the circumference of the adapter. Two screws hold the box once you’ve reached the attitude you desire (for, e.g., a polarizing filter).
Once it was on the HVX, it was solid. There was no wobble or jiggle, and it is light enough not to affect the balance of the camera appreciably. With the flags installed, it is quite a presence, adding 60% to the overall length of the camera, and more than doubling its width. The box does extend below the base of the camera, so you will not want to put the camera down on a table—I found that a good book will lift the camera enough to clear the box. In any event, it looks significantly manly to impress even the most demanding of TV drama-series superstars. (If this isn’t big enough, maybe someone could rig up a soft box to the lens.)
With the appropriate adapter, it should fit on the end of a 35mm lens, but any rod system will have to be kept within clearance of the box bottom (and rotating it might be an issue when the corners revolve around.)
Continued . . .
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03-30-2006 01:05 AM
Last edited by lpcvideo1; 03-30-2006 at 09:59 AM.
03-30-2006 01:32 AM
I inserted a 4x4 Formatt polarizing filter, and it was held in place snuggly by the contoured rubber friction-mount. Anything that will jar it loose will be more than you want happening to your camera anyway.
The matte box is quite nice looking without the top or french flags, and I suspect most people will get by quite nicely without them.
But for only $30.00 more, it can’t hurt to have them on hand (see below).
A minor weakness of this matte box is that the filter slots are un-capped, and may allow light from just north of directly above the camera to strike the lens:
Though it is (IMO) a small issue, it’s not an insurmountable one. Another desire that some have expressed is to see adjustable flags, but that would most likely require design and materials that would put his product out of fiscal reach (and see below).
OK. So much for how it looks from outside the camera. How does it look from the inside peering out? (I was thinking how great it would be to have some kind of camera-cam to get a camera POV, but then realized that’s kinda what a camera is all by itself.)
So I took the Matte box and camera outside into the Glorious Chicago overcast weather. I then came back inside because it was Glorious Chicago overcast weather. As far as the filter’s effectiveness with the 16:9 aspect, there was no vignetting present at all, even when I slipped the filter down some. Rotating the box also had no effect on the field of view. Of course my polarizer didn’t really make the ceiling pop like it normally does the sky, but that is hardly the Snap’s fault.
The angle of view obtainable without lens flare from the lights is approximately as follows.
Side Flare: With the stock HVX lens hood the angle at which light is allowed to strike the lense is something like 37 degrees from the side. With the matte box alone (no french flags) the angle is actually slightly less, at about 33 degrees. The french flags, however block light to a healthy 50 degrees. It seems worth it to me to get the flags, but if you don’t, you are still getting approximately what the HVX gives alone.Top Flare: With the stock HVX lens hood the angle at which light is allowed to strike the lens from above is also something like 37 degrees. The matte box alone provides an additional 13 degrees or so (to about 50), and the top hood rockets the angle to 70 degrees.
SUMMARY AND EVALUATION
This matte box is a real breath of fresh air for those who don’t have large production budgets, but for whatever reason need a matte box:
1. If you need it to be a sexy image upgrade, the Indie Snap box will cover you, and then some.2. If you need light-blocking, the only consideration is the relatively rare 10-17 degree angle from above. For the money, frankly, gaffers tape will take care of the 1½ times a year that will be an issue. I'd also recommend getting the french flags for an additional $30.3. If you need a filter-mount, this will hold two thick and perhaps one thin filter, and so fits the bill there.So, what this box is: an affordable, attractive, and well made solution. What this box is not: a $1500.00 Chrosziel. In fact, if the Chrosziel were a tuxedo, and if the Cinetactics were a pair of sweat pants, and if the Cavision were a laborer’s coveralls, then the Indie Snap box would be a great pair of cotton khakis. It is good enough to be taken just about anywhere, will get the job done, and if you keep it ironed, you can take it to a nice restaurant.
As a huge money-saver, you will need to work around some limitations. But having said that, the limitations are very negotiable. I give it an unqualified and enthusiastic recommendation.
You can visit the website for more information or to order: http://www.indiesnap.com/DVXuser
Last edited by lpcvideo1; 03-30-2006 at 01:36 AM.
07-26-2006 04:18 PM
I have searched the forum but found nothing....
I'm looking for a good/cheap Mattebox System for the HVX. i have seen Chrosziel products! They're about $1,566.00 ! Why are they so expensive?
What options are available?
07-26-2006 04:41 PMOriginally Posted by Century Media
- Join Date
- Nov 2004
- Phoenix, USA
Cavision is a cheaper alternative to many matte box systems out there, but folks have had mixed experiences with their products- myself included. Although Chrosziel are obscenely overpriced, a good, well engineered matte box is worth it IMO ( I have a Chrosziel on my DVX-100A). From eveything I've heard Petroff makes an excellent product , that is quite a bit cheaper than the Chrosziel. It's also more modular in it's design. I plan on buying one for my anticipated HVX. Vocas matte boxes are also highly regarded. Also, given that Petroffs are Canadian made, the Euro/CDN dollar exchange rate may also work in your favor. The two stage Petroff 4x4 typically goes for 1,400.00 USD.
Afterall, the price of a good matte box can't hurt too bad after dropping Mega-Euros for the HVX can it ?
07-26-2006 04:46 PM
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Los Angeles, CA
Redrock is coming out with a Matte box supposedly in August that will retail for about $500.,
and will be a modular system, meaning you can add filter trays to it as needed.
Also, I've heard they're working on making it a swing-away, which would be very cool.
07-26-2006 05:28 PM
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
These HVX products are promoted here on the dvxuser advertising at the top of the screen:
Anyone have some feedback or recommendations regarding these products?
07-26-2006 07:28 PM
- Join Date
- Sep 2003
I bought a Chrosziel, and it was nice, but I sold it off.
Now I use the Vocas. I just like it better. Still pricey, yes, but it just works better with the HVX. Easier to line up, the rods have a little shoulder stabilizer thing which seems cheeseball but actually does help to steady the camera, and the Vocas works with my Century .6 and 1.6 adapters, the Chrosziel wouldn't. So among the big-buck models, I vote for the Vocas wide-angle (or Century wide-angle, it's the same product sold under the Century name).
07-26-2006 09:16 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
- Fort Worth Texas
I'm using the Formatt F-500 mattebox. It doesn't need rails and it actually works pretty well. It's not too heavy, so I hope the extra weight doesn't hurt my hvx200. So far it's worked great, and it was only $350.
07-26-2006 10:14 PM
I had a Formatt but sold it. Couldn't attach to rod support system so
I use Joels HD Matte Box which is superlight weight and comes with a rod brace for those also upgrading to 35MM adapters.
Great Price $249.00