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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie Carman: So earlier Rich, we talked about using lens hood that comes with lenses to protect and control lens flare, but there is another way that we can control lens flare and that's with this guy, and what is this? Richard Harrington: It's a Matte box and it really has two features; it can hold filters which we'll talk about more in a second, and it has a very large flag on top, which you angle to protect the sun. So, while this lens hood is a pretty good size, this is just much larger and you can adjust it. Robbie Carman: Well in fact, right now on this particular matte box, I only have a hood right here on the top or flag here on the top, but I could put flags on the side, either side, or on the bottom, so I have much more granular control over controlling how the light is going to come into the actual lens in that front element, because I have sort of four different points that I can control.
Richard Harrington: Right! Because remember, if we're talking about a lens flare caused by the sun that's typically coming from above, but you can get lens flares some other lights on set, which might be entering from the side of the frame or from below. So, having that ability to move the flag around is going to give you greater flexibility and that's really simple. You see that it attaches here using a rail type system and that works well for professional use. It's going to let you do other options like a follow focus, which we'll talk about later. You can attach other accessories, but this is going to bump up the price. A matte box is usually several hundred dollars and the filters also add up, but they really serve a great purpose.
You know, for example, on this lens I have an ND filter which is great if I want to be shooting outdoors under bright lights. And you know, this just screws onto front of the lens, and that's fine. In this case it's a circular one, so I can rotate it and I've got that. Robbie Carman: So we've filtering there, but we can also have filtering here on the matte box itself, right? Richard Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And these filters are actually just drop-in or slide-in type filters. And this is really nice, because on most matte boxes, you're going to be able to support. While some of them only have one level or one stage of filtering, a lot of them have dual stages like this one does, so we could put in say an ND Filter and then maybe a Graduated Filter or two different ND Filters to add them together.
And you'll notice that they are pretty big, these 4x4s, and you can still rotate them. For example, if you're doing a circular polarizer, you can still rotate them inside of the matte box, and the cool thing about these is that this is pretty much what most professional setups, cinema type setups are going to use for filtering. It's not just specific to DSLRs. You could use a matte box on ARRI or RED or whatever you want to do. I mean, it just gives you a lot of flexibility. You could buy one set of high quality filters, and continue to use them over your entire career. Richard Harrington: Well, yeah, you really hit it on the head there.
This is a better quality filter than most filters sold in photo stores, and if I was using a circular polarizer on this lens, well, this doesn't fit this lens, and it certainly doesn't fit that lens. So if you're a one or two lens shooter, buying screw-on filters is a good deal, because you are only going to buy a couple of them, but if you have lots of lenses-- Robbie Carman: It's going to add up pretty quickly. Richard Harrington: Yeah! So on set, you'll see here this just little squeegee, basically it's like-- Robbie Carman: It's called a donut. Richard Harrington: Yeah and it just wraps around the lens, so I could switch to a different lens quickly and just pull this forward, pop on the lens, close it back up, and I've got the same filtration, the same flagging, and I just changed prime lenses without having to start all over again.
Robbie Carman: Yeah, and there's lot's of different styles of matte boxes, right? I mean there's one that are sort of--that are attached to rail systems like this one. There's freestanding ones. There is ones that have swing out design, so it's much easier to change lenses, and of course, they run the cost gamut as well. I mean for some strange reason matte boxes are like one of those things, you're like, why are they so expensive? Richard Harrington: Well, the only people who need them are people who know the difference between good and great, and if you know the difference between good and great, you realize you pay for that difference. Robbie Carman: Yeah.
So matte boxes are a pretty straightforward thing. They do really two things for us; first, by using the flags that we can attach to the matte box, we can easily control lens flare from all angles. Not just the top, but the sides, the bottoms, and things of that nature, and most matte boxes are also going to have multi stage filtering using these 4x4 type filters that we can just drop in, rotate and position however we want, which is much more convenient a lot of times, than screw-on type filters. Richard Harrington: So a great solution if you could afford it. When we come back, we're going to take a look at a nice middle of the road solution that's easy to add and won't set you back very many dollars.
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