I have a love/hate relationship with most matte boxes. I love them when I need them. I hate them when they get in the way. How many of you have found this happen to you too? What happens? Sometimes it comes down to weight, or size, or whatever thing blocking you from picking up the Matte Box for a shoot. Now, I’m talking about small crews and single shooters here. When the Bright Tangerine arrived with the AJA Cion review camera I was immediately impressed with its feather-light weight and expandable design.
AJA sent me the Cion to test and they included a serious kit with it: Kino-Grip, Zeiss CP. 2 50mm, EVF, Accessory arms, and a Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom. The clamp-on matte box fit the included Zeiss CP.2 50mm like a glove. I used this matte box more than usual because that camera review focused on using diffusion to help the AJA Cion create a more cinematic image. You can read the article here. At first, it was just another matte box then something funny happened. I started to really like the Bright Tangerine Misfit. I caught myself, during downtimes, taking the matte box off the camera rig and feeling its weight in my hands.
The weight-to-strength ratio is impressive. At times, when operating the camera, I hardly felt I had the matte box attached to the lens. In the moments when I had removed the Misfit I realized the matte box was build out of carbon fiber. The woven pattern gives the tell-tale carbon fiber look. Now, I’m not going to sit here and go on and on about how carbon fiber is made, because it is a little bit over my head. What I will tell you is the process makes for a very high strength-to-weight ratio, and is extremely rigid.
Yet, holding this matte box one has to wonder. Can a light-weight piece of production gear be strong? It appears so. The Bright Tangerine Misfit felt durable in hand, and survived at least two falls when shooting. Usually, cameras used for reviews can take a beating and the AJA Cion kit was no exception. The lens, camera, and accessories looked as if they have traveled the world, especially the pelican cases. While the Bright Tangerine Misfit may have become a little worn it worked as if it had shown up mostly new looking.
What I really like in the Misfit is the ability to shrink or expand the matte box. In order to expand the Misfit all you need to do is undo the thumb screws, slide open the back, and you gain a third filter stage. It takes but a moment and you can expand it while the matte box is still attached to a lens. The change takes seconds and can possibly save you time and money. With the Misfit you don’t necessarily need to buy extra stages because, at least for me, three stages is more than enough.
The only feature missing in the Bright Tangerine Misfit Atom: the ability to spin a 4 x 5 filter tray. Not to be a stickler, but I use ND Grads, and Color Grad filters pretty often and it’s nice to adjust these to match your scene. This is a minor thing and the easy of use, and weight, easily make up for no filter tray spin.
Anamorphics & Viv Matte Box
Anamorphic lenses can create some interesting flares, and some interesting problems with flare. What happens if you have a vintage set of anamorphic lenses and you need to control the flare. This is what exactly happened to Nathan Thompson of Contrast Visuals. While Nathan loves the “character” his set of Hawk C-Series Prime Lenses bring to a project one lens can produce a little too much flare for his tastes. The culprit: the 35mm prime lens. He needed to tame the flare on this lens.
This is where I’ll let Nathan take the rest of the article over, “The front element of the 35mm is massive, at 143mm, so we needed a serious matte box solution to fit the lens properly. The 150mm opening of the VIV allowed for plenty of space and the Black Hole Donut successfully stretched to fit around the massive wide-angle anamorphic front element. That was truly impressive!”
“The only drawback is that these vintage lenses don’t focus internally, so they spin and telescope. We discovered that the Black Hole Donut isn’t ideal for that situation with such a large lens. Mainly because the 143mm front element completely maxed out the Black Hole’s stretching ability, and didn’t allow for much movement.” Thankfully, Bright Tangerine has a simple solution. The 150-143mm donut adapter ring is a better solution for Nathan’s 35mm lens. It seems like Bright Tangerine has thought over everything one may need when shooting on anamorphic lenses.
138mm Filter Ring
“Anamorphics are known for having less than ideal close focus. Close focus on these Hawk’s are around 3 1/2 feet–which is better than some lenses–but diopters are still necessary for closeups. That’s another area where this matte box shines. Bright Tangerine’s Black Hole Donut and 143mm Rubber Donut have a built-in 138mm filter retaining ring that fits our set of Schneider diopters at +1/2, +1, +2, and +3 strengths. This keeps all filter and diopter solutions together, which simplifies setups overall. Vintage anamorphic lenses present a lot of unique challenges when it comes to camera build-outs, and I was incredibly impressed with how many of the quirks Bright Tangerine’s VIV matte box directly addressed. In the future, I will most certainly be adding the Viv to my permanent kit for these Hawk C-Series beauties.”