Shoot35 is a well known company in the Indie Film-making market. They first started with DoF adaptors for small cameras. I bought the SG-Blade, the latest revision of the DoF adaptor, that I’ve been using for two years now. It’s strong and functionnal and CHEAP, far cheaper than the Letus, which have nothing more to offer. I reviewed the SG-Blade here.

Then I also bought the Shoot35 Follow focus, revision 1, which was cheap and cheap. I mean, you have a good feeling when pulling focus but… it’s cheap. Again, they made a revision two which is far better and can compete with all the biggest brand. It’s a little more expensive though.

The last thing I needed was a Matte-box. I had to rent one on every time I had a serious work, with sometime some supprises. For example, a rental company gave us the mattebox but without the swing arm… And most of the time when you rent cheap you don’t have a swing arm, you have to take the MB off every time you change the lense, which can happen a lot depending on your DP :)

Shoot35 announced they Matte box some time ago. The first batch was gone in a minut, and the second also. But this time I was informed and ambushed to be able to order in the second ! And I got one !!

Here is my review with some pictures

Unboxing

So today I received the box. Inside is the classic Shoot35 package with red foam. The MB is delivered with a hard case (made of plasic, it’s not a safety case but is fine for most of us. Maybe they should add an option for a Pellicase…).

Inside you find the MB itself with the flaps. There is another box containing the insert, the « clip-on » (or adaptor) ring  and a set of hallen keys.
The hard case is not the same model as I had before but feels strong. Don’t let it go under a car or in a river though… Also, you can’t lock it. This can be a real problem if you’re taking a fly…

Description

The MB feels solid. The metal parts are strong anodised alluminium, black for most of the parts and red for handles. The swing-away arm is a bit rigid for the moment but I’m sure it will be good after some time.

As you can see on the next picture, the front have 4 white screws in the corners. These are used to « plug » the Matte Insert used to limit the light getting inside the MB. It’s magnetic and stick to the screws.

The CINEbox also offer two filter tray. They can hole 4×4 filters. You can order them red or black. I’ve ordered black as I thought the light bounding on it may give a red tint on the image/flares. Now I have the MB in hands, I don’t think it can be a problem. But this is just a question of design and how you will be a star with your mattebox. I don’t care and the red handles are already fine for me :)

The filters holders can both rotate independantly. This behaviour is controled by the red handler. As it’s brand new it feels hard to move, specialy if you’re moving them one at a time. You have a clic at every 90°, plus some other in the middle.The white handler is used to lock to filter tray in position. There is a center « click » so you can precisely adjust it.

The Rubber Bellows (Donut) is fine. It is firmly attached to the MB itself using screw. I’m more used to MB where you can take it off quickly, which can be usefull sometime. As this is aimed for « small » optics, the 80mm hole should be enough. In the inside, a ring with small balls is here to « clip-on » a smaller ring adapter. I ordered a 77mm ring to use on my PMW EX1 and the 24-70 f2.8 Nikon lense.


The CINEbox can be used on the EX1 if you open the LCD under the microphone. I tried the MB on it as a clip-on. I wasn’t able to remove the arm, so it was really too heavy for the rubber bellows to handle.

Update : Actualy, the CINEbox manual present a soft-mount (the rubber bellows) and a Hard-Mount, which is made of hard plastic. This is used to « clip on » the lense. You can’t order it right now though. Also, you have to unscrew the rubber bellows, which is not possible quickly on a set. You will have to chose. Also, removing the arm is dony by removing the three bolts connecting the shade to the arm.

The Swing-Away Arm feels really solid. Actualy, much more than some competitors like RedRock.

The left handle allow to adjust the MB independently from the arm. At the closest position, the MB can cross before the arm. This can be handy sometimes. On the other way, if you are short with the 15mm rods, you can push it almost 5cm forward. This is also useful when you have lenses with different length. You can adjust without having to move the arm.
Also, I had a problem with a MB one day, where you HAD to put the arm at the end of the rods. Then the MB was also beeing block by the rods…No way to push it closer…
It’s No problem with the CINEbox. The moving parts are above the arm, so above the rods.

The right handle is here to tighten the swing movement. I would have prefer a quicker push/pull button like on the RedRock, but this handle is really accessible so it should be fine.

You can also adjust the parallelism of the mattebox them the arm is pushed.
One last picture of the arm opened :

I put the CINEbox on my SG-blade rod support. The camera was not there, but I tried with a 50mm f1.2 Nikon lense.

It’s working nicely.

From the front view, you can see the lense is kind of « low » in the hole. It is not centered.This is not a big issue but still.
The SG-Blade is already at it’s top position and I won’t be able to rise it more. As the CINEbox does not have a height adjustment, I’m screwed !!!
I don’t know how they managed this high. I’ll have to check with the competitors mattebox to see if it’s standard. If it is then it’s the SG-blade that is not standard ! I’ll have to figure that out. Again, if it was possible to remove the rubber bellows, I could fit any lense without problem.

Update : As pointed out Wayne, a member of Shoot35 Team, I did not read the manual coming with the CINEbox. This is why  I passed on the height position adjustment. This can be done by loosening the three bolts connecting the shade and the arm. Here is the picture. Sorry Wayne, I was too busy (hurry)….

You also see the flaps handles here. Nothing special to say. They are working perfectly.

The flaps are a little smaller than what I’m used to. I will surely have to design somthing to increase the length of the top flag and use some scratch to tighten it.
The sides flap are also too small. The screw where the moving part  is tighten should be at the same height as the handle of the top flap. Again, nothing really bad, but still…

Conclusion

It’s a good product. It feels solid and is made with good materials. While I’m still waiting to be able to use it on a movie, i’m confident. It is better than some other brands I worked with but still have few small problems. Also, note that this mattebox is designed for the DSLR market. As I’m more in the « movie » (understand old legacy camcorders world) market, I’m used to more versatile hardware.

My opinion is you can seriously go for it. I’ll have a try with a 14mm lense soon to ensure the side of the MB is not in the field (which was confirmed by Shoot35) but I see no reason why.
I hope they will release a V2 soon, with, for example, carbon instead of (heavy) plastic and instant-lock swing-away.

 

Pros :

  • cheap
  • solid
  • two rotating filter tray
  • swing arm
  • can adjust height
  • clip-on mode if you remove some bolts and buy the hard-mount kit

Cons :

  • can’t take rubber bellows off easily
  • heavy ? (will have to compare)
  • hard to find for the moment (but I don’t care I now have one :))