a camera matte box is one of those pieces of indie film gear that are very nice to have, but typically priced way out of a low budget indie filmmaker’s budget.
So, what does a matte box do, you ask?
Well, here goes:
- prevents sun from entering the lens, from the side or top (which causes lens flares)
- prevents unwanted lights or reflections from hitting the lens (preventing lens flares or worse, haze)
- allows the use of filters to improve your image quality. (ND filters to reduce light, polarizer lens to reduce glare, graduated ND and other filters to knock down light from the sky, while allowing increasing the exposure on everything below the horizon.)
Wikipedia says this about Matte Boxes:
In still photography and video, a mattebox is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. It performs essentially the same function as a lens hood and also mounts in front of the lens, but usually includes adjustable fins called French flags.
Another purpose of a matte box is to hold glass or plastic filters in place in front of the lens. Today, matte boxes are made for DV cameras and HD cameras for the same reasons as for film cameras. Some are supported by two rods that run the length of the camera, while others are supported by the lens itself.
A matte box may have a bellows, a rigid sunshade or both, where the bellows is positioned within the rigid sunshade, having a mask which may be adjusted forward or back to suit the angle of view of the camera system.
Here is a great little DIY Indie film gear project for very functional camera matte box.