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class="Paragraph" 4 x 4 Matte Boxes

Published : 13th June 2004


Anyone have opinions as to the differences in the Chrosziel vs. the Vocas 4x4 2 stage matte box systems? I'm looking at both for a variety of DV cameras. Thanks.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP



Jim Sofranko wrote:

>Anyone have opinions as to the differences in the Chrosziel vs. the >Vocas 4x4 2 stage matte box systems? I'm looking at both for a variety >of DV cameras. Thanks.

I think before you decide on either, you should really check out the Petroff mattebox system. It's the lightest and most versatile I've ever used. Each manufacturer has it's strong points and I stock all three at Moviola. However, I think it would be a mistake to choose Chrosziel or Vocas (Century) without also looking at the Petroff 4x4 (or 4x5 for that matter.)

http://www.petroff.ws/

Disclaimer : I don't have any financial interest in any of the before mentioned companies. I do however, have to constantly replace lost and damaged mattebox parts. In that regard the people at Ste-man, Inc. (Petroff distributors in L.A.) have been outstanding to work with the very, very, very few times I've needed anything with the Petroff name.

Illya Friedman
Senior Camera Rental Agent
Moviola Cameras
Hollywood, CA
www.moviola.com



>I think before you decide on either, you should really check out the >Petroff mattebox system.

The new Petroff mattebox is very cool - I used it recently on a documentary in Mali, then on a couple of music videos.

MAJOR ADVANTAGES : the mattebox is 'modular' (i.e., you can add/drop stages), and each filter tray independently rotates or can be locked.

This is extremely useful when shooting landscapes shots / b-roll on a low budget with minimal gear. The only matte boxes I know of that can do this is the Arri studio or Chrosziel. Certainly none in clip-on can do this (am I wrong?).

The modularity is useful in case you need to use that 'ultra-wide' lens, and would need to drop a stage or two so as not to vignette.

The pieces quickly snap on and off, and look pretty rugged.

You can also get mattes for individual lenses, or get a topper and siders.

For what it can do, the price is cheaper than what Chrosziel or Arri offers, especially with the price of the Euro these days.

DISDVANTAGES: it has these weird adaptor rings that can fit most everything in video, but not film. But I hear from Mr. Petroff that new ones are on the way, and he can build on demand in the meantime.

Also, as great as the mattebox is, I've found that I needed to make a cloth 'cover' that can come on and off with velcro to prevent light leaks from the spaces between the filters. Now, keep in mind this is only when placing heavy ND’s in front or when doing time-lapse work. And, it is no better or worse than the Chrosziel.

All in all, it's a good mattebox system, is actually very sturdy despite its light weight, and can be switched between clip-on mode and rails. IMHO, it edges out the Chrosziel system, but Arri is still the best overall.

Usual Disclaimers apply...sfgh

Duraid Munajim
DP, Toronto



>IMHO, it edges out the Chrosziel system, but Arri is still the best overall.

Duraid, what is the mattebox made of?

I owned one of the old Petroff matte boxes years ago, used it for road trips where I needed to travel light. It was great for that, but the plastic material the stages were made of wasn't as rugged as it might have been...

I regularly use both Arri and Chrosziel - mostly Chrosziel for video, I tend to save the Arri for film work - and have found they're both much more rugged. It sounds like the new Petroff is greatly improved - what is it made of? Have they gone to more rugged metal stages?

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



> Duraid, what is the mattebox made of?

It's plastic, but it seems more 'dense' than what the old Petroff system was.

I remember those matte boxes, and in some ways this new system is an improvement, in others, it's not. The trays are more rugged, but the bracket that keeps the front and back together seems fragile.

Take a look at the website, you'll see what I mean.

Having said this, it did withstand the daily grind of shooting in Mali, with all the sand it got exposed to. Given that it's modular, you can take it fully apart with the minimal of tools, clean out all the sand and put it back together. The mattebox was in use on the back of a 4x4 pickup for 6 hours of heavy pounding, and it handled it fine. All the filters that were placed in and locked, stayed in. I had some grads in at some points and they stayed during the duration.

But then again, with the price range of these matte boxes, they should last for YEARS, and time will tell with the new Petroffs.

Duraid Munajim
www.duraid.ca
www.48media.com/directors_munajim.htm



>I remember those matte boxes, and in some ways this new system is >an improvement, in others, it's not. The trays are more rugged, but the >bracket that keeps the front and back together seems fragile.

Yes, this was one of the big problems I had - the screws were stronger than the plastic material they were threaded into, which meant that a good jolt would strip the thread, not on the screw, but on the bracket.

Also, the screws were neither a standard metric, nor a standard imperial size! I finally took it into a shop and had every hole re-bored to a standard size, as a couple of screws had worked their way loose & I couldn't find replacements.

What I liked most about the old Petroff is what they've eliminated in the new one - the collapsible coated-paper shade. It made the system super lightweight and small, very well suited for travel. (I had mine for almost ten years, and only had to replace that shade once!)

I think I'll stick to my Chrosziel and Arris for now

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada