Matte boxes are tools for taking photos and shooting videos—a device mounted on the end of a camera lens. They’re ideal for shooting in direct sunlight, as their function is very similar to that of a lens hood; they block the sun, lens glare, and other unwanted light sources when shooting. This prevents photos or videos from appearing hazy or having unwanted shadows and lens flares show up in the finished product. Some photographers and videographers prefer matte boxes to lens hoods, as matte boxes tend to have adjustable fins that make them more modifiable. Matte boxes can also serve the useful purpose of holding a glass or plastic filler in front of the lens. If you work with cameras, take a look at these matte boxes that can help you produce high-quality content.
What to Consider in a Matte Box
Here are the things you should look into before purchasing a matte box:
- Compatibility: This is the most important factor in selecting a matte box. Before you purchase one, you’ll want to check and make sure that it will fit and is compatible with your camera.
- Handheld vs. Tripod: Some matte boxes were designed for handheld shooting while others were intended for use on a tripod or similar stationary object. If you plan to mount your camera, make sure that your matte box is designed for mounting and will fit or clip onto your tripod.
- Size: You’ll want to go with a matte box that will fit your widest possible lens so you don’t risk not being able to use your biggest lenses in direct sunlight. Unless you plan on mounting your camera, you’ll probably also want to go with as small and lightweight a matte box as possible, so it won’t weigh you down over a long day of shooting. This is especially important if you tend to mount your camera on your shoulder.
- Features: There is some variation in the extra features available with different matte boxes. Some will have more adjustable fins or fins in different places, various types of filter trays, step down rings for lenses of varying diameters, or a swing-away system that allows you to swap lenses without loosening or dismounting your matte box. Do some research into the types of features you think will best suit your photography or videography needs.
Best Overall: PROAIM MB-600 Matte Box
This is a professional-grade and durable matte box that controls lights with maximum efficiency and gives your shots extra cinematic effects. The outer diameter is 95 millimeters, able to accommodate lenses up to that size. The adjustable flags on both sides and the top offer more adjustability as well as added protection from lens flares and other external lights. It comes with two rotating 4-inch by 4-inch filter holders to enhance your camera or camcorder’s colors. You can remove or install square filters without disrupting your flash settings or microphone. The height of the matte box is also adjustable to help it match better with your lenses, and it comes with interchangeable masks of both 4:3 and 16:9 ratio formats for multiple angles. It’s designed for all DV/HDV cameras with normal and wide-angle lenses and weighs in at only 2 pounds, so it won’t weigh you down during a long day of shooting.
PROAIM MB-600 Sunshade Mattebox w Height Riser for Camera Lenses up to 95mm. for 15mm Rails, Top Flag, Extendable Side Flags & Knicker. 2 Filter Holders, 4:3 & 16:9 Format Masks, Tool-Less (P-MB-600)
A professional-level matte box suitable for all DV/HDV cameras with normal or wide-angle lenses.
Best for Budget: Neewer Rail Rods Matte Box
If money is tight but you’re in the market for a new matte box, this is an excellent cost-efficient option that will still give you plenty of options. It will fit on most DV cameras with wide-angle lenses. Made of plastic and anodized black metal, this matte box weighs in at just over 11 ounces, which makes it perfect for handheld shooting. It comes with three fins for added light protection that can be removed if desired. It can fit lenses as small as 43 millimeters and as large as 77 millimeters. The height is adjustable up to 45 millimeters based on the camera lens and the rail rod system you attach it to (sold separately), as it works with standard 15-millimeter rod support systems. This matte box is also able to hold glass and plastic filters in place in front of the lens for your convenience.
Neewer Plastic 15 mm Rail Rods Matte Box for Canon Nikon Sony Fujifilm Olympus Panasonic DSLR Camera,Camcorder Video Movie Film Making System(Red)
A lightweight and affordable matte box that is perfect for handheld shooting.
Best Miniature: Tiltaing Mini Matte Box
For any filmmakers or photographers who prefer using DSLR and mirrorless-style cameras, this is the perfect matte box for you. Despite its small size and almost weightlessness (just under 5 ounces), this matte box will have no trouble with preventing flaring and protecting your lenses. The fin comes attached and can easily adjust to whatever angles you need. It also comes with the bonus of two filter options, with a slot for any standard filter and two cold shoe adapters. Besides the matte box and carbon protective flag, you also will receive a bottom single 15-millimeter rod holder, a black aluminum rod, two Allen keys, a matte box single rod support attachment, and four adapter rings of 67, 72, 77, and 82 millimeters.
Tiltaing Mini Matte Box - Lightweight Filter Support with Top Flag for DSLR or Small Cine-Style Cameras Lenses | MB-T15
A small yet versatile matte box with a modular design that makes changing components as quick and efficient as possible.
Best for Wide Angles: CAMTREE MB-20 Wide Angle Matte Box
This is a matte box designed to perfectly capture and protect all your wide-angle shots to perfection. Made of polyamide resin and aluminum, this matte box provides durability and strength without adding too much extra weight to your camera. The foldable side and top flags provide added light and flare protection and are adjustable to your shooting preferences. The black fabric knicker attachment can be added to entirely block any external light. The swing-away bracket allows you to switch out camera lenses quickly without taking the entire matte box apart any time you need to make a switch. Besides the matte box, flags, and knicker, you will also receive two rotating filter holders that work equally well for polarized and square filters. They allow you to remove or install square filters without disrupting your flash or microphone settings. One filter rotates 180 degrees while the other holds steady. It’s great for DSLR cameras and supports lenses of up to 105 millimeters.
CAMTREE Swing Away Wide-Angle Sunshade Matte Box for 15mm Rod. for Lenses up to 105mm in Dia, Tool-Less Operations. Two 4x4 Filter Holders & Fabric Knicker. Complete Protection from Flares (C-MB-20)
A wide-angle-friendly matte box with a durable design that allows you to adjust and switch your lenses conveniently.