Shoot35 CINEbox review
When Shoot35 got in touch asking if I’d like to have a look at their new matte box I knew I was going to be in for a treat. Just like the CINEfocus I reviewed a couple of years back the new CINEbox looked very interesting and Shoot35 always put in a lot of effort in producing amazing quality gear at really competitive prices.
Shoot35 put in a lot of effort when it comes to presentation so when the following box turned up I decided to save it until I could set up some strobes and share the experience with you.
What’s in the case?
So once past all of the nice packaging you eventually discover a metal case. Open up the case and the CINEbox presents itself along with the top and side flags all packed in pick n pluck foam. The flags are an optional extra so will only be included if ordered. Also included is a fully printed instruction manual and a single lens adapter ring sized to your requirements.
Obviously you can order more lens adapter rings etc as required, see below for prices. One other point of interest is that you can specify either black or red hardware (thumbscrews etc) and black or red filter trays. This one is specced with red hardware and one of each colour of filter trays as well as the optional flag set.
The front of the matte-box features a removable letterbox shaped matte-plate that attaches magnetically and further limits light spill. So even without the flags you still have some control over light coming in to the matte-box.
Fitting the flags
The optional side and top flags are attached with a thumbscrew locking system. One thing I like about the thumbscrews that Shoot35 have used is that they lock in both directions so you can’t loosen them to the point that they fall out.
With the flags fitted you can start to see just how much there is to this matte-box. The top flag is a traditional shape allowing the side flags to be opened out at various angles. The side flags have an adjustable top part allowing you to close up any gaps to further reduce any chance of sunlight or other light sources shining on the lens.
Mounting and setup
For the purposes of this review Shoot35 also supplied one of their DSLR camera rod / mount systems. When setting up the matte-box it’s important to get the camera at the correct height so that the lens lines up with the bellows in the matte box. Shoot35′s DSLR mount uses metal plates and shims which are stacked under the quick release mount to achieve the correct height.
Lens adapter rings
The next job is to fit the lens attachment rings to the lenses. These are all metal and come in multiple sizes available to suit most lens thread sizes.
One really nice thing about the adapter rings that Shoot35 supply is that they also have a forward thread that matches the size of the lens thread allowing you to refit your lens caps whilst leaving the adapters in place. Shoot35 also sent some of their new flexi lens gears for the review so I also attached those to my lenses, in this case the Canon 50mm and 24mm L series primes.
The lens adapters allow the lenses to snap into the bellows part of the matte box via three small sprung ball bearings that locate in the groove that runs around the outer edge of the adapters. The connection between the bellows and the lens works really well, it grips enough to allow you to make adjustments to the position of the matte-box without the two separating yet also makes it very easy to pull them apart when required.
With the matte-box lined up and locked into position on the rods it’s then possible to start using the swing-away system. Using the swing-away hinge is as simple as loosening a single locking key, popping the bellows off of the lens adapter and swinging the box away to the side.
Although simple to use there’s a lot of adjustability built into the hinge system. You can easily extended the whole assembly forwards and backwards using a short pair of rods on the side of the unit which have their own locking key. for larger adjustments for long lenses etc the clamp on the mounting rods would need be adjusted as required but it’s nice having some adjustment without needed to do that. Theres also a bunch of small allen key adjusters that allow you to fine tune the angles of everything although I didn’t have to touch those as the unit I reviewed seemed perfectly setup out of the box.
The CINEbox features two 4×4 filter trays, both of which can be rotated individually as required. The filters are fitted into the holders and held in place by spring loaded clamps at the top of the filter holders. I found the filter holders quite stiff in operation when rotating them although that’s something that may be due to the unit being new and would probably become easier with use.
Each filter tray has a silver knurled locking screw for locking the filter tray into place in the holder and a red locking screw for locking the rotation. As mentioned earlier you can specify either black or red filter trays, I like to have on of each so that I know where my polariser is if I’m using one.
In the short time I’ve had so far with the CINEbox I’ve found it really good to work with. It’s certainly a step up from the Genus matte-box I’ve been using previously, both in terms of functionality and in size. The swing -away system works really well making lens swaps a lot more practical and the addition of side flags makes and the front matte choker it a lot more flexible when it comes to controlling light.
I’ve also been trying the CINEbox out on my EX1 and it works a treat on that as well. As with most matte-boxes the EX1′s LCD has to be extended in order to allow the filter trays to rotate but it is possible to close it with the CINEbox fitted by rotating the trays slightly first making it easier to transport assembled.
A lot of people are bound to ask how it stacks up against the similarly priced Genus wide angle matte box that I’ve been using previously. I have to say that the CINEbox is offering a lot more than the Genus product and outperforms it in a lot of areas. The Genus product does benefit in that’s it’s small and very light weight which could be an advantage at times but bang for buck the CINEbox gives you a lot more for your money.
The Genus matte-box has some quite large gaps between the filter holders and the matte-box itself which can easily let the sun shine through on to your lens if shooting in daylight. I’ve always found that to be a big oversight considering the matte-box’s main job is to keep the lens nicely shaded. The CINEbox on the other hand is a lot better in this respect with the filter trays fitting very snuggly.
I’ve included a few photo’s below to show you the two systems side by side.
Pricing & summary
The Shoot35 CINEbox is being launched at an introductory price of £399 for the first batch, after that it will be retailing for £449. These prices include one lens attachment ring but the flags are an additional purchase at £79 for the set (top & sides). Prices do not include VAT.
Additional lens attachment rings are going to cost you £5 each or less if you buy 3 or more.
In summary I really like the way the CINEbox attaches to lenses and being able to leave the lens caps on the lenses whilst they have the adapter rings fitted is simple addition but a big attraction. The design and performance of the swing-away system is excellent and the whole unit feels very professional.
I’m really impressed with the Shoot35 CINEbox and highly recommend you check it out it if you’re in the market for a matte-box.
For more information about the Shoot35 CINEbox visit www.shoot35.com