Recently I did a hands-on review of the Tilta Mini Follow Focus and to follow that up I now have the Tiltaing Mini Matte Box that also retails for $99. The Tiltaing Mini Matte Box is designed for DSLR or still lenses. Tilta kept the size and weight on the low side to fit the compact nature of those cameras.
Neutral Density Filters are a must for cameras that don’t have them built-in, plus using some effect filters like mist or gradients can add some interest to a shot. You have a few choices such as round screw-in filters or using a filter tray like the Cokin, however, filmmakers like to use a matte box for filters. The Matte box adds more than just a way to put a filter on your lens. It can also shade the lens to prevent flare. The Tilta Mini Matte Box has some nice features at an incredibly competitive price of only $99. Let’s take a closer look at the features.
In the box, you pretty much get everything you need to use the Tiltaing Mini Matte Box, but you need to supply the filters yourself.
Tiltaing Mini Matte Box KIT
- Tiltaing Mini Matte Box
- Carbon Fiber Top Flag
- 67mm Adapter Ring
- 72mm Adapter Ring
- 77mm Adapter Ring
- 82mm Adapter Ring
- 15mm Single Rod Clamp
- 15mm Rod (3.9″)
- 2 x Allen Wrench
- Limited 2-Year Warranty
As for filters, the mini matte box has a single slot for one standard 4 x 5.65″ filter. There are no options to add a second filter to the matte box. The distance of the filter to the front of the lens is rather deep at 1-inch. This is a lot more than most matte boxes.
A general rule is to get the filter as close to the front element as possible to avoid flare and other issues when light hits the front of the lens. To make the matte box “mini” the filter is moved forward to the front.
The filter slides into the matte box from the side and is secured with a very small spring-loaded pin. The filters fit is tight. I think over time it will loosen up a little bit, however, out of the box it is a little tight. I’ll take tight over loose as my 4 x 5.65″ filters cost a lot more than the $99 Tiltaing Mini Matte Box 🙂 .
I did go outside and shoot in the sun and did find the flag couldn’t control all of the flares. It worked at the top but the flare is still present in the lower bottom left side area of the image.
This could be happening for a couple of reasons. The overall size of the Mini Matte Box is small. At approximately half the size of a Bight Tangerine MisFit Atom and the 1″ distance of the 4 x 5.65″ filter could also contribute to the issue. Something has got to give.
Size does matter when it comes to shading the lens, however, this matte box is a “MINI”, so you cant expect it to perform like a full-size model. Add in that it cost only $99, I think it has its place like for gimbals, shooting in tight spaces, or just the convenience of a small setup on a small camera. Maybe your clients will be impressed with that “mini” matte box too. 🙂
Using Screw-In Filters With The Lens Adapter
If you don’t have 4 x 5.65″ filters the adapter ring is threaded for screw-in filters that match the adapter. This makes it possible to use a 4 x 5.65″ filter with a screw in at the same time. This is a good option.
Something to note. Variable ND and Circular Polarizers might be tough to use as the filter threads are recessed a bit on the adapter. You might get the filter in but getting it out could be difficult since the front filter will rotate and you can’t get your fingers inside the adapter. I think a standard filter is a better option if you need to stack.
The kit includes a top flag that appears to be made of carbon fiber. It’s rigged and very light. It simply mounts on top and is easy to adjust and lock in place. When closed it will protect the lens and installed filter.
To mount the matte box with the clip-on feature the kit includes four adapter rings. A 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, and 82mm. If you need additional sizes Tilta offers five more sizes for only $7 each. A 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, and 80mm. Tilta will also offer cine versions in 80mm & 85mm soon.
The adapter ring screws on to the front of the lens and the Tiltaing Mini Matte Box slide on the adapter. This is my preferred way to use a lightweight matte box. The clip-on matte box is fast and easy to work with especially if you don’t want to add a baseplate and rails.
Rail Mount Option
Included is a 15mm rail mount and mounting hardware that is designed for Tilta cages. The mount has an anti-twist pin on it as well as a 3/8 16″ mounting screw that works with several of Tiltas cages. I have the new Tiltaing Fujifilm Cage and the two mounting options for the 15mm rail mount doesn’t work properly for mounting the Mini Matte Box. I feel they are better suited for the Nucleus Nano motor.
On the right side mounting option, the mount will cover the X-T3’s autofocus selection switch so that’s not going to work while the other side does mount just fine it puts the position of the mini matte box to close and just doesn’t fit.
I attached the Tilta 15mm LWS Baseplate Type II to the cage and things started to work. Now the included rail mount lined up with the rails and attached as it should. It takes a little work to get it on just right. Why would I want to use a 15mm rail with the adapter? Good question!
Extra Mounting Points
On top of the matte box is a few mounting points for accessories. I DONT RECOMMEND adding anything to the matte box unless it is secured with a rail mount for a couple of reasons. Adding too much weight to the front of the lens can potentially add flex to the lens barrel and mount.
The lens adapter holds the matte box and a filter just fine but I don’t think it’s clamping ability is strong enough to hold a light or shotgun mic alone. Be smart and use the rail mount if you want to take advantage of the extra mounting points.
The size of the clip-on is not a standard so using the rail mount option doesn’t require you to use the adapters. It will help with stability. Tilta doesn’t offer a donut or knickers for the Mini Matte Box.
The Tiltaing Mini Matte Box is a true bargain at only $99. It’s very light with a pretty darn good built quality at this price point. Getting filters into the front is a little tight, however, I feel over time this will get better.
The ability to add industry-standard 4 x 5.65″ filter to a mirrorless or stills lens is very handy. Yes, the pin that holds it in is tiny but effective. Just make sure it’s engaged and locked.
I like the top flag a lot as it works very well to prevent flares and is very light in weight. It’s not as good as a full-size matte box so just be aware of the lighting condition to prevent unwanted flares.
The included lens adapters is a great start and Tilta made getting more very inexpensive at only $7 each. For the budget-conscious filmmaker, the Tiltaing Mini Matte Box is a good start. Just save your lunch money because good filters are going to put you back a bit.
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