Irix has expanded its product base from just lenses once again. After having already branched out into filters, they’ve now announced the new Irix Matte Box IQ. It’s a small, lightweight matte box designed for filmmakers and video shooters to help control light spill on their lenses. It does have one slight drawback for many filmmakers, though, which might be a deal breaker. It’s only designed to work with Irix’s magnetic filters.
If you’re already an Irix shooter and already own a bunch of Irix’s magnetic filters, then this won’t be a problem. But if you’ve been using industry-standard 4×5.65″ glass filters for video work with other matte boxes, then this one probably won’t be for you. At least, not all the time. It still has some great applications as a secondary matte box for a smaller, portable, lightweight camera rig.
The Irix Matte Box IQ frame is made from plastic with a carbon fibre flag to prevent light sources (particularly the sun) from flaring into the front of your lens. Its lightweight construction means that it only weighs 195g. This is even lighter than SmallRig’s Lightweight Matte Box, which comes in at 238g without the top flag installed. While the 43g difference in the matte box itself might not sound like much, ultimately, those little savings will all add up to one big saving throughout the rig as a whole, mostly due to the fact that you’re limited in what you can attach to it. 4×5.65″ filters, for example, can be pretty heavy. They’re typically solid glass (not resin) and 3-4mm thick. Irix’s magnetic round filters are smaller, thinner and very lightweight by comparison.
The good thing about Irix’s magnetic filters is that they’ve got a pretty decent range of them now, including a circular polariser and neutral density in strengths from 2 (ND4) to 6 (ND64) stops. So, for most people, you’re not really missing out on much by using the Irix magnetic filters. And you don’t even need a filter at all with a matte box if all you’re using it for is a flag to stop the sun from hitting the lens. So, whether the lack of compatibility with 4×5.65″ filters is really going to be an issue is a personal need.
Even without filters, though, just having a flag to block the light will help to reduce flare and increase contrast and colour saturation. It lets your camera’s sensor see the scene unhindered by light sources outside of the frame. This is the primary reason why matte boxes exist. It’s the video equivalent of the lens hood that comes supplied with many photographic lenses but with more control. Control you need because cameras shooting video are often moved in the process of shooting a clip.
The Irix Matte Box IQ comes with a native 95mm front mount diameter, letting you attach it directly to standard 95mm diameter cinema lenses. This means you don’t need to mess around with any adapter plates. That being said, if you’re using photography lenses with smaller diameters, Irix has filter thread mounting adapters available in a range of sizes from 52-86mm. Specifically, they have 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 86mm – all of the most common filter sizes we see on photography lenses.
Irix says that the matte box can handle extremely wide lenses. Lenses as wide as 15mm on full-frame should not be an issue at all, they say, and shouldn’t appear in the shot. Of course, this will depend on where you need to place the flag in order to block the problem light. On the telephoto end, naturally, you can go as long as you want.
Overall, it seems like a decent solution for small lightweight rigs where you don’t need a more substantial system that can take 4×5.65″ filters. Especially so if you’ve already bought into the Irix magnetic filter system. But it does seem like something of an oversight not to have support for 4×5.65″ filters. For those with multiple cameras and multiple needs, they’re not going to buy into multiple matte box systems using filters that can’t be shared between them. For single camera shooters or those that want a matte box dedicated specifically to as light of a rig as possible, then this could be a fantastic option.
The lack of 4×5.65″ filter support is a bit of a deal breaker for me, personally, but would it bother you?
The Irix Matte Box IQ is available to buy now for €75 (around $81.50) from the Irix website. I expect it’ll be coming to the usual retailers in the coming weeks.