SmallRig releases another matte box system – 5th lucky time?
Regular like clockwork lately, SmallRig has announced yet another new Matte Box. What makes this different from SmallRig 3575 Mini Matte Box Litethe 2660 Lightweight Matte Boxthe 3196 Mini matte box or the 3680 Mini Matte Box Pro exactly? Well, this one is modular. This is the SmallRig 3556 modular matte box, and it comes in a bunch of different kits depending on your needs.
Thread adapters are available to mount it on 67mm, 72mm, 77mm or 82mm lenses, as well as the ability to mount it on standard 15mm rods. This matte box also offers the option to drop the new SmallRig Variable ND Filter Kit which allows you to adjust the strength without having to touch the filter itself – you can even motorize it!
The “Star-Trail” Basic Kit comes with the clip back that everything else attaches to as well as four thread adapter rings at 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm, a shade hood (which sits in front of the filters), a filter frame that takes 4×5.65″ filters, a top flag and a carrying case. There is a Star Trail VND Kit which includes everything in the base kit plus the VND filter kit and 15mm mount to mount it on a standard 15mm rod – for use with lenses less than 95mm in diameter.
But wait, there’s more! Oh yes, SmallRig also announced a larger version of this called the Revo-Arcane Base Kit, which is similar to the Star Trail Base Kit except it’s designed for larger 114mm lenses in diameter instead of lenses with a maximum diameter of 95 mm. This one comes with a taller back, later top flag, taller shade hood, the 15mm rod mount and a pair of side flags – no VND filter kit, you’ll need to buy separately.
It looks like a pretty decent and versatile system. And, well, we should hope so, given that SmallRig has produced so many matte boxes over the past two years that they should know what they’re doing by now. But my only question is, why not do it sooner? I mean, they must have known for a while that they wanted to make a modular matte box. So why not just start with a system that is more scalable and able to grow and adapt to each user’s needs as new accessories are released rather than launching five completely different matte box systems and giving users Feel like they just wasted money when a new one is announced five minutes after buying the last one?
Of course, each of the SmallRig matte boxes has its own uses and benefits and I own a few myself (2660 and 3196) as well as the Tilta Mini Matte Box and am happy with all of them (for the most part). But when new products come out every few months that meet a user’s needs better than previous ones, it’s frustrating for many customers. And even though the SmallRig box mattes are relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, it adds up very quickly when people end up needing to buy several new ones to take advantage of new features that they didn’t know were coming when they bought the old ones. Especially if they use multiple cameras and want matching capabilities on all of them.
Anyway, for those who haven’t purchased a matte box system yet, this looks like a great option, with a variable ND that not only lets you adjust it easily without having to dig your fingers in inside the hood (as you have to do with previous matte boxes with screw-on VND) but also has a 0.8 Mod pinion to allow you to motorize it. If I didn’t already have three matte boxes, I’d probably grab a few myself.
The Star-Trail Modular SmallRig 3556 Base Kit is available for pre-order now for $159. The 3645 Star-Trail VND kit is available for pre-order now for $349. The Revo-Arcane base kit is also available for pre-order now for $239.90 – which is apparently discounted from a regular price of $279. The exact duration of this reduction is unknown. All kits are expected to ship by the end of July.