Cheap Matte Box – DON’T DO IT

Alright, when I see an item that's super duper crap not good stuff, it's not mentioned on this blog. Unfortunately I think i've received a hundred emails about RJ's new 'cheap' matte box and everyone seems so excited about it. So I feel I need to throw out a word of warning. I'm here to tell you it's terrible! not very good. Don't do it!

This is literally the first time i've posted a blog about something to say that it's a total waste of money (ok maybe my second time). In fact, I've seen this thing up close and personal and my suggestion is to try to avoid it at all costs. I don't think it should even be considered as a 'Matte Box'. It's barely even a decent sun shade. The plastic designed panels could reflect light back into the lens. It holds no filters so what's the use? The clamp will fall apart on you the first day with plastic knobs. There's my personal input and for those who might have bought into it, you might want to ask for a refund. Currently it's being sold pretty cheap through a seller jinfinance found below. Avoid buying is my take....

find-price-button RJ Matte Box - Don't Buy It

56 thoughts on “Cheap Matte Box – DON’T DO IT

  1. Andi

    I'm German, sorry for my bad english 🙂

    I completely agree to jerry...
    furthermore, I do not understand why the color is a problem... my product was perfectly matte black.

    The quality is reasonable for the price. I do not understand these wannabe pros.

  2. OK........I bought a similar one from Neewer for $17.95. I really don't understand what the problems are for all of the commentators. What did you expect? A $400 matte box for under 50 bucks. Spray the flags flat black and screw the filters into your lens and there you go! If you don't have time to use screw in filters...then buy the $400 matte box.

  3. Holly

    When I saw the prices, WOW. So, I decided to build my own. A little EBay, a little HOME DEPOT and a lot of work.
    And BAZINGA, The home brew bellows matte box, with filter holder. It's nothing to write home about, but it works.

  4. MaC

    i have on of this. Sprayed it black mate inside, and glued a cokin filter holder on it. Works like a charm!..and its cheap! 🙂

  5. Actually this matte box is much less of a rip off then any other I've seen, the truth is nobody needs a matte box at all, there are inexpensive filter holders out there, but to pay $350-$1000 for a matte box is insane, who needs aluminum to block the sun??... none of them flag worth a damn. If you need to flag you need to mount a flag "off camera" on a C-stand.. for what one can flag with a camera mounted system this plastic is the MOST YOU SHOULD NEED! You don't need a high dollar aluminum box to block the sun???? why not black anodized stainless for god's sake.... besides the vast majority of matte box purchasers buy them for looks, so get the cheep plastic (still too expensive) and the decoration will sell the client just fine........

  6. Adrian

    I have 2 rigs with this type of matte box and i am very happy with !
    Absolute DECENT product. It cost 40 USD ! not 100, not 300...
    I recomand it.
    I understand that the old rig producers are now frustrated because more similar products appear on market at CORRECT price.

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  9. Corey

    $350 for matte box with french flags, reversible follow focus and shoulder rig just seems like too good of a deal to pass up. I guess if the matte box is truly that bad I can just resell it since it only ends up costing like $60. If I can't improve it by painting it matte black inside. I think I may still give it a shot. I'm going to think on it. I think aesthetically it'll be a big improvement over a plain old DLSR. The pictures with it on a DSLR make it look like a serious cinema camera. Without it my T2i looks like just a plain DSLR photography camera. I don't like that.

  10. Emm

    Post author

    @Corey - I agree, aesthetics can help, but if you saw it in person you might think differently about it. I guess for the price, some people find it worth the try.

  11. Corey

    Emm, honestly, I just need the matte box to work like a lens hood, still have the ability to use lens filters, but with that cinematic professional look that a lens hood lacks.

    I believe for film making people (actors, and everyone else) will take the professional look more seriously than a lens hood. Aesthetics I feel plays a huge psychological role in the whole thing.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Corey - Yes you can use Lens Filters, and then you should just use a basic Lens Hood. Not sure why you would need this plastic box, unless you're just going for aesthetics to impress clients. Unfortunately because it serves very little purpose you won't be impressing your peers at any event.

  13. Corey

    Can you not just use lens filters with this cheap mattebox instead of the 4x4 filters? I would rather use them so I can use a ND Grad filter

    I'm disappointed to hear it sucks, but if I can still use lens filters I'm good. Maybe paint the inside of the flags with flat back. DO you think its performance would be decent enough then?

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  15. OK i just got back from vacation to find this matte box waiting for me. i'll be putting up a thorough video review soon like i did with the RJ FF unit. but for the moment i just gotta say that people are blowing things way out of proportion again. it's a $60 unit and it's being compared to 2,3,4, $500 units in terms of functionality and quality. and that's just silly to do. i don't expect to be giving it rave reviews, but i do definitively see it working just fine for many people whose needs it suits quite well. i also see it having a few quirks which might make it a PITA for many of us, but i'll get into those details in the video. cheerios~

  16. LPowell

    If you expected an actual matte box, this 15mm rail-mounted lens hood would be a disappointment. However, it's very useful as a lightweight sun shade with removable and adjustable flags. The molded plastic parts are sturdy and functional for their intended purpose, and the 15mm rail bracket is well-machined out of aluminum. Aside from it being mislabeled as a "matte box", which is pretty obvious from the photos, I'm not sure what inspired the OP's ire at this inexpensive and useful lens hood.

  17. Michael

    Ok so I spoke with RJ and told him that I wanted to cancel the order and he respectfully did! I'd work with him in the future because as a business man he did the right thing. He also said that he agreed with Emm about it needing more functionality. I'm all for the getting things as cheap as possible seeing that most of us are on little to NO budgets and his idea was sound, at least it was better than making one out of Tupperware.

    I told RJ that if he comes up with something a little more functional that I would give it a try. What more can I ask for! Emm thank you again for your insight on things and keeping us informed!

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @IAmProductions - You might be able to hard glue a cokin holder httpss://

  19. IAmProductions

    Do you think that this could be modified or something? Do you think that it could be a "Cheap/Decent" Matte box if you could put a filter holder on it? And no, I am not meaning like this would be "Very" good. But for a cheap, very low budget film, would you say it's.....OK?

  20. sufle

    I think for people who want or need to look professional it might be the right thing. it is like a pretending to be professional matte box. let's be honest, some people just want lo look "big". I think RJ is targeting those.

  21. Spotbox

    LOL. A giant sunhood that requires rails to attach it. The FF is pretty decent, but this thing is laughable.

  22. This thing is so shi**y! if any of you ever bought into Gary Fongs Whale tail for photography and the thing would just keep falling apart during a shoot this is your version for video..., My sister had to glue hers to a fix position and spray paint it flat black to avoid sun reflections. It does look super cool at a gig but its not going to suite your needs at all, AVOID especially at this price, $15 maybe but no way near $60.

  23. @ Chris
    I use cokin filters constantly and the square matte box that they sell with it

    The biggest problem i have is when the light is from behind or certain angles I get light leak in from the edges causing reflections off my filters and odd flares i didn't want. The advantages of the other matte boxes is that it cuts out this light leak. I would love a matte box that uses cokin filters in spinning holders the same way most 4x4 filters work.

  24. Mikhail S

    Guys compendium, as well as follow focus - it is not those things which should save money.
    And the picture .. well, it's looks like piece of trash +)
    Oh...sorry, plastic ))

  25. Chris

    My idea for a DIY matte box which would be much better at a similar price is as follows:
    Cokin filter holder & box. Barn doors from theatre lighting and a bit of work. Should cost about £30-40. Not sure in $.
    That'd give you fully metal flags and filter holders!

  26. Paul

    @ Tom Beattie

    If you could just add a programmer to your list, then I would ask you to make a nice affordable USB follow focus.

  27. I have been looking at creating a variety of CHEAP stuff for people to use.. after seeing this though, I might hold off. In plans right now is an open gear switchable follow focus (two different rotational gear speeds-1:1 and 2:1), An glass ipad telepropmter that is collapsible for around $249 with plate support or rail support, and I am also considering making some rail handles out of aluminum with urethane grips. They would not be adjustible, but would be strong. If anyone has ideas of stuff to produce, let me know. I have a metal smith and a plastics guy handy..

  28. eiker_ir

    i'm sorry but anyone who thought that looked good and worth buying had it coming hehe, looks like a Fisher Price Matte Box

  29. Derick

    It looks like someone took some barndoors off of a light, slapped it on the front of a camera and called it a matte box.

  30. Michael

    Wow, I wish I read this one sooner...Yes I got suckered into this one...actually I got a personal email from him since I purchased the RJ Follow Focus...which I see is now $168, I got mine when it was $124... I will be canceling my order as it has not shipped yet and I was contemplating the accessory for the lens.

    Thanks Emm, I truly appreciate your insight on things and your recommendations!

  31. John

    I'm sure everybody is waiting/hoping for the "pro looking units" like TrustMT, Cinematics, Tilta etc with a pricetag of $100-200.

    This will definitately not reach the RJ FF glory fo' sho'.

  32. John Mark

    Is this like "Don't click on this button!" kind of thing?

    I feel like buying it now that you told us not to. Must like a forbidden fruit or something...

  33. Jeremy mayhew

    Too late for me so I will bite the bullet and just get it and do a small review when it gets here, less hassle than trying to cancel.

    Plus I'm going from taped cardboard on my lens hood so no matter how cheap it is it's still a step up for me right? I could never justify spending $500 on a matte box.

  34. Emm

    Post author

    @Jay - Umm, I wouldn't go with that Indi one either. There's absolutely no functionality there. A simple rubber hood will do the same.

  35. Josef

    Hey Em and commenters.

    For $60 I don't think you can expect too much.

    As I turns out I ordered the swing away trustmt matte box with aluminum flags yesterday (didn't like the way the carbon fiber flags were reflective in the review I watched).

    I'll have a full review for you all once it arrives.

    I paid $360 with DHL shipping. I think this is the cheapest option on the market. Holding my breath and hoping its a quality product.

  36. NOOOOOOOOO, to late for a friend. People if oyu need a matte box (my personal way of thingking) please get a good one. A cheap one will make your work day just a bad thing, they are cheap and expensive and really one that offer swing away (open to the side) is the best option. We did look for a long time and first we got one from DVcity and works good (by the way we are selling it now) them we got our first Shoot35 matte box and we love it. Yes it is expensive but we will keep this for a long time. I love the way it opens to allow to change lenses.

    To me it is better them the one from cinevate or Zacuto, let see if we make a review video of it:

    Also look for the chrosziel matte box

  37. Tony Maceo

    "It holds no filters, so whats the use?" -- For "The Pro Look" I screwed a big pro video style lens hood onto my Panasonic TM700 camcorder. I think this will just do the same, give your setup a more cinema camera look. If it gets me into an could be worth it. Hopefully cheesy-buying-power will drive the cost down to half. lol

  38. Tony Maceo can give a link to 2000w softbox? Your likes dislikes? Actually looking for some lights. Thanks.


  40. Ok, so which one DO you recommend?

    What's out there, what are the price points, what are the pros and cons of each one, and do they play nicely with other manufacturer's rod systems?

  41. Thanks for the warning! When all I hear on a site are positive or tactful reviews with a (paid) click-through, I begin to wonder at their authenticity.

    Now I have to find a place here to review the cheap 2000w dual softbox set which arrived today. It even beats my expectations!

  42. It was too good to be true...

    Too bad, with just a tiny effort they could have made an excelent mattebox for us...

  43. bulb

    wow for something that is complete junk it is pretty expensive. I would hope something that is as budget as you describe wouldn't cost more than 20 bucks. I bet they are racking in money hand over fist with that kind of markup.

  44. Rabby

    ohhhhhh!!!!! I almost bought this morning...Now that you mentioned it sure does look really cheap plastic.

    THANKS Emm. $60 back into my pocket.

    I know you are not a fan of Pro Aim but their Matte Box looks very tempting even though I have been holding off.

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