Review by Clinton Harn.
I often associate people, myself included, reading gear columns as an excuse to get a fix for what many some may coin as G.A.S. (or gear acquisition syndrome). We are all guilty of buying gear just for the sake of it and very often, we find a reason to buy something. There’s simply no justification for it unless you want to diminish your bank balance and have a gleaming piece of gear end up as an ornamental piece on-top of your fireplace, provided the wife allows you to get away with it. Regardless, it’s hard to do, spending smart I mean. However, something occasionally comes along which warrants a purchase.
We all know that cameras are released faster than a rat running down a drain pipe. So buying gear like lenses is generally a wiser investment, but there are also other pieces of kit that occasionally come by that literally have the ‘essential’ tag written all over it. They normally have two characteristics. Built to last and made with a ton of options for versatility. Combine these two things and you get a product that’s ‘future proof’.
While the Misfit is not entirely new, the Misfit Atom is. Bright Tangerine are constantly bringing out accessories that compliment their entire line of products, and its kit too good not to write about. I recall seeing their gear a few years ago at Videocraft, then got a taste of them, courtesy of Viv Scanu ACS, at Red Apple Camera Rentals shortly after. I acquired a kit while I was on a work trip to Holland last year and I’ve never looked back since.
The Misfit is one of Bright Tangerine’s best selling solutions that is feature packed and provides bang for your buck. Well actually, it is on the pricier side but you get what you pay for.
Bright Tangerine matte boxes are available in core kits and you simply purchase additional items depending on your needs. My kit consists of the Misfit with a 143mm back, top flag, three filter trays, a swing away kit, 15mm rod bracket, side flags, Bright Tangerine’s proprietary Black Hole Donut, an interchangeable 114mm back and a few additional clamp on rings. This model accommodates 4×5.65 and 4×4 sized filters. For just over $3000, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what it does best for that kind of money.
- Clamps onto cinema primes (143mm)
- Rod mount simultaneously for added strength
- Attach a swing away option for added convenience
- Change the amount of filter stages from one to three
- Option to use 114mm or 143mm back plates to accommodate different lenses
- Utilise the Black Hole Donut on the 143mm back to accommodate all DSLR sized lenses
- Utilise the 114mm back in tandem with threaded donut rings to screw mount onto lenses
- 143mm rubber donut with retaining ring accommodates 138mm round filters
- Removable top & side flags to reduce flaring saving weight when not needed
- The Black Hole Donut is one of a kind, unlike fabric; its conical shape creates complete protection from light leaks and allows for up to two inches of travel
So you must be thinking, well I can probably buy a matte box half that price and still serve the same purpose. Well not quite. Here is where Bright Tangerine kills their competition. Their truly unique attributes are in the filter cassettes that use a modular design that allows the user to change a single stage matte box into multiple stages. This is the ‘reveal’ function on the Misfit. To me, this is almost like buying three matte boxes for the price of one. You can also swap out the backs depending on what size clamp-ons are suitable for your lens. Manufacturers often talk about modularity but have no idea. These guys put their money where their mouth is and deliver.
Bright Tangerine stuff is made from a combination of high quality materials including carbon fibre and selected alloys. What’s more impressive is some of their components are mono-blocked, meaning they are designed and cut from a single piece of raw material, thus making it extremely robust, increasing the strength to weight ratio. This is super evident in their recently released, uber lightweight Misfit Atom matte box which is designed with Steadicam, gimbal & drone operators in mind.
I’m aware that there are cheaper options on the market, but these are certainly not 3D printed or OEM sourced. The core is made from one single piece of alloy and the shade is a rigid yet flexible rubber material that can be removed, making it even lighter. They are so confident of their products that they offer a five-year manufacturing warranty. Another claim to fame is the wide field of view across their entire line of matte boxes. Lenses like a 14mm Cooke S4 can still be used with multiple stages of filtration without vignetting.
For the Misfit, add-ons like the anti-reflective tilt control kit, filter guard safety lock so your filters don’t accidentally fall through while loading and glide rails for cinetape mounting, are just a few of the additional accessories available to really deck out your kit. Items certainly on the cards for my next purchase.
In the field, the Misfit and Misfit Atom are simply a joy to use. The best testament a product could possibly get is when you the see the smiles on the face of your AC or camera department. Bells and whistles are great things to have, but it still needs to be highly functional, and the Misfit does exactly that. There isn’t a lot to really worry about when you have a product so well designed and thought out. I have to admit, I was a tad skeptical to start with and was wondering what all the fuss was about. Like anyone else entrenched in the industry will tell you, the gold standard was always the big ‘A’. Yup, we are creatures of habit.
But with a growing reputation for making stellar engineered products, along with customer service oriented team, coupled with smart marketing, the ‘B’ in Bright Tangerine just became the cat amongst the pigeons. This is the ‘new’ standard. Definitely worth checking out.
Clinton Harn is a producer, filmmaker and recording engineer. He has been a lecturer at JMC Academy for the last ten years and runs his own production company specialising in music videos, documentaries and short feature films.