Raven from True Lens reviewed

Bob Pank#

Author: Bob Pank#

Published 1st March 2012

Manufacturer: True Lens Services (TLS)
Model: Raven
Matte Box, designed for broadcast lenses; particularly for new super wide lenses with two independently rotating filter trays.
Why was it needed and what did it replace?:
I needed a second Matte Box with my kits, as my Vocas MB350 has been well used and needed replacing.
What other systems did you consider?:
I consider both the leading Matte Box brands, which I have always thought to be Chrosziel and Vocas.
Why did you chose it?:
Although I currently have HJ11 lenses, I wanted to future proof myself for the wider 4.3mm Canon HJ14 Lens, and make sure I have a matte box which will comfortably allow me to go fully wide with filters in - there is nothing more frustrating than a Matte Box that Vignettes!! Also for me having two rotating trays is very important too.
Did you buy New or Used?
I bought the Matte box new, I didn't ever really consider used for a Matte box as my specifications were pretty specific; I could have waited a long time for the right one to come on to the used market!
Where did you buy it from?
I bought through my regular dealer, CVP, although I had spoken directly to TLS about their products, as they are very approachable with such enquiries but they don't really sell individual matte boxes to customers directly.
What price?
The matte box itself was £950, however once you have added the bars support (which is a must for me, I am not happy with matte boxes only being clip on - although the Raven can be!) the two step down rings and the top flag, the total was around £1150 + VAT
Were you happy with the sales service?
I was happy as ever with the service I received from CVP and also it was nice to be able to speak so easily to the manufacturer.
What major projects has it been used on?
This is used daily on a varying array of Broadcast PSC shoots, it was put through its paces at the end of 2011 with an intense 5 week shoot in the Caribbean.
Does it perform as expected?
If I am honest, I was initially sceptical of a matte box not made by the more familiar brands that have lead the market for years. I loved my Vocas and I know historically many people used Chrosziel, including many hire companies.
My scepticism was wrong. It performs very well, seems very well built, is light, tight and the rotation of the trays is very smooth. I would say in honesty is performs better than expected from a smaller manufacturer. I'd recommend people give them a go. Also TLS are very accommodating, everything is made in house, so they're open to suggestions should you need any modifications or side flags adding.
2 Rotating filter trays, bars and/or clip on and it takes PV (4x 5'6) or 5x5 sized filters
There are few down sides to this product but if I am looking for some: there is not (yet!) a folding flag available for this matte box, it seems heavier than my Vocas is and a little thing but the step down rings seem much chunkier than other matte boxes; space in my run bag is limited!
Brief summary:
This matte box is a great matte box for current broadcast lenses. It was designed by TLS in conjunction with a London Hire Company to fullfil the need for a matte box that fitted and didn't vignette on a super wide lens such as a Canon HJ14. The result is a well made matte box with two seperate rotating trays. A cheaper version, The Hawk, is available with one fixed and one rotating tray. I did always wonder though, is there a cameraman out there called Mathew Box?
Jon Boast is a London based Lighting Cameraman supplying his services with an extensive kit list to the broadcast industry.

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