The Taiwanese company STC is bringing an interesting filter to the market: the Icelava Warm-to-Cold Fader. It is a filter that can make the color temperature of the shot warmer or colder with a simple turn of the filter. On top of the filter, there is a neat scale with which you can see when the filter is neutral is and when the effect is at its maximum. The Icelava works just like a variable gray filter on the basis of polarization. The difference, however, is that the image does not become darker, but changes in color. The polarizing effect of the filter is more or less an added bonus. Reflections disappear, and for landscapes in particular, colors become deeper and more saturated due to the reduction of the reflection.
0: Shot without IceLava filter
Quick and easy
Changing the color temperature of the image is naturally also very simple in post-editing when you shoot in RAW. And with a digital camera, it can also be done in the camera by manually adjusting the color temperature. The advantage of the Icelava Warm-to-Cold Fader is that it is quicker than adjusting the color temperature in the camera. And don’t forget that you have to restore that adjustment in the camera after taking the picture. Because the filter is smoothly adjustable, you can also assess very easily in the viewfinder how warm or cold you want to make the picture. The Warm-to-Cold filter helps you with visualizing the shot, considering in advance how you want the picture to ultimately look. Of course you might think with a beautiful evening shot that it would be better if you make the shot a bit warmer later on the computer. But this filter gives you the ability to do that directly in the photo and to see whether it works. It is also a solution for people who want to share their shots immediately on social media. You no longer have to do post-editing on the shots, and they can be placed online immediately. For photographers who prefer working primarily with jpegs, the fader is really an indispensable accessory. With jpegs, the image quality namely deteriorates quickly with heavy color corrections afterwards. When you work with jpegs, it is extra important to have the shot as good as possible when you press the button.
1: IceLava Full Cool, fixed white balance
2: IceLava: Half Cool, fixed white balance
3: IceLava: Middle, fixed white balance
4: IceLava: Half Warm, fixed white balance
5: IceLava: Full Warm, fixed white balance
The color temperature of the filter is variable from 2900 to 6300 Kelvin. The filter is made of high-quality optical Schott glass and is available in different filter sizes: 58mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm. It is equipped with a multicoating to reduce reflections, and the coating repels water and oil. It is thus easy to clean, and it offers extra protection for the lens. On the front of the filter, there are also screw threads for attaching any extra filters or a screw-on lens hood. The scale for setting the effect of the filter is easy to read, and symbols (a sun and an ice crystal) indicate which way you should turn the filter to make the image warmer or colder.
IceLava Warm to Cold in practice
The Icelava Warm-to-Cold Fader works easily in use. Actually, the only thing you have to think about is putting the white balance on a fixed setting. If you are photographing during the day, then just set the camera to the daylight white balance. You do not have to make any other choices between other white balance settings like shadow or cloud, because you can easily handle that with the Fader. The only thing that you should avoid is setting the camera to AWB, the automatic white balance. With the camera on AWB, you see very little of the effect of the Fader because the AWB tries to correct for that effect. If you work with a mirrorless camera, then you can see directly in the viewfinder what the filter is doing. If your camera is accidentally set to AWB, you will thus see that the filter is doing very little and that you should therefore choose another white balance setting. With an SLR, you have to pay a bit more attention. With an optical viewfinder, you will always see the effect of the filter in the viewfinder, even if the camera is set to AWB and the effect is thus not really visible in the photos. The use of the automatic white balance can naturally be a handy way to eliminate the warm-to-cold effect of the filter and just take advantage of the polarization effect of the filter.
Used fixed whitabalance
In the first series (photos 1-5), the effect of the Icelava Warm-to-Cold Fader can be clearly seen. The camera is set to the sunlight white balance. The middle shot is neutral. In the second series of shots (6-7), the white balance was set to AWB. The effect of the filter is still slightly present, but it is clear that the AWB largely corrects for the filter. As a reference, there is a photo at the top of this article that is made without the filter. The quality of the filter is high. There is no visible loss of sharpness between the shots with and without filter. The light loss of the filter is 2 to 2.3 stops. This is normal for polarization filters, but it is something to take into account when it gets a bit darker, so that you do not start working with shutter times that are too long. The coatings on the filter work well, and there is very little extra glare. When it does occur, it’s good to use a lens hood. Then it just becomes a bit difficult to read the markings on the filter.
6 Auto white balance, Full Cool
10 Auto white balance, Full Warm
The Icelava Warm-to-Cold Fader is a filter that experienced photographers might think they will not need. Yet it appears in practice to be a surprisingly handy filter with which you can quickly and easily shift the mood of a photo from warm to cold, or the other way around. All other ways of doing that during or after shooting takes more time and is less intuitive than working with this filter. For those who believe that photography has more to do with capturing what you see and feel than with buttons, functions and post-editing, this is a terrific filter to work with.