Sometimes when shooting water it’s nice to add some blur to the water’s movement which gives it an awesome smoothed out effect. To accomplish this most photographers will use a ND (Neutral Density) filter to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. In this case we’re reviewing a 10 Stop ND filter, meaning it reduces the brightness of the light by 10 full stops, essentially turning daytime into evening time all the time that you have the filter attached.

The ICE 10 Stop ND Filter is notable for one major reason, it’s price. One that frustrates me about filters is that when it comes to pricing the sky seems to be the limit. Of course the high dollar filters may offer absolute top class performance, and for certain clients that might be a priority. However Photoshop kind of changes the game for filters, and for lenses too, in that it lets you squeeze a little extra juice out of the less expensive gear. Personally I like to invest in top quality gear because I think all the little improvements add up. But in this case I was dissuaded from spending a lot by one thing… all the 10 stop filters I read about seemed to have the same complaints, they vignetted, and they had color shifts. I decided that instead of starting at the top end of the filter market I’d start out at rock bottom with a $28 filter from Amazon.com.

My ICE 10 Stop ND Filter arrived in an unassuming plastic case which can be used to carry the filter around in your bag.

Initial impressions were that it was made as well as any of my other filters. Of course I can’t tell if coatings will wear off quickly but the filter is made with optical glass and metal. Having examined it I attached it to my Canon 35L, it attached smoothly and easily with no binding and was easy to remove as well. I took a couple of very dark test shots and it all seemed to be working as expected so I headed to downtown St. Louis.

My first shot finds me at the north end of the lake facing the arch. I set my Canon 6D II to manual and dialed in a 5 second exposure at f8.0. The lens I used in all these shots was the Canon 35L f1.4 II. All images were shot in RAW and processed to TIFF using Canon Digital Photo Professional. Each shot was processed with in camera settings except for a -3 highlight exposure compensation applied to all the shots to bring back cloud detail.

ICE 10 Stop ND Filter on Left @ 5 sec –  No Filter on Right @ 1/250 sec

As you can see in the comparison above, the filter performed admirably. There is only a little vignetting and a mild warming of the image. There does seem to be a slight reduction in contrast as well, but all of this is easily corrected in Photoshop.

 

I walked a little further up the path to try another angle and got much the same result as seen below.

ICE 10 Stop ND Filter on Left @ 5 sec –  No Filter on Right @ 1/250 sec

 

Another shot from another angle shows continued high performance with no major reductions in image quality as a result of the filter. The main thing for me is that it only very slightly impacts the sharpness of the image. As long the end result stays nice and sharp it makes working with the image in Photoshop easier.

ICE 10 Stop ND Filter on Left @ 5 sec –  No Filter on Right @ 1/250 sec

 

The last shot below shows the water and the transition from light to dark. There is a little quality reduction here just looking at the gradient of light to dark blue in the water. I just don’t get the same feeling of depth to the color transition with the filter attached, but I’m sure it can be fixed in Photoshop pretty easily. All in all for $28 the ICE 10 Stop ND Filter has handled itself quite well.

ICE 10 Stop ND Filter on Left @ 5 sec –  No Filter on Right @ 1/250 sec

 

There you have it folks, the ICE 10 Stop ND Filter, a mere $28 investment delivering perfectly acceptable results in harsh afternoon sun. Speaking of the sun, I also tried a shot directly at the sun and was again pleased with the end result:

The performance remains high even with a bright light source so I would expect that sunset over the water would be no problem with this ND filter!

Given this level of performance at the low price I have to give the ICE 10 Stop ND filter 4.5 out of 5 stars. The filter is made out of optical glass and metal which should help it last longer given normal use. It performed admirably, delivering results that can be easily tweaked with a Photoshop action. You saw what it did with your own eyes, if you think you can work with the results from this filter definitely give it a shot.

I hope this helped you make a decision on your purchase. I leave you now with two final photos using the ICE ND Filter on my Canon 35L:

 

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