Camera market seemed quite saturated from lens manufacturers point of view. Needs of nearly every single photographer could be fulfilled with less or more expensive options. To make deciding even a step harder, a new brand started offering their products. Please, welcome Irix , the new kid in town.
Since a beginning, the company revealed 2 lenses already, a second one being an even wider focal length of 11mm. Both lenses come in two versions, where build quality is the main difference. Blackstone lineup has metal body with weather sealing to out stand moisture and dust in a field. Firefly is made from plastic with no weather sealing.
The Blackstone is a great lens to work with. It’s body is made from metal as already mentioned with brush surface. This gives a nice premium feel to the lens and also your fingerprints are easily seen if you have sweaty hands. Body is well balanced with more weight being allocated to mount side. Thanks to the distribution, operating the lens is a breeze.
Irix lenses are manual focus only. Getting used to it takes a bit of time, but I feel more satisfied and rewarded by results. Unlike majority of Samyang, Irix have built in contacts for aperture control and meta data. You’ll know exactly on what settings you shot providing easier chance to reproduce a result if needed.
What’s a nice touch from the company is an addition of a “click” when you reach a infinity mark. The lens is so wide than all objects beyond 3.2m are shot on the infinity focus making it simple especially in dim light or for night photography. A focusing ring is made from metal with dents for easier manipulation. Movement is quite stiff, but precise, and the range is long enough to make fine focus adjustments. White markings are easy to read and posses one extra feature. The color is also fluorescent and shines in dark.
With as wide angle without a super curved front element a front of the lens is massive. You can put on a filter if you find any and have enough money for it. The filter thread is 95mm in diameter and only few brands make the required size. Or just go with alternative of a drop filter system like Lee or Fomatt.
Lens in vast majority is judged by the quality of images it`s able to produce. With resolution of cameras steadily increasing from 21 to 36 MPix and even further with 50 MPix monsters, great glass is put to a real test. More megapixels means higher requirements and the Irix meets them nearly across entire f-stop range. Shooting wide open at f/2.4 slight softness is noticeable in 100% crop. By stopping the lens down the crispness rises and also vignetting gets reduced. The optimal aperture from my testing is around f/9 and f/11. Pushing the light falling on the sensor further introduced diffraction.
With the lens announcement I was pretty excited and worried at the same time. The angle is very wide and usually similar lenses are a lot more prone to flaring. Unfortunately, this is the case. If you shoot frequently towards the sun as I am, be prepared for extra processing required. Fortunately it`s an easy fix in Photoshop with masking. Vertical distortion is pretty well controlled and reduced to minimum.
Everything in photography is a trade off. Need more depth of field? You must drop your aperture or raise camera`s sensitivity. Need higher resolution for prints? FPS are lower. You get the idea. It`s about a compromise and finding the best ratio and meet the needs. Good thing with the Irix is you don`t have to make many compromises. It is a great lens that matches similar alternatives from Zeiss (from my quick testing) and with a 1/3 price. If you are even shorter on a budget, don`t get the Blackstone version, but Firefly instead. You won`t regret.