Somewhat five years ago wideangle-lens market was blooming with lots of new products especially targeted for night- and astrophotograhy. With the evolved sensor technology photographing the night sky was a new frontier for photo enthusiasts. Most of the new interesting products were launched by the other companies than Canon and Nikon.
Swiss-based Irix is a fresh company on lens market. It was founded 2016 with the idea of “Made by photographers to photographers”. First product that was released to market was 15mm f/2.4 with two versions; more expensive; Blackstone has magnesium and aluminium alloy housing. Cheaper version; Firefly has plastic body. This review is written on experiences with Firefly demo-unit within three week period at the end of january to mid-february. That plastic housing was quite useful on cold winter-nights; Im not sure how the cold aluminium would felt on -25c conditions.
Both models are manual focus. 15mm means 110 degree field of view with very low distortion on edges of image. Maximum aperture of f/2.4 lets little more light to sensor than more often seen f/2.8 on wide angle lenses. Minimum focusing distance is 0.28 meters; good for smaller, closerange objects. Even though the lens is bulging its possible to use round filters with 95mm filter thread. Circular polarizer might be usefull. Detachable lens hood has small hatch for rotating cpl.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you can safely use medium size, 100mm filters with appropriate filter mounts available on variable manufacturers. Usually these wide angle lenses require 150mm filters to avoid vignetting. Another point for Irix!
New; never seen features are focus lock and infinity click. First one enable user to lock focus on certain point with a small ring with markings “Lock/Unlock”. Second, very useful feature is “infinity click”. Roting the focus ring it clicks at the infinity. This is extremely useful on night photography – you dont have to check focus on the ring nor the camera during action.
Another feature worth mentioning is that lens can communicate with camera electronically meaning image has aperture- and lens information saved on exif. This helps on post-processing for automatically picking up correct lens-profile. Just a reminder that most of the 3rd party lenses are manual without electronical communication with camera.
Weather sealing is important for ourdoor-lens. Irix has thick rubber casket on the rear end.
Irix 15/2.4 is available either on Canon EF, Nikon F or Pentax K-mount. I`m currently a Sony-user so tests were conducted using Sigma MC-11 adapter. I didnt face any problems during tests with the combination.
-Electric communication with camera
-Filter threads (95mm)
-Somewhat stiff focus lock on cold conditions
-Image quality on corners with larger aperture (with reservation)
-minor lens flare when shooting against bright lights
Irix Fifrefly suprised me positively throught out the test period. It worked well on cold conditions as my target was to catch some nightsky photos on arctic conditions. Infinity click is a real game saver as you always get tack sharp focus on the nightsky without looking or adjusting focus ring. Lens is manual focus; usually this means no electric communications with camera but Irix makes exception and gives data to camera thus helping you to use automatic lens correction on post-processing. Image quality is reasonable good even on maximum aperture and stopping down improves quality up to f/8. Yes, there is lens(es) with better image quality but with triple price. I can easily say that Irix Firefly offers very good image quality in its price-range (approx. 450€ in Finland) and adding those new features like “Focus lock” and “Infinity click” makes it a solid performer.
(Disclaimer: This is not a paid review)