Newcomer manufacturer in lens-business, Irix lenses has found own path outside of the main brands` product lines. Swiss-based Irix is a fresh company on lens market; It was founded 2016 with the idea of “Made by photographers to photographers”.
Few years ago wide-angle lens market was blooming because of so many third-party companies released bright wide-angle lenses. Irix was one of these with their 15mm, f/2.4. Demand for even wider lenses was obvious so Irix released 11mm f/4 later on with similar guidelines both in design and features. 11mm lens if also available as Firefly – Lightweight composite construction, embossed rubber focus ring and Blackstone with full-metal construction. (Lens markings are engraved and filled with a UV-reactive paint.
This review is written on experiences with Firefly demo-unit within four week period at the beginning of November to December. That plastic housing was quite useful on cold winter-nights; we had some -10c to -30c. Im not sure how the cold aluminium would felt on -25c conditions.
Both models are manual focus. 11mm focal lenght means ultra-wide 126 degree field of view minimal distortion on edges of image. Maximum aperture is f/4 inst exactly the brightest but considering wide focal length, its more than adequate. Minimum focusing distance is 0.27 meters; good for smaller, closerange objects. As an idea; on a product shot, place product on closerange and let background enviroment smoothen. New perpectives! Lens has no front filter threads, instead Irix has created read gelatin filter holder for example neutral density or colored filters. Circular polarizer isnt needed as it would create somehat peculiar effects on for example, to sky. At this point there is not filter holders available on the market.
With the launch of 15mm lens Irix introduced newfeatures like focus lock and infinity click. Both of them are also present on 11m model. First one enables 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 outdoor-lens. According to Irix, 11mm lens hard full weather sealing. Only the rear rubber casket is visible and I didnt had possibility to test lens on wet conditions.
Lens has fixed petal hood.
Image quality is very good, there is minimal barrel distortion visible but it can be corrected easily (automatically) for example in Lightroom and provided lens-correction profile. Some lensflares exists when there are bright lightsources on imagearea. This is typical behaviour on all wide-angle lenses.
Irix 11/4 is a full-frame lens and 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 on Sony A7r4. I didnt face any problems during tests with the combination.
-weight (considering wide angle)
-Electric communication with camera (EXIF data available to post-processing)
-Somewhat stiff focus lock on cold conditions
-Image quality on corners with larger aperture (with reservation)
-some lens flare when shooting against bright lights
Irix f/11 Firefly suprised me totally. First testshots taken on city (see samples) we truely awesome. Ultra wide perspective gives some much more. On the other hand, it really challenges photographer to find objectives to fill entire scene. Lens worked well on cold conditions thru out testperiod; conditions varied from 0c to -30c temperatures. Same observations applies also to 11/4 model: 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 very good even on maximum aperture; stopping down improves quality up to f/11. Irix Firefly 11/4 offers good image quality and features in its price-range (approx. 600€ in Finland) and features like “Focus lock” and “Infinity click” makes it a solid performer.
(Disclaimer: This is not a paid review)