Irix 11mm Blackstone
£695/$775 A new ultra-wide pushes the viewing angle envelope
Bold ultra-wide prime
Designed in Switzerland and built in South Korea, the Irix 15mm manual-focus lens impressed us when we reviewed it in issue 185, with high image quality and low
distortion. The new 11mm lens has a similar look and feel but goes even wider, pushing the angle of view on a full-frame Canon, Nikon or Pentax DSLR to 126 degrees on the diagonal.
Build & handling
Like the 15mm lens, the 11mm is available in two editions. The Blackstone tested here is the topdollar edition with a metal barrel, while the Firefly incorporates the same optics in a plastic shell that’s nearly 100g lighter, and has a lighter price of £505/$575. Further similarities to the 15mm lens include a long-travel focus ring with a locking ring and fine-tuning calibration.
Autofocus isn’t available, but on-board electronics drive AF confirmation lamps in the viewfinder, and there are focus distance, depth of field and hyperfocal scales printed on the Firefly barrel. The Blackstone is engraved with fluorescent markings. Weather seals are fitted to the mount and barrel joints but not around the front element. High-tech glass includes four high-refractive, two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and three aspherical elements.
Centre-sharpness is excellent, and still good at the corners of the frame. Resistance to colour fringing, ghosting and flare is similarly impressive. Barrel distortion is remarkably low considering the angle of view.
We did find the mechanically linked diaphragm control of the Nikon-fit Irix 15mm prone to exposure inaccuracies. Testing the Canon-fit 11mm with its electronic control, there was little improvement. This time, images became progressively darker rather than lighter when we stopped down through the aperture range.