Irix 11mm f/4

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

From £543/$678 www.ir­ixlens.com

Fresh from the suc­cess of its 15mm f/2.4 (which won a Great Value award in is­sue 70’s Big Test of wide-an­gle primes) – lens new­comer Irix is go­ing wider with its fol­low-up of­fer­ing. Like the 15mm, this lens is avail­able in two flavours: Fire­fly and Blackstone. The dif­fer­ences are purely ex­ter­nal: the lat­ter boasts a premium alu­minium-mag­ne­sium al­loy bar­rel, while the cheaper Fire­fly ver­sion is en­cased by a plas­tic bar­rel to keep weight down to 730g. Both op­tions con­tain the same op­ti­cal el­e­ments, which in­clude four high-re­frac­tive el­e­ments, two ED el­e­ments and three as­pher­i­cal lenses.

We’ve had some hands-on time with the Blackstone ver­sion of the lens and first im­pres­sions are pos­i­tive. Its lens bar­rel feels re­as­sur­ingly solid, though it is fronted by a fixed petal hood made from plas­tic, pre­sum­ably to help re­duce weight.

The wide fo­cus ring is well weighted, with a long, smooth travel, so it’s easy to make fine fo­cus ad­just­ments – use­ful, as the lens lacks aut­o­fo­cus, though aper­ture in­for­ma­tion is trans­mit­ted to your Nikon to en­able au­to­matic ex­po­sure me­ter­ing. A nar­rower ring at the front of the bar­rel will lock the fo­cus ring, and while ef­fec­tive, the ta­per­ing hood forces your fin­gers to­wards the fo­cus­ing ring, mak­ing it all too easy to in­ad­ver­tently change fo­cus while try­ing to lock it.

Our ini­tial lab test­ing re­veals su­perb cen­tre-frame sharp­ness up to f/8, although edge sharp­ness does fall off no­tice­ably at all aper­tures. Dis­tor­tion is ap­par­ent when shoot­ing geo­met­ric sub­jects at very close range, but it’s oth­er­wise neg­li­gi­ble. You will no­tice some fring­ing at the edges of the frame, but Sigma’s sim­i­larly priced 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM pro­duces more aber­ra­tions at 12mm.

First im­pres­sions_ Lenses this wide with FX cov­er­age are rare, and ini­tial im­pres­sions sug­gest it of­fers sound per­for­mance.

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