IRIX launched the new 15mm Blackstone and Firefly lenses for Canon, Nikon and Pentax K fit cameras. These lenses are manual focus and designed to produce excellent results with minimum distortion. We took delivery of these lenses a few weeks ago and have tested them with several DSLR’s as well as technical cameras. We’ll publish the results from the technical cameras soon.
In the meantime, we decided to call a colleague who has tried and tested various systems, UK architectural and interiors photographer Jonathan Taylor of Cloud9 in Leeds. We know he would put the lenses through their paces and more importantly give his honest opinion. This is an unedited review of his findings.
First Jonathan was impressed with the packaging. The Blackstone lens comes in a customised engraved tin and clam-shell protective case, the Firefly version with a protective drawstring case. “Well, this is more than you get from Canon or Nikon, I hope the lens is as good!”
The IRIX 15mm Blackstone lens was used for the test, although the Firefly (polycarbon version) would produce exactly the same results as it boasts the same glass. I knew Jonathan would prefer the Magnesium Aluminium version as it is weather proofed with 4 seals versus 3 in the Firefly. When shooting under harsh conditions this would prove a better option for him.
“Hmmm, nice lens. I like the fact you can take the lens hood off but also rotate the filter through the window slot. The rear filter slot is a neat idea, but for me I’d just use a 95mm filter on the front of the lens. Good design, they’ve certainly put a lot of thought into this.”
The camera kit used for this test was; Canon 5DMKIV, Arca Swiss head and Manfrotto legs.
“I generally use a Canon 17mmTSE, if I need to be in and out of a retail store quickly, then I can shoot with this handheld. If my client gives me time then I will use a tripod, close down to f11 which gives me good results.” So the lens comparison on this day was between; Canon 17mmTSE and IRIX 15mm Blackstone.
Available light was used, 2 seconds exposure and the results were brought up on calibrated monitors for evaluation using Adobe RGB. “Both of the results are good but the 17mmTSE doesn’t seem as sharp, lets reshoot it and take another look.” We checked the focus and shot with the Canon again, just to make sure it was a fair test.
“Well, all I can say is the IRIX is better in all areas of the shot. First its sharper all over which I’m quite surprised about. The colour is better as the two settees (couches) are red and orange which are always a problem to shoot. Although the IRIX is wider, its difficult to see any distortion, whereas the Canon result slopes much more down to the right of the image. Hyperfocal focus could be useful and I do like the focus ring lock.”
To get the same viewing angle Jonathan decided to shoot as close a shot as the IRIX angle by adding an extra image stitched to the left side. This was done to obtain an image of a similar angle but didn’t help as the final image had several soft focus areas. As you can see the picture hanging on the wall is softer and has a distinct yellow colour shift.
I explained the IRIX lens has Neutrino coating, this would explain the neutral colours seen in the end result. This also helps when shooting in direct sunlight and reduces flare. The lens was also sharper at the front, where the table leg is and the IRIX didn’t magnify the edge of the table as the Canon lens did. Jonathan noticed some fringing on the table edge from the Canon, which again he was surprised to see. I suppose if you have never compared other lenses you would be happy with the results. “The chrome, table edge and leg, and floor is sharper when using the IRIX.”
“Even though the IRIX lens is wider, the Canon result bends the image much more, the floor slope more towards the right. The colour also needs more correction and the floor tiles are slightly stretch.”
“I imagine this is an expensive lens?” He was pleasantly surprised as the 15mm Blackstone retails at £609.00 including VAT. The Firefly option is £419.00 including VAT.
“Now I am even more surprised as lenses are expensive to buy and I expect IRIX will sell a lot of these. Do they make any other focal lengths?” Yes, there is an 11mm lens and a 45mm f1.4 coming soon and more are planned for the near future.
As this review goes to WordPress, IRIX dealers are being appointed and the lenses are shipping now. We will post a list of dealers, as and when they have the lenses in stock.
Many thanks to Jonathan Taylor for his time and for the use of the images.
More sample images can be found here and if you would like the image samples from this review contact your IRIX dealer.
Products Tests and Reviews
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