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Irix lens line goes wider with 11mm

Create: 03/21/2017 - 23:23
Irix 11mm


  • New lenses borrow features from 15mm lens
  • Standard Firefly and premium Blackstone to be available
  • Lenses will have focus lock, click stop for infinity setting

TH Swiss entered the photography market in 2016 with the first of a new line of manual focus lenses, delivering its initial offering – the Irix 15mm – to customers in September.

TH Swiss has now gone wider, adding an 11mm optic.

The Irix 11mm borrows many features from the Irix 15mm and again is offered in two barrel styles.

The Irix 11mm is intended for full-frame digital cameras and can be used on cameras with APS-C sensors. It is available in three mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F and Pentax K.

This is a manual-focus lens, there are two special features:

  • The focus setting can be locked by twisting the ring at the front of the lens.
  • The infinity position has a click stop, which is useful because the focus rings turns beyond infinity. This makes it simple to find infinity without having to take your eye from the viewfinder.
  • The lens has a depth-of-field scale and a hyperfocal distance scale.

Its maximum aperture is f/4.0. Be aware that the lens does not have an aperture ring. The aperture is controlled by the camera – whether it be a Canon, Nikon or Pentax body. Nikon photographers should be sure that their body supports this ability. There are nine aperture blades.

The Irix 11mm has 16 elements in 10 groups and includes four high-refractive lenses, two extra-low-dispersion lenses and three aspherical lenses, which are intended to reduce distortion. TH Swiss says distortion is 3.13%.

The lens has a built-in petal-type lens shade, which also should help to protect the bulbous front element. The large front element makes it impossible to use standard screw-in filters. Instead, the Irix 11mm (and 15mm) accepts rear-mounted 30 x 30mm gelatin filters, which can be purchased from TH Swiss or a third-party.

Like the Irix 15mm, the 11mm lens comes in two barrel styles: Firefly and Blackstone.


Although identically optically, the Firefly is less expensive than the Blackstone for several reasons. TH Swiss refers to the Firefly as the “standard” version and the Blackstone as the “premium” lens.

The Firefly uses a lightweight composite material for its barrel. The focusing ring uses a rubber coating, and all markings are painted. A soft case is included.

The Blackstone lens barrel is constructed of an aluminum-magnesium alloy with engraved and filled markings using fluorescent paint that can reflect UV light to make it easier to read in low light. A hard case is included.

Both lenses come with an extra rear cap – simply as a replacement in the event that the original is lost.

Both lenses are protected against the elements with two seals around the focusing ring and another seal on the bayonet mount. Additional sealing is intended to prevent moisture and dust from entering the lens.

The Firefly will cost US$575, while the price of the Blackstone is US$775. Both lenses will be available in late March. The Canon- and Nikon-mount lenses will be released first with the Pentax version to follow.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.