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New company announces ultrawide 15mm lens for full-frame DSLRs

Create: 03/20/2016 - 11:35
Irix 15mm lenses

HIGHLIGHTS

  • First offering from TH Swiss, a new company
  • Can use 95mm filters and gelatin filters
  • Manual-focus lens available in two barrel styles in Canon EOS, Nikon F and Pentax K mounts

For those looking for a high-end ultrawide-angle lens, TH Swiss AG, a new photography company, has announced a fast f/2.4 15mm lens.

The lens is being released in three mounts: Canon EOS, Nikon F and Pentax K. The Irix 15mm is intended for use on full-frame digital cameras, although it also can be used with APS-C bodies when the crop factor must be taken into account (24mm for Canon EOS and 22.5mm for Nikon and Pentax).

In a press release, TH Swiss said it seeks to combine state-of-the-art technology with a classic design. It recommends the lens for photojournalists, as well as landscape and architectural photographers. At the moment, there isn't much information about TH Swiss, other than it's a Swiss company with the manufacturing taking place in South Korea.

The Irix 15mm has several features that make it noteworthy. First, a look at the lens.

This manual focus-only lens uses 15 elements in 11 groups, including three high-refractive lenses, two made from extra-low dispersion glass and two glass aspherical lenses. There are nine aperture blades, and the aperture range runs from 2.4 to 16.

The close focus distance is 11 inches (0.3 meters).

This lens can accept 95mm filters in the front, as well as 30 x 30mm gelatin filters on the rear of the lens via the built-in holder – a thoughtful addition to the lens.

The lens has three features to assist the photographer:

  • Focus lock. This is useful in certain circumstances to ensure that the focusing ring doesn’t drift from its setting.
  • Infinity click. That’s how Irix describes this. When you need to set the lens at infinity while focusing, just rotate the focusing ring to the “click” point. With super wide-angle lenses, it can be difficult to tell when you are at infinity.
  • Hyperfocal scale. While this isn’t new to photography, it is a feature that has increasingly disappeared with autofocus offerings. This will help the photographer have more precise control over the depth of field.

The lens is sealed externally and internally. Irix says the lens should prevent dust and moisture from entering the body. The internal seals, it says, offers further protection for the lens.

The Irix 15mm lens comes in two barrel styles: Blackstone and Firefly.

The Blackstone body is more European and traditional in look with all-metal ribbed focusing ring, while the Firefly offers a Japanese-style rubber focusing with a small extruded tab and weighs less than the Blackstone. See the photos below.

Both lenses come with a detachable petal lens shade. While Irix doesn’t say so, low-profile filters are probably a necessity, so that you don’t cause vignetting.

Because of the difficulty that you might encounter in finding these types of filters, TH Swiss offers three types of filters that are compatible with this lens: Neutral density, UV and a CPL polarizer. The lens shade has a small door that allows the photographer to rotate the polarizing filter. The neutral density is available in various intensities. Other accessories include a hard-bottomed protective pouch and a fitted hard case for the lens.

The lens is 4.5 x 3.9 inches (114 x 100mm), and depending on the mount and body style, the weight ranges from 20.5 ounces (581 grams) to 24.2 ounces (685 grams).

The price hasn’t been announced, and it expected to be available in Spring 2016.

Here is the promotional video for the Irix 15mm lens.

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.