Today we are going to review our first Cine lens and it comes from the Swiss-Polish manufacturer Irix, which recently started making lenses for the video industry in different mounts. This is their most recent offering in this line which at the moment includes 3 lenses – an ultra-wide-angle 11mm T4.3 lens, a telephoto 150mm T3 macro lens and the one that we will be looking at today, the 45mm T1.5 lens.
All of the lenses from Irix’ Cine line are optically based on the company’s photo lenses in a re-housed body (Sigma has done a similar thing with its relatively new Cine line of lenses). One note. After we finished this review we came to realize that although Irix showcased a stills version of this lens in Photokina 2016 it was never released. We now understand that a newly designed 45mm f/1.4 stills lens from Irix should be ready later this year.
Before we dive deeper into the lens itself and its performance we do want to say that we were recently criticized for doing a number of Full Frame lens reviews using crop Sony bodies. We are happy to report that we finally got our Sony A7R IV camera and future reviews on full-frame lenses will be done using this camera including of course this review.
The Irix 45mm T1.5 Cine lens
So let’s take a closer look at the Irix 45mm Cine lens and we shall start with the build and design of the lens:
- Materials – The lens is fully metal and feels extremely robust in the hand. It comes with a small foot that you can screw to the bottom or, surprisingly, to the top of the lens (we got the foot but for some reason, Irix forgot to send the screws with our pre-production unit).
- Size and weight – This is a pretty substantial lens, at least by Sony e-mount standards, it is almost 14cm long (5.5″) and the front portion is 9cm (3.5″) wide which means that connected to our A7R IV it has about 1cm extra height. The E-mount version that we got has a somewhat of a narrow ending to fit the mount – you really need to watch how you hold this thing so you won’t damage your camera’s mount with this lens as it weighs almost 1.2KGs or close to 42 ounces.
- Rings – the lens has two rings with 0.8 gears. Both rings are quite narrow for some reason at around 1/4″ wide, it would be nicer if these were thicker, even if you are using a follow focus and surely if you are going to work with at least one of them manually. The throw on the focus ring is about 180 degrees and on our lens there are clear markings in meters from 0.4 meters and up to 3 meters. The focus ring has some nice resistance to it and feels pretty solid. The aperture ring on our pre-production unit was not as smooth but talking to Irix we understand that this should be fixed once the production units hits the street. Do note that the markings on the lens are white but they don’t glow in the dark (which is strange since Irix’ 11mm f/4 photo lens has this feature).
- Buttons – Being a manual only lens the 45mm T1.5 has no buttons or switches.
- Sealing – According to Irix the lens has sealing in 5 places (4 on the PL version) including the mount.
- Mount – Talking about the mounts this lens comes in a PL, Canon EF, Micro 4/3 and an E-mount which is the one we tested.
- Hood – The lens comes with a nice plastic hood. The only drawback on our unit is that it is magnetic and doesn’t seem to lock. We are not sure if this is a prototype thing or a design decision, in any case never try and grab the lens from the hood.
- Filter – This lens has a huge front element (95mm) but the actual filter thread is “only” 86mm (the reason behind this is possibly to make the filter size similar to the other lenses in the Irix Cine line).
Attached to our A7R IV as part of our follow focus rig
- Sharpness – We tested the sharpness of the lens using our special large professional Imatest high-end chart which we started using late last year with our recent Sigma and Samyang lens reviews. As you can see wide open the image both in the center and corners is fairly sharp, but contrast isn’t very good. Closing down to T/2.8 brings a huge improvement and at T/4 there is another slight improvement for very good image quality.
Irix 45mm T1.5 center sharpness @T1.5 (200%)
Irix 45mm T1.5 corner sharpness @T1.5 (200%)
Irix 45mm T1.5 center sharpness @T2.8 (200%)
Irix 45mm T1.5 corner sharpness @T2.8 (200%)
Irix 45mm T1.5 center sharpness @T4 (200%)
Irix 45mm T1.5 corner sharpness @T4 (200%)
Just for fun we also compared the Irix to the Samyang 45mm f/1.8 that we have from our previous review (this time on the A7R IV of course) and as you can see the Samyang is sharper and has better contrast and possibly sharpness as well wide open at f/1.8 across the frame (important note: this is not really a fair comparison since the Samynag is at f/1.8 and the Irix is essentially a f/1.4 lens, this is why we also tested at T2.8 & f/2.8). Of course, these are two very different lenses, they just happen to have the same focal length and fairly similar apertures (The Irix does seem to bring in a lot more light though).
Irix 45mm T.15 (left) vs. Samyang 45mm f/1.8 (right) @T1.5 and f/2.8 respectively (center)
Irix 45mm T.15 (left) vs. Samyang 45mm f/1.8 (right) @T1.5 and f/2.8 respectively (corner)
Irix (left) vs. Samyang 45mm f/1.8 (right) @T/f2.8 (center)
Irix (left) vs. Samyang 45mm f/1.8 (right) @T/f2.8 (corner)
- Minimum focus distance (sharpness close up) – The minimum focus distance of the lens is about 24cm (9.4″) from the front of the lens or about 40cm/15″ from the sensor. The lens is fairly sharp in the center at this range. You gain a little bit of extra sharpness at around T/4.
Sharpness close up (min focus distance) from left to right – T1.5/T2.8/T4
- Breathing – we tested how much the focus affects the framing of the image and as you can see this lens does have some breathing although it seems to be relatively well-controlled – you can judge for yourselves if you think that this is acceptable or not.
- CA – the lens has very minimal longitudinal chromatic aberration according to our tests wide open, it seems to go away completely when closing down to T/2.8.
- Vignette – wide open vignette is prominent and to avoid it you will need to close down to around T/4 with this lens.
- Flare – we also tested how well this lens handles flare – you can see the results (with the hood) in the video.
- Barrel distortion – As you might expect from a 45mm lens, it has no visible barrel or pincushion distortion.
Irix 45mm t1.5 – no barrel / pincushion
- Bokeh – wide open in the center light circles are round with inner rings that are not too prominent and closer to the edge you are getting the familiar “lemon” shaped light circles.
Irix 45mm t1.5 Bokeh example (@T1.5)
Although we didn’t have a chance to shoot any commercial projects with the Irix during our time with it (we are in the process of moving to a new studio and this will take most of our time in the next two months at least), we did some test shots mostly with our new Tilta follow focus units and it worked well.
The Irix 45mm T1.5 Cine is an interesting option. It is well built with all-metal construction, has relatively low breathing, very minimal chromatic aberration, no visible barrel or pincushion distortion and the sharpness and contrast if you close down to around T/2.8 is very good.
As with any product, there are always downsides and in this case, we are talking about a fairly large and heavy lens (although in the category these are not considered special), contrast wide open is lacking and you will need to close down at least a stop for better image quality and vignette is also quite prominent up to T/4.
These downsides need to be taken into consideration in the context of price, and this lens is actually very affordable for a Cine lens, selling for under $1200 (the PL version cost extra).
An interesting affordable Cine lens option from Irix
You can check out more LensVid exclusive articles and reviews on the following link.