15 mm Blackstone.
We rather give you an honest review on how our new Irix 15 mm was the best new toy we could have had or a pain in the ass. And what is the best way? A list of numbers and close up shot of the lens – or – actual shoot we did ?
We start using the lens during our European Tour with Interrail. The last wide angle we owned was an old Nikkor that made every single photo look like we were shooting a 90′ skateboard movie. What a relief!
In a month we traveled in 6 countries before flying to Bali. That did give us a lot of different opportunities to shoot in various conditions.
This shot was taken in the Antiquarium, one of the famous spot in the Munich Residence. Irix offers 2 different lenses so far. A 15 mm and a 11mm. Both in 2 versions, Firefly and Blackstone.
The main difference between the Firefly and the Blackstone models are the weight and the finishes. With a 72g lighter difference between the 15 mm Irix (for Nikon) Firefly compare to the Blackstone one, I prefer favoring the strong aluminum-magnesium alloy of the latest. It also has an anti-scratch housing and engraved markings with UV light reactive paint in it (perfect for low light condition).
We are used to only use prime lenses – which means a little more organization when traveling but lighter equipment on daily operation. With a focal length of 15 mm and an aperture of f/2.4 the resulting size is great as it is only 114 x 100 mm (4.49” x 3.94”). When inside its hard lens case it only takes a little more space than our 35mm.
It is a really versatile gear. On our Journey, we used it for real estate photography as shown in the photos below with (2-3) or without (1) a tripod. As a manual focus lens, it does take a little practice when you are used to nowadays fast AF. Zooming on the Live View will, however, do the job perfectly and give you a sharp image.
Two rings can be found on the lens. The first one to adjust focus, 0.25 meters (0.8 feet) being the minimum, you will need two fingers to move the ring. And a locking ring in front of the focus ring to lock focus – we never used it as the focus ring is stiff and won’t be rotating itself.
You can adjust it yourself if needed and do an infinity focus calibration – to be honest, we won’t risk doing it ourselves.
We also give it a go at the Sziget Festival in Budapest. But even so, we were part of the press team we couldn’t take any tripod in. So we used our stabilizer instead The 15 mm Blackstone is a little over 650g and unfortunately, this was a little too heavy for our Zhiyun Crane V2 to handle at its full potential, we will edit our review if we get our hand on the Crane2.
You don’t have to worry much of your shooting conditions with its weather sealed construction (3 seals protecting against water splash and dust).
A thing you need to consider when using an ultrawide lens is the distortion. It is most of the time easily fixed on software such as Lightroom. None of the photos on this article were corrected to give you an exact review of the lens.
An ultrawide lens was on our “to-get list” for a long time now. If you compare the different options you have, it starts most of the time with the budget one. If somebody knows another option under 650€ for such a sharp result I would be more than happy to ear it. The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 for example cost over 2300€ and many other are not prime lenses.
We are still looking forward to trying the 95mm front filters on that lens, and hope to do it soon during our next trip to Asia.