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Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Review

John Riley reviews the new Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly lens, a premium manual focus macro lens for full-frame Canon, Nikon and Pentax Digital SLRs.


|  Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Irix 150mm F2,8 Macro Front Oblique View

Irix have built an enviable reputation for interesting, high quality optics, concentrating on areas relatively neglected by other manufacturers. Here we have a long 150mm macro lens that offers a full 1:1 life size magnification for Canon, Nikon and Pentax full frame DSLR users. The lens is manual focus only, although especially in the case of a macro lens this may be of little concern. Let's have a close look and see how the lens performs and what the advantages of a longer focal length may be.

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Handling and Features

Irix 150mm F2,8 Macro On Canon 5DSR

The lens is designated as a Dragonfly specification, which is new. This proves to the substantially the same as the Blackstone, with its solid metal construction, but utilising some of the features of the more composite based Firefly to reduce the overall weight. The result is a lens that is reassuringly solid at 840g, but not over heavy thanks to the use of some composite materials as well as the basic Magnesium alloy body. The sample tested, using the 50mp Canon EOS 5DS R, balances perfectly with the camera body. The lens is described as fog, rain and snow sealed, which is always a bonus.

Our lens tour starts with the deep bayonet fit petal lens hood, which clips neatly into position and has no tendency to become loose. Within this bayonet fit is a conventional 77mm filter thread. The lens is coated with Irix's version of nanotechnology multi-coating techniques and labelled as Neutrino Coating.

Immediately behind the front rim of the lens is a rotating unlock/lock collar that gradually tensions the rotation of the focusing ring until it totally locks. This could well be useful in macro photography where the lens is pointing up or down at the subject, preventing the lens barrel creeping away from the point of sharpest focus.

The manual focusing ring is wide and comfortable, operating with enough firmness and being utterly smooth throughout its large 270-degree rotation. This allows for a very high degree of accuracy, particularly in the macro range, and actually is more precise than using a focusing rail. This is important because at high magnifications critical focus is the slightest touch away and can easily be just off. The Irix lens makes it much easier to find that critical point. Magnification ratios and distances are both very clearly marked, the latter being in both feet and metres. Unusually, there as an Infra Red focusing mark provided, although, as is increasingly the case, there is no depth of field scale.

Focusing is down to 0.345m or 0.92 feet, a maximum magnification of 1x or 1:1, or life-size.

Irix 150mm F2,8 Macro With Hood On Canon 5DSR

There is a removable rotating collar that carries an Arca Swiss compatible tripod foot. This makes vertical compositions easy by just rotating the lens, another very useful and practical feature.

The well made mount is electronic, so the built-in CPU allows focus confirmation and also reports the aperture correctly so it can be controlled by the camera. There is no built-in optical stabilisation for Canon and Nikon, but of course, Pentax users can benefit from their Shake Reduction system being built into the camera bodies.

Optical construction is 12 elements in 9 groups, with 3 SLD (Super Low Dispersion) and 4 HR (High Refractive Index). The diaphragm comprises 11 rounded blades, for improved bokeh.

Although intended for full-frame DSLR cameras, the lens can be used on crop format models as well. This results in a “35mm format equivalent” of 240mm (Canon) or 225mm (Nikon and Pentax). Although intended primarily as a macro lens, the Irix can equally well be used as a conventional short telephoto for the full range of applications this suggests. Portraits, landscapes, architecture, close-range sports and many other applications are within the purview of this optic. There are not many 150mm lenses, but they have been offered since the 1960s and have usually been very high quality.

In terms of macro use, the longer focal length can be very useful for wildlife and other shots where having a bit more distance avoids spooking the subject or makes room for the lighting. It is less useful for document copying, as the distances involved can start to prove inconvenient, but for almost everything else that extra reach can be very helpful.

Irix 150mm F2,8 Macro Rear Oblique View



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