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Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Review

John Riley reviews the new Irix 45mm f/1.4 lens, a fast prime lens for Canon, Nikon and Pentax Digital SLRs, with weather-sealing, and manual focus.

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Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Review: Irix 45mm F1,4 Front Oblique View

A new Irix lens in the Dragonfly specification joins the 11mm f/4, 15mm f/2.4 and 150mm f/2.8 Macro lenses. These have already impressed us with their high quality, both optically and in terms of construction. Now we have the 45mm f/1.4, a fast slightly wider than normal standard lens, manual focus only, that sits to make more complete the range of primes from 11mm through to 150mm. Let's see how the 45mm focal length appeals in actual use and how the new lens performs, using the 50MP Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR body.


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Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Handling and Features

Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Review: Irix 45mm F1,4 On Canon 5DSR

We have a chunky, impressive looking lens that is clearly well made. All controls are smooth in operation. The Dragonfly specification includes a metal internal construction with composite parts that help reduce weight. There is a scratch-resistant surface and the whole lens is sealed at 4 key areas to protect against dust and water ingress. Detail finishing is extremely good, with even the engraved markings being filled with UV reactive paint that aids visibility of those markings in dull light. It is not a particularly light lens, weighing in at a hefty 905g without hood or caps.

There is a provided petal lens hood that clips securely into place and stays put without any need for a locking catch. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 77mm filter thread.

Immediately behind the hood is the focus lock ring. This rotates and locks the focus at any desired point. This could be useful, for example, in street photography to lock the focus on a “shapshot” setting, or perhaps for landscapes at the hyperfocal distance.

The large anti-slip focusing ring has a raised section to aid grip, and there is no doubt that this works extremely well. Focusing is down to 0.4m, or 15.75 inches, around 0.1x magnification, which is what we would expect from a standard lens. This is not anywhere near macro distances, or even what a typical standard zoom might achieve, but close enough for moderate-sized product shots. The distance scale is clearly marked in feet and metres. In terms of handling, the direction of focusing is the correct way round for Canon users. This would become important if the photographer was a long term user of Canon manual focus lenses.
Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Review: Irix 45mm F1,4 Front Element View

Optical construction comprises 11 elements in 9 groups, including 1 Aspheric. There are 9 rounded aperture blades for improved, smoother bokeh. Coating is Irix's Neutrino coating, their version of multi-coating.

The mount is a good solid metal mount and this Canon version clicks smoothly into position. There is no play in the mount and the tension is just right, on a par with Canon's own lenses. There are versions available for Canon EF as reviewed, plus Nikon F and Pentax KAF 2. In other words, the three main DSLR players are covered.

Most f/1.4 standard lenses are 50mm or longer, something that stems from early days when glasses were not so sophisticated and it was far easier to make slightly longer standard fast lenses. 6 elements in 4 groups might have been typical, but now we have here an 11/9 construction including an aspheric element. The option is therefore there to push the limits a little without any compromise in quality, so the decision has been made to go for 45mm. In fact, the theoretical focal length for a standard lens on full-frame cameras would be 43mm, and only Pentax have a 43mm f/1.9 lens. The Irix is very close to that same point, but with a faster, albeit it manual focus lens, so it's an interesting alternative.
Irix 45mm f/1.4 Dragonfly Review: Irix 45mm F1,4 Rear Oblique View

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