Photographing The Night Sky With Irix Lenses

Irix ambassador and landscape photographer Isabella Tabacchi tells us about her work and why she loves Irix lenses.

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Isabella Tabacchi is 26 years old and she is an Irix ambassador from Italy. Here, she shares some thoughts on her photography and using the Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. 

Photographing The Night Sky With Irix Lenses : Ghost flowers

© Isabella Tabacchi

I’m an award winning landscape photographer based in Italy. I spend my days travelling and shooting, I explored the Alps for years but I have also been to the Lofoten Islands and Canaries.

I love to show and share my works on social media as an influencer and I often organize photo workshops and events about landscape photography.

I love to shoot in the night because the camera can capture many details that are not visible from the human eye. Night is so mysterious and fascinating, especially when I am surrounded by mountain scenery.

My achievements include the Top 50’s and the Gold medal in the Epson International Pano Awards, the first prize in the ND awards and the third prize in the International Photographer of the Year awards.


Shooting the night sky

It’s not difficult to shoot in the night, but you’ve to pay attention to some technical details.

There is hardly any light in the darkness of the evening, so it’s important to keep an aperture of f/1.4 to about f/2.8 and high ISO of more than 3200 (not too much because of the noise).

For these kinds of images, a full-frame camera should be better and a bright lens that has a maximum aperture belonging to the range f/1.4 – f/2.8 is very important.

If the f/ is very low, you don’t have to take your shots with higher ISO than 3200; so you’ll be able to manage the noise better.

Photographing The Night Sky With Irix Lenses : northern lights

© Isabella Tabacchi

Wide-Angle and Nightscapes

Would you like to capture a large portion of the scenery where you are observing the sky? Would you like to show the vastness of the Milky Way or the celestial body you’re immortalizing?

A wide-angle lens will meet these needs. This kind of lens makes the visual field much bigger than the eye sees it.

Note: Lenses with a focal length of 35mm are called wide-angle, while lenses with a focal length that is shorter than 24mm are called ultra wide-angle.


My experience with the  Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone

As an Irix ambassador, I tested one of the most popular wide-angles of the Swiss company.

I was very curious to test this lens in the Dolomites and also among the icy conditions in the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago in Norway where I led a photo tour last February.

I’m waiting for the best period to capture the Milky Way and looking forward to do it, but I have been able to take shots of the northern lights with the Irix 15mm and I was surprised about the good quality of the images.

The maximum aperture of this lens is f/2.4 - this means it's very bright and loads of light can come into the camera.

The stars and also the aurora seem to be shining more in the pictures taken with this lens.

A Neutrino coating has been applied to limit lens flare and ghosting for improved contrast and colour fidelity and I immediately noticed it when I took my first photo with it.

The sharpness is excellent and it’s one of the characteristics I love most about this product; the details are exquisite from the centre of the frame to the corners.

The distortion is very well managed too and it’s not easy to build an ultra wide-angle totally without it. Especially in a night shot, taken with Irix 15mm, the stars don’t appear as trails in the corners of the frame but a point as in the centre.

Photographing The Night Sky With Irix Lenses : Northern lights

© Isabella Tabacchi

The manual focus

Many people asked me if it’s easy to focus with this lens.

I think that a wide-angle like this is used especially for landscape and architectural shots, so it doesn't need to focus quickly as an auto-focus lens does.

In astrophotography it’s essential to focus the stars; you have two options to do it.

The first is to set your focus to infinity; the celestial body are very far away. You can find the infinity symbol on the markings of the Irix lens.

The second way is to turn on the live view of your camera and look for a very big star that’s visible and focus on it.

I use one of these options also in auto-focus lenses, because in the darkness of the night is not possible to use the automatic focus.

As you know, you won’t also be able to get the foreground focused with an aperture of f/2.4; I suggest to do other shots with differently focused parts of the landscape you’re capturing and merge them in post-processing (focus-stacking).

You can see the portion of the landscape you’re focusing by illuminating it with a torch.

One more Irix feature unique among wide-angle lenses is the focus lock ring. Set the focus distance and adjust the friction ring to the locked position to ensure that the selected focus distance remains unchanged, aiding in the set-and-forget simple focusing potential of this lens.

Photographing The Night Sky With Irix Lenses : night photo

© Isabella Tabacchi


I tested the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone in the coldest season in the Alps and in the Arctic Circle. I explored so many icy and rocky environments and the lens was resistant to even very low temperatures (up to -20) and impact.

That’s because this lens has an all aluminium-magnesium housing construction, including the focus ring and its ribs.

In addition to the durable build quality, the Irix 15mm is fully weather sealed with dust and splash-resistant seals including around the front element and mount and no front filter is required for full weather sealing.

The weight of this Irix lens is 686 g; much lighter than other wide-angle lenses.


Design and Packaging

The design of the irix Blackstone is very modern and elegant. The writing on it (numbers, logo etc) have a nice font and are also fluorescent; ideal for night photography.

If you buy this lens, notice how well it is packed; a cardboard box contains a very resistant tin can in which is enclosed a neoprene case, rigid but semi-flexible that contains the lens. There are no worries about eventual damages during the shipping or any kind of transfer.


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User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 12 240 United Kingdom
12 Apr 2018 10:05AM
Nice images dubious, biased lens comments. Unlikely a photographer would use magnesium lens build as patter but an Irix sales person would.

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