A company called TH Swiss has recently announced a new line of lenses that will be branded Irix.
Their first model is the Irix 15mm f/2.4, an ultra-wide angle rectilinear manual-focus lens with mounts for Pentax-K, Nikon-F, and Canon-EF.
Designed in Switzerland, and made in Korea, the Irix’s focal length and general design do seem to draw many parallels with Korea’s most famous lens manufacturer—Samyang Optics, who notably make the Rokinon line of manual-focus primes.
There’s no indication that Irix is contracted out to Samyang Optics, although it’s worth noting that Korean lenses have been increasingly excellent in both build quality and design.
The Irix 15mm f/2.4 interestingly comes in two different styles: Blackstone and Firefly. Blackstone is a rugged chassis meant for a more professional user base, featuring a magnesium and aluminum body with engraved markings. It also has engraved fluorescent markings that reflect light in dark conditions so that it can be used in astrophotography.
Firefly is a more consumer-orientated edition that features a more standard focusing ring. It’s the lightest lens in its class, which may appeal to photographers who need to pack as little as possible.
Blackstone weighs 685g (1.51 lbs) for Canon and 653g (1.44 lbs) for Nikon, while Firefly weighs 608g (1.34 lbs) for Canon and 581g (1.28 lbs) for Nikon.
This is most definitely a lens geared towards landscape photography; there’s an old-school hyperfocal distance scale on the lens for depth of field information, and the focus ring will lock on infinity with a click—which is useful for landscape work in low-light conditions.
The lens is weather sealed against dust and moisture, and has all the modern coatings that any photographer would expect nowadays on a premium piece of glass.
The Irix 15mm f/2.4 is also complex as one would imagine, with a 9-bladed aperture, 15 elements in 11 groups, and the ability to focus as close as 0.28m (~0.92ft).
The most innovative aspect of the Irix is the filter system built into the lens, with a front filter mount for 95mm filters and a rear gelatin filter slot for maximum control.
Considering how filters are one of the mainstays of landscape photographers, this demonstrates how Irix have actually thought about how to improve the ultra-wide category by offering a feature few others have.
The lens is projected for release in spring 2016, although no price has been announced yet.