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Cinema lenses you can afford!

My thoughts on the IRIX Cinema lenses!

I prefer using cinema lenses when possible for video. They are more precise, smooth, and silent for manual focus, and focus breathing is less of an issue, especially with high-end lenses. I also choose them for their character, and the look they give to my images. These lenses were once completely out of reach, and now we have so many affordable options making it hard to make a choice. IRIX offers a set of lenses that really look appealing on the outside and on paper when looking at the spec sheet and price. I recently had the chance to film with them. Let's see what they can do.

These lenses are 8k ready! I had the Irix 15mm T2.6 Cine lens, Irix 21mm T1.5 Cine lens, and Irix 45mm T1.5 Cine lens in PL mount. With a 43.3mm sensor coverage, you can of course use them with Full frame cameras. They are weather-sealed and have low distortion on wide-angle lenses. Focus breathing is maybe the first thing I am going to look at. Compared to other lenses I had, it is very well-controlled and barely noticeable on these three lenses. They are fairly compact and lightweight which makes them great for handheld or gimbal work. And guess what? They are currently available in 7 different mounts!

Given their price I was surprised they were T1.5 lenses (except for the 15mm which is T2.6).

The focus throw is said to be 180°, I wish it was a bit more, but that’s a personal preference.

Since they are small and compact I thought I would give them a go on mirrorless systems. I mounted them on the Fuji XH2s… and since they cover full-frame, I wanted to test the limits of the coverage by mounting them on the Fujifilm GFX100s.

Remember that sensor of the GFX100s is 1.7 times bigger than full-frame. The 45mm lens had barely any vignetting but the 21mm and 15mm definitely need to be cropped a bit in post as seen down below.

Vignetting with the 15mm, and 21mm side by side, mounted on the GFX100s :

They are a good first step into cinema lenses, and I feel they can take a beating on set. They will deliver in many situations because of how versatile they are. For lenses that sell at around 1200 euros at the time of this video in France, I believe it’s a steal given their characteristics and performance. They are not perfect, they flare a bit too much to my taste, but if you are looking for similar specs elsewhere you might see a big jump in prices.

My only issue and one I cannot leave out of this first hands-on: Is the focus ring. It is a bit stiff, compared to other lenses I had, and not in a pleasant way. To a point that in some circumstances my wireless follow-focus struggled to calibrate itself. Even Manually, I wish it was a bit looser and smoother.

I experienced this on all three of them, so I hope this is something that will change in future iterations of these lenses. Other than that, this is how I look at lenses these days. If They are well built mechanically, then my only concern will be the resulting images. Chromatic aberration, Ghosting, flares, distortion, and focus breathing are now what makes the identity of a lens. What makes old vintage glass so appealing, is its character and flaws. These are embraced because they provide a certain feel and that’s what makes them unique. So It all comes down to your project, the image that will better fit your story, and how these lenses will help you create your film.

Screen grabs of the 45mm T1.5 in the studio and outdoors:

Huge thanks to IRIX for letting me play with these. If you are on your own quest trying to find a set of lenses that will suit your needs, then you should have a look at IRIX's website.

[Update] The complete Tango video, entirely shot on the Fujifilm GFX100s and Irix Cinema lenses is now available on VIMEO:

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