Right on the heels of their 150mm Cine Macro announcement, Irix is obviously hard at work filling out their new line of cinema lenses. Newest to the family is the 11mm T4.3. The lens will feature several cine-standard features as well as some clever notable new ones. Let’s take a closer look.
The Irix 11mm is quite the unique lens for motion picture work. In the world of cinematography, there are a few powerhouses when it comes to ultra wide angle, non-fisheye lenses such as the Tokina 11-20mm, Arri UWZ 9.5-18mm, and who can forget the Arri/Zeiss 12mm Master Prime and 8R Ultra Prime?! But these are strictly Super 35 format. The new breed of Full Frame “Large Format” ultra-wide lenses include the Sigma 14mm T2.0 (current king), the Zeiss 15mm T2.9 CP.3, the Canon 14mm T3.1, and of course, Arri’s upcoming 12mm T1.8 and Laowa’s soon-to-be-released 12mm. However, none of those go to 11!!! The new Irix will be quite the prize when it comes to sheer field of view. Yes, it’s only a mm here or there – but when it comes to Ultra-Wide-Angle, every millimeter counts.
Irix announced this lens just recently, and in their press material states “The lens optical system is based on the new optical formula, developed especially for cinematic purpose.” However, I don’t see that the optics in this are any different from their original photo 11mm f/4.0 lens. Both 16 elements in 10 groups with four high refractive index, three aspherical, and two extra-low-dispersion elements. If the optical design is different, I’d love to know how and what improvements were made over the original 11mm. The lens is a rectilinear design which means you can expect minimal distortion despite its ultra-wide, large format design. If resolution is anything like the original 11mm, or even better, expect some exciting results. The original version will resolve with room to spare for even the higher density cinema cameras available today. Focus breathing is also expected to be negligible – but how much focus racking are you really doing at 11mm…?
With that out of the way… Let’s focus on what makes this lens so unique for motion picture work. First of all, its coverage – 43.3mm image circle which will be ideal for Large Format cinema cameras. The front sunshade is quick and easy to remove thanks to Irix’s unique Magnetic Mount System. What’s unclear is whether or not the FF/VV coverage is possible with the sunshade or if it must be removed in order to achieve a cleaner image without obstruction. Irix does specify in their press release that the sunshade is merely one of several Magnetic Mount accessories for the 11mm.
The mechanical build quality is expected to be similar to that of the 150mm which is quite nice. It won’t exactly compare to high-end cinema design. But here lies the compromise. It’s certainly good enough for the rigors of your average motion picture set. But will it last decades? Does anyone even care about that these days?! The lens will feature Irix’s “newly developed technical solution:” the Multi Start Thread focusing mechanism. Irix says this will provide quiet and precise focusing, but they don’t explain how this is achieved, technically. Focus rotation will be 180 degrees. Just enough for such a wide angle lens, in my opinion. Focus and iris gear position will be matched to the 150mm T3.0 Macro.
The lens will be relatively compact and light coming in at about 2.5 lbs. The housing will also be very similar to the 150mm with a Magnesium Alloy chassis and a semi-matte black painted finish. The front ring will be 95mm but you’ll need to be excruciatingly aware of your surroundings since the front element protrudes significantly with the sunshade detached. A removable 1/4-20 support foot is included. However, given the size and weight of this lens, it won’t be necessary to use in most scenarios. Still, a nice inclusion.
The new 11mm T4.3 will be available in Arri PL, Canon EF, Sony E, and Micro 4/3 mount with Metric or Imperial focus scales. Price and ship date are yet to be announced but you can pre-order the new Irix 11mm T4.3 Cine directly from Duclos Lenses immediately along with the Irix 150mm T3.0 Macro Cine! What ultra wides are in your kit? Does the new Irix lens seem like a great addition to you? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.