Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX Review
The Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX is a new wide-angle, manual-focus prime lens designed specifically for the G-mount Fujifilm GFX medium-format mirrorless camera range, which includes the 100 megapixel GFX 100 and 100S and the 50 megapixel GFX 50S and 50R.
Designed in Switzerland and manufactured in Korea, the Irix 45mm GFX offers an effective focal range of 36mm in 35mm camera terms, making it ideal for street, documentary and everyday photography.
It has an aperture range of f/1.4-f/22, with the f/1.4 maximum aperture making it one of the fastest lenses currently available for the GFX system, narrowly pipping Fuji's GF 80mm F1.7 lens, but losing out to the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2.
Optically this lens is comprised of 11 elements in 9 groups including 1 aspherical element, 1 extra-low dispersion element and 4 high-refractive elements, and it has 9 rounded aperture blades.
It has a a minimum focusing distance of 40cm (15.75”), has a 77mm front filter thread, and is fully weather-sealed thanks to seals located in 5 places to help protect the lens in inclement weather.
The 45mm GFX lens also features Irix's special Neutrino coating formula which combines both standard and nano coatings, to help achieve the highest possible contrast and keep colour aberrations, ghosting and flare effects to a minimum.
The Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX is available now priced at $795 / £799 / €845.
Ease of Use
With a maximum diameter of 87mm and a length of 144mm, the Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX is a physically large, wide-angle prime lens that's quite well-suited to the new 100-megapixel GFX 100S camera that we tested it with, although we suspect that it would be more at home on the GFX 100 with its built-in vertical grip.
Weighing in at 490g, it's also a very heavy lens, requiring you to cradle it in your left hand whilst holding the camera with your right.
Compared to its direct rival, the Fujifilm GF 45mm F2.8 R WR, the Irix 45mm lens is some 6cms longer and a whopping 630g heavier - they are certainly very different from a size point of view.
This is the first Irix lens that we've reviewed. Boasting the premium "Dragonfly" finish, we're certainly impressed with the overall build quality, especially given the price-tag.
The lens barrel uses a combination of reinforced magnesium and composite elements with a reinforced metal internal construction and it's fully water-proof thanks to seals in 5 key locations.
Other key Dragonfly features include a scratch-resistant finish, an anti-slip focus ring with a special finish for easier focusing, and a rigid carrying case that is included in the box as standard.
It accepts 77mm filters via metal threads. There is no built-in optical image stabilisation in this lens,instead relying on any in-camera stabilisation that's available.
As this is a manual-focus only lens, it's important that the focus ring is a good one, and that's certainly the case here.
The Irix 45mm GFX has a generously wide, smooth and beautifully well-damped focusing ring that fully rotates through 140 degrees, allowing for the very precise adjustments that are essential when trying to manually focus at f/1.4 on a medium-format camera!
It has an embossed dimpled, rubberized surface that allows you to quickly locate it without even looking at it, assisted by a narrow raised vertical protrusion with a blue marking just past the 1m focal distance marking.
There are also very useful “hard stops” at either end of the 40cm-infinity focus range.
Two different focusing aids are provided by Fujifilm GFX cameras - auto-magnification and focus peaking. In conjunction with the GFX 100S' high-resolution electronic viewfinder, we found it fairly easy to accurately determine critical sharpness, although somewhat inevitably when shooting wide-open at f/1.4 on such a large sensor, expect to get more "misses" than you're normally used to.
We found it best to use Focus Peaking first to set the correct focus distance, then press the rear control dial on the GFX 100S to engage the auto-magnification and double-check that the correct part of the frame is actually in focus. It's fair to say that shooting with this lens is necessarily something of a slow process if you want to ensure that the majority of your photos are sharp.
Even so, the extremely limited depth of field that's available at f/1.4 on a medium format sensor makes it a challenge to always get the right point in focus - simply rocking back and forth on your heels is enough to make a different between sharp or not. The Irix 45mm lens and the GFX 100S is definitely a setup that's ideally suited to still or very patient subjects!
Above the focus ring, there is a focus lock ring with "unlock" and "lock" settings, which allows you to lock the lens at any specific focusing distance, very useful when you've just spent time fine-tuning it for zone-focusing or for maintaining perfect focus on infinity during landscape photography.
Less impressive it the actual mechanism - rather than truly locking the focus ring in place, it tightens it. There's an audible click when you run it to the "lock" position, but it's still actually possible to turn the focusing ring, just with more force required than normal. I'm not actually sure if turning the focus ring whilst it's locked potentially damages it in any way...
The Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX lens has a traditional aperture ring on the lens barrel, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with full aperture markings.
The aperture ring is nicely damped, but it's stepless and therefore doesn't make any kind of distinctive click as you change the setting, which is better for video than stills photography.
As the camera doesn't display the current aperture in the viewfinder or LCD screen, I also found myself lowering the camera more frequently to double-check the selected aperture on the lens barrel.
As there are no electrical contacts on this lens, the aperture is not shown in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen or in the EXIF data, and neither is the actual name of the lens or the focal length.
Also the manual focus distance scale that's displayed along the bottom of the GFX 100S' viewfinder doesn't work with this lens - focus peaking and auto-magnification are the only in-camera visual aids.
Unlike the DSLR version of this lens, there's no module that lets you control the aperture from the camera, no focus confirmation system and no EXIF data recording.
Commendably given the low price of this lens, it's supplied with both a good quality hard case and a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood in the box.
The 45mm focal length gives an angle of view of 62.6 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor, which is equivalent to a focal length of 36mm.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only too readily apparent in high-contrast images, particularly when shooting wide-open at f/1.4.
As this is a 35mm full-frame lens that's been adapted to fit the larger Fuji medium-format sensor, the Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX suffers badly from vignetting, with a very pronounced darkening in the corners of the frame.
Light fall-off is very noticeable when shooting wide open at f/1.4, even in "normal" scenes. When shooting a uniformly pale subject like a white wall, you need to stop all the way down to f/8 to completely eliminate any signs of vignetting.
With a standard focal length of 35mm (35mm equivalent), we wouldn’t expect this lens to have too many problems with distortion, especially as Irix claim that it features less than 1% distortion.
Our sample images certainly indicate that to be the case, with very little barrel or pincushion distortion visible.
The Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22.
The lens is susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, though, so make sure to use the lens hood that is supplied in the box or keep the sun out of the frame if possible.
This lens has a minimum focus distance of 40cm and an unspecified maximum magnification. It proved to be quite adept at shooting close-up subjects, with the fast maximum aperture making it easy to isolate the focus point.
With a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX is the fastest GF lens currently available, and it generates very smooth out-of-focus areas thanks to having 9 rounded aperture blades.
Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these examples to see the Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX’s bokeh quality for yourself.
In order to show you how sharp the Irix 45mm F1.4 GFX lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.