Review: IRIX 150mm F2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens (The Bokeh King)

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, but it’s solid all around. 

When IRIX announced that their Dragonfly series of lenses would be a bit in between their Blackstone and their Firefly lenses, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I got to see it for a bit at Photo Plus East last year and my expectations were a more positive. But what really made me happy about the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens is how it performs on the Canon EOS R. This lens is weather sealed, sharp, has 11 aperture blades to render gorgeous bokeh, accurate focus due to a long focus throw and Canon’s absolutely fantastic rangefinder system, and overall is a very versatile lens. Though IRIX’s options are more for enthusiasts due to the low price and the manual focus, this lens is worthy of being in the bag of any working portrait photographer. It allows for close focusing distance and provides solid image quality. And for only $595, I’m shocked at what it can do.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 11 aperture blades for super creamy bokeh
  • Weather sealing
  • Great for portraits
  • Fantastic for actual macro
  • When using the Canon EOS R, the system recognizes the AF/AE contacts and aids with focus peaking using the rangefinder system
  • Very sharp
  • It’s really affordable

Cons

  • I wish they made this for mirrorless cameras

Gear Used

We tested the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens on the Canon EOS R while using the Profoto B10.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Amazon listing

  • Fully weather-sealed housing
  • Patent-pending Focus Ring Lock
  • Rubberized Focus Ring with Rotational Ange of 270º
  • Detachable Arca-Swiss standard CNC machined tripod collar ring
  • Large aperture of f/2.8
  • Aperture of 11 rounded blades
  • 1:1 Macro reproduction ratio
  • Focusing distance of 0,345m

 

Ergonomics

Taken from our First Impressions post

The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens looks much like many of their other lenses. You’ll believe this when you see the lens. The difference is in how it feels. The material on the exterior is a cross between their FireFly and Blackstone materials.

With the lens hood attached, the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens gets really big. If you’re focusing to macro distances, I’m sure you’ll not use it.

The front element of the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens is weather sealed, unlike some of the company’s Firefly products. To that end, you don’t need a lens filter to complete the sealing.

 

Build Quality

As you can tell from these product images, we put the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens not only through its paces while testing it out in the field but also during this photo shoot. The photographer who would need this kind of durability will perhaps want to photograph macro stuff in the rain. But if you’re a little bit more sane, then you’ll probably care about the weather sealing more: you’ll be out in the field and you’ll know that it can resist a ton of abuse from mother nature. The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens has weather sealing not only at the mount but throughout the entire lens–including the front element. What this means is that the lens is going to survive most of what Mother Nature will throw at it.

In the field, the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens seemed a bit big for my liking, but this is partially due to the EF to RF adapter on the Canon EOS R. While I still wish this lens was made natively for the RF mount or Sony FE, I can appreciate how lightweight it is. If this were an optic from Sigma or Zeiss, we’d expect our wrists to hurt from a day of photo-walking. But instead, the, IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens was a joy to have attached to the camera. And colloquially speaking, that’s what mirrorless is all about.

“As you can tell from these product images, we put the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens not only through its paces while testing it out in the field but also during this photo shoot. “

 

Ease of Use

The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens is a manual focus lens; that will immediately intimidate a number of photographers out there in a fashion synonymous to someone who doesn’t want to work with a camera in full manual mode. The truth is, if just take your time and have a bit of patience you’ll be rewarded with better images and fewer photos to go through in post later on. If manual focus turns you off, then this lens is not for you. But with the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, the use case can go a number of different ways.

  • With Canon EOS DSLRs, the lens will get autofocus confirmation when working with a specific autofocus point.
  • With the Nikon DSLR system, the camera and lens will work together to get focus when using the Nikon rangefinder system.
  • With the Canon EOS R, the camera and lens will work together in a fashion similar to the Nikon rangefinder system.
  • With the Sony FE system, you’ll need to magnify the output because their focus peaking is garbage and useless.

If you’re used to shooting film or working with manual focus lenses, this will be as easy as pie. I prefer to slow down and carefully acquire focus on a subject; it’s fun and more deliberate. As a result, you’re more involved with the picture taking process.

 

Focusing

When using the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, you’ll need to manually focus it. The focus throw is long and the focusing ring isn’t as rigid as some offerings from Zeiss. It is smooth and easy to work with. The feeling is a nice one and also facilitates you getting the shot. As this is a longer focal length, it doesn’t make any sense for you to zone focus with it. At the macro ranges, focusing will become more critical and you should use a tripod when possible. But, believe it or not, I didn’t need one because the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens is so lightweight and easy to hold.

 

Image Quality

The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens exhibits great image quality overall. The bokeh is just beautiful and the feeling of the images is very organic. There is no micro-contrast or trickery: it’s just the pop from the 11 aperture blades and the sharpness that the lens renders. The title of this piece calls this lens The Bokeh King, and it indeed really is. Photographers of all types will not only love the bokeh, but they’ll also appreciate the sharpness, color rendition, and how fun this lens can be. If you’re a Canon EOS R owner with the adapter, you’re in for a real treat.

Bokeh

This photo was shot at f4.5 and focused very closely. You can still see how gorgeous the bokeh is and the overall field of view. I don’t know a single photographer who would complain about this. The 11 aperture blades do a number to create smooth bokeh when combined with the optics.

Chromatic Aberration

In our tests, we found no chromatic aberration. Let’s move on.

Color Rendition

The colors from the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens are nice. Canon renders scenes a bit warm when shooting in Auto white balance, but beyond that you don’t have much of anything to complain about.

Sharpness

What I’m most shocked by is the sharpness. I didn’t expect this lens to be that sharp. I shot the above photo this way to be able to see how sharp it could render a sliver of the scene and then deliver falloff and bokeh. Nice, right?

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Bokeh
  • Sharpness
  • Weather sealing
  • Lightweight
  • Image quality

Dislikes

  • I wish it were made natively for mirrorless cameras

In the case of the IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens, it’s hitting the ball right out of the park. This lens exhibits great image quality in a lightweight body. Somehow or other the company managed to cram 11 aperture blades, solid weather sealing, sharp optics, and an overall nice feeling into a moderately sized lens. Granted, they’re doing this at the sacrifice of autofocus, but I’m okay with that. IRIX (in full disclosure) allows us to keep the lenses we review. And this is one I plan on using again and again.

The IRIX 150mm f2.8 Dragonfly Macro Lens receives five out of five stars and our Editor’s Choice Award. You can snag one for only $595.