Alternative lenses: Helios 44M-4 f/2 58mm REVIEW

3 min read

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MarioGuti's avatar
Hello! After a while not posting anything at all I wanted to share my views on one alternative lens I got not long ago, and also share some shots using this glass. The lens is a Soviet Helios 44M-4 58mm f/2 lens.

Introducing the lens:

From what I've read about it before I got it, it's one of the most popular lenses from the former USSR (soviets were really good at photography equipment so I decided to give it a try). The lens was made by the brand Zenit, one of the most famous from the USSR. It's a small, simple-built lens.

It's a fixed focal lens (58mm) and its maximum aperture is f/2, making it really bright.
Price: on eBay you can get them from 20€ (there are several versions, mine is the 4th version). I got it for 29€ (this one was almost brand new) + 6€ from the M42 adapter*
*You must have in count that you need a M42 adapter to fix it to modern DSLR cameras.

Personal views

35€ for a f/2 lens...what can I say! It's an amazing, much cheaper alternative to any modern 50mm f/1.8 if you don't mind focusing manually. The sharpness won't be the same as modern 50mm lenses though, that's sure, science advances!

The bokeh on this one is really soft, I like it better than the bokeh on my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D. Being so soft you must be really accurate focusing at f/2. Also, at this f/2 aperture setting, the edges aren't sharp. Nevertheless, at higher apertures edges are okay and you still get a nice unfocused background.

One important problem of these lenses which need adapters, is that it's technically impossible to focus at infinite. So this one would only serve if you have a focused foreground closer than around 2 meters.

Four fast-made pictures shot at f/2 so that you can see the foreground bokeh and the focus softness (sorry I haven't had enough time yet to shot some more with this lens):

And now two comparisons between two shots shot at f/2 and f/5.6, and two shots shot at f/2 and f/8.

Hoping you like them and hoping somebody starts getting interested about these not-so-known lenses which are so attractive and exotic to me. I love exploring sites like eBay looking for the cheapest bargain.

In case you buy it and have some doubt or just feel like sharing your thoughts/works with it, I'll be really glad to hear from you. There's usually some Helios 44M on eBay for a low price so I'd say you'll always be able to get one.
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leoatelier's avatar
Hellios  44-2 it's god for close-ups and macro stuff. I have increased the distance between lens elements but still not working to infinity.