Gear Test | Helios 44-2M

The Helios 44-2 is based on the Biotar 2/58 design and gives that lovely, swirling bokeh effect. My copy is an M42 mount, designed for use on Russian SLRs like the Zenit B. The Helios went into production in 1958 – produced by KMZ, MMZ and Jupiter –  and is possibly one of the most mass produced lenses in the world. The lens is a fast (f2), anastigmatic 6-element construction.

I was actually lucky enough to pick up two copies of this lens at the same time. One came attached to a broken Zenit B. I paid around £10 for both of mine, that seems a little cheap though, so I would expect to pay around that for one copy if I went shopping for one again. As I’m using this on M43rds, I get a field of view equivalent to 116mm. This makes it a nice, fast portrait/mild telephoto lens.

I do love the look of this lens. It renders colours very nicely and, as you can see from these shots, is sharp even wide-open. The only issue I have with it is the secondary, step-less aperture ring. I have found myself knocking this on occasion and missing on the depth of field I was looking for – the ring also rotates in opposite direction to the main, stepped ring!

All in all though, a great lens and a real bargain.

Are you using this lens on digital?

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