Photo: Helios 44-2 First Impressions…
Just checking in with a lens update, the Helios 44-2 58mm to be exact.
So why did I get one of these ? Truth be told I had been meaning to get one for a very long time, and since their value is beginning to creep up it was the right time to pick one up.
Because of YouTube these lenses are becoming well known for what they are capable of, and for a good insight I recommend this video if you want to know more:
There are many of these lenses out there, literally millions produced and they do tend to vary. The one I have in particular is a fairly early example with the white and red colours, but you can also get green and yellow highlights as seen in the video and the more sought after “zebra” which has a silver/black focus ring.
This lens is some sort of copy of the Carl Zeiss Biotar, and I cannot compare but the feel of this manual lens is really just great. I decided to go with an M42 converter without all the AF confirm chip stuff to avoid confusion, just simply screw the lens into the converter and it’s ready to go onto my camera.
Despite the lack of any focusing aid it’s still easy to operate, and switching to “live view” tends to be the best option over the viewfinder for a change. This is one of the first photos I’ve taken with the lens just in the garden, the unique “bokeh swirl” is there but it was a very dull day, so I know the results can be a lot better on a good day !
If you were looking for a budget lens for some creativity I think one of these is a must have, and if you want the “bokeh swirl” models then go for the 44-2 with eight blade AF internals. There are some other models like the 44-4 etc. but most of these are revised and won’t create the same results. I would say this lens does a lot better on full frame cameras, but even here with my APS-C it still yields good results even if it’s a little constrained.