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  1. #1
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    Helios M42 lenses - Have I misunderestimated them?

    Well, I have had a Zenit-E sitting around for some time, but never actually used it. I needed to shoot some film to test my developer times, and as my Nikon was loaded with KR64, and my Minolta was loaded with TMZ, I decided to run a few frames of Pan F+ through it, just for the hell of it.

    After enlarging the negatives, I was quite surprised at the result.

    It seems like this Helios 58mm f2 that I had sitting on the Zenit for the longest time gives better results than I had ever dreamed of. For the longest time, I had thought "Oh it's just a cheap ass Russian lens" and never really bothered with it. Does anyone else have any thoughts on these lenses?

    The below image is the one that got me thinking. It has a circular DOF, with an ALMOST petzval look, something I was not expecting from 35mm.

    I believe this was shot on f5.6.

    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Back around 1969/70 I had my first magazine cover, the camera was a Zenit E with an f2 Helios, it was a surprisingly good lens, the camera wore out after about 3 years heavy use

    In fact looking back the lens was always good even at wide apertures. I have a russian FED bought from an APUG US member and the lens on that is excellent too. Even "Che" used Russian cameras and he was very accomplished photographer, perhaps not in the CIA's eyes

    Ian

  3. #3
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    That Helios 44 is a Soviet copy of the Zeiss Biotar. A good sample can give outstanding results. I have several.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  4. #4
    eSFotos's Avatar
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    Helios 44 is not a bad lens (I too have several) especially earlier model, Helios 44-2. The later 44M-x models, although multi-coated, has fuzzy bokeh that I am not very fond of.
    Canon/Nikon/Contax/Mamiya/Olympus/Minolta/Praktica/Pentax/Pentacon/Zeiss/Yashica/Zorki/Kiev/Ricoh ...

  5. #5
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    Yes, apparently mine is an earlier model, it is a 44-2
    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  6. #6
    tony lockerbie's Avatar
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    I find that the earlier versions are nicer too. Also the Helios is usually better built than the East German Biotars, which suffer from stiff focussing and hazing of the elements.
    Funny how most people dismiss the Soviet lenses, and true the odd one is crap, but most of the ones that I have used are surprisingly good. The Helios is one example, and the humble Industars that you find on the Feds and Zorkis are a surprise packet as well

  7. #7

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    I used to have a Helios 44-2, which I used with a K-mount adapter on my Pentax film SLR. Very nice results, and, iirc, it focuses pretty close, too. I've generally had excellent results with Soviet lenses in both medium format and 35mm (m42 and Leica screw mounts). Their quality control gets slagged off a fair bit, but I've only ever had one 'bad' lens [the focusing helical was gummed up] and I was able to fix that myself.

    I've had good results with the Industar 61, the Jupiter's 8, 9, 11 and 12, the Helios 44-2 and a Volna 90mm in medium format.

  8. #8

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    I've got a Helios 44, unfortunately on a semi-functional "Start" SLR. By semi-functional, I mean that apparently the mirror rests at the wrong angle. It looks like it's adjustable. Any ideas on how to correct that?
    Charles

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    A while back a friend gave me a pair of un-used Zorki-4 and Zenit-B cameras. Complete with paperwork and original receipts from USSR. The Zorki-4's signed 'Certification Document' indicates the lens develops 31 lines/mm at the center and 14 lines/mm at the edge wide open. I checked the the Helios-44-2's certificate to see if the resolution is indicated but it just says "meets the technical requirements and is admitted to be useful."

  10. #10

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    Helios 44-2 lens yields very good results as long as you remember it is a preset lens...

    As the front lens is recessed into the barrel, you don't need to carry any lens hood.

    Too they are fairly easy to clean and re-grease for a smooth focussing.

    And for the price, you don't take any risk!

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