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Help with Helios lenses

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by 369, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    84
    Feb 10, 2010
    I all I just got to know about Helios 44 lens I was wondering if this can be used with ep-1 and if so where can I buy it from. Is there any specific adapter that I need to buy with this. Lastly which version of the lens to buy. This will be my first mf lens. Any help will be appreciated.

    Sid
     
  2. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    520
    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    Helios 44 lenses come in many variations. First, the ones that are just numbered, eg. Helios 44-2, seem to be all or mostly m42, are older versions, and though optically pretty much the same as newer ones, may not have as good coatings, so may suffer a small amount on image quality. The later models seem to be generally labelled 44m or 44m1, 44m2, etc. For the m42 mount versions, and 44k for Pentax k- mount versions. There may be other mounts as well, but they do not show up as often. in fact even the k mount ones are not so common. The majority I see are m42 mount versions.

    Where to get them? That depends where you are. In Europe you can very often find these lens attached to old Zenit slr film cameras, often available very cheaply at thrift stores and flea markets. In North America you will probably more easily find one on EBay.

    You can get m42 to micro 4/3 adapters easily off EBay, or off amazon in the us. the cheapest ones will ship from China, if you want it quicker pay a bit more. It seems most of these adapters now focus to infinity with no problem but beware, they also focus PAST infinity, so watch your focus even for far away objects.

    Other than the mount type and general clean condition of the lens I would not worry too much about the version to begin with. I have heard stories of some lemon lenses out there but that is mainly random soviet QC issues rather than particular mfg dates or batches, I think.

    Oh, and try not to pay too much. In Europe you should be able to find one for 15-20 euros no problem, though some guys try to sell them at three times that on eBay. Unsure of price ranges elsewhere, so just look around.

    Good luck and have fun

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 App
     
  3. n-forty

    n-forty Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Jul 26, 2011
    Sydney
    Make sure you google "Helios 44-3 problem" or caution or something. I'm on my phone so I don't have a link to it now. Talks about mount problems with the older versions of 44-3.

    According to what I've read so far, 44-3 and 44m7 are the popular ones. I can't talk about their performance because I don't have them. but I can tell you the 44m that I got for $30 delivers for what I need
     
  4. the.growler

    the.growler Mu-43 Regular

    I think the combination of wide aperture, slightly longer focal length and short close focus distance make these very versatile lenses indeed, but I'm not sure this would be my first choice for a first MF lens, for a couple of reasons:

    1. Even though there are many M42 mount versions of this lens, keep in mind that they were made for the Zenit camera, which was a very unique Russian SLR. While M42 adapters will definitely fit the mounting threads on the lens, the register (flange back distance) that the lens was designed for might not be the same as you get with your adapter. For example, I had to mill about 1mm from the face of my Rainbow Imaging M42 adapter to get my first Helios-44 to focus correctly.

    2. As avidone pointed out, there are many variations of this lens (I'm aware of at least 8). If you get a first or second series lens without realizing what you've bought, it will have dual "preset" aperture rings, which take a lot of getting used to. If you are making the jump from AF and AE, I think you're going to be more comfortable with a more conventional single aperture ring set-up.

    3. It's a big, bulky lens and the M42 adapter adds more length. I truly love the images I get from the two Helios-44s in my collection but, man, they are ugly hanging off the front of my E-PL2!

    My recommendation for a first MF lens would be a Jupiter-8 in M39 mount. It's one stop faster than the Helios-44, much more compact and an M39 adapter is only about half the depth of an M42 adapter (crude snapshot attached showing the overall size comparison). An alternative would be the Industar-26 or Industar-61 in M39 mount. They are plentiful, cheap and pretty reliable.

    Just my two cents! :smile:
     

    Attached Files:

  5. sLorenzi

    sLorenzi Mu-43 Top Veteran

    586
    Sep 15, 2010
    Brazil
    Sidinei
    Another thing you should worry when buying this lens, is that the newer ones don't have the manual/auto switch, so, if you get an adapter that doesn't push the pin into the lens, you will just be able to shoot with the lens wide open.
     
  6. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Like n-forty said, the Helios 44-3 is one of the best Helios options....along with the 44m-7

    Importantly both are multi-coated and are thus more resistant to flare and offer better contrast than the earliest non mc versions like my non coated 44-2. The biggest difference is that the 44m-7 has 6 aperture blades compared to the 8 bladed 44-3. So it's a bit of a compromise, slightly better contrast of the 7 or the smoother bokeh of the 3 ????

    I just recently purchased a mint condition 44-3 as I felt it is a nice compromise between smooth bokeh and decent MC contrast/flare resistance (which was my only gripe with my 44-2)

    If you opt for the 44-3....try to find a copy manufactured 1987 and onwards. The older versions did have some mounting issues...especially the 84 & 86 versions, although the newer m42 to m43 adapters appear to have eliminated these issues...it's probably a good idea to play it safe and go for a post 86 version. You'll find that they also tend to be a few dollars more expensive though for that same reason. Btw....mine is a 1990 version.

    Look at the front of the lens at the serial number....the first 2 digits note year of manufacture.

    Just be aware of one more thing, I'm sure you have done heaps of searching on Flickr and have seen the crazy gorgeous bokeh that the Helios is capable of(some hate it...I LOVE it)....keep in mind that using an mu43 camera you will not be able to achieve bokeh of the same intensity as that of full framed animal like the canon 5dmkII.

    Rest assured though, even with an mu43 camera you will still be creating those famous swirling bokeh fairies ;)

    Good luck.
     
  7. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    520
    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    I also agree that the Jupiter-8 is a great lens, and compact as well, but it is f/2.0 just like at least all the Helios 44's I know, no faster.

    The Jupiter-3 is a 50mm f/1.5, but it is more difficult to find, apparently even more so to find good copies. The Jupiter-8 is reasonably easy to find, at least on EBay in Europe, but less so than the Helios 44 in all its variations, and usually a bit more expensive (but still can be had usually for 35 or 40 euros plus PH).

    I forgot to mention the auto-manual switch thing and the number of aperture blades-- I did not have issues with my cheap Chinese adapters on this, so I guess they push the pin down. I chose a 44m (no additional numbers in model) from 1983 because of the 8-bladed aperture versus the six-bladed one in 44m-4 and later editions. Of course if you really LIKE hexagonal bokeh, you could choose one of the others.
     
  8. the.growler

    the.growler Mu-43 Regular

    avidone is correct, of course, about the Helios-44 and Jupiter-8 both being f2 lenses - my mistake. Learn from the master! :smile:
     
  9. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    84
    Feb 10, 2010
    Well since mf lens is new to me.. It's little confusing and I m a little skeptical after reading your posts. I guess people with more knowledge are better at finding thesensubtle difference that are required when buyingmf lens.
     
  10. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    520
    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    Don't worry. It is not too difficult when you get going. Legacy lenses and micro four thirds were all new to me about four months ago, then I just got a little obsessed. ;-) . And a Helios 44m was my first adapted lens to try. Either it or the ltm ie. Leica thread ie. M39 all different names for the same thing Jupiter 8 would be great first lenses to try, not expensive but can give great results. The manual focus will slow you down a little, but it is by no means difficult, especially if you use the magnified view. If you see a listing on eBay and are unsure you are welcome to pm me with the link and I'll be glad to check it out and let you know what's what.

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 App
     
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I do personally love my Jupiter-3!! It's a real gem of a lens... I can't imagine the Jupiter-8 being much different though. The Jupiter-3 has no contrast wide open at f/1.5, so the f/2 aperture of the Jupiter-8 shouldn't be much different. I never shoot my J-3 wider than f/2 anyways. ;) Past f/2 or f/2.8 though, the lens is very sharp and clean. It produces a certain color tone that I can't get from my other lenses. So although it's not my most used lens or one I could use for everything, it's a very special lens to me that I can't let go of.

    jupiter-3_web.

    PS, I prefer the M39 LTM screw mount over M42 because it's much more compact. However, M42 allows me to adapt to Four-Thirds before going to Micro Four-Thirds, so there's an advantage there as well. Rangefinder lenses have a better overall standard of quality though, so you tend to find some more reliable lenses in M39 than M42. Jupiter lenses mostly come in M39 whereas Helios comes in both M39 and M42 but more commonly in M42.

    Another mount you should look into is Contax/Yashica. You can get some nice Zeiss glass in that mount. With M39 LTM and Leica M mounts, you can get a great selection of Leica glass as well.
     
  12. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    The Helios 44-2 is the most common one. It's usually pretty awful. Later versions were thoroughly tested at the factory and marked accordingly to their optical and mechanical quality with 44-M-4 being the worst and 44-M-7 being the best.
     
  13. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    And there were also better lenses in the Helios family like Helios 77 and Helios 81.
     
  14. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    369....I REALLY think you should bite the bullet and get yourself an old MF lens, I know from experience as a total newbie that fiddling around with aperture and focus rings by hand helped me greatly with my own learning curve. My first legacy lens was a Helios 44-2 and sure she isn't all that great...but it gave me a chance to physically see how some VERY important elements affected the images I was taking....DOF, size of aperture opening, the amount of light I was allowing through the lens, focus moving along the focal plane.....all these things I found so much easier to learn begin to understand when I was physically creating those changes with my own hand as opposed to having some motor do it all for me.

    I think some of the Helios and Jupiter lenses mentioned here are a great place to start because they are relatively cheap and if you find that MF is not for you....well no big loss !

    On the other hand though, if you find that you really enjoy MF using old legacy lenses then...well...you are in trouble my friend because the credit card may begin to cop a thrashing :)

    Be sure to check out this forum for legacy lenses that members put up for trade or sale....some really good stuff can be found and often for better prices than on eBay.
    I don't mean to confuse you with even MORE options but there is a really great lens for sale by one of the forum members named mdg137 I think who is selling a fantastic lens....Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f2 with te correct adapter for about $50.....that's really great value and would make an excellent first MF lens.
     
  15. 369

    369 Mu-43 Regular

    84
    Feb 10, 2010
    Thanks for pointing me towards the Rokkor, as you mentioned that its a great value. I will PM mdg137 and see if I can get the lens.

    I was hoping actually to get something even cheaper like say lens and adapter for around $30. Is that too low. If this is the cheapest with adapter then I will definitely try to get this lens.

    Thanks again for the recommendations.

    Sid
     
  16. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    520
    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    I think the cheapest adapters are about $10 and you wait to get them from China; that leaves $20 for a lens... which is like 15 euro-- at that price or less I HAVE found some lenses, but only scouring flea market and thrift stores, and then it is also hit-and-miss. If you want something quickly, probably any lens bought off someone here who has used it in the way you would like to (as opposed to digging it out of their dad's attic or whatever) is probably a better bet, and those Minolta lenses are meant to be quite good overall. For that, $50 is quite a good deal