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04-12-2011, 08:33 PM   #1
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Helios Gurus wanted!

I have this wild and crazy idea. In fact it might even be dangerous..... to me that is.

So I've been eying this Silver Helios 44 with the 13 bladed aperture. Now, I know this lens has a good reputation all by itself, and I haven't tried one yet, but I had this crazy idea I wanted to run by you, the Helios Guru, whoever you might be. I've read everything I can find regarding the Helios 44 and settled on the rare 13 bladed variant as my choice as I want a superb portrait lens and this seems to fit the bill. The one I'm looking at is not the "P" (looks like an "n") labeled variant with the supposed superior coating. It's the regular 13 blade variant. The only problem I have is this version has the lowest posted resolution whereas the newest variant, the 44m-7 has the highest posted resolution for any Helios 44. The newer 44m-7 also has better coatings and according to owners of this lens, better color and contrast overall then older Helios 44 variants. So considering that as far as I know, the optical formula of the Helios 44 has not changed in 50 years, is it possible to remove the elements from the old original Helios 44 and replace them with the optical elements from the newest 44m-7? If not the newest, possibly one of the other variants such as the 44-3?

I know, I should probably be tared and feathered or burned at the stake for proposing such a crazy idea. I mean, who would ever want to destroy a perfectly good Helios lens for the benefit of another. Well, I didn't say I was actually going to, just wondering if it is possible. IF I get the lens, and I'm happy with it's performance as a portrait lens, I probably won't risk screwing it up, but if I find it lacking, I may want to explore options for making it better.

Thansk,
Damian

04-12-2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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You can try anything, but be aware that you would likely have to collimate (shim and/or align) the lens on reassembly.

I would suggest, instead doing a little more Helios research. There are several good threads both here on PF and on the Web. If you want the multiple blades AND excellent MC optics, I would suggest a Helios 44-3 (preset aperture). One caution, however...some variants of this lens have a rear body part (the near edge of the focus ring IIRC) that will not clear a standard M42 or K-mount. This piece must be ground or machined down before the lens can be focused on other than a Zenit camera.


Steve
04-12-2011, 09:37 PM   #3
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I when from a Helios-44K-4 to a Helios-40 (N) and holy smokes haha, if you though the 44 was dope, just wait until you get your hands on a chrome 40. Wow.

/end random but of high.
04-13-2011, 12:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
You can try anything, but be aware that you would likely have to collimate (shim and/or align) the lens on reassembly.

I would suggest, instead doing a little more Helios research. There are several good threads both here on PF and on the Web. If you want the multiple blades AND excellent MC optics, I would suggest a Helios 44-3 (preset aperture). One caution, however...some variants of this lens have a rear body part (the near edge of the focus ring IIRC) that will not clear a standard M42 or K-mount. This piece must be ground or machined down before the lens can be focused on other than a Zenit camera.


Steve
I have been collecting Helios 44's recently just to see what works the best. I have like new rare multi coated 44 3 that works on Pentax without problems. I could sell this if you are interested.
I like my 44M4 gold color coated the best and silver 44 single coated made in 1966 for it's bokeh.
I have been toying with the idea of replacing parts of the lens too. I have great multi coated 44M that has aperture problems. I could get 44M with working aperture rather cheap but is this worth the effort I don't know. You need to consider also that this lens has been manufactured over 50 years and in different factories. Quality control went down specially in 1980's and I doubt that after USSR(1990) there is much improvement. I like the ones made on 1960's when quality was still required.
About Helios 40. This is whole different lens and 10x the price.

04-13-2011, 07:42 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
You can try anything, but be aware that you would likely have to collimate (shim and/or align) the lens on reassembly.

I would suggest, instead doing a little more Helios research. There are several good threads both here on PF and on the Web. If you want the multiple blades AND excellent MC optics, I would suggest a Helios 44-3 (preset aperture). One caution, however...some variants of this lens have a rear body part (the near edge of the focus ring IIRC) that will not clear a standard M42 or K-mount. This piece must be ground or machined down before the lens can be focused on other than a Zenit camera.


Steve
There is a trick for aligning the lenses.
Kiev Survival Site
It should be possible to use this method to re-center the elements during reassembly. Though, I do not know for sure as I have not tried it. It probably actually works for other lens brands/types as well.

I've done more research then you probably realize. Here are some links to some sites and threads I've read. This is only about half of what I've read. I just kept these links as they were the most usefull.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/67775-sibling-rivalry-helios-44m-vs-helios-44m-4-a.html
http://cameras.alfredklomp.com/logos/
http://forum.mflenses.com/complete-helios-lens-list-anyone-t11435.html
http://forum.mflenses.com/complete-list-of-helios-lenses-getting-closer-t26100.html
http://www.zenit-camera.com/lens-helios-44.htm

Some How-to sites regarding the Helios-44
http://forum.mflenses.com/repair-how-to-make-helios-44m-6-usable-with-n-t23425.html
http://liberman-family.com/boris/monocle.html
http://forum.mflenses.com/repairing-helios-44-2-i-need-help-t28807.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/77158-caution-helios-44-fans-potential-buyers-2.html
http://www.novacon.com.br/techhel.htm

I've looked at the 44-3 you suggest (and I'm very aware of the focus ring issue) and it is my second choice. Being a compromise between the Helios 44m-7 and the original 44. But I really want the 13 aperture blades. I have seen pics taken with the various 8 aperture versions and bokeh highlights are octagonal when the lens is stopped down. I can already achieve this with my SMC Pentax 50mm f1.4. My 50 1.4 is extremely sharp, contrasty and has great color. It's bokeh is very smooth between 1.4 and 2.5, but above the highlights get a little geometric. So I've been looking for something "better" for portraits. Basically, something with more aperture blades and rounder highlights. So that's why I settled on the original Helios 44 with 13 blade aperture.
04-13-2011, 07:54 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vanakaru Quote
I have been collecting Helios 44's recently just to see what works the best. I have like new rare multi coated 44 3 that works on Pentax without problems. I could sell this if you are interested.
I like my 44M4 gold color coated the best and silver 44 single coated made in 1966 for it's bokeh.
I have been toying with the idea of replacing parts of the lens too. I have great multi coated 44M that has aperture problems. I could get 44M with working aperture rather cheap but is this worth the effort I don't know. You need to consider also that this lens has been manufactured over 50 years and in different factories. Quality control went down specially in 1980's and I doubt that after USSR(1990) there is much improvement. I like the ones made on 1960's when quality was still required.
About Helios 40. This is whole different lens and 10x the price.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has thought of this. So, having multiple versions, do you know is the optics (other then the coatings) are identical from version to version. Meaning, will the elements from a later model fit in the original?

So are the earlier versions sharper then the later versions? I've read this somewhere before but I'm confused because the posted resolution of the later models is higher then the earlier ones.
Here is a link to what I'm talking about:
http://forum.mflenses.com/complete-list-of-helios-lenses-getting-closer-t26100.html

Oh and I might take you up on that offer of the 44-3 if I decide against the 13 blade version. Or for that matter if I decide I want to donate some optics to it.

Thanks for your help.
04-14-2011, 05:43 AM   #7
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is there anyone else who can add something to the discussion?
01-16-2014, 06:44 AM   #8
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multi-coated preset Helios 44

Hey there!
I'm new to this forum. Originally I'm a Canon user but I have recently entered the fabulous world of old glass...and got addicted

I am well aware that I'm exhuming a thread which is about two years old but I haven't found anything yet answering the TO's question. I've been raiding all those Helios threads but couldn't find any helpful information.
I've read about replacing the optical elements on the Pentacon 135/2.8 preset models with those from the later multi-coated versions.

I really love that preset aperture of my mint 44-2, although it only has 8 blades. But I like the idea of having the resolution and coatings of a 44M-7.
So I wonder if anybody knows if this modification will work or if anyone has even tried it yet.

01-16-2014, 01:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
...You can try anything, but be aware that you would likely have to collimate (shim and/or align) the lens on reassembly...
QuoteOriginally posted by electrofunk Quote

...I am well aware that I'm exhuming a thread which is about two years old but I haven't found anything yet answering the TO's question...
My answer is still the same. It is very likely possible.


Steve
01-16-2014, 10:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damian Quote
I have this wild and crazy idea. In fact it might even be dangerous..... to me that is.

So I've been eying this Silver Helios 44 with the 13 bladed aperture. Now, I know this lens has a good reputation all by itself, and I haven't tried one yet, but I had this crazy idea I wanted to run by you, the Helios Guru, whoever you might be. I've read everything I can find regarding the Helios 44 and settled on the rare 13 bladed variant as my choice as I want a superb portrait lens and this seems to fit the bill. The one I'm looking at is not the "P" (looks like an "n") labeled variant with the supposed superior coating. It's the regular 13 blade variant. The only problem I have is this version has the lowest posted resolution whereas the newest variant, the 44m-7 has the highest posted resolution for any Helios 44. The newer 44m-7 also has better coatings and according to owners of this lens, better color and contrast overall then older Helios 44 variants. So considering that as far as I know, the optical formula of the Helios 44 has not changed in 50 years, is it possible to remove the elements from the old original Helios 44 and replace them with the optical elements from the newest 44m-7? If not the newest, possibly one of the other variants such as the 44-3?

I know, I should probably be tared and feathered or burned at the stake for proposing such a crazy idea. I mean, who would ever want to destroy a perfectly good Helios lens for the benefit of another. Well, I didn't say I was actually going to, just wondering if it is possible. IF I get the lens, and I'm happy with it's performance as a portrait lens, I probably won't risk screwing it up, but if I find it lacking, I may want to explore options for making it better.

Thansk,
Damian
I was in a similar place like you where I pondered all of the possible variants of the Helios 44. Which one should I get? Where can I get it? For how much? Is the difference between the variants noticeable? Etc etc etc.

Then by pure chance I ended up getting a Helios 44M on a Zenit body handed down to me from my deceased uncle. He bought it / got it brand new when we lived in the Soviet Union and he took it with him when he came to America.

When I got the lens and started shooting with it all my concerns about the variants evaporated. I never once thought to myself that I might be missing out on something. My only complaint is that the focus ring is stiff. It's so stiff that I can nearly unscrew the lens from the camera with it.

I say the one lens and try it before you go too far with the idea. Here's a link I found that compares the 44-3 and the 44M-6.

Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC vs. Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 MC - Paintings of Stangrit Natalia
01-17-2014, 01:20 AM   #11
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I have all the Helios44 models, but never use these. These are pretty boring for color. While the bokeh is interesting I like Rikenon 1:1,4 55 much better for the same price range.
In my opinion any Helios44 is worth no more than 10USD.
01-17-2014, 09:51 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by vanakaru Quote
I have all the Helios44 models, but never use these. These are pretty boring for color. While the bokeh is interesting I like Rikenon 1:1,4 55 much better for the same price range.
In my opinion any Helios44 is worth no more than 10USD.
I own both the Auto Rikenon 55/1.4 and Helios 44M 58/2 and prefer the Helios. The Rikenon is a nice lens with much better build, but it is prone to a center "hot spot" in bright light on dSLRs due to the large flat rear element. As a result, I seldom shoot with it.

As for value, much depends on where you live. Helios 44 lenses are incredibly common in Europe. Here in the U.S. they are fairly rare since very few Zenit cameras were actually sold here. I have only seen two Zenit cameras in the last 40 years.* I paid $15 USD for my Helios 44M and think that any price over $25 USD is too much for most variants, though I might pay as much as $35 USD for a Helios 44K-4 or Helios 44-3 if multi-coated and in excellent condition. Unfortunately, there are many people here in the U.S. who want to own one and are willing to pay a premium price. It makes no sense and is driving the prices up.


Steve

* To be honest, except for what is on my shelf, I have only seen four FSU/Russian cameras "in the wild"...two Zenits, a Zorki 4, and a FED 5.
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