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11-04-2014, 04:56 PM - 7 Likes   #1
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Square Bokeh modification to Helios 44-2 (Tutorial)

Ok, so I've been modifying the ubiquitous Helios 44-2 to give it an aperture that produces square bokeh.
This is not a cardboard cutout in front of the lens but an alteration to the aperture blades.
Below is the whole process with lots of pictures.

A word of warning before we start:
This procedure is not a complex idea, it's simple, But it requires a high level of technical skill. It is very tricky and there is a high probability that most people who are not used to taking fiddly things apart and altering them will screw-up their lens. That being said, these are not expensive lenses so a replacement will not break the bank.

I would not advise starting with your best Helios (if you have more than 1), if your 1 and only helios 44-2 is in great condition then you might want to buy another one for your first attempt.

By the way, this will only work with the Helios 44-2 which has 8 blades anchored at each end.
There may be other lenses where this is possible but I haven't found any yet.

I will not be held in any way responsible if you screw up your lens, you have been warned.

If you don't feel comfortable taking on this task you may find one of these lenses (and maybe some other interesting lenses) for sale on my ebay account here:
superchameleon | eBay


First off we need to release the focusing mechanism from the optical assembly. This just unscrews. Hold the lens by the base and unscrew the optical assembly using the preset aperture rings (if it's never been taken apart it might need a sharp turn to start it, it's a normal thread - anti-clockwise to release)



Put the focussing assembly to one side.



Unscrew the rear lens assembly and put it to one side (being careful not to scratch the glass elements).


Now take note of the amount of thread protruding from beneath the aperture ring (where the screwdriver tip is pointing), you'll need to get this right when re-assembling the lens (taking a photo of this part will be useful).



Now remove the aperture ring limiting screw with a flat screwdriver.



Then carefully remove the aperture actuating screw (this is screwed into a plastic ring so be gentle).



Unscrew the aperture ring (normal thread), holding the preset ring.




Clean off the grease from the threads and locate the grub-screw which holds the aperture assembly in place, unscrew this grub-screw (be careful it's very small and easy to break).



Now you can unscrew the aperture assembly from the front optics.



Note the position of the screw-hole in the plastic aperture ring through the cutout in the side of the aperture assembly.



Carefully release the spring-clip and remove it from inside the aperture assembly.




Carefully lift out the plastic aperture ring.



Now you can see the aperture blades, note the orientation of the blades (another photo here would be advisable).



Tip the blades out onto a suitable surface, you may have to use a small screwdriver blade to gently push the anchor pins through from the other side.



Gently wipe any oil from the blades with a soft absorbant cloth.



Now the modification:
I've used a five pence piece (approximately 18mm diameter) clamped onto the blade, equidistant from each end and covering approximately 2.5mm of the blade width at the middle. Do not cover too much of the blade or you will weaken it too much.



Now with a scalpel cut round the coin making sure to keep the blade against the coins edge. It will take several scores to cut the blade, start gently and increase the pressure with each score until the free (exposed) part of the blade comes away by itself. you must not bend the blade.




Using the flat scalpel edge angled down and flat against the blade, smooth the edge of the blade, trying not to apply to much force which will curl the blade up. The flatter you keep the blade here, the easier it will be to re-assemble the blades.



This is what the part under the coin should look like.
Repeat this procedure with 3 other blades.
You should end up with 4 modified blades and 4 untouched blades.



Now re-assemble the blades in the aperture assembly, alternating between modified and untouched blades (this may take several tries, remove small children and other sensitive souls from the room). Make sure the blades are oriented the correct way.



Next place the plastic aperture ring back over the blades, note the orientation of the screw-hole compared to the cutout in the aperture housing. You may need to carefully re-position the blade pins with a small screwdriver into the slots in the plastic ring.



Replace the spring clip, positioning the gap opposite to the cutout in the aperture housing, make sure it is properly seated in the groove in the housing (you should be able to rotate the clip easily).



Now if you carefully rotate the plastic ring the aperture should open and close easily. If you've got it right you should be feeling very smug right now.



Screw the aperture assembly back onto the front optic assembly.



Replace the grub-screw



Screw the aperture ring back on refering to the picture you took of the protruding thread.



Replace the aperture actuating screw being careful not to over tighten it (you're screwing it into the plastic ring).




Replace the aperture ring limiting screw making sure it finishes flush.



Screw the rear optical assembly back in, tighten gently with lens spanner if you have one.



Screw the optical assembly back into the focusing assembly fairly tightly.


Et Voila! you now have a Helios 44-2 that will produce lovely square bokeh.

Enjoy.

If you haven't managed this mod successfully or if you don't feel comfortable taking on this task you may find one of these lenses (and maybe some other interesting lenses) for sale on my ebay account here:
superchameleon | eBay

11-04-2014, 05:06 PM   #2
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Good tutorial. Think it could do any other attractive shapes?
11-04-2014, 05:08 PM   #3
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Very interesting. Thanks for posting the tutorial. Would you mind posting one of the pics you have on Ebay, here?
11-04-2014, 05:12 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Good tutorial. Think it could do any other attractive shapes?
Not sure but I've got a 6 blade 44M to play with, so maybe triangular?

---------- Post added 11-05-14 at 12:13 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Very interesting. Thanks for posting the tutorial. Would you mind posting one of the pics you have on Ebay, here?
Do you mean pics of the lens on ebay or the pictures taken with it?

11-04-2014, 05:15 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stubyles Quote
Not sure but I've got a 6 blade 44M to play with, so maybe triangular?

---------- Post added 11-05-14 at 12:13 AM ----------



Do you mean pics of the lens on ebay or the pictures taken with it?
Pictures taken with it. They are definitely impactful.
11-04-2014, 05:28 PM - 4 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Pictures taken with it. They are definitely impactful.
Here are pics taken with my first one, as requested.





























11-05-2014, 01:39 AM   #7
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Excellent and thanks for posting this ... I was wondering how you reduced the blade width ... good technique. Salut, J
03-03-2016, 10:00 AM   #8
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i found on ebay a helios 44-2 with square bokeh and i am very happy with it, perfect square variable aperture, must have, just make a search on ebay something like Zenitar ME1 and you will
find it.

03-03-2016, 03:26 PM   #9
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I seem to have started something.
03-03-2016, 03:29 PM   #10
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That is stinkin' cool.
03-16-2016, 07:38 PM   #11
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I think i am gonna try it, its really nice to share !
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