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05-31-2015, 11:41 AM   #1
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What to buy: Helios 44-2 vs. Helios 44k4 vs. 44m? I am confused

Good Evening =)

i recently stumbled upon the magical "swirly bokeh" effects that the helios lenses (can) produce and tried reading a few sites before buying one.
Now i am more confused cause i see so many versions and i got a few questions in my mind, i hope you can answer

- for the most part i see 3 versions, 44x, 44k and 44mx (all with different numbers at the end, right? I have red the numbers indicate the production date, the bigger, the newer and therefore less swirly but more sharp, with 7 the highest?)
- i can use the k one to screw it directly onto my camera (pentax k30) but not the 44x or the 44mx?
- for the 44x / 44mx i need an adapter. i have red there are adapters who can give the 44mx automatic aperture control?

So, what is the best option here?
The 44k4 sounds great, cause i just need a lens and i am fine to go and shoot.
But some guys say, its not the big swirly effect i am after and only 6 aperture blades (is this a big deal) instead of 8.

I am really confused by all this information about old lenses, so id like some advice from you guys. (and i have red all the lens guides / reviews here on pentax for those named lenses)

Thanks and good light,
Marco

05-31-2015, 11:51 AM   #2
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If you want the swirly bokeh you need the pre-set 44-2 or 44-3.
05-31-2015, 12:06 PM   #3
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The short answer is that the swirly bokeh is not a sure thing, though you will have better luck with the earlier Helios 44 variants. My understanding is that the swirl is due to alignment issues in conjunction with optical aberrations inherent in the Biotar design. I own the Helios 44M and its tendency to swirl is minimal. Examples I have seen from the 44-3, later series 44M-n, and 44K show a similar pattern of clean bokeh.

As for your other questions:
  • The 44K will attach directly to your K-30
  • Any of the M42 Helios variants will require an M42-to-K adapter. I would avoid the M39 (Zenit) versions.
  • Automatic aperture control is not available with any M42 lens regardless of adapter
  • The following variants will work on your camera without modification to the lens: 44-2, 44M, 44K
  • All of the 44M-n variants require minor "surgery" to convert the aperture to fully manual operation
  • Many 44-3 examples have a projecting rear edge on the focus ring that physically interferes with a clean mount to a K-mount camera. This problem can be remedied by grinding the edge down.
None of the Helios 44 variants is capable of supporting your camera's automated exposure control. Aperture must be set manually using the lens aperture ring. Metering is done using a hand-held meter or your K-30's stop-down (green button) metering. M mode is generally used, though Av mode is also possible with other than the 44K.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-31-2015 at 12:13 PM.
05-31-2015, 03:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for the detailed reply Stevebrot (are you german, guessing from your nickname? Cause if thats the case, i could talk to you - private - in german)

As far as i understand (and some more questions ^^)

- i will need an adapter m42 to k if i want swirls
- is there any reason to buy a 44k if there is no swirl beside the cheap 50-prime? I already own the (cheap) pentax 50 1,8 but i am not quite satisfied =/
- the surgery needed is what exactly?
- what exactly is the difference between a 44x and a 44mx?

and; is it worth to go for a adapter if i (for now) only get this one lens for the nice effect (if so, what can you recommend, are there differences, i saw some saying the lens "wobbles" on some adapters?)

Thanks again for your time guys, i am currently reading the "Lovin' on the Helios 44 (58mm f/2)" thread for some more informations =)

06-01-2015, 02:39 AM   #5
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I own a 44m and a 77k4, the later is a 50 1/1.8 variant of AFAIK the same basic design. In my experience both produce the swirly bokeh, the 44m more often than the 77. Not sure how the matter stands with the 44k.

Personally I don't use the Helios primarily for the bokeh, but for overall "gritty", old fashioned feel of the shots. Not sure how to describe it, but you've probably noticed what I mean in the samples here!
So yes, I would buy a Helios even without the swirly bokeh, it's a lens with tons of character!

The 44-x are older models of the lens, single coated and with a preset aperture. The 44m is multicoated but preset, the 44m-x are multicoated and use an automatic aperture. As I don't own enough samples (yet!) I leave the IQ differences to others.

There are some cheap m42-k adapters available, and the 44-2 is generally cheaper then the 44K, so I'm not sure buying the older Helios and the adapter will be the more expensive solution. And if you got the adapter, there are quite a few interesting m42 lenses out there for you. My current favorite is the Takumar 35 1/3.5, generally not that expensive but the pictures are incredible!

PM me if you want to continue this discussion in German, easier for me to ;-)
06-01-2015, 03:12 AM   #6
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Thanks a lot mano, i will do so =)
06-01-2015, 03:44 AM   #7
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Someone with better English may explain this better. But tuning the aperture is pretty simple. I have opened the rear part of the lens and placed a short piece of the electric wire cover to jam the pin. And reassembled the rear part back in its place. This takes about five minutes to do and the surgery is reversable.
Alternative method is to stuck the pin with some glue. But it is a bit difficult to get it working again. On the other hand, how likely you, or anyone else is needing that pin anymore. Unless your lens is a mint and ultra rare beauty, when some collectors may be interested in it.
06-02-2015, 05:16 AM   #8
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Ok, thanks for the informations. I slowly seem to understand the basics ^^
Can you tell me, what m42 to k adapter i should buy, what are the things to consider / look for?

06-02-2015, 09:47 AM   #9
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Pentax adapter is generally more expensive, but doesn't require a special tool to remove. It also doesn't seem to get stuck like reports of other adapters. It is built rather well, and honestly, I'd rather spend the extra money for peace of mind knowing that it's going to work. (I already own one, works flawlessly.).
06-02-2015, 11:29 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lost Forever Quote
are you german, guessing from your nickname? Cause if thats the case, i could talk to you - private - in german
No, my forum handle is an abbreviation of my real name and Mein Deutsch ist beschissen.


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06-02-2015, 11:33 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lost Forever Quote
Can you tell me, what m42 to k adapter i should buy
The official Pentax adapter. The imitations will work, but the retention spring on those should be removed to avoid getting the adapter stuck on the camera. (You don't want to know how I found that one out.) The real tough part is that the genuine Pentax is very expensive in some markets and not cheap in any.


Steve
06-02-2015, 12:28 PM   #12
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A quick check from my backyard with the MC Helios 44K-4, which fits straight without any adapters. Swirly? You tell me.

06-02-2015, 12:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Mein Deutsch ist beschissen.
This sounds ok to me!

I did a search on the bay and amazon and i didn't found any official pentax-adapter =/
06-02-2015, 02:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lost Forever Quote
This sounds ok to me!

I did a search on the bay and amazon and i didn't found any official pentax-adapter =/
Pentax Mount Adapter K


Steve
06-03-2015, 10:09 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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I own 44K-4 and 44M-2 preset lens. The ability to produce swirly background is pretty much the same, imo. I just don't intend to do it because the lack of "full frame" on cropped cameras irritates me
I can't really say which lens I prefer. For the convenience it's 44K-4.
It also upsets me that lots of shooters use Helios lens wide open only and don't explore more. I love Helios for the ability to reproduce colors close to natural, with many details. It also may produce dimensional images.
Here is the 44K-4 stopped down on one or two steps, CCD sensor (K200D)

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