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11-02-2018, 12:51 PM   #1
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Helios 44-3 58/2.0 (BeLomo) Quick Question

I recently took delivery of a Helios 44-3 (BeLomo/MMZ made) from an eBay seller in Belarus and have a quick question regarding what to expect from the lens build. In short:
The aperture set ring (not the stop-down ring) is incredibly hard to move from stop to stop. Is this normal for this lens?
I have other preset lenses and usually this operation is no harder than working the usual click-stop aperture ring on every other lens on the shelf. I expected the focus to be impossibly stiff (it isn't), but this took me by surprise.

Any Helios 44-3 owners willing to share their experience?


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 11-02-2018 at 01:15 PM.
11-02-2018, 01:34 PM   #2
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I personally don't have one, but this review (????? ?? ?????? 44-3 2 58. ???? ????????? ??????-44-3 | ????????) does not mention any problems with the aperture ring. The lens was made in a different factory though (Vologda).

By the way, he says that you can't use Helios 44-3 made prior to 1991 with adapters. He says any adapter will block the focusing ring and you won't be able to focus.
11-02-2018, 01:54 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Well if my 44-2 is anything to go by then yes mine has a very stiff aperture ring (and very loose preselect ring).

Doesn't bother me too much, in fact on the last night shoot with my 44-2 I just set aperture on max I was happy with (f11) and used the preselect (as selecting exact apertures are not that important with my night shooting).
11-02-2018, 02:42 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
By the way, he says that you can't use Helios 44-3 made prior to 1991 with adapters. He says any adapter will block the focusing ring and you won't be able to focus.
Thanks for the link. This is a known problem with some BeLomo-made Helios 44-3 lenses (perhaps Volagda too). I posted about this issue some years ago...

Caution For Helios 44 Fans and Potential Buyers - PentaxForums.com

It affects a wide range of host cameras as well as many (most?) M42 bodies. At that time, there was some speculation about date ranges and I am not sure that a firm set of affected years was ever pinned down. Mine was made in 1993 and the focus ring does not interfere with the lens mount.


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 11-02-2018 at 03:01 PM.
11-02-2018, 02:45 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiwi_jono Quote
Well if my 44-2 is anything to go by then yes mine has a very stiff aperture ring (and very loose preselect ring).
Thanks. Your description sounds very much like how mine acts.


Steve
11-02-2018, 03:59 PM   #6
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The aperture preset ring for selecting the aperture should feel very firm in the way it clicks in and out of each position, but it shouldn't be stiff in movement between those clicks. The diaphragm open / close ring should feel completely smooth and unlubricated - which I guess could be interpreted as "loose" (in fact, if it feels lubricated, it's often a sign of migrated lubricant from the focusing helicoid, or just occasionally misguided servicing). This is true for both the 44-2 and 44-3, though the click positions on my 44-3's aperture preset ring feel a lot more positive (aggressive, even) than any of the 44-2 copies I own.

Any stiffness on these lenses is almost certainly due to dried out lubricant. I don't know whether the aperture preselect ring was lubricated at the factory for these lenses, but when servicing I always add a very small dab of grease. It's also possible that there is wear and / or some metal "shavings" between the ring and the lens body - but in the latter case, there's usually a scratching feeling along with the stiffness. It's not a common problem, even with well-used examples - but I've seen it happen.
11-03-2018, 10:12 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
The aperture preset ring for selecting the aperture should feel very firm in the way it clicks in and out of each position, but it shouldn't be stiff in movement between those clicks. The diaphragm open / close ring should feel completely smooth and unlubricated - which I guess could be interpreted as "loose" (in fact, if it feels lubricated, it's often a sign of migrated lubricant from the focusing helicoid, or just occasionally misguided servicing). This is true for both the 44-2 and 44-3, though the click positions on my 44-3's aperture preset ring feel a lot more positive (aggressive, even) than any of the 44-2 copies I own.
Thanks! I will not bother the seller on this matter.

The lens is currently in pieces on the table behind me with the intent to re-lube the focus helicoid and investigate a strange misalignment of the focus ring. I will probably extend the lube job to include the pre-set ring before putting it all back together and will report back if I am able to remedy the stubborn action.

I did find the cause of the focus ring misalignment (was rubbing against the mount face on one side only due to a 2mm rise to one side). Happily, the fault does not result in optical misalignment. The piece to which the focus ring is fixed apparently shifted in the lathe chuck while being made such that the face mating the focus ring was machined at an angle to the lens axis rather than being orthogonal. The fix would be to have the face machined true or sand down the focus ring and accept the crooked appearance.

Oh, well...such were things in the world of the recently independent Belarus state.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-03-2018 at 10:18 AM.
11-03-2018, 10:18 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I did find the cause of the focus ring misalignment (was rubbing against the mount face on one side only due to a 2mm rise to one side). Happily, the fault does not result in optical misalignment. The piece to which the focus ring is fixed apparently shifted in the lathe chuck while being made such that the face mating the focus ring was machined at an angle to the lens axis rather than being orthogonal. The fix would be to have the face machined true or sand down the focus ring and accept the crooked appearance.

Oh, well...such were things in the world of the recently independent Belorus state.
I don't know whether you recall my post some months back about the BelOMO 3.5/8 "Peleng" fisheye lens I bought? The M42 mount wouldn't screw all the way into any of the compatible cameras or adapters I own, due to badly cut threads. The factory kindly sent me a new M42 mount at no cost to me, and that one screwed in perfectly... but the machining of the lens-to-mount section was off-centre, such that the cropped circular image was noticeably offset. Eventually, I was able to fix the original mount with a needle file, a couple of cheap M42-to-E-mount adapters (that I could afford to ruin if necessary) and some brute force

Gotta love BelOMO

11-03-2018, 10:35 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Gotta love BelOMO
Bel-Oh-No!

To be fair, the lens is actually finished out quite nicely inside and out except the milling fault.


Steve
11-03-2018, 01:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
To be fair, the lens is actually finished out quite nicely inside and out except the milling fault.
I agree. My own 44-3 looks and feels absolutely great - very solid, and nicely finished... externally, at least (I haven't had mine apart yet). My 3.5/8mm Peleng is a tad more utilitarian, but still very nicely made. It looks rather like a grenade, and the finish is much the same. I imagine you could throw it in battle and it would still work ok afterwards

Out of curiosity, is yours one of the examples where the focus ring binds on some mounts, or is it the other version? Mine is the former, so it's of little use to me on my digital cameras. I could modify it, but I'd rather keep it original for my collection. I'd really like to source one of the others where the focus ring isn't flush with the mount flange...
11-03-2018, 01:20 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Out of curiosity, is yours one of the examples where the focus ring binds on some mounts, or is it the other version?
Mine has the focus ring that that is supposed to clear the mount. It was made in 1993.


Steve
11-03-2018, 01:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Mine has the focus ring that that is supposed to clear the mount. It was made in 1993.
Excellent Mine's an '85 model. I'll have to keep a look-out for a nice '93 or later...
11-04-2018, 09:04 AM   #13
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Like others have mentioned, the clicks on the pre-set ring of my 44-2 are very, very firm, but the movement between them is smooth. Also, the aperture moves with the lightest touch.

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