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03-07-2019, 10:39 AM   #1
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Helios-44 2/58mm 13 blades worth it?

Hey everyone! I'm really interested in this lens for it's famous swirly bokeh. From your experience is it worth adapting and using? I will be using it on a APS-C sensor. The price will be about $100.00. From what I have heard the early 13 blade version has the best bokeh. Plus, I love that shiny finish! If you have any examples please feel free to post them. Thanks for your time.🙂👍🏼

The lens appear to have dust? When he shines the flashlight on the rear element.


Last edited by Prince Harbinger; 03-12-2019 at 02:26 PM.
03-07-2019, 10:51 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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Blade numbers don't realllly matter with the helios, because to acquire the most swirl you want to shoot wide open.

I suggest the 44-2 as it is cheaper.

Make sure you get an m42 mount and not an m39!

Picture of my wife with the 44-2:
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03-07-2019, 10:53 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Make sure you get an m42 mount and not an m39!
Why not try to get a K-mount version?
03-07-2019, 11:01 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hattifnatt Quote
Why not try to get a K-mount version?
My understanding is that any Helio K-mount lens is a later model.
If OP is going for swirl, the earlier models are preferred - again that's only my understanding..

03-07-2019, 11:06 AM - 1 Like   #5
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The 13 blade Helios-44 is M39 mount only. On a K-mount camera with M42 adapteer and M42-to-M39 step-down ring, it will not focus to infinity without modification. If you're using it on a mirrorless camera, then it will be fine with the relevant adapter.

$100 is quite a lot. I'd expect it to be in very good original condition and NOT polished heavily - it should have a dull-ish satin sheen and all engravings should be crisp.

Frankly, I'd recommend going for an early M42 Helios-44-2 instead. Sure, it only has 8 aperture blades, but you'll get very nice image quality and it will focus to infinity. Early-to-mid-70s models are my favourites. They're cheap, too.
03-07-2019, 11:06 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
My understanding is that any Helio K-mount lens is a later model.
If OP is going for swirl, the earlier models are preferred - again that's only my understanding..
I see, I didn't know that, thanks for the info. I got myself a K model without knowing this info, definitively there is some swirl there but I didn't try that much though, used it one time only. I had trouble finding an original M42 adapter with a good price so I went for the K-mount version.

If it helps the OP I attached one of the test shots. SOOC, no PP. It's not in focus since a friend was using the camera.
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Last edited by Hattifnatt; 03-07-2019 at 11:16 AM.
03-07-2019, 11:12 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hattifnatt Quote
there is some swirl there but I didn't try that much though
it takes a bit of practice - it's not every shot gets a lot of swirl.
I suggest putting the camera in live view and try different positions closer or further away from the subject while viewing the bokeh on the lcd to see where the 'sweet spot' is.
best luck
03-07-2019, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Helios 44 is one of those weird lenses... I really like the results when I see them, but I almost never pick up mine. If I want swirl I just go for Helios 40. But I do like the stuff you guys post!

03-07-2019, 11:23 AM - 3 Likes   #9
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The swirly out of focus rendering is a fun novelty effect, and it can be used creatively. But the Helios-44-series lenses are much more versatile than just this one extreme effect. They're nice general-purpose lenses, and great for portraiture on APS-C, especially stopped down a little.
03-07-2019, 01:14 PM   #10
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Appreciate the examples and advice. Here's the item description. Not sure how to upload photos via reply. I will add photos of it from my first post.

"Excellent+"* cosmetical*condition - please, see photos.

Glass condition:* perfect state, given the age of the lens.*

Few little marks on the front glass, clean other,*no haze or fungus.

Some inclusions inside glass, few air bubbles.*

In general, the lens has a "excellent" optical condition.

Aperture blades have small abrasions - please, see photo.*

Focus and aperture rings rotates smoothly.

---------- Post added 03-07-19 at 01:18 PM ----------

Does it look good to you guys?
03-07-2019, 01:40 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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Hi there, new guy here. From my understanding the older Helios lenses are better for swirly bokeh as newer lens resolution improved the bokeh became more normal. See the link on Helios 44 lenses. ussrlens.com - ??????? ????????? ??????-44 Cheers
03-07-2019, 01:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martinhind Quote
Hi there, new guy here. From my understanding the older Helios lenses are better for swirly bokeh as newer lens resolution improved the bokeh became more normal. See the link on Helios 44 lenses. ussrlens.com - ??????? ????????? ??????-44 Cheers
Looks like a very informative site. However I'm not able to understand the language. Thanks for your input. Welcome to the forums.🙂
03-07-2019, 01:49 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Prince Harbinger Quote
Appreciate the examples and advice. Here's the item description. Not sure how to upload photos via reply. I will add photos of it from my first post.

"Excellent+"* cosmetical*condition - please, see photos.

Glass condition:* perfect state, given the age of the lens.*

Few little marks on the front glass, clean other,*no haze or fungus.

Some inclusions inside glass, few air bubbles.*

In general, the lens has a "excellent" optical condition.

Aperture blades have small abrasions - please, see photo.*

Focus and aperture rings rotates smoothly.

---------- Post added 03-07-19 at 01:18 PM ----------

Does it look good to you guys?
This reads as if it's coming from a seller in Russia or possibly Ukraine. I believe I may even have bought from this seller before... I recognise the description style. If it's the guy I'm thinking of, you should be fine.

Some comments:

"Excellent+"* cosmetical*condition - please, see photos.

Be careful on the cosmetics. If the lens looks completely shiny, like it's been chromed, you're best avoiding it if you want the best possible chance of selling it at some later stage. Lots of folks, especially collectors like myself, would prefer that the lens is as original as possible, even if that means it has some marks and pitting. In the last few years, there's been a lot of re-finished lenses coming out of Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. A few of the refinishing attempts are rather good, but most are dreadful... They remove so much material that engravings are shallow and have poor definition, or in some cases they're removed entirely.

Glass condition:* perfect state, given the age of the lens.*


This is a contradiction. Perfect should mean perfect... "given the age of the lens" means it's not perfect. It might be very good, but this statement suggests there are probably some minor cleaning marks at the very least, and possibly worse. That said, for a vintage lens, this shouldn't bother you too much. It's unrealistic to expect perfection on a lens that's been used for 40+ years.

Few little marks on the front glass, clean other,*no haze or fungus.


There we go... So there are some cleaning marks. That's OK, no biggie. But it's not perfect - so set your expectations accordingly.

Some inclusions inside glass, few air bubbles.*


Perfectly normal on older models of this series. In the vast majority of cases, they have no impact on photos at all. In a very few cases, in certain specific circumstances and shots (where very bright lighting is involved), you might notice an artefact or two. I've noticed this with an early 70s "zebra" Helios-44-2 I own. But, frankly, it's of little consequence.

In general, the lens has a "excellent" optical condition.


Sounds good! That's the most important part.

Aperture blades have small abrasions - please, see photo.*


Personally, this doesn't concern me. I've heard some folks suggest that these can cause reflections that bounce onto the optical elements and reduce contrast, but I've yet to see any evidence of it. I have several lenses in my collection with diaphragm blades that have abrasions or pitting, and they've never caused me any problems.

Focus and aperture rings rotates smoothly.

Excellent. This means the lens is fully usable. Hopefully, it means it has been properly serviced, including lubrication with suitable grease. But it could simply mean that the last lot of grease hasn't completely dried up and is just about usable. Or it could mean the seller squirted something into the focusing helicoid to loosen up the old grease. Basically, it's a crap-shoot... but the good news is, servicing a Helios-44 is relatively simple, and quite enjoyable, should you need to do this at some point.

Sounds like a nice one. But I'll be interested to see the photos
03-07-2019, 02:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
This reads as if it's coming from a seller in Russia or possibly Ukraine. I believe I may even have bought from this seller before... I recognise the description style. If it's the guy I'm thinking of, you should be fine.

Some comments:

"Excellent+"* cosmetical*condition - please, see photos.

Be careful on the cosmetics. If the lens looks completely shiny, like it's been chromed, you're best avoiding it if you want the best possible chance of selling it at some later stage. Lots of folks, especially collectors like myself, would prefer that the lens is as original as possible, even if that means it has some marks and pitting. In the last few years, there's been a lot of re-finished lenses coming out of Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. A few of the refinishing attempts are rather good, but most are dreadful... They remove so much material that engravings are shallow and have poor definition, or in some cases they're removed entirely.

Glass condition:* perfect state, given the age of the lens.*


This is a contradiction. Perfect should mean perfect... "given the age of the lens" means it's not perfect. It might be very good, but this statement suggests there are probably some minor cleaning marks at the very least, and possibly worse. That said, for a vintage lens, this shouldn't bother you too much. It's unrealistic to expect perfection on a lens that's been used for 40+ years.

Few little marks on the front glass, clean other,*no haze or fungus.


There we go... So there are some cleaning marks. That's OK, no biggie. But it's not perfect - so set your expectations accordingly.

Some inclusions inside glass, few air bubbles.*


Perfectly normal on older models of this series. In the vast majority of cases, they have no impact on photos at all. In a very few cases, in certain specific circumstances and shots (where very bright lighting is involved), you might notice an artefact or two. I've noticed this with an early 70s "zebra" Helios-44-2 I own. But, frankly, it's of little consequence.

In general, the lens has a "excellent" optical condition.


Sounds good! That's the most important part.

Aperture blades have small abrasions - please, see photo.*


Personally, this doesn't concern me. I've heard some folks suggest that these can cause reflections that bounce onto the optical elements and reduce contrast, but I've yet to see any evidence of it. I have several lenses in my collection with diaphragm blades that have abrasions or pitting, and they've never caused me any problems.

Focus and aperture rings rotates smoothly.

Excellent. This means the lens is fully usable. Hopefully, it means it has been properly serviced, including lubrication with suitable grease. But it could simply mean that the last lot of grease hasn't completely dried up and is just about usable. Or it could mean the seller squirted something into the focusing helicoid to loosen up the old grease. Basically, it's a crap-shoot... but the good news is, servicing a Helios-44 is relatively simple, and quite enjoyable, should you need to do this at some point.

Sounds like a nice one. But I'll be interested to see the photos
Very informative thanks for your advice.🙂 Another seller that is a Youtuber. His name is Roman. He said he uses GOI paste to clean his. Personally I love the finish when it is polished. I will upload some more photos of the lens in a few. Let me know what you think.

Last edited by Prince Harbinger; 03-12-2019 at 02:26 PM.
03-07-2019, 02:11 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I've just looked at those photos in your first post. Optically, it looks OK to me. The "dust" might just be something more, such as droplets of lubricant that have condensed on the glass. But I doubt that. Most lenses coming from established sellers in Russia or Ukraine will have been serviced to a greater or lesser extent, and the lens elements are usually very clean - as clean as can be expected given the servicing environment, which was probably someone's bedroom or workshop

I'm not a fan of Ken Rockwell, but you should read his excellent article on "The Flashlight Test". I agree with what he says and demonstrates. In the case of your seller's photos, he's being very honest in using a flashlight to show off the optical condition. Most sellers don't. In any case, the photos don't suggest anything to me that would have an impact on your photos.

If you like, you could PM me with a link to the auction and I'll take a look at all the details and photos myself. I collect Soviet lenses and the majority of my purchases have been via eBay, and from former Soviet Union countries. I think I can reliably claim to have made most of the mistakes it's possible to make when buying vintage lenses when I first started collecting These days, I'm pretty good at separating the good from the bad
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