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07-17-2009, 09:56 PM   #1
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Got my Helios 44M today!

Well, the Helios 44M (KMZ made) was delivered today. The packaging was sort of funky...plastic bag, covered in small-cell foam covered in bubble wrap, stuffed in cardboard take-out container, wrapped in more bubble wrap, neatly folded into two layers of white butcher paper, and liberally encased in a winding of clear plastic shipping tape. It looked more like a rump roast from the butcher than a lens.

The lens itself is in pretty fair shape considering that I got it for the minimum bid of $9.95 + $8 shipping. It looked sort of nasty straight out of the packaging. From all indications, it had been owned by a heavy smoker. The lens body was sticky with tobacco residue and all the lettering was dim under layers of dingy brown. Fortunately, the lens appears to have been capped for the most part and except for general gunge and surface film, the front and rear elements are without scratches or blemish...whew! The glass cleaned up beautifully with a little dilute Windex and lens tissue.

The caps required two treatments with full-strength Simple Green and a vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush before they FELT clean. The lens body was another matter. This is what I did:
  • Initial wipe-down with 70% isopropanol swipes (it took 4)
  • Full-strength Windex on a cotton cloth
  • Full-strength Simple Green on a cloth followed by a water-dampened cloth
  • Another wipe-down with 70% isopropanol
  • Careful scrubbing of the lettering and focus/aperture rings with Full-strength Simple Green on a toothbrush followed by rinse off with a water-dampened cloth
  • Another wipe-down with isopropanol
After all that, the lens looks much better (satin dark gray rather than dull dark brown) and most of the lettering is a lot brighter. The distance scale still looks a little dingy, but the original color was yellow and the dinginess might simply be age. (I think the lens was made in 1978 based on the serial number.)

Functionally things are pretty good. The iris diaphragm operates properly as does the A/M switch. The aperture ring itself is sort of clunky feeling, but not any worse than my Zenitar 16/2.8 (same maker). The only problem is a dry feeling stiff focus helicoid. I suspect that the grease has probably hardened with age. Maybe when Deadwolfbones figures out how to service his lens, he can post detailed instructions for the rest of us!

I slapped it on the K10D and took a couple of test shots. Those look Ok. I will try and do a few comparison photos against ISO50's 44M-4 before I give it back to him. I was also thinking of doing a group shot with the other M42 fast 50s currently under my care. That should be an interesting grouping (ranked by size, smallest first):
  • Super-Tak 55/1.8 (from the Sightseeing Screwmount)
  • Auto-Rikenon 50/1.7
  • Mamiya/Sekor 55/1.8
  • Helios 44M-4 58/2 (ISO50's lens)
  • Helios 44M 58/2
The Super-Tak looks like a midget next to the Russians!

07-17-2009, 10:34 PM   #2
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Congratulations, Steve. Boy that was a lot of cleaning!
Look forward to your comparison photos and the lens itself when we meet again.

David
07-17-2009, 10:38 PM   #3
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You've cleaned off all the authentic Russianness Steve.

Congrats on the lens.
07-18-2009, 12:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
You've cleaned off all the authentic Russianness Steve.

Congrats on the lens.
I would like to get the authentic Russianess out of the focus helicoid! It is stiff almost to the point of binding at close focus distance. I guess this is a common problem with this version of the Helios 44.

I will post some pics when I get some.

Steve

07-18-2009, 12:34 AM   #5
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Steve congrats on your new lens! It gives you a lot of work, I hope it will give fun too!
07-18-2009, 01:38 AM   #6
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Good on you Steve,now you are making me feel a bit guilty for ignoring my Helios 44M and not taling it out for more frequent exercise.
07-22-2009, 11:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The lens body was sticky with tobacco residue and all the lettering was dim under layers of dingy brown. Fortunately, the lens appears to have been capped for the most part and except for general gunge and surface film, the front and rear elements are without scratches or blemish...whew! The glass cleaned up beautifully with a little dilute Windex and lens tissue.
Well, look at it this way: all that tobacco juice would be death to any lens mould.
07-23-2009, 03:10 AM   #8
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Steve,
here's an easy cure for your stiff brownie: just change them namerings and give the other lens to ISO50 .-)

Well, I had a look at my Helios (-M6) cause I thought it could easily be stripped from the front barrel and then added some grease at full near distance. Alas, it ain't so easy. No tiny screws to undo and the front barrel won't come off through simply turning it (only try this at inf. position and don't use too much force).

Here Manual Focus Forum / Stiff Focus Ring... is some more info but it seems not so easy.

Edit: Took the back off and yes if you drive the lens out to full macro distance I had access to the first threads of the helicoid (turn aperture ring to get more access but don't lift aperture ring off). Put some grease into these threads and the focus is a little better now - that might not be enough with your lens but it's very easy to give it a try. I think the tricky stuff with this kind of lubing is to get the lube only to the place where it should be and nowhere else. A very fine but stiff paint brush would help to do this.

Smoking kills ! (and lenses too)

07-23-2009, 07:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by georgweb Quote
Steve,
here's an easy cure for your stiff brownie: just change them namerings and give the other lens to ISO50 .-)

Well, I had a look at my Helios (-M6) cause I thought it could easily be stripped from the front barrel and then added some grease at full near distance. Alas, it ain't so easy. No tiny screws to undo and the front barrel won't come off through simply turning it (only try this at inf. position and don't use too much force).

Here Manual Focus Forum / Stiff Focus Ring... is some more info but it seems not so easy.

Edit: Took the back off and yes if you drive the lens out to full macro distance I had access to the first threads of the helicoid (turn aperture ring to get more access but don't lift aperture ring off). Put some grease into these threads and the focus is a little better now - that might not be enough with your lens but it's very easy to give it a try. I think the tricky stuff with this kind of lubing is to get the lube only to the place where it should be and nowhere else. A very fine but stiff paint brush would help to do this.

Smoking kills ! (and lenses too)
Thanks for the tips and the link. Trading out ISO50s lens would have been a possibility except that the two bodies are actually pretty different. The 44M is a little bigger all around and made differently. It is also heavier.

Steve
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