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Helios 40 at the park
Lens: Helios 40 (85mm f/1.5) Camera: a7r Photo Location: Tempe 
Posted By: scratchpaddy, 07-13-2019, 03:38 PM

I brought my Helios 40 back to the dog park this morning. What a horrible lens! It weighs two pounds. The focus ring is tiny, stiff, and too far back. It has the clumsy preset aperture system that was popular mid-century. It flares like crazy. Its rendering changes completely from one part of the frame to another.

However...it's still one of my favorite lenses. Nothing else renders like it. Its terrible ergonomics and unpredictable performance make it that much more rewarding once you find a scene where it works. As a professional, I would hate it, but for messing around at the dog park on the weekend, it's a lot of fun.



Since the controls are so clumsy, I just set the focus to a distance where a dog would fill enough of the frame, find a spot with good light, and wait for something to happen.





I actually didn't get any pictures of my own dog today, but I did get her near-twin.



I love German Shepherds, but I have a hard time getting pictures of them. All the ones I see at the park are completely uninterested in anyone but their owners. A game of fetch is all they want, and they don't jump in when a battle royale starts somewhere in the park. But, this one posed so well, and for once I was fast enough to catch the moment.


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07-13-2019, 10:39 PM   #2
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My, My what a terrific series. This is a case where you hate the lens, but love the results. Very nice work and I bet it was a lot of fun. More than a barrel of monkeys. )

TT
07-14-2019, 12:08 AM   #3
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Its a lens that you never know if your gong to vomit or run around the room with joy from the results. I say this with admiration of the lens (don't own but want to) fun photos to look at thanks for sharing!!!

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07-14-2019, 12:39 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonytee Quote
My, My what a terrific series. This is a case where you hate the lens, but love the results. Very nice work and I bet it was a lot of fun. More than a barrel of monkeys. )

TT
Thanks, Tony. Many Pentax lenses are rightly described as "a joy to use." With this lens, the joy comes after putting the heavy thing down and finding that one or two of the pictures really delivered.

QuoteOriginally posted by Photobill Quote
Its a lens that you never know if your gong to vomit or run around the room with joy from the results. I say this with admiration of the lens (don't own but want to) fun photos to look at thanks for sharing!!!

Photobill
That's a great way to describe it. It's mostly vomit, but the trick is to take enough that a few come out, and maybe learn where it works best in the process.

The used prices have come down a little bit now that new ones are available. The manual-focus Samyang 85 f/1.4 is a far better value, with consistent rendering, and available new for less than a fungus-ridden Helios on eBay, but if you like the rendering of the Helios, there's no help for it.

07-14-2019, 01:38 PM   #5
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It’s so good to have you back in the forum sharing your photos!
07-14-2019, 03:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
I brought my Helios 40 back to the dog park this morning. What a horrible lens! It weighs two pounds. The focus ring is tiny, stiff, and too far back. It has the clumsy preset aperture system that was popular mid-century. It flares like crazy. Its rendering changes completely from one part of the frame to another.

.... Since the controls are so clumsy, I just set the focus to a distance where a dog would fill enough of the frame, find a spot with good light, and wait for something to happen.
Yes, using FSU {Former Soviet Union} lenses is a real experience. On my "Mir 1b" the focus ring is nearest the body, so I routinely change the aperture when I mean to adjust the focus.
07-16-2019, 06:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pbancr Quote
Itís so good to have you back in the forum sharing your photos!
I'm glad to hear I made enough of an impression the first time around to be remembered after a few years.

QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
Yes, using FSU {Former Soviet Union} lenses is a real experience. On my "Mir 1b" the focus ring is nearest the body, so I routinely change the aperture when I mean to adjust the focus.
Yep, I have that problem a lot, too. At least some of them aren't so bad. The Helios 44, for example, is still a nice lens to use, since at least the focus ring is big and the aperture rings are small.
07-17-2019, 01:13 PM   #8
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You managed to make the lens sing. I love the background bokeh it produces. Wonderful stuff.

07-17-2019, 05:42 PM   #9
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Susan! I'm glad you're one of the ones who stuck around. Last time I was here, your avatar was a sleepy cat.
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