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07-01-2018, 02:44 PM   #1
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Tips about the Russian KMZ Helios-44-2 58mm f/2 Prime Lens M42

Hi to all:
I use Pentax KP, love the bubbly bokeh of Helios-44, I am interested to buy one, but there is one thing, reportedly, most of these old Russian lenses had oil on the blades,
If i could get some tips about the KMZ Helios-44-2 58mm f/2 Prime Lens M42.
my Q is:
1) How serious is the oil on the blades? Is it going to get worse with time like oil spill or it's sort of stabilized and stay as is?
2) could the oil eventually gets to the glass elements?
3) Does the oil make the blades moving sticky and sluggish?
4) could the oil be cleaned by professionals or if even it gets cleaned it will happen again?

also:

5) there are so many versions on the market, most w/o S/N, does the one w/o S/N reliable? or should only buy one that had S/N?
Thanks for all your time.
Best

CooperPete


07-01-2018, 03:15 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
Tips about the Russian KMZ Helios-44-2 58mm f/2 Prime Lens M42
I have Helios 44M-4 from some years, I like it because the bokeh is not so aggressive like in other models, it is a purely subjective fact,
it can like or not, however in my exemplar I have never seen traces of oil and the blades therefore the diaphragm is very sliding,
bought with the screwed container.

I hope it will help you in your choice.

Ciao, Mario
07-01-2018, 03:56 PM   #3
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Oil on the blades of Helios 44-2 is much more common than with later evolutions such as the 44M, 44M-4, 44M-5 etc.

Given that the 44-2 is a preset lens, oil on the blades doesn't really cause any problem operationally. There are, however, two potential issues... Firstly, the lubricant can migrate onto optical elements. This is especially likely in very warm weather and climates. Secondly, it's possible that reasonably fresh lubricant will be reflective, and contribute to flare when strong light is in front of the lens. Both issues are quite unlikely, but possible.

Many sellers on eBay will specifically state if a lens has been serviced or not, and whether the blades are free of oil. Of course, that's not a guarantee, but if you pick a reputable seller then often they are reliable and as good as their word.

Having the lens serviced by professionals is likely to cost more than the lens itself, but it's certainly possible to do so. Having said that, the Helios 44-2 is a reasonably easy lens to service yourself, with a little bit of time and patience. There are plenty of useful resources and tutorials on the internet, including YouTube videos. You need some basic tools, cleaning material and lubricant, but the total cost is considerably less than a professional lens service, and will leave you with sufficient materials for servicing many other lenses

So far as I'm aware, *every* Helios-44, 44-2 and later models have a serial number somewhere. It may be on the front trim ring, or somewhere on the body, but it will be there. Except for earlier Helios-44 versions and a few anomalies such as prototype and VIP-supply models, you can typically rely on the first two digits of the serial number for the year of manufacture.

QuoteOriginally posted by maw Quote
I have Helios 44M-4 from some years, I like it because the bokeh is not so aggressive like in other models
I've heard this from several people, but never been able to prove it myself. I have many Helios-44, 44-2, 44-3, 44M, 44M-4, -5, -6 and -7 lenses, and my testing suggests they are equally capable of producing more-or-less the same amount of swirl (see an article I posted on the subject here: Which Helios-44 produces the best "swirl"... 44-2, 44M & 44M-4 tested - PentaxForums.com). I've not yet seen evidence - i.e. side-by-side tests of the same scene with different Helios-44-variant models - that proves there is any significant difference in the swirl effect. It's possible that there is minor copy-to-copy variation, but far more likely it's the scene, aperture, camera-to-subject and subject-to-background distance that are critically important in maximising the effect...
07-01-2018, 09:09 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
1) How serious is the oil on the blades? Is it going to get worse with time like oil spill or it's sort of stabilized and stay as is?
A scant film of oil was applied during assembly as lubricant. With time the oil will oxidize and become more viscous and sticky, though not all will have an oil-related problem.

QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
2) could the oil eventually gets to the glass elements?
Highly unlikely and the least of an owner's concerns.

QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
3) Does the oil make the blades moving sticky and sluggish?
Potentially very sticky and sluggish to the extent that one or more blades may bind in their course and seize completely with resultant sprung diaphragm and unusable lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
4) could the oil be cleaned by professionals or if even it gets cleaned it will happen again?
Ideally yes and if left dry, the blades should run clean indefinitely.

QuoteOriginally posted by CooperPete Quote
5) there are so many versions on the market, most w/o S/N, does the one w/o S/N reliable? or should only buy one that had S/N?
They all had serial numbers when new and with many, the first two digits indicate year of manufacture. Although an old design, not all Helios 44-2 are particularly old. For example, the Zenit ET was made in the years 1981-1991 and featured the Helios 44-2 as one of the normal lens options. There is claimed special status for "00nnnnn" and "0nnnnnn" serial numbers though nothing that would increase value except perhaps for collectors.

As noted on Mike's comments, there is protective value to having a Russian/Soviet lens serviced, if for no other reason than to provide long-term easy turn of the focus ring. With preset models, it also buys years for the iris diaphragm.


Steve

(...am having to take my Jupiter-9 85/2 with seized preset aperture to the shop tomorrow for an estimate. It will be a sad day, I suspect...)



Steve

07-01-2018, 09:17 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I've heard this from several people, but never been able to prove it myself. I have many Helios-44, 44-2, 44-3, 44M, 44M-4, -5, -6 and -7 lenses, and my testing suggests they are equally capable of producing more-or-less the same amount of swirl (see an article I posted on the subject here: Which Helios-44 produces the best "swirl"... 44-2, 44M & 44M-4 tested - PentaxForums.com). I've not yet seen evidence - i.e. side-by-side tests of the same scene with different Helios-44-variant models - that proves there is any significant difference in the swirl effect. It's possible that there is minor copy-to-copy variation, but far more likely it's the scene, aperture, camera-to-subject and subject-to-background distance that are critically important in maximising the effect...
My understanding is that the swirl is not a sure thing though it is supposedly more common on the Helios 44-2 than on the Helios 44-3 or any of the auto aperture (Helios 44M and 44M-x) variants. Rumor is that it is caused by minor deviance in spacing of the lens groups that is hard to avoid. For years, I thought my Helios 44M did not swirl, then one day I had an image that had swirl. Go figure...


Steve
07-01-2018, 09:29 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Given that the 44-2 is a preset lens, oil on the blades doesn't really cause any problem operationally. There are, however, two potential issues... Firstly, the lubricant can migrate onto optical elements. This is especially likely in very warm weather and climates. Secondly, it's possible that reasonably fresh lubricant will be reflective, and contribute to flare when strong light is in front of the lens. Both issues are quite unlikely, but possible.
There is a third problem that is more likely as the lubricant ages that goes beyond inconvenience. A few days ago, I was working with my Jupiter-9 and the iris diaphragm seized up when stopping down. The blades had become increasingly sticky, but I did not consider the implications should the they not slip past each other easily and bind. What happened with my lens is that at least two blades stuck to each other and pulled out from their anchor points and are warped up in an arch against the rest. My J-9 has had a thin film of oil on the blades since I took delivery new from Russian about decade ago and I never gave the oil a thought in that I was told that it belonged there. I had seen this before on parts-only lenses on eBay, but never considered the cause. Now I know.

Tomorrow, I will be getting an estimate to disassemble and repair. Hopefully the guilty blades will not have a permanent bend and reassembly after cleaning will do the fix. Still though, I expect the cost to be at least what I paid for the lens in 2008 ($85 USD).


Steve
07-02-2018, 03:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
A scant film of oil was applied during assembly as lubricant. With time the oil will oxidize and become more viscous and sticky, though not all will have an oil-related problem.
Interesting... I wasn't aware that they did that, but it makes sense.

I've often wondered what a brand new, factory fresh Soviet lens might have looked like internally so far as lubrication is concerned. From servicing various models, I've come to believe they were pretty liberal with the stuff, and took the view that where lubricant was necessary, "more" equals "better". A Jupiter-11A that has never been serviced from new is something to behold when you take it apart... I've done three such examples, and the amount of "ear wax" that comes out of them is unbelievable

Worse still are some of the serviced lenses where the technician used whatever lubricant was to hand, or - Heaven forbid - simply thinned out the existing lubricant. I've had a few lenses from Russian and Ukrainian sellers that were perfect on arrival, but within a week or two there was oil migrating onto the diaphragm blades. I'm always wary when I receive a lens where the focus action feels especially light and smooth...

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
My understanding is that the swirl is not a sure thing though it is supposedly more common on the Helios 44-2 than on the Helios 44-3 or any of the auto aperture (Helios 44M and 44M-x) variants. Rumor is that it is caused by minor deviance in spacing of the lens groups that is hard to avoid. For years, I thought my Helios 44M did not swirl, then one day I had an image that had swirl. Go figure...
I can certainly believe that manufacturing tolerances play a role in it. These lenses are built remarkably well, but not always with the precision of German on quality Far-Eastern manufacturers.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
There is a third problem that is more likely as the lubricant ages that goes beyond inconvenience. A few days ago, I was working with my Jupiter-9 and the iris diaphragm seized up when stopping down. The blades had become increasingly sticky, but I did not consider the implications should the they not slip past each other easily and bind. What happened with my lens is that at least two blades stuck to each other and pulled out from their anchor points and are warped up in an arch against the rest.
Rats... Sorry to hear that, Steve. I've never had this happen, but I'll watch out for it in future. Thankfully, those blades are pretty flexible, so even if a couple of them have minor bends or kinks in them, it should be possible to clean, straighten and reassemble them without any lasting ill effect. Good luck

Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-02-2018 at 03:11 AM.
07-02-2018, 07:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Rats... Sorry to hear that, Steve. I've never had this happen, but I'll watch out for it in future. Thankfully, those blades are pretty flexible, so even if a couple of them have minor bends or kinks in them, it should be possible to clean, straighten and reassemble them without any lasting ill effect. Good luck
The affected blades are arched up, but don't appear to be kinked. It take that as a good sign. I am going into Portland to Advance Camera today to get an estimate. They have a good reputation around these parts for servicing DDR, Soviet, and Russian lenses. Something tells me the cost to fix may be more than what I paid for the lens. It takes considerable effort to put the iris diaphragm back together again when there are so many blades.

Skip to 14' 00" or thereabouts...



Makes me antsy just watching. BTW, he has small hands. The space is actually somewhat more cramped than in the video.


Steve

07-02-2018, 07:46 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Something tells me the cost to fix may be more than what I paid for the lens.
Perhaps... but worth doing if you like it optically. It'll feel great to use once it's serviced
07-02-2018, 09:09 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Perhaps... but worth doing if you like it optically. It'll feel great to use once it's serviced
My thoughts as well. I have done some good work with that lens including a recent image that was "explored" on Flickr. My avatar photo was also taken with the Jup.


Steve
07-02-2018, 02:53 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Oil on the blades of Helios 44-2 is much more common than with later evolutions such as the 44M, 44M-4, 44M-5 etc.

Given that the 44-2 is a preset lens, oil on the blades doesn't really cause any problem operationally. There are, however, two potential issues... Firstly, the lubricant can migrate onto optical elements. This is especially likely in very warm weather and climates. Secondly, it's possible that reasonably fresh lubricant will be reflective, and contribute to flare when strong light is in front of the lens. Both issues are quite unlikely, but possible.

Many sellers on eBay will specifically state if a lens has been serviced or not, and whether the blades are free of oil. Of course, that's not a guarantee, but if you pick a reputable seller then often they are reliable and as good as their word.

Having the lens serviced by professionals is likely to cost more than the lens itself, but it's certainly possible to do so. Having said that, the Helios 44-2 is a reasonably easy lens to service yourself, with a little bit of time and patience. There are plenty of useful resources and tutorials on the internet, including YouTube videos. You need some basic tools, cleaning material and lubricant, but the total cost is considerably less than a professional lens service, and will leave you with sufficient materials for servicing many other lenses

So far as I'm aware, *every* Helios-44, 44-2 and later models have a serial number somewhere. It may be on the front trim ring, or somewhere on the body, but it will be there. Except for earlier Helios-44 versions and a few anomalies such as prototype and VIP-supply models, you can typically rely on the first two digits of the serial number for the year of manufacture.



I've heard this from several people, but never been able to prove it myself. I have many Helios-44, 44-2, 44-3, 44M, 44M-4, -5, -6 and -7 lenses, and my testing suggests they are equally capable of producing more-or-less the same amount of swirl (see an article I posted on the subject here: Which Helios-44 produces the best "swirl"... 44-2, 44M & 44M-4 tested - PentaxForums.com). I've not yet seen evidence - i.e. side-by-side tests of the same scene with different Helios-44-variant models - that proves there is any significant difference in the swirl effect. It's possible that there is minor copy-to-copy variation, but far more likely it's the scene, aperture, camera-to-subject and subject-to-background distance that are critically important in maximising the effect...
Thanks all to the tips. it is all of you made Pentax forum great. I am so happy to be a member of this forum.
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