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Helios 44M-4 58mm F2 Review RSS Feed

Helios 44M-4 58mm F2

Reviews Views Date of last review
7 72,386 Mon May 31, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $28.50 8.71
Helios 44M-4 58mm F2

Helios 44M-4 58mm F2
Helios 44M-4 58mm F2

"Helios-44 is a series of standard lenses for SLR cameras, produced in Soviet Union by KMZ, MMZ, Jupiter from 1958 till 1992 (2001?) and it is considered to be one of most mass produced lenses in the world. Based on the lens Biotar 2 / 58 , at the beginning was called "... cyrillic " (BioTar Krasnogorski). A fast 6-element anastigmat, it was available in both single-coated and multi-coated versions.
The name of Helios lenses are usually writen as Helios-44X-N, where X -is the index of lens mount (M for m42 thread, K for Pentax K bayonet, Д for Zenit-D bayonet) and N is a optical resolution index 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (the higher number the higher is an optical resolution of lens)."
- camerapedia.

Most incarnations of this helios don't have an A-M switch, so either "mod" the lens so it stops down (as described, for example, in this thread), or use an M42-PK adapter that holds the auto pin in eg this one. More info: see this thread.

M42 mount
6 blade iris
f2 to f16
Min focus distance < 0.5 m

Review by Jonas Rask.

Review by Shannon Ivan Walters.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: May, 2021
Posts: 15
Review Date: May 31, 2021 Recommended | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build like a tank
Cons: Focus isn't very smooth
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Sony A7 III   

The thing I love about this Helios is that it's build like a tank! The lens feels a bit 'cold' with a stiff focus ring, but it has character. And that's what I look for in a vintage lens.

I bought this lens in mint condition from an old lady. She told me the the Zenit camera it came with was from her late husband, she was hoping she could make someone else happy with it, and I sure am.

If you're curious about the image quality please check this video: I compared this Helios with a German Meyer-Optik Görlitz Oreston 50mm
Helios 44M-4 vs Meyer-Optik Görlitz Oreston 50mm | Vintage lens comparison
New Member

Registered: January, 2017
Posts: 4
Review Date: February 25, 2017 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp across the board, at least on aps-c, unique bokeh
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Canon 600d   

I was surprised to see a sharpness rating of 8.4 (at the time i wrote this) for this lens because this is my sharpest lens so far. Very sharp wide open across the frame, at least on aps-c. Some people see a softness at the edges but that's because the edges of a photo are at a greater distance to the lens than at the center where focus is usually aimed. And at wide-open depth of field is very thin and very distance-sensitive. Otherwise if you fine-tune your focus to the edge or corners of your composition, then you will find this lens still very sharp. In this photo you can count and single out every stamen in this cut-flower gerbera. Shot hand-held at 1/500 shutter speed. I may have cropped this one because closest focussing distance is about a foot and a half.

It's my favorite lens not only for portraits but for product shoots as well. Stopped down, it's surgical and yields a rich amount of details. In this photo I used it to shoot (and sell) my Auto Sears/ Sekor SX 55mm f/1.4. It was snapped away as soon as I published the ad. I think the photos lelped a lot. (I miss that lens).

Of course this lens is known for its famous swirly bokeh, which is the main reason I purchased it. Just find some foliage and use it as background and voila! Swirly bokeh. Sometimes its bokeh appears like a master's strokes in a classic impressionist painting.

The lens is a little bit on the cool side, as sometimes I needed to add a little bit of warmth in pp. Aberrations? I pick my shots the best I can which is probably the reason I haven't encountered those issues.

At the going price, there is no reason why every photographer should not have one of these in the bag. It is an amazing lens no wonder the Russians manufactured a lot of helios 44, more than any known lens in the whole world. It's my go-to lens whenever I need sharpness on near objects. I'd give it a rating of 9.6.

I have other normal lenses probably as sharp as this one. S-m-c takumar 55/1.8, Helios 77m-4, and the Zenitar-m 50/1.7. If it all came down to a horse race, all of these lenses would be at the photo-finish. The 44m-4 would probably win. But only by the skin of its teeth.
New Member

Registered: December, 2016
Posts: 13
Review Date: February 3, 2017 Recommended | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: High resolution, great value, dreamy bokeh
Cons: Flaring, ghosting hard to control
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Fuji XM1, Olympus EPL5, Film camera   

Bought this lens some months ago and used it on a film camera (35mm), a Fuji-crop and a M4/3 camera. It turns into a portrait lens fov on the crop sensors.

Impressions & more high-res image samples with a film camera:

Bokeh is dreamy and feels more like an F1.4 than F2. There is a bit of swirly bokeh but not as much as the earlier version of this lens like the 44-2 version. Flaring and ghosting can be strong if shot against the light. Resolution is very good at F8 and still good at F2 in the center, but everything gets fairly dreamy wide open. Build quality is very solid, the lens will last for centuries. Colors can be very intense, in particular using old film.

F2 film Ektar 100

F2 film Ektar 100

On digital cameras, more impressions here

F2 at Fuji XM1

F8 at Olympus EPL5 with macro tubes
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2016
Location: Bhubaneswar; A State in the East of India
Posts: 296
Review Date: January 5, 2017 Recommended | Price: $43.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Bokeh, Sharp, Colours
Cons: Needs some modification with certain adapters
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 8    Camera Used: Canon EOS 350D   

I love shooting with this lens. Own the Helios 44-2 version as well. Hope to do a head to head comparison later with both the lenses. Ergonomically I feel it's better than the more popular Helios44-2 lens. I have infinity focus with this lens adapted to my Canon with a cheap M42toEOS adapter.

The lens is very sharp at the center and has very pleasing bokeh. For anyone who loves to shoot flowers and still objects, I think you will love this lens.

New Member

Registered: August, 2014
Posts: 2
Review Date: January 11, 2016 Recommended | Price: $5.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp excellent bokeh
Cons: cheap feeling aperture ring
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: A6000   

One of my favourite lenses to use sharp with excellent bokeh, great for portraits perhaps not quite as good as my 44m but this one works better, the 44m has a stiff focus ring. I had to modify the aperture pin to allow it to work in fully manual mode, its simple to do here's a video detailing how to do it.

I used a Zhongyi Lens Turbo ii with this lens to give it it's full frame focal length on my A6000

Overwintering Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Helios 44m-4 + Zhongyi Lens turbo II by Scott Hills, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: June, 2015
Posts: 2
Review Date: December 8, 2015 Recommended | Price: $39.99 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Beautiful bokeh and color accuracy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: A7s   

Since owning this lens for almost a year now I can honestly say this is one of the most beautiful lenses I own. I have this adapted to fit both my 5Dmii and my A7s and use it regularly for photos and video.

Wide open at f2 the bokeh is buttery and the flares are prominent but can be quite fun to play around with as shown below.

The sharpness in my eyes is flawless. Of course depending on how you control the flares your image could end up a bit soft but if you get your focus just right you can get some sharp shots.

(Keep note that all of these photos were taken at f2 resulting in pretty damn shallow focus.)

When summing up this lens, I have to say that it is one of my favorites to work with. It is sharp, easy to handle, fancy dancy with its bokeh and lens flares, it is a lens highly recommended by yours truly. Also remember, all of this cost me under $50 on ebay. That is a pretty damn good deal.

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 18,052
Review Date: April 21, 2013 Recommended | Price: $3.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Tank like build, sharp, bokeh ...
Cons: No A/M clutch, usually needs relube ...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10   


Another thrift shop copy of the Helios "44" series ... the 44M-4 version, and this seems to be a later version which has only 6 blades as opposed to the 8 blades of the 44-M and 44-2.

No Auto/Man switch thus I had to use the barrel of a Q-tip and install to make this lens fully manual.

Will post sample images later and will give give a preliminary rating of "7" for the moment ... J

EDIT: Here are some quick snaps from the garden ... worth an "8" now ... J

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