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Helios - 44M 58mm F2 Review RSS Feed

Helios - 44M 58mm F2

Reviews Views Date of last review
12 76,704 Mon August 24, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
92% of reviewers $19.24 8.92
Helios - 44M 58mm F2

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

The Helios 44... is the standard, fast, 58mm lens typically found as the kit prime on the Zenit-series russian SLRs. There are numerous variants available, some of which include multicoated lens elements. And they were made in more than one factory. KMZ was probably the most prolific producer.

A bit chunkier and heavier than the other versions, the 44-M has the advantage of a wide base that mounts firmly with a rimless M42 adapter on Pentax. It has an A-M aperture switch, not the 2 ring preset aperture of the common 44-2.

49mm filter thread.
8 diaphragm blades.
F/2-16 max-min aperture.
45cm minimum focusing distance.
Focuses down to 0.5m and has a mag ratio of 1:6.5 at closest focus point. Takes 52mm filters.

Earlier 13 blade helios 44 listed here.
8 blade 44 (very similar to this lens) listed here.
44M-4 listed here.
44M-6 listed here.
44M-7 listed here.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

Add Review of Helios - 44M 58mm F2
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-12 of 12
New Member

Registered: June, 2020
Posts: 2
Review Date: August 24, 2020 Recommended | Price: $17.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp in the center from f2, microcontrast, stunning colors, creamy bokeh, swirly bokeh, build,strong construction
Cons: A little hard, but it's strong construction is normal like that
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

Helios 44M is amazing lens.

Registered: December, 2016
Location: London
Posts: 1,050
Review Date: February 19, 2019 Recommended | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Bright, a good all-round performer
Cons: Not as sharp as some of the other lenses of this marque
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Canon Eos 400D   

I buy and sell a lot of old lenses, and generally see several Helios lenses a month. The 44-M probably isn't the best of them, but they're usually good all-round performers with no horrible flaws or problems, and I've only ever seen a couple with stopdown faults, the big weakness of many M42 lenses; by comparison, I see more faulty Domiplan lenses than working.

The lens I tested here was part of a job lot with a telephoto, a Zent body, a 200mm manual lens, and a teleconverter which I got for 25, about $30. If I had to value the lens alone I'd say it was about half the value of the lot to me. I took test photos in Kensington Gardens, a London park that has some nice statues etc., with the lens on a Canon Eos 400D with an M42 adapter with AF confirmation chip. All pictures at F8.

The full album for this test is here:

New Member

Registered: October, 2018
Posts: 3
Review Date: October 8, 2018 Not Recommended | Price: $32.62 | Rating: 9 

Pros: I LOVE this bokeh
Cons: focus on dslr and
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: 750d   

verry good lens
New Member

Registered: March, 2017
Posts: 1
Review Date: July 19, 2017 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Es muy barato, una gran calidad de imagen y el Bokeh increible
Cons: Flojo a f2
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 7    Camera Used: Pentax k5   

muy recomendable para retratos, a pesar de ser un objetivo manual posee una gran calidad de imagen a partir de f2.4, su desenfoque me gusta mas que el del pentax 50mm 1.4 m no es tan nitido pero si posee ese bokeh circular tan agradable.
New Member

Registered: July, 2017
Location: Tbilisi
Posts: 18

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: July 19, 2017 Recommended | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing micro contrast, wonderful colors, great bokeh, swirl, build.
Cons: Not useful for other than portraits at f/2 (such a great problem, eh?).
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-50   

I cannot say that I have used many primes. But I still can argue that this lens, not only for her (yeah, mine is a she and I love her) price but for the results she produces, is an amazing piece of a glass.

Officially she is the worst copy of all of her sisters (44-2, 44m-6, etc.) yet the images she produces are either fantastic, or takes a minute of PP to become fantastic. Get close to your subject, and fill background with some nice colors, and let her do the job.

- The well-known Helios swirl. On crop sensor it is limited only to the edges of the frame but still is great to have and produces very nice images.
- The photos look real, not unreal/surreal like many other lenses. When you view a photo, it feels like the screen is just a piece of glass, and you can actually touch the subject you photographed. This is an amazing and very important asset which is rather rare - at least in this price range.
- I love the colors that this lens produces. I had two reasons to switch to Pentax. One was the ability to use legacy lenses easily, second was the colors which reminded me of the good old film days (although 31, I am old enough to remember those days). This lens helps the camera to produce the exact colors I want to have. I fall in love with both pieces every time I take a shot and fix it at home.
- Built like a tank. She once fell, I did not even care. She is that strong.
- CA is a rare thing, if it happens.

- Heavy (if you care). She is all metal, and I love her being heavy, to be honest.
- At f/2 and f/2.5, it is usable only for portraits (soft, low contrast). It is not a problem for me, though, as by f/2.8 she already produces good corners, becomes sharp and produces contrast).

- An amazing lens for portraits and close-ups (though not macros), as well as some architecture (if you can go enough far, though).
- (Even if not 44M version per se) a must for any photographer if you ask me. Ridiculously cheap for what she does.

I bought a Sigma super-wide II 24mm as a sister to her, yet this is still my lens-to-go.
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 892

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: June 16, 2016 Recommended | Price: $5.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, sharp and interesting.
Cons: A/M switch
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

This is available at very low cost if you look. Maybe does not have the cachet of a 44-2 for swirley bokeh but it is unlikely to disappoint anyone unless they are very critical and boast a cupboard full of Planars, Flektagons and Summicrons.

I used this lens at an "Eco funeral" and a Wedding over the course of a couple of days after I bought it. No special reason for using it unless it was to see if I would be disappointed with it in c omparison to the 44-2.

I find it sharper than the 44-2 and was not disappointed . Well who could be at that price.
Everyone should have a Helios 58mm and use it.

New Member

Registered: August, 2014
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 12, 2016 Recommended | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Bokeh, mega cheap
Cons: Poor Quality control means some lenses can be crap
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: A6000   

For the money that these can be had its a no brainer to get one. Being a copy of the Zeiss Biotar it has very good genetics however they may not be built as well. My focus ring is not smooth, I'm guessing the grease is drying up will need to take it apart and have a look.

Anyway heres some shots taken with this lens

??? by Scott Hills, on Flickr

windswept & interesting by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Wee Molly by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Portrait practice by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Phenomenal Bokeh by Scott Hills, on Flickr

Flora by Scott Hills, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: May, 2013
Location: Jakarta
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 4, 2014 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp at centre, color, bokeh, value
Cons: stiff focusing, heavy?
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5   

for me this lens has an excellent price and performance ratio, if you got a good copy be surprised how sharp and nice bokeh produced even in wide open

here the samples images:
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 27, 2013 Recommended | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: cheep
Cons: for his price it is no bad, but...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 10   

It is a very cheap lens, who want to try M42 lens - welcome.
even for 10 USD it is working.

not recommended if you can obtain Pentax M50/2, also NOT THE BEST lens, but more-more useful (bionet, compact, higher quality, more easy handling)

from my Helios I was make an "monocle" lens, after some playing with it - it is forgotten.

If You can spend 50-60 USD instead of 10 USD - do not buy it.
Pentax M50/2 or A50/1.7 (more expensive) more useful.
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Newcastle
Posts: 1,954

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 18, 2013 Recommended | Price: $12.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: bokeh and colour
Cons: bit clunky and focusing is stiff
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

This is a nice lens - cannot believe how cheap they are.

I've just received the 44M-4 and will need to test it too. Can't wait.

Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2012
Posts: 928

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 13, 2013 Recommended | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Value for money, bokeh, centre sharp
Cons: Quite heavy, screwmount
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

First of all: the key question many will want to know. Will this lens produce the unusual and beautiful swirly bokeh like the extra-ordinary earlier Helios 44-2? And the answer is yes in the right conditions at f2. I got the 44-2 first, I'm more partial to that lens, and I feel the 44-2's bokeh swirls even more. But that's just my opinion (I'd be interested what others say about this) and you can still produce amazing swirly bokeh with the 44M.

Unlike the 44-2 it has a useful "M" and "A" switch - same as the Takumars. Less useful to me, it does not have the 44-2's dual front aperture dials - instead it has a conventional f-stop dial.

Using a Helios is almost an indescribable (good) experience for people used to modern digital lenses. One thing you'll notice about the lens's outputs is that you can post-produce a range of different results: vivid colors, muted colors, water color pastel-like colors, blurred colors etc. It seems to deliver outputs that can be changed quite radically and still look interesting. You'll also notice not everyone likes the results!

Here's a photo from the lens, no attempt at swirly bokeh, but this photo does show bokeh at - at least - three different depths of field.

EDIT: Since writing this review, I've come across older threads discussing the kind of bokeh the 44M actually produces, so I thought I'd post an example of the kind of extreme bokeh at f2 I've got from my copy of this all depends on how you set up the photo, light etc.


Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 18,053

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 21, 2013 Recommended | Price: $5.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, build, inexpensive, (swirly) bokeh ...
Cons: Traditional stiff focus ring ...needs relube
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10   


This lens is being reviewed in the Helios 44-2 reviews, so I thought that it should have its own review site.

Fantastic bang for the buck lens, and I have several thanks to my local thrift store.

Test shot w/on-board flash, MFD, f11-ish

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