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Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8 Review RSS Feed

Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8

Reviews Views Date of last review
7 86,032 Tue March 14, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
86% of reviewers $86.00 9.00
Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8

Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8
Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8
Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8

This lens, according to online gleanings, was a replacement kit lens on the Zenit 122 for the helios 44 line. According to Humulus on mflenses there are 4 versions:

1) Vologda MC Helios 77M-4
2) Valdai MC Helios 77M-4
3) Valdai MC Helios 77K-4 (Pentax mount)
4) Unknown factory (no logo) MS Helios 77M
The last one is pretty rare and has a different colour coating.
Soviet lens factory logos here.

Optical construction: 6 elements in 4 groups.
Max Aperture: f1.8
Focal length: 52mm
View Angle: 44 deg full frame
Minimum focussing distance: 0.45m
Resolution: Center - 45
Resolution: edge - 25
Filter size: 52mm
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

Add Review of Helios 77M-4 MC 50mm F1.8
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New Member

Registered: January, 2017
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, nice bokeh
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Canon 600d   

Mine is a valdai version. This lens is very sharp. The only thing that prevents me from using it more is the sticky aperture. My copy needs cleaning. Color is neutral. What I love is the bokeh, of course. Main reason for my purchase.

At wide open:

Stopped down in bright sunlight:

Playing around with studio lighting:

At wide open:
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: March 2, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast, fluid focus, sharp
Cons: no
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony A7II   

Very nice lens, contrast and sharp wide opened. I recommendit to all.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2013
Posts: 456
Lens Review Date: November 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: lovely color rendering, smooth bokeh, plenty sharp
Cons: my copy wobbles when I focus:-)
Sharpness: 9   

Mostly I use this lens on extension tubes for flowers. I love the rendering. If I could characterize it, it is plenty sharp and has a restrained version of the Helios 44 swirly bokeh. Here is a very lucky macro shot as the bee did not move even with the lens almost touching its body.

IMGP4021.jpg by David Miley, on Flickr

I also love the way it delivers out of focus bokeh. Chromatic aberation comes with the package with bright light and very close focus.

IMGP3866.jpg by David Miley, on Flickr

And then there is just straight wide open bokeh with a group of yellow flowers without the tubes.

IMGP3720.jpg by David Miley, on Flickr

There is quite a body of work on the web from Russian photographers who use this lens. This is Alexandra Bochareva's go to lens and she gets amazingly evocative portraits from it. If you haven't seen her work, its worth seeking out. For me it is one of the two or three m42 lenses that I go to for florals, the others being a Mir 1b and a Soligor 105mm (non-macro). I just wish it did not seem like it was going to fall apart when I focus.
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: in a middle of nowhere
Posts: 165
Lens Review Date: December 8, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Goon MF lens, underpriced for its performance
Cons: Some color shift may occure at bright oblique lighting
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

Hi, fellas.

I've been shooting with this lens for quite a long - and I'm very pleased with its performance. I paid around 120 USD for my NOS copy and I do think it is ok to ask $200-300 for this lens: it performs quite well. I don't like all those 'razor sharp' and other 'boy, I love it' cliché, so I'll put it this way: it isn't something astonishing, it is just a good lens with good resolution, decent chromatic aberration correction, nice contrast, color reproduction, background and foreground blur (although, yep, it features that twisty bokeh at f/1.8 and until f/2.8 aperture). I covered several birthday and wedding events with it and the results looked good both the me and people who were on the other side of the glass. The only drawback which I can claim is that sometimes you get some color cast when being lit with bright oblique light, but other lenses will give you glare spots in those conditions, so consider this lens trades glare for color shift.
Some may not like the overdamped focus ring (remember, in Soviet Russia lens focuses you), but I grew on Mordor lens and now I find all those Pentax lenses to have too light focusing feel. De gustibus non est disputandum, as some say - if you prefer lighter focus ring resistance, just re-grease the lens with thinner grease.

The real downside is the Soviet QA for non-military goods: you've got to thoroughly test a lens before buying it. In my case I was offered with three copies, and while the second one was as good as the one I chose, the third one had a couple of dents on the front element coating. Some factories (you've got to learn and google for Zenit, KMZ, VOMZ and other Mordor words) had better QA one year and worse the next one, some were making only M42 versions (or PK-mount, or F-mount versions, whatever). So you can't just go and buy a Soviet lens (in my case: MC Helios-77K-4 by Zenit), instead you have to first spend some time on learning the subject and around.

A proper lens review must come with some photos, so here they are:

Sorry for too small resolution, but it is as much as I can get from pentaxforums.
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 258
Lens Review Date: January 12, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: A little sharper then Pentacon 50 1.8 MC which is the original.
Cons: Nothing special about this lens! Nervous bokeh, corner sharpness is bad even at 5.6 compaired to pentax 50s...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 5   

I think that this is one overpriced Pentacon. I was testing it for a while and I have returned it back with disappointment. Here in Bulgaria Pentacons are about 20-30$ and the 77M is over 50$... I think it is undeserved glory of this lens! There are so much better russian 50s like the Zenitar-M 50 1.7 - great sharp lens with amazingly smooth bokeh and I bought one sheaper then some Helios 77s...
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Klaipeda
Posts: 77
Lens Review Date: February 21, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


This is Russian Zenitar Lens.
Made by VOMZ ("ВОМЗ" russ.)
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Lithuania
Posts: 344
Lens Review Date: July 1, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp from the very f/1.8, CA's well controlled
Cons: Focus ring is smooth but quite hard to turn, spring loaded aperture, bokeh somewhat distracting

I got this lens for free as my father was interested in photography when he was young. This lens is rare (although it has a 'brother' - pentacon 50mm/1.8. They are both identical in terms of produced quality).

This is fast prime which brings some 'wows' when mounted on camera.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I first took pictures using this lens. They were extremely good quality and even some friends who use high end canikon lenses were just amazed with the results.

I did not notice distortion, vignetting was not a problem.

CA's are well controlled and are rare.

The bokeh is a bit distracting although I liked it very much from the beginning. Later I saw that it distracts attention from subject.

The biggest complaint is spring loaded aperture. Everytime I want to use another aperture , I should insert piece of paper and then turn an aperture ring. So most of time I use f/1.8.

Focusing ring is smooth but somewhat hard to turn. So going from the closest focusing point to the infinity takes time a bit.

Finally I found myself using this lens much more often than my AF lenses . Simply because it is very sharp and produces excellent results. This lens is much sharper than Helios 44-2, although 44-2 has smoother bokeh.

Overall I rate this lens as a highly recommended. I'll try to post some pics and crops. I'll use another aperture values to show corner sharpness and post pics as soon as I can. Sorry for my bad English.

So here is the picture ( f/1.8 )

And here is 100% crop


this is the image taken both at 5.6 and 8.

this is 100% crop of image corner at f/8

this is 100% crop of image corner at f/5.6. Looks like stopping down at f/8 is the best for corner sharpness. Center sharpness is always excellent and doesn not differ much.
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