The Helios 44M Lens
For those on a mirrorless camera system, like the Sony NEX or Samsung NX series of cameras, you should be happy to know that due to the nature of mirrorless cameras you have at your disposal a plethora of manual focus lenses, many of which can be had for very little money. In this review I’ll be looking at one such lens, the Russian made Helios 44M 58mm f2, an excellent addition to anyone’s camera bag.
Most of these lenses can be found on eBay, sometimes not the best place to buy used photo equipment, often prices on popular items become quite inflated, but if you are vigilant and stick to your guns you can get some great lenses for good prices. I picked mine up, shipped from the Ukraine, for around $30 US.
The first thing that struck me upon receiving the 44M was it’s impressive build. Put simply, this lens is quality, all metal and glass throughout with that heavy-in-the-hand luxury item feel. While the optical formula is maintained across all flavors, many of these Russian made lenses can vary in cosmetic appearance depending on the date and factory of origin. The copy I purchased was all black with a chrome accented focus ring and a 52mm filter size. The lens arrived clean and functioning smoothly all around. The 44M is similar in feel and build quality to the highly regarded Takumar line of lenses form Pentax, though I think I prefer the slightly larger diameter of the Helios to that of the similar Takumar 50mm f1.4, for those with larger mitts it makes handling a bit easier. This lens is a real gem, for sure.
I will say that from the very first shot I was impressed.
As far as image quality is concerned, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said many times elsewhere on the web, but I will say that from the very first shot I was impressed. Often these older lenses have a tendency to be fairly soft wide open and suffer from pretty heavy flaring and chromatic aberration, this lens showed very little signs of either. While it has it’s lovable flaws, overall, the images it captures are quality through and through.
It’s worth noting that with a focal length of 58mm, on a crop sensor camera, like my Sony NEX-6, the lens has an effective focal length of 87mm, putting it in the sweet spot for portraits and head shots. Pair the 87mm focal length with it’s maximum aperture of f2 and you’re looking at a killer portrait lens.
– THE VERDICT: BUY IT –
(Sample video/pics bellow)