Anyone using old lenses?

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Anyone using old lenses?

PostMon Jun 15, 2020 3:52 pm

Hello, people!
I am very interested in buying the Helios 44-2 lens, also known as the Swirly Bokeh Monster.

I'd love to see your images and reviews about it, and I hope many people are using it.
Have a nice day!

Brad Hurley

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Re: Anyone using old lenses?

PostMon Jun 15, 2020 5:21 pm

You might want to post this in the cinematography forum, as there have been many discussions of older lenses there, including the Helios and other vintage Russian lenses.

I have the Helios 44-2 58mm and use it on several cameras, including the Micro Cinema Camera and the original Pocket with no speedbooster (it becomes a telephoto lens). With those smaller S16 sensors the swirly bokeh doesn't really materialize, but you do get a nice low-contrast look while still remaining pretty sharp. I also use it on a Sony APS-C camera (NEX 6) for still photographs, where it performs really well; the swirly bokeh is less evident than it would be on a full-frame camera but I've gotten bits of it in some photos.

The main thing to watch out with this lens is flares and ghosting -- if you want wild flares you'll get them but they can quickly take over and wash out your image. The coatings are very primitive.

It's going to look different on different cameras; there's a thread here where "David Evans" in Portugal showed some stills and footage from the Helios on his Ursa Mini 4.6k: ... and-um4-6k

I think if you want the full swirly bokeh effect consistently, you either need to use a full-frame camera (e.g., the Sony A7 series) or use a speedbooster on a camera with a smaller sensor.
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Howard Roll

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Re: Anyone using old lenses?

PostTue Jun 16, 2020 5:06 pm

These came back this weekend, Zenit EM, Helios 44M, Ektar 100.

I don't know anything specific about the processing or scanning, this is how they showed up in my Dropbox, straight from the Darkroom in Portland. This is the first film that's been pushed through this camera since the 70s. I'm just glad the lightmeter was in the neighborhood.

Crazytown flares, there' more going on here than just swirly bokeh, though we've got some of that too. The grid pattern on the corner makes me think theres some interaction with the lightmeter, maybe it's a camera artifact not the lens. The Ektar handles it all in stride.

Good Luck

leaks.jpg (359.06 KiB) Viewed 749 times

swirls.jpg (468.38 KiB) Viewed 749 times

Denny Smith

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Re: Anyone using old lenses?

PostWed Jun 17, 2020 3:06 am

Man, Howard, your daughter has grown, how old is she now. Great shots BTW, interesting discovery, with the Zenit EM camera. The Russians came up with some interesting designs,
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Howard Roll

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Re: Anyone using old lenses?

PostWed Jun 17, 2020 5:35 am

10 already, yikes!

I was talking to my dad about Optars and Elites and dude is like "I've got a Russian Camera, I bought it in '77 when we drove to from San Diego to Alaska". I said "How did you get a Russian camera in the U.S. in the middle of the cold war?" "I got it in B.C." he said.

It had some winder issues where the film wouldn't advance but I found an old camera wizard at this joint Moler's in Wichita. Father time took a spring outta here put in in over there, presto chango, back in business.

There are a handful of these places left, it's a shame, thanks Moler's.

Good Luck

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Re: Anyone using old lenses?

PostWed Jun 17, 2020 6:34 am

Erynaha wrote:Hello, people!
I am very interested in buying the Helios 44-2 lens, also known as the Swirly Bokeh Monster.

I have both the later, sharper 1993 Helios 44M-7, and a modified 1976 Helios 44-2 anamorfake F/3.5 lens. The latter lens had it's aperture replaced by an oval plate, so it is more limited in it's ability to produce the bokeh from shooting with the wide open aperture.

Part of the swirl bokeh comes from the character built in using Soviet era manufacturing processes (misalignment) that had evolved over the many years of the Helios 44 series production. The earlier ones have the most swirl. They also are harder to focus on a camera that uses contrast detection (mirrorless) since they don't have the increased contrast that the later multi coating lenses provide.

There is a guide to Helios lenses on the Reduser forum: ... 43f340e794

In spite of shooting through the 25% that is the sharpest window in the center of this full frame lens by using a M4/3 camera (BMPCC 4K), I was able to get some of the bokeh by shooting wide open with leaves 15 feet away using a 44M-7:
Helios 44M-7 58mm at F/2.0
Hel44M7Player_003.jpg (913.79 KiB) Viewed 729 times

I would agree to watch out for ghosting and flares with the Helios 44-2. Here is a comparison of it against the last of it's series, the Helios 44M-7:

Here is a comparison of the Helios 44m-7 against the Voightlander 42.5mm MFT lens:

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