First impressions of the Helios 44-2 Russian manual focus lens
Preface: All photos taken on a 5D Mark III without focus confirmation chip. All photos posted here are lowered to very low resolution. The real images are sharp as a tack.
I have been watching great images on Facebook groups like VSCO and Mastin Labs for months and once in a while someone posted a photo with such a gorgeous incredible bokeh that it was hard to believe it as not a Photoshop effect. I read the comments vigorously and finally had that eureka moment when someone said, it a helios! I immediately proceded to Ebay, and quickly bought a Helios 44-2. They are cheap and easily available so purchasing one was actually harder then it seems because there so many that I had trouble choosing. Actually, there is a whole series of Helios lenses and some collectors are adamant about having all of them, but the 44-2 is the most famous of them all.
I took this lens out with my girlfriend and photo assistant, Germaine Largen. We visited a winery in Central Florida during their wine festival. It was a hot and humid day in mid August but I was so stocked to try this lens that I really didn’t even notice the heat until I had to lay down on the grass to rest. This actually allowed me to take some cool photos of the trees, which is where the Helios does very well since the small spaces between leaves showcase the bokeh very nicely.
Here are some of the images I was able to capture, just playing around with this amazing lens.
Now, keep in mind that this lens is extremely hard to focus, especially at anything further away than 25 feet. It doest best at close up subjects that are not moving forwards or backwards, parallel movement is not as difficult. I find that it has a sweet spot of f/4.5 and at a distance of 5 feet. But I am only guessing in the appetite as my lens is reversed. So F/2 is stopped all the way down at f/16 is wide open. Im guessing someone cleaned the lens and put the ring back the wrong way? Or I’m just not familiar with how they labeled things in good old Russia. I’m sure the answer is out there in the internet but I really don’t care. What I care about is that this thing is a blast to shoot with. Check out some more images!
One of the biggest reasons people get this lens is due to the amazing lemon shaped bokeh, and it never gets old. Its gorgeous, sharp and fun to play around but here are some things to remember. The keep rate (good usable images) is probably 30%, not this is for me, using it for the first time. I think this will go up to 70% of time which is fine for me, as I will use it for wedding videography and photographing details in weddings, or just playing around at a reception.
Is this lens had autofocus I would NEVER take it out of the camera. I could shoot an entire wedding on this lens. Go buy one now.
Thanks for reading First impressions of the Helios 44-2 Russian manual focus lens! Check out some of my wedding photos at The Market At Grelen Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photos, Delta Plantation Wedding Photos, Belmond Maroma Cancun Wedding among others. And some engagement photos as well like Wormsloe Engagement Photos and Savannah Engagement Photo Session | Forsyth Park to name a couple. Also, go to our General Wedding FAQ and our Engagement Session FAQ posts for information about how to prepare for your photo sessions. We have other posts that can help you in your wedding preparations in our Journal Page. Don’t forget to check out my homepage for my newest wedding photography work.
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