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Grupo Special Moments

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Joachim Girard
Joachim Girard

Helios 44 2 Bokeh !!INSTALL!!

The Helios-44 and Helios-40 are derivatives of the Carl Zeiss Biotar optical formula. As all lenses based on the Biotar formula, the Helios-44 and Helios-40 produce an unusual "swirly" bokeh effect to the out-of-focus background. The bokeh "circles" become more elliptical in shape as you move away from the center of the photo. This optical phenomenon gives images rendered by these vintage lenses a distinct character, which has created a cult following among fine art photographers.The first Helios-44 was equipped with a Start reflex camera, starting in 1958. The lens had a unique bayonet mount optics, "jumping" diaphragm and 13 aperture blades. The aperture control ring was placed on the back of the lens and switched in steps. The workmanship was of a very high standard. The second Helios-44 served as a standard lens for Zenit-3 SLR cameras in 1960-62. It already had a threaded mount for M39 optics and a classic layout of controls. It is often called White Helios.The third Helios-44 completely repeats the previous one, but the number of aperture blades was changed - they were reduced to 9. These lenses were equipped with Zenit-3M cameras in 1962-70. In the same 1962, the Helios-44 lens for the Start camera also reduced the number of petals to nine.In the late 60s, Helios-44 (m39) continued to be produced in Belarus at the BelOMO production association. At the same time, the chemical composition of the optics coating changed from violet to golden yellow. Interestingly, the lens was black and there are chrome stripes on the focus ring - by analogy with the German Carl Zeiss Jena. Therefore, these lenses are often called Helios-44 "Zebra". They completed Zenith-3M of the last years of production.The next step in the modernization was the transition from the M39 to M42 threaded mount due to the transition of SLR cameras to the M42 1 threaded connection with a working length of 45.5 mm, which corresponded to the threaded connection common in the world. The lens received a new name Helios-44-2, and the body became completely black. Production began in 1967 - this year Zenit-E switched to a threaded mount on the m42. Externally, the serial number began to be applied to the ring with the name.

Helios 44 2 Bokeh

When stepping outside of the swirl, the BOKEH is on the smoother side but not "sonnar smooth". It means that it's not too harsh but you can see some edges in the bokeh. On film the bokeh is smoother, as expected.

I agree with the sentiment that Helios-44 is a good lens to venture into "classical lens photography". It will deliver results that are not possible with most modern lenses. My only worry is that some people might think that this lens is representative of all classical lenses. That's far from the truth. Classical lenses don't mean wobbly build quality. Classical lenses don't mean automatic swirly bokeh. Classical lenses don't mean that sample variation is insane. If you understand that then Helios-44 is a great lens.

The Helios 44-4 58mm f/2 is a vintage Soviet-era lens with a cult following for it's unique 'swirly' bokeh. For $30, it clocks in as one of the best portrait lenses for a mirrorless body you can find.

The swirly bokeh I was seeing all over Instagram and Tumblr finally seduced me, and when I found a lens with a Fuji X adapter for $30 flat, I had no choice but to order it with 2-day shipping.

Funnily enough, this optical quality was also considered an engineering defect: newer versions of the Helios lens phased it out. The Helios 44-4, being one of the earliest models, exhibits some of the most dramatic swirly bokeh.

Note that when you don't maximize the swirly potential of the lens, the bokeh renders more like a dreamy, muted watercolor that can give your images a 3D pop. Check out the grass in the lower corners.

The Helios 44-4 isn't a gimmick lens, and it isn't just about the swirly bokeh. I haven't found the dreamy, hazy look of this lens anywhere else. After heavy use, it's become part of my Fuji holy trinity of budget lenses, joining the Rokinon 12mm f/2 and the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4.

That was easy, wasn't it? Not every effect is this simple, but many can be achieved entirely in-camera with just a little know-how. Fans of more vintage-looking background blur (or "bokeh") can try their hand at tilt-shift photography.

The upshot of adapting older glass is that you can get lots of nifty side-effects, ranging from unusual flare, to extreme vignetting, to crazy spiraling bokeh. True, you can replicate many of these effects with the right photoshop tools, but achieving these results in-camera is just way more fun.

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