The Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 lens is my newish toy, not really new as 2nd (or more!) hand, an Ebay purchase for under £40. I’d read about it on a facebook post and wanted to have a go myself. It’s main claim to fame seems to be it produces swirly bokeh, but that’s only half the story really.
It was produced in Russia (the old Soviet Union) by Jupiter among others from 1958 till 1992 and is one of the most mass produced lenses in the world, so it’s easy to get one cheap on Ebay! It’s made available in different mount sizes, but mine is an M42 mount so I had to buy one of those too!
The lens is built like a tank, and is heavier than a similar size newer lens, and has manual focus, which on mine runs smoothly, and an aperture ring that clicks on to whichever you want to use.
This swirly bokeh effect has what is called, optical vignetting, which means the bokeh balls (out of focus bits) become more elipsoid as you move away from the centre of the image and looks like it’s swirling around the subject.
I tried it out on flowers on a recent trip out to Raby Castle with Sophie, when we went to shoot the butterflies and bees in the gardens there. It took me a while to work out that the distance between you and the subject, and the subject and background, is instrumental in getting the swirly effect. Also a goodly amount of foliage is helpful. That one above is probably the most overt one I managed.
But even without swirly bokeh, the lens is a little gem. There is a certain feel to the images it produces that I can’t really put into words, but is different from the newer, more perfect optics we are used to today.
I can see myself using this as my go-to lens instead of the 35mm. The adapter mount I bought is from Gobe who do great camera stuff at reasonable prices, the mount is metal and solid, and fits the fuji perfectly.
There are 40-50 Helios lenses of varying sizes and mounts, they were certainly prolific.
The daily shot is me loving my lens! 😀