Helios 44M-4 58mm 1:2

As promised, here’s a post about one of the manual focus lenses other than the CZ 135mm.

My Helios 44M-4 58mm 1:2.0 M42 mount lens. Funnily enough, this shot was taken with my CZ 50mm lens, now that I have more than one M42 adapter. Quite a solidly built lens this, reasonably heavy for a standard prime. Focus is quite smooth, although the aperture ring is a bit clicky on mine. Unfortunately this one isn't the 8 bladed version, but since I didn't pay a cent for this, I can't really complain.

My Helios 44M-4 58mm 1:2.0 M42 mount lens. Funnily enough, this shot was taken with my CZ 50mm lens, now that I have more than one M42 adapter. Quite a solidly built lens this, reasonably heavy for a standard prime. Focus is quite smooth, although the aperture ring is a bit clicky on mine. Unfortunately this one isn’t the 8 bladed version, but since I didn’t pay a cent for it, I can’t complain.

One of the things I love about these old manual lenses is being able to stop down the aperture and see how the mechanism actually works. Here's the 44M-4 stopped down to about ƒ5.6 (I can't actually remember what it was set to, so I'm guessing here).

One of the things I love about these old manual lenses is being able to stop down the aperture and see how the mechanism actually works. Here’s the 44M-4 stopped down to about ƒ5.6 (I can’t actually remember what it was set to, so I’m guessing here).

Anyway, enough shots of the lens…

Since I was planning to run a test of a “new” lens, I decided the best option was to go for a walk through town looking for flowers. Flowers make good test subjects. Everyone loves flowers. Plus they don’t run away.

This is a little flower we found less than 300m from home in front of the Clermont "train murals" (which I have yet to photograph). The flower itself was hanging over the footpath a little and was in the sun, the background is actually the bogie of a rail carriage. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

This is a little flower we found less than 300m from home in front of the Clermont “train murals” (which I have yet to photograph). The flower itself was hanging over the footpath a little and was in the sun, the background is actually the bogie of a rail carriage in shade. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

This flower was a little bit further along, and I deliberately altered subject to lens distance and other stuff to show of the background blur capabilities. Hence why it's not a great shot overall. But the background blur from this lens when wide open is beautiful.

This flower was a little bit further along, and I deliberately altered subject to lens distance and other stuff to show of the background blur capabilities. Hence why it’s not a great shot overall. But the background blur from this lens when wide open is beautiful. This type of lens has a reputation for “swirly bokeh” and I can kinda see it in this pic. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

Another technical demonstration shot, so don't mind the composition. Impressed with the sharpness.

Another technical demonstration shot, so don’t mind the (lack of) composition. Impressed with the sharpness. 50D + Helios 44M-4

More so at 100%.

More so at 100%.

I may be photographing too many hibiscus flowers recently, but they seem to be the only thing flowering in Clermont at the moment. The background blur isn't quite as pretty when stopped down, thanks to the 6 bladed aperture. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

I may be photographing too many hibiscus flowers recently, but they seem to be the only thing flowering in Clermont at the moment. The background blur isn’t quite as pretty when stopped down, thanks to the 6 bladed aperture. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

Although you can counter the harsher blur with composition of by using the lens wide open. This shot was actually with the 50D built in flash as well, because this flower was in heavy shade. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

Although you can counter the harsher blur with composition or by using the lens wide open. This shot was actually with the 50D built in flash as well, because this flower was in heavy shade. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

And a 100% crop from above. Sharpness still pretty good.

And a 100% crop from above. Sharpness still pretty good.

This little flower was near the flood memorial marker. Not sure what it is, but it was a good test subject. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

This little flower was near the flood memorial marker. Not sure what it is, but it was a good test subject. Didn’t think the little insect would come out so clearly. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

100% crop.

100% crop.

Not a flower. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

Not a flower. 50D + Helios 44M-4.

Overall I’m quite impressed with this lens. Considering this one was a hand me down (I’m not even actually sure who it came from we’ve been given so many old lenses and cameras), I think it’s quite sharp, and when used wide open the background blur is amazing. Background blur is a little harsh stopped down, and if I was shopping for one I’d probably try and source the 8-bladed design, as opposed to this one. Build quality, as with most older manual lenses is very good, especially when compared to modern equivalents like the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II that I have, and to my eye at least the image quality is at least comparable, if not a little better in some aspects. Over the next few weeks I’ll look at doing a few more outings with it, and post the results.

Shannon Walters

An amateur photographer who also spends time making chainmaille and doing too many other things to mention.

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