I’ve been shooting with and collecting quite a few of these old retro M42 screw mount lenses and now own four of the Russian made Helios lenses. The addiction is real!
When it comes to the Helios lenses, I’m still trying to figure which one is my favorite; it’s down to either the 44M-4 or the 44M-7. They bother have great rendering and micro-contrast and seem to be pretty sharp when stopped down. I’ve heard the 44-7 is better but it seems very close.
The Helios 44-7 is a 58mm f2 lens built at around in the early 90’s. Mine was built-in 1993. The Helios lenses are based off the Zeiss Biotar optical design. This one as six aperture blade which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the bokeh is still very nice.
I’ll do a side-by-side between all these lenses as soon as I have a few more. For now, here are some shots from the 44M-7 on the X-T2 with the Fotasy M42 to X-Mount adapter.
Hands On The Helios 50mm 44M-7 | Fujifilm X-T2
The Westfield Mall here in Century city has just finished going through a 1 billion dollar remodel and is absolutely amazing. However, there is now never anywhere to park. I kind of miss when it was under construction for those two years when nobody was ever there.
But winter is coming and the weather won’t be a perfect 70-80 degrees any more, so hopefully some people will thin out since it’s an outdoor mall.
I always have a hard time shooting photography when there are too many people around. I can’t relax, plus it’s really difficult to find those intimate moments with people because they also can’t relax. Then, when people are everywhere, it’s very difficult to frame up those magical moments where people are interacting with the environment around them. So you end up having to wait for the scene to thin out, or find some isolated places.
Luck for me, I have a beautiful little 2-year-old daughter that adds amazing character and personality to every scene and most importantly, she’s completely oblivious to the camera.
However, having a hyper little 2-year-old doesn’t come without its challenges, especially if you’re shooting with manual lenses like this Helios.
In terms of image quality, all the Helios lenses have great micro-contrast and color rendering, so the images still look very crisp and detailed even if they aren’t perfectly in focus or scaled down. This is the beauty of using lenses that aren’t loaded with a ton of glass like many modern lenses.
The later models like this 44M-7 are significantly better than the 44 and 44-2, which render terribly wide open. These later models also have a slightly more controlled swirling bokeh, which doesn’t matter as much when shooting on a cropped sensor like with the Fujifilm X-T2, but you will notice it sometimes in the perfect conditions even with the 44M-7.
For whatever reason, you’ll hear a lot of people talk about the 44-2 when they talk about Helios, personally I think you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favors by getting the 44-4 or 44-7 instead. That 44-2 is rather terrible wide open and flares pretty bad. I also kind of hate shooting with that lens because of the very annoying preset aperture that makes it so you never really know what f-stop you’re set to.
If you’re looking to get starting with some of these M42 mount lenses, you can buy them off Ebay or Amazon. I’ve been buying them more off Amazon lately. You’re also probably better off buying them from anywhere but Russia since Russia doesn’t have the most reliable mailing service. However, I have had friends that have bought lenses from people in Russia on Ebay and everything turned out fine. Just make sure the lens is in good working condition.
Maybe one day I’ll make a guide.
To learn more about every lenses you can use for your Fujfilm camera, check out my Complete List of Fujifilm X-Lenses.
Also, check out the Helios 44-2 Review.