The Helios 44-2 F2 is one of the unique vintage lenses known if its distinguishing character. The lens is one of the most popular vintage lenses, and some filmmakers and photographers love it.
The Helios 44-2 was first manufactured in 1958 and various models of the same lens have existed. Before I review this lens, I would like to answer the most questions people ask when surfing the internet for lens review.
Should you buy this lens?
Yes! If you are looking for a cheap vintage lens with no stabilization, auto-focus and sharpness like DSLR lenses. The character of the Helios may not appear fantastic to filmmakers or photographers who prefer auto-focus and sharp digital lenses.
Now let’s review the Helios 44-2 F2
- Aperture: F2 – F16
- Blades: 13 blades
- Focus: Manual focus
- Focus Ring: Two focus rings
- Focus Distance: 58mm
- Mount: M42
Helios 44-2 is a low-budget lens with excellent video performance. In performance, the lens hold’s its ground compared to mid-range cine and digital lenses. For the price, its performance will blow your mind.
When it comes to image quality, Helios 44-2 f2 produces remarkable images. I use this lens for video production, and my first impression was great. The lens renders perfect colour tone and not aggressive contract similar to cine lenses.
The lens appears soft at F2. Stopping down to f4 improves the sharpness of my footage. It will be great to point out that the sharpness of the Helios is similar to most of the cine lenses I have used. Not as sharp as the cine lenses, but one can compare the sharpness character of Helios 44-2 f2 with the Samyang 35mm T1.5 cine lens.
Popularly referred to as the king of swirly bokeh, the Helios 44-2 f2 earns its title based on performance. Bokeh looks good and beautiful. One of the features I love on the Helios more than on the Samyang 85mm T1.5.
If you are looking for a £50 lens with a nice lens flare, I can assure you, you are in for a good deal. The lens flare is sweet. I don’t know how the lens manages to handle light reflection that good, to be honest, it looks great. You often see such qualities on expensive cine lenses.
You can modify the lens to improve performance.
Low Light Performance
Like I said in my previous video review, the lowlight performance of any camera is a function of two things:
- The sensitivity of the camera to light and
- How wide open the lens is.
The Helios opens wide at F2, and this helps the lens perform well in low light. The wide-open lens may be great for video work, but this will be at the expense of image sharpness.
My opinion on Helios 44-2 f2
The character of the lens is great. If you are looking for a vintage lens with excellent performance, good image quality and unique character, then the Helios is a great option for you. I love its bokeh performance, its soft look, how it performs in low light and most importantly its lens flare.
It’s not the greatest lens but it’s a great performer and you will love it.