Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 M42 MC Lens Review

Finally I got a chance to buy most famous and perhaps most expensive Russian M42 lens Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5. This is not a surprise this focal length and this speed expensive range in every maker product line. This lens is quite rare and bit heavy and excellent performer as well. I guess hard to find better portrait lens on the market.


Fact Sheet

Vendor name Type Product year

Focal Min(mm) Focal Max(mm) Focus Min(cm)
Aperture Max Aperture Min. Barrel length(mm)
Elements In Group Diaphragm action Weight (g)
6 in 4 pre-set
Filter Size (mm) Push on diameter (mm) Angular field


  • Image folder specified does not exist!

User Comments

In my opinion, the Helios-40 and especially the Helios-40-2 are the best 85mm lenses ever. I mean that I rate them above the best 85 or 90 mm lenses.

(Orio Menoni)

If you think hard to handle this lens because heavy that is wrong, I found very easy to focusing. Because quiet heavy so stable in hand with camera, easy to take shoot without shaking (Russian solution for anti shaking :) ). It has tripod mount so very usable in studios from tripod. I didn't see much short tele-photo lens like this, with tripod mount (I guess because they have much lighter weight) .Build quality just excellent, all metal around even front lens cap.It has beautiful black finish, looks professional , hard to find t better looking lens.So much above general Russian lens quality, perhaps the reason this lens was made for export at KMZ. I have many lens in this focal length including Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 75mm f/1.5 Exakta and with M42 mount. Biotar sharper at wide open, but I don't think so this is real benefit in portrait photography, in my opinion a sharp but soft wide open lens is better to make quality portraits. Too sharp lens shows skin problems, soft lens hide them! Conclusion this lens almost good as CZJ Biotar and should better for portrait photography than any others including CZJ Biotar 75mm lenses!!! This lens one of the must have lens if you have a chance to take it!

Helios-40-2 85mm f1.5 vs Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4 review is here


{mos_ri:portrait,Helios,85mm,Russian lens,fast lens}

Comments (1)
From Russia With Love 85/1.5
1Sunday, 12 December 2010 17:09
Nobody explains the reason why falling in love with someone eh?
The same is with this lens. Fair quality but nothing more. It is metal tube and mineral glass yes but weights more than 3oz. Cannot remember any single contemporary camera able to endure this punishing attachment on its mount. It has manual closing aperture ring for closing it down to 'working aperture'. Usually paired with couple of low quality filters (add extra money for quality filters in that diameter).
Generally there is no excuse in using USSR optics nor justyfied wish except in earning money if you are provider. One cannot get Ferrari for 5000$ these days?
I used these optics in the period of some 10 years in my photographer beginnings and gave them away the first moment i could. There is some exception thou, in Kiev 6x6cm optics but again nothing spectacular.
Again who can argue the taste?
Best wishes

Add your comment

Your name: