Helios 44 58mm f2 M42 MC lens review

A well known M42 mount lens from the former Soviet Union which performs very well optically. It has a reputation for excellent build quality, and is available in many variants. Models with an A/M switch make this lens easy to use on almost any camera. Many people have started to use manual focus lenses again because they've found a cheap Helios in a local shop or on the Internet, and its quality has amazed them.

Fact Sheet


Vendor name Type Compatible camera systems
Basically all SLR camera
Focal Min(mm) Focal Max(mm) Focus Min(cm)
Aperture Max Aperture Min. Barrel length(mm)
2 22
Elements In Group Diaphragm action Weight (g)
6 in 4
Filter Size (mm) Push on diameter (mm) Angular field

User Comments

Well no complaints about the sharpness of the 44m 8 blade, but mine is odd in that it screws onto a MTL3 but wont screw onto a M42 adapter or Pentax camera body.

I've got the 44-2 and 44-m, I rarely leave home without one.

These models are (or can be) multi-coated:
Helios 44-3 (always multi-coated, pre-set, 8 blades)
Helios 44M (both MC and single coated version exist, MCed is rare, A/M switch, 8 blades)
Helios 44M-4 (both MC and single coated version exists, auto, 6 blades)
Helios 44K-4 (K-mount, i believe this model is always MCed, auto, 6 blades)
Helios 44M-5 (both MC and single coated version exists, single-coated is rare, auto, 6 blades)
Helios 44M-6 (always MC, auto, 6 blades)
Helios 44M-7 (always MC, auto, 6 blades)


The MC (Multi Coated) versions of this lens include the 44-M4, 44-M5, 44-M6 and 44-M7. These are all 6 bladed lenses (earlier, non MC lenses had 8 blades), and are capable of providing excellent results and many hours of inexpensive fun in any hands. 

An excellent all-round performer with unique bokeh and colour rendering - this is a usable and affordable lens that should be part of every collection.
Comments (10)
My review of the lens at Fujifilm X-Pro1
10Wednesday, 05 November 2014 09:25
Evgeny Artemov
with 5d
9Thursday, 29 December 2011 01:27
Is there using this lens with 5d? Does the mirror hits the lens?
Using Helios lens on 5D MKII/III
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 18:48
Jonny Pedersen
Yes, you can use the Helios on Canon 5D mkII/III.
I shoot interviews with the lens, and NOTHING comes close to this lens... Well, I do now own a 50mm f-1.4 of Pentax and a 50mm f-1.8... they are in the same class... beautiful lenses ..
5D Compliant
Friday, 28 September 2012 02:58
I have use it on my 5DII, it doesn't hit the mirror as other 35mm film lenses.. good one tho ;)
Helios Lens
8Saturday, 10 December 2011 07:05
I have oictures from my photography studies 18 years ago and are still the sharpest I have taken,
Helios 44 a very nice lens
7Saturday, 10 September 2011 05:14
I have a Helios mounted on my Four-Thirds camera. At least at 2.8, there seems to be good sharpness throughout the image - maybe the smaller imaging circle for Four-Thirds is using only the best part of the glass? Nice color. One of my favorite lenses.
Sunday, 06 January 2013 12:27
Which adapter do You use?
Helios 44 M-4
6Thursday, 17 February 2011 19:21
Actually it's my favourite lens. I love the manual focussing, especially for portraits. On my DSLR it equals a 90mm lens on analogue cameras.
In the centre it is razor sharp. And the prize (5 Euro) doesn't allow to talk about.
If you see any cheap one: grab it, play with it!
Helios 44 M mounted on Nikon
5Sunday, 31 October 2010 04:22
I just get the mount adapter to use an old (Zenith 12XP) Helios 44M lens on my Nikon 3000D.
It's hard to get the right focus... but it's a great lens!
helios 44m-6 58mm f 2
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 04:01
i just buy the same lens yesterday and i'm having hard time in focusing...what did you do to take a sharp photos with your d3000??
Lens Clearance
4Wednesday, 13 October 2010 05:34
I use this lens with an adapter on the 5D mark II and I have problems with lens clearance.

Anyone have an idea how to solve this? Thicker adapter ring? Filing down the end of the lens?

Any links or information would help.

Helios 44-2, 44M-4, MC 44M-6
3Friday, 24 September 2010 20:23
I used three different models of Helios-44. The 44-2 has smoother rendering than the other two, but flares like hell (shooting even close to a window results in veiling flare all over the image). Quite sharp in the center, very soft corners until about f/5.6 (on full-frame). Blocks the 5D mirror.

My 44M-4 (KMZ made) is still single-coated, but the coating is different. It handles flare much better, and is a sharper lens overall (corners are sharp by f/4, and usable at f/2.8). Rendering is harder than with the 44-2, yet the same swirly look is present. Does not block the mirror (I've heard other reports, so probably it's factory dependent).

Finally, my MC 44M-6 was made in Vologda. It had a different barrel design and had a protruding rear element that blocked the 5D mirror at infinity. Colors and contrast are better yet, slightly sharper in the corners (center is very sharp in all models), and better flare resistance than the other two lenses.
Helios 44-3, 58/2 MC
2Friday, 24 September 2010 04:10
The 44-3 is multi coated too, and it's a good performer. It often sold more expensive than the successor, maybe because of the design.
Helios 44 M
1Thursday, 23 September 2010 23:32
I'm a huge Helios fan, and have two copies of the 44 M. One copy has the aperture pin removed and the other is completely standard.

The lenses are very well made, the build quality is as good as the Takumars I have and they have a very nice tactile feel to them.
If the focusing ring isn't stiff they are silky smooth.
A stiff focusing ring can be easily fixed, there are detailed instructions all around the internet.

The other commonly reported problem is oil on the aperture blades, which if very bad can cause the blades to stick. But light oil doesn't seem to have any detrimental effect.

Modifying or removing the aperture pin is a popular modification that disables the AUTO -MANUAL switch and makes the aperture ring available in both positions.
Without the modification the switch allows the aperture to be quickly opened up when focusing and then stopped back down to the preset aperture. I find that I'm using the unmodified lens all the time now as I think it's easier.

I haven't got the technical knowledge to comment on the optics of thelens, but as a regular user of the Helios I rarely have cause to critisize the results, I get sharp and accurately coloured pictures from this easy to use lens.
It benefits from a lens hood to reduce flare, but it's not a huge problem.

I still see this lens for sale at less than ÂŁ10 in the UK, which is a remarkable price for such a great lens, personally I think it's a legendary lens because of the combination of quality and price.
There's no reason to not have one.

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