There are many
discussions on the web about the Bokeh of the different Helios 44
lenses. Some are said to be much better than others and they fetch
to fancy prices. As I had 6 different helios 44 at hand, I did a test.
I also tested a 103, a modern replacement for the old 44. So you can
Sample pictures: You may click
on the sample image for full resolution. The
full resolution image opens in a new window, so you can keep it open
for comparison. Focus is on the eyes
of the toy elephant. The photos were taken in the shade. The bue cast
comes from the A7 daylight setting.
These lenses were sold with Zenit SLR cameras. The old
be found for moderate prices because of the compatibility problem, it's
nevertheless a very decent lens. They are single-coated and often have
some scratches. The old M39 Zenit Mount
the same thread as ordinary M39 (Leica), but
a different flange focal distance. Please refer to the russian
lens page. The other versions vary a lot price
wise. The later
Helios 44 M series lenses were classed from M with the lowest
resolution (38/19 lpmm) to M-7 (50/30 lpmm, a bit hard to find). The
M-4 has 41/20 lpmm, the
M-6 has 45/25 lpmm, but I could not see much of a difference.
I have looked at the
bokeh. This is my personal judgement, but as there it's also a question
of taste, please judge yourself. All Helios lenses have a nice bokeh at
F2 and until F4. The old 44 lenses are the softest, they have a "ringy"
bokeh, very nice, my 2nd lens is even a bit softer than the first one.
The M has a similar fine bokeh, but has some flare at F8 and higher.
The 44-3 lens has a fine, "ringy" to "leafy" bokeh, the lens has more
contrast than the first 3 lenses. The M4 is fine as well, it has good
contrast. The M6 has a less "ringy" bokeh, it's kind of "feathery", but
very nice if you prefer this. Its contrast is very good. The 103 is
similar to the M6 and has even slightly more contrast and detail.