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Helios lens advice


New member
Hi all, I'm new here. There seems to be a myriad of helios-44 variants. I would like to know how they differ from each other and which one do you guys recommend, and why.

The helios 44-2 seems to be the most common model and has very positive reviews. I'm inclined to buy that specific one, but should I buy other instead? What's the difference?


Well-known member
I had a good 44-2 which I sold to a friend after getting a 44-4 as part of a package deal. Very little difference in IQ between these two lenses.

I also have an old beaten-up 44-2 (also a collatoral from another package purchase) where I have flipped the front lens around for a very funky/swirly effect.

The special ones are the earlier aluminum or nickel versions with 13 aperture blades (vs. 8 of the 44-2 and 6 of the 44-4), they tend to swirl and bubble a bit more than the later ones (if that's what you're after) Beware that some of these earlier versions also come in M39 but they are still to be mounted at the same distance from the sensor as the M42 versions and are not "rangefinder" LTM lenses.

In the end they are optically all Zeiss Biotar clones, so maybe the difference between versions is overestimated and normal sample variation underestimated.

This is where my knowledge and experience with these Helios 44 lenses stops, hopefully others can give you more insight.


Active member
Perhaps you've already seen this article?

But if anything, it understates the sheer number of variants, and if your primary goal is to have a lens with plenty of "character", maybe best just to seek out a lens which is in decent condition? I have a MC Helios 44M-4 which is a fun lens with plenty of character at larger apertures, becoming very crisp at f/5.6 or f/8.