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Helios 44m – 4 | Review

Helios44m-4 WP (1)


     The Helios 44m – 4 was built in the old USSR and were usually supplied with Zenit Cameras.  They were built after the famous Carl Zeiss Biotar after the Russians bought the rights to make copies from the German manufacturer.  I decided to buy this specific model because i loved how the 44m performed so I figured why not, lets try this one (and the 5,6, to come).  I own all of them now in the 44 series and will review them here at Lens Hooche Reviews.  The Helios 44m – 4 was made from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s and was produced at several Soviet plants like KMZ, MMZ, Belomo and Valdai.  For this test run i have been using the Fotodiox Pro m42 type 2 adapter with my Sony A7C II.

Technical Specifications:

  • Focal Length: 58mm (87mm on APS-C)
  • Focusing Distance: Ranges from 0.5m to infinity.
  • Aperture: F/2-f/16
  • Lens Construction: Metal
  • Weight: 250g 
  • Filter Thread Size: 52mm
  • Year Built:  This copy i am reviewing was most likely built 1986 based on the serial number.

Build Quality:

  •  The outer casing is made of thick metal with an inner layer of plastic casing.  The Russians prioritized robustness which explains why many of these lenses are still around and in excellent condition today.


Price for the Money:

  • I paid $68 for this lens.  This is the market rate for this lens at this condition at the time of publishing this blog post.  I got it from the same seller to be able to save on shipping with the Helios 44-3 (review incoming at a later date).


User Experience:

  • This lens is for M42 mount cameras.  You need to be patient but you will get a very rich colorful shot with good lighting conditions.  Dont bother once the lights have gone down unless you have your own professional light set up.  You have to be patient when shooting with these types of lenses but sometimes i got a very wonderful surprise.  The shots below are not edited, some of the plants i shot came out ready to be featured in magazines.  You can get really good shots with the sun out, yet once i got inside my room to test it with regular lighting the performance drops. The lens is pretty lightweight.  I paired it up with the M42 FotodioX Pro adapter and I had no issues either with the weight of my set up or image resolution.  Its pretty lightweight with this lens and adapter combo.  I recommend a tripod when you are using this lens for video and even stills to avoid the shaky look.  One tiny movement on your hand and boom, image is useless.  I deleted a ton of images i took with very limited shake on my hand but the ones i captured and kept are beauties.  I did try video on this and it looks a bit like watching the backyard from an 80s show.  You have to move slow or image distorts but it still gives you that old school look.


The Lens Hooche Verdict

  I like this lens.  Image quality drops with poor lighting so just make sure you are either shooting with the sun or with good artificial lighting.  I gave it a 4 because the 44m is just a better lens.  This lens is probably from the Valdai factory so i definitely noticed the difference in quality between this one and my 44m made in the MMZ factory.  However, my favorite image so far produced with these helios lenses still comes from this lens (posted above).   Get it if you dont have one.

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