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Helios 44


Helios-44 (Гелиос-44) is a series of standard lenses for SLR cameras, produced from 1949? until 1992 (2001?) in the Soviet Union by KMZ, MMZ, and by Valdai. The Helios-44 is it is considered to be one of most mass-produced lenses in the world. The lens is based on the Carl Zeiss Biotar f/2 58mm design.[1] The Helios-44 f/2 58mm is a 6-element anastigmat, which over the duration of its production was available in both single-coated and multi-coated versions. Helios-44 is has a strong aberration at the margins, resulting in a characteristic 'swirl' which is reminiscent of Petzval lenses.

The nomenclature of all bar the first (silver-cased) Helios lenses follows the formula 'Helios-44X-N', where X -is the index of lens mount (M for M42 thread, K for Pentax K bayonet, Д for Zenit-D bayonet) and N is a optical resolution index 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (the higher number the higher is an optical resolution of lens).


Technical Specifications

Focal Distance: 58mm (may vary in reality).
Aperture Range: ƒ/2 - ƒ/16 (ƒ/22)
Optical Formula: 6 elements in 4 groups.
Angle of View: 40°28
Geometric Vignetting: 58%



The arrangement of the focussing helicoid as well as the aperture selector ring differs between models. In the table below, the arrow ← indicates the direction the aperture control ring needs to be turned to increase the ƒ-stops.



Model


Maker
Lens
Mount


Weight
Number of
Aperture
Blades
Minimum
Focusing
Distance

Maximum
Aperture

Filter
Diameter
Resolution
center/edge
lines/mm

Trans-
mittance

Color
Formula

Sequence
(from lens face)


References
Helios-44 (Start) KMZ Start 230g 13 0.7m ƒ/16 M40.5x0.5 35/14 .81 10-0-1.5 focus, ƒ←
Helios-44 KMZ LTM 230g 13 0.5m ƒ/22
ƒ/16
M49.5x0.75 35/14 ƒ→ , DoF, focus [2]
KMZ Arri PL 230g 13 0.5m ƒ/22
ƒ/16
M49.5x0.75 ƒ→ , DoF, focus
KMZ LTM 230g 8 0.5m ƒ/22
ƒ/16
M49.5x0.75 ƒ→ , DoF, focus
MMZ LTM ¶g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 M49x0.75 ƒ→ , focus [3]
Helios-44-2 KMZ M42 230g 13 0.5m ƒ/16 M49x0.75 38/20 0.82 10-0-1.5 ƒ→ , focus [4]
Helios-44-7 KMZ M42 350g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 M49x0.75 36/17 0.80 10-0-1.5
Helios-44-M KMZ M42 ¶g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 focus, ƒ→
Helios-44M-3 KMZ M42 300g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 38/19 0.80 10-0-1.5 ƒ→ , focus
Helios-44M-4 KMZ M42 300g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 38/19 0.80 10-0-1.5 focus, ƒ→
Helios-44-N KMZ M42 ¶g 8 0.5m ƒ/16
Helios-44X-N KMZ M42 ¶g 6 0.5m ƒ/16 M52x0.75
MC Helios-44K-4 KMZ Pentax K 300g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 42/21 0.85 11-0-0 focus, ƒ→
MC Helios-44M-3 KMZ M42 300g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 0.85 11-0-0 ƒ→ , focus
MC Helios-44M-4 KMZ M42 300g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 41/20 0.85 11-0-0
MC Helios-44M-5 KMZ M42 270g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 41/20 0.85 11-0-0 focus, ƒ→
MC Helios-44M-6 KMZ M42 270g 8 0.5m ƒ/16 45/25 0.90 11-0-0 focus, ƒ→
MC Helios-44M-7 KMZ M42 270g 6 0.5m ƒ/16 M52x0.75 50/30 0.90 11-0-0 focus, ƒ→

Typology of the silver-barrelled Helios-44 lenses (early versions)

The early Helios lenses are housed in aluminium barrels. Reputedly, the serial numbers of the early Helios lenses are structured according to the following pattern:[5]
000xxxx factory test (study) models, prototypes etc..
00xxxxx models reserved for members of the communist party and other "VIPs" .
0xxxxxx reserved for factory syndicat leaders. All lenses with a '0', '00' and '000' prefix reputedly underwent higher quality control.

Additional variations exist in the representation of the serial number prefixes. Observed have been N and , whereby the 'N" appears on some of the earlier models.

Helios 44 (Start)

Mechanically, the Helios lens for the Start SLR differs from all other Helios-44 lenses inasmuch as the focussing ring is up front and the aperture selector at the rear. Moreover, the lens for the Start lacks the preset function of the other early models. Aperture selection with f-stops increasing in clockwise motion.

  • Type 1— f-stops to f/22; bezel text that spells out '1:2 F=5,8cm' with a Cyrillic P (Π) in red, silver front bezel ring. Released 1958.[6]
  • Type 2— f-stops to f/16; bezel text "2/58" and the 'silver' front bezel ring produced by KMZ [7]
Helios-44 (LTM)

Pre-set prime lens. The fixed lens stops have with audible clicks, while the stop-down ring (to check the depth of field) allows for a smooth contraction of the diaphragm. Aperture selection with f-stops increasing in counter-clockwise motion (differs from the Helios version used on the Start)..

  • Type 1—pre-set lens with f-stops to f/22; bezel text that spells out '1:2 F=5,8cm' with a Cyrillic P (Π) in red, silver front bezel ring, sn 000xxxx–0017xxx. Initially used for the KMZ Kristall released in 1961 and the KMZ Zenit 3M.
  • Type 2— pre-set lens with f-stops to f/16
Type 2a—bezel text that spells out '1:2 F=5,8cm' with a Cyrillic P (Π) in red, and a silver front bezel ring, sn 0016xxx [8]
Type 2b—bezel text "2/58" and the 'silver' front bezel ring produced by KMZ
Type 2bi— Cyrillic labelling, ring, sn 0073xxx– [9]
Type 2bii—Latin labelling
Type 2biii—Latin labelling, engraved "Made in USSR'. [10]
Type 2c—bezel text "2/58" and 'black' front bezel ring, 13-blade diaphragm produced by KMZ until the late 1950s, sn –0225xxx
Type 2ci— Cyrillic labelling[11]
Type 2cii—Latin labelling [12]
Type 2ciii—Latin labelling, engraved "Made in USSR'. [13]
Type 2d—bezel text "2/58" and 'black' front bezel ring, 8-blade diaphragm, produced by KMZ until the late 1950s, sn 024447x–
Type 2di—Cyrillc labelling, [14]
Type 2di—Cyrillc labelling, engraved "Made in USSR'. [15]
Type 2diIi—Latin labelling, engraved "Made in USSR'. [16]
Type 2e—bezel text "2/58" and black front bezel ring, 8-blade diaphragm, produced by MMZ until the mid 1960s[17]
Type 2ei— Cyrillic labelling, sn 50xxxxx–60xxxxx [18]
Type 2eii— Latin labelling, engraved "Made in USSR,' sn 50xxxxx–60xxxxx [19]
Helios-44-2 (M42)
Type 1— pre-set lens with bezel text "2/58" and the 'silver' front bezel ring produced by Valdai
Type 1a— Cyrillic labelling[20]
Type 1b— Latin labelling [21]
Type 2— pre-set lens with bezel text "2/58" and the 'silver' front bezel ring produced by MMZ [22]




Sample Images

Notes

  1. At the beginning the lens was to be called "БТК" - "БиоТар Красногорский" (BioTar Krasnogorski).
  2. For photo series see discussion thread for this image
  3. Seen on eBay sn/6012651, English labelling, engraved "Made in USSR'.
  4. Manufactured from 1971 by KMZ and MMZ, in 1974 production moved to Jupiter Optics Valdai, in 1982/83 production moved back to to MMZ
  5. | A Word about Russian Serial Numbers
  6. Seen on eBay: sn/ 0005085 (with Start body #5904339); 0005292 (with Start body #6317417); 0014131; 0014167 (with Start body #6100790); 0016442
  7. Seen on eBay: sn/ 0043802 (with Start body #6388722); 0051838 0052784 (with Start body #6120968); 0057844 (with Start body #6112545); 0063978 (with Start body #6114645); 0060810 (with Start body #6114785); 0069922; 0075924 (with Start body #6119536); 0101830 (with Start body #6315633); 0121214 (with Start body #6226892);
  8. Seen on eBay: sn/0016709; 0018687, 0023907
  9. Seen on eBay: sn/0068221; 0059418; 0158550; 0275085
  10. Seen on eBay: sn/0120173
  11. Seen on eBay: sn/0030453, 0127713
  12. Photographica Collection Dirk HR Spennemann sn/0085902; 0205436
  13. Seen on eBay: sn/0120173
  14. Seen on eBay: sn/02887790
  15. Seen on eBay: sn/0275083
  16. Seen on eBay: sn/0254198, 0275083
  17. MMZ lenses with serial numbers beginning with "N40xxx", "N50xxx" or "N60xxx" were most likely made in 1964, 1965 and 1966 (first number of sn very likely stands for the year of 196x decade).
  18. Seen on eBay: sn/5011275 ; 5014399; 5038818
  19. Seen on eBay: sn/6002494 (on Zenit3M); 6012651, 6024306.
  20. Seen on eBay: sn/8708916
  21. Seen on eBay: sn/79220381; 80003408; 81276436; 81293022
  22. Seen on eBay: sn/7654512.

Bibliography

Машиностроение (1968) Каталог "Любительская фотокиноаппаратура" (Katalog Photokinoapparatura) Moscow: Машиностроение pp. 232–234

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