Thursday, 6 February 2014

Helios 44m 58mm f/2 on Fujifilm X-E1

Fuji X-E1 in iron curtain

As told in previous post, I bought a new lens and the lens will be the Helios 44m 58mm f/2.Helios 44m is a vintage lens that is produced in the USSR by Jupiter with M42 screwmount. So basically this is lens that is much older then me.In fact is a lens that is far before Auto focus technology exist. This lens is definitely build like a tank and will make all the modern lens feel like plastics. Mounting it on Fujifilm X-E1 wiill turn the X-
E1 into Russian tank. In order to use this lens on Fujifilm X-E1,we need to use an adapter to convert Fuji X-mount to M42 mount. Just drop by to Ebay to find these adapter. There are a lot types of adapter available in the market but I just get one of those budget one and it will still get the job done.

Anyway this post will be sort of a user review for using Helios 44m on Fuji X-E1
Using Helios 44m 58mm f/2 will provide a 86mm focal length in 35mm equivalent.
58mm focal length on a Fuji X-E1 is rather long since I am only using a 35mm Fujinon XF lens all the while.

Helios 44m

Next, using this lens also means I will lost the ability to auto focus and shoot on full manual focus only. So the focusing speed will rely heavily on the photographer eye and hand. On the other hand, The focus peaking that is available in Fuji X-E1 (Do update you fuji X-E1 to the latest firmware for the focus peaking feature) definitely make the manual focusing much easier and faster. Thank you Fujifilm for the firmware update but I hope the next firmware update will allow us to choose different color for focus peaking. I also use the magnification features to ensure I nail the focus.

Using this lens on Fuji X-E1 is actually a very nice combination. First of all, this lens do produce beautiful and smooth bokeh. This lens is famous for it trademark bokeh which is also known as the swirly bokeh. Somehow, the swirly bokeh can only be create under certain circumstances. It is also believe that not all Helios 44m can produce the swirly bokeh. I cannot be confirm about that but even without the swirly bokeh, the bokeh that this lens produce is still gorgeous. I am also lucky to found one with 8 bladed iris hence it is suppose to produce smoother and more beautiful bokeh and it definitely do.

Bokeh ballss (SOOC)

Wooden Peg (SOOC)




Other then the bokeh, this lens is also pretty sharp. I did not do any scientific testing but it is sharp enough for me especially in portrait shooting. Wide open at f/2 do not produce a very sharp image but it is not soft either. It is very acceptable for portrait shooting or street photos but if you can always shoot it at f/4 or f/5.6
to get some very sharp photos therefore the sharpness of of the photo produce is definitely awesome. It will not match a lot of the modern lens available in the market such as the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 (or even the coming Fujinon 56mm f/1.2) but still, it is awesome and perfectly usable.



 Four corners

On the other hand, using vintage lens like this one, we must be ready to face some flare issue especially when shooting against the light source but this problem can be solve after some simple post processing. The lens also produce photo that is less contrast compare to the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 but again, this can be easily solve through post processing. We are definitely lucky to live in time like this.

Purple Minion

Watch your back

Minion Catch

There is one more problem that most Helios 44m lens faced and it will be the focusing mechanism. The Focusing mechanism of Helios 44m is not very smooth and tight. In the beginning when I bought the lens, the focusing mechanism is so tight that u might remove the lens from the mount by just trying to focus it (remember it is a screw mount and focusing is like turning loosen or tightening a screw). But this problem can be solve with some maintenance. Basically, you have to open the lens and put some lubrication in the focusing mechanism. You can find a lot of information about servicing the lens in the web by using Google. I also tried a few easy ways to re-lube it but the mechanism is still not smooth enough yet but it is usable. To prevent from tearing it down completely, I used liquid type fabrication such as WD-40 and some liquid type white lithium grease. WD-40 tend to work in the beginning but after some time, the focusing lost the smoothness again. Although it is not as smooth as after the service, the focusing mechanism is not as tight as previous and still usable. Then I tried, liquid form white lithium grease but it do not make any different.....maybe because the white lithium spray I used is not high quality type??? Anyway, I will try again with other lubricant next time when the mechanism get even tighter. However, if you are interested to tear up the entire lens, do check out this video, Helios 44-2 refurbish for more detail information.

 The time when I purchase this lens, Fujifilm did not announce the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 yet hence this lens is used to replace that particular focal length. This lens IQ is definitely not better then the Fujinon XF56mm or even match the quality of that lens, but it is definitely usable lens. In fact, it is not only usable, this lens actually create some very special photo. I believe every lens have their own unique redition and Helios 44m definitely have some very special rendition. The swirly bokeh is also awesome if you can get it but some people do find them disturbing though. Still it can produce some very unique and beautiful photos. Nevertheless, this lens is so much more affordable compare the new Fujinon 56mm. So, if you are a budget photographer that is interested to try out some new lens and willing to give up auto-focus, Helios 44m is definitely one lens you should try. Anyway, enjoy more photos produced by Helios 44m and Fuji X-E1 combo.

Helios 44m

Ohh hoo hoo

joyful turn


modern gamer,traditional gamer

look up

what is that

Look,whats that?

That all for this post. Hope you enjoy the photos. Anyway, All the product of Helios 44m and Fuji X-E1 is shot on Fujifilm X10. Anyway, I would definitely hope to try out more Vintage lens. The photo produce from vintage lens really have some very special feel to it. There are definitely more vintages lens review to come but if you have any suggestion on what lens I should try, do drop me a comment or an E-mail.
Thanks you and have a great days ahead.

If you are interested to check out the street photo produce using this combo do check out, 2014 first street photo: occupy beach street and Morning streets. Enjoy :)



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