Trialling a Helios Manual Focus Lens

Today I had a treat – a wander in the gardens with a local photographer who taught me about his vintage manual lenses.

All these shots were taken on a Helios 44-2 with a Canon adaptor to fit my 7D MK II.

This lens is a manual focus lens with a particular swirl effect noticeable in the bokeh (can see it quite clearly in the image above) which was apparently due to a fault in the manufacturing process.  Photographers being the contrary creatures they are, have decided this is a desirable feature and you can buy these lenses for quite cheap pricing.

The working distance was around 25-30 cm and I found it very difficult to accurately focus on a small subject through the viewfinder.  Unfortunately my Live View wouldn’t work with this lens, so did the best I could, and had to wait patiently for the wind to stop, to maximise sharp shots.

Using these lenses was a good experience.  I don’t usually shoot in Manual mode so this was different from my usual process.  It highlights the necessity of knowing your exposure triangle, and having to adjust the shutter speed to get the right exposure for different light conditions.

I like how it really makes you slow down, and think about your process – the composition, the light, the aperture, the shutter speed.  Forces you to *be* in the moment, rather than click and move on.

This shot of a tiny new fern has the swirly effect visible here.  The fern is about 10cm at its tallest point.  I liked how it was so bright green and isolated from the background.

The first 4 images were shot at F 2.8.  This last one is shot around F5 approx – this lens has a manual aperture ring as well as the focus ring, so I just dialed it around til I got the necessary depth of field I wanted in this image.  These ferns were quite big and at the back of the clump, so I couldn’t get the tripod any closer.

Most of these are not 100% sharp but I am OK with that.  The swirly bokeh is an interesting effect.  Given these lenses are extremely cheap, it is not an unaffordable option to add for a different and creative approach.

Do you shoot with these old vintage lenses?  If so, what do you like about them?


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Trialling a Helios Manual Focus Lens

  1. Nato says:

    Nice shots! And interesting info. I never knew a lens would do that.

  2. Excellent images! And informative reading!

  3. Robyn G says:

    Stacey I love these shots! The Helios was my birthday wish for this year. It hasn’t come yet 😜
    Sounds like a wonderful day out!

  4. alrharris says:

    I love the shallow depth of field. I use older Canon FD lenses on newer Canon 35mm film camera bodies with adapters too. The EOS-1, EOS-100 and more recently the EOS M3 (along with the fun Canon A1). The 28mm or 50mm FD lenses on the newer EOS cameras brings about the same effect … I feel like a new world opens up every time I head out with this setup. Nice pics.

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