Helios Turborized! – The Helios 44m-4 w/ Mitakon Lens Turbo Review

So this should be a fun one!

I recently picked up a cheap M42 to MD mount ring adapter. I didn’t know that this was possible, so image my pleasant surprise when I found out that I could use my Mitakon Lens Turbo MD mount with my Takumars in M42 mount!

I did a small image post here using the Takumar 50mm f/1.4. In the comments someone mentioned the Helios! and why I hadn’t thought of that is BEYOND me!!


I reviewed the Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 about a year ago and it is by far the most visited post on my entire blog. People, myself included, just seem to LOVE this lens. One of the reasons being the swirly bokeh effect that this lens is so famous for producing. I wont go into the technical detail of why, since I already wrote about it in my initial review. But since the image is cropped when using a regular adapter on my X-Pro1 (or any other mirrorless APS-C), you don’t get the “far edge swirl” as you would on full frame. Using the lens turbo should be able to fix that.

So what were my expectations going into this little test?

1. SWIRLEY BOKEHLICIOUSNESS – I clearly expected more swirl this time around

2. Degrade in IQ – The Lens Turbo is very soft at the edges.

3. That I was going to shoot into tress alot – I actually did!

4. To have as much fun as I had the first time reviewing this lens.

Russian glass – Get it 😛

Swirley Bokeh

This one characteristic along with a ridiculously cheap pricetag is why many people buy the Helios in the first place. I already showed in my previous review that it is very possible to achieve the effect on a crop sensor if you just get your distances right. But on full frame cameras you will see a lot more swirl, since you don’t get a cropped off image where the outer edges are missing.

The Lens Turbo is a focal reducer so it will let you see the entire uncropped image on your sensor, meaning that the outer edge swirl will still be there, making the effect more pronounced.

In this regard the Lens Turbo/Helios delivered nothing but stunning swirley bokeh. The Lens turbo doesn’t alter the bokeh characteristics at all, and you get nice semi-clean specular highlights with a hint of Nissen ring, just as you would without using the lens turbo. I’ll let the images speak for themselves.










Image Quality degradation

In my original Lens Turbo review I found the image edges of the shots taken using the adapter to be very soft. However I did note that for street shooting and reportage usage and shallow DOF shots it doesn’t matter at all. If you photograph lanscapes, get a proper full frame or medium format. Don’t use the lens turbo, it’s just not at all good enough for that task.

This hasn’t changed when using the helios. The corner sharpness stinks, but center sharpness is great. So I’ll let you decide if it will suit your style of photography. I definitely suits mine, and I have no issues with soft corners.


Tree Shooting and Fun times

My god, did I shoot into tress. People was stopping, looking up, and laughing at me seemingly shooting into blank trees. Can’t say it was my proudest moment as a human being!

I had just as much fun as I did back when I discovered the Helios in the first place. The Lens Turbo / Helios combination is just VERY VERY entertaining to shoot with. Getting proper f/2 DOF and super swirl is just very fun, and it will give your images some characteristics that is very hard to come by in modern day lenses.

Image Samples

 The image samples below are RAW files and have all been processed using LR5. I use the VSCO 04 fujifilm presets for my color images. The black and whites are straight conversions with some shadow lifting and contrast enhancements.




Misfocussed, but I love his style 😀
















So there you have it! The Mitakon Lens Turbo combined with the Helios 44m-4 58mm f/2 will give you some amazing bokeh swirl and some great unique looking images. The combination will not give you corner sharpness, but for streetshooting, portraits and creative shots this combination is fun, fun, fun and will give your images a unique look and feel.