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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Misfocussed, but I love his style 😀

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Conclusion

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.

jr050680

32 thoughts on “Helios Turborized! – The Helios 44m-4 w/ Mitakon Lens Turbo Review

  1. Your Helios 44M-4 is a better one than mine.. I did the same trick Mitakon -> Minolta P-adaptor -> M42 lens and the overall sharpness except for maybe the center 9th is completely washed out and useless on the Helios. My Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 on the other hand is super sharp, so it is not the lens turbo..

  2. I love your pics if the trees! The Bokeh is just so good… I may would like to try this Mitakon with my rokkor lenses one day…

  3. This is great! I’ve been sitting on the fence for picking up a lens turbo, but seeing it can do both Minolta and M42 Takumars is sweet. I also have a Helios M6. Thanks for the review and great images.

  4. Really interesting review. However, I can’t find this adaptor on eBay: there are A LOT for Sony NEX but Fuji X ones are quite rare. Where did you buy yours ? Thanks

  5. Is there any chance that rear element will hit Lens Turbo’s glass? I look forward focal reducing my Helios copy onto Canon 550D or Panasonic G6.

  6. What a fun post! I tried looking for a M42 to MD ring, as I also have a MD/NEX Mitakon Turbo. But the rings I found say you can’t focus to infinity. Does your ring allow you to focus to infinity? If so, could you share the make of your ring and where you bought it. Many thanks!!

    1. Hi Alex, I have the exact same set up as you (MD/NEX LT) using a M42/MD adapter ring for my Helios 44-2, and have no trouble reaching infinity focus, in fact i believe it focuses past infinity by “half a milimeter” on the lens. My copy was the cheapest i could get hold on on ebay (M42/MD).

  7. Great post and very interesting since i just got my Helios 44-2 🙂 btw i like the photo with the parked cars, one being parked in a rather special manner 🙂

  8. I can’t seem to find any Mitakon Lens Turbo M42 – FX adapters. Im thinking is it possible to get a nikon version and put a Nikon f – m42 adapter within that adapter. Does the glass on Mitakon Lens Turbo is specific for each brand? Would the pictures come out good if i use another Mitakon Lens Turbo adapter?

  9. Wrong lens to do such a test. The Helios 58/2 is almost a 70 year old design that never won any medals for its sharpness. I use the Mitakon Turbo with my Nikkor fixed lens and results are quite surprising, if the lens is closed down. Like you say, it is ideal for street photography, but not with an average/weak lens like the Helios.

  10. Thanks, this is awesome, I just bought myself a 44m-4 for my xt1, turbo is on its way.

    Question: you know how the Helios has that aperture control button on the back of the lens– do you need to modify that in order to change aperture when it’s hooked up to the Turbo?

      1. So I got the Fotodiox adapter, and the Mitakon turbo v2, and both of these compress the aperture control pin when attached, so the aperture change works fine. No mod necessary!

      1. I purchased this one which I think is the newer version of the one used in this article:

        http://www.adorama.com/MTKLTM2M42FX.html

        it’s on back order at adorama, they tell me they should have some in in a few weeks.

        while I’m waiting I have been using this simple adapter:

        https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B008BBI7D2/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

        it works great actually, perfect fit, and when attached it depresses the aperture pin of the lens so no modification necessary to have a functional aperture ring.

        The lens I got appears to have never been used (it’s pristine) – the only downside is the focus ring is pretty darn stiff to turn. still quite usable, but could be more pleasant.

      2. This is the turbo I purchased: http://www.adorama.com/MTKLTM2M42FX.html
        I think it’s the newer “version 2” of the one used in this article.
        It’s on backorder from Adorama but they tell me they should have some in a few weeks.

        In the meantime I have been using this adapter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BBI7D2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00
        It’s actually excellent, fit is perfect, and when attached it depresses the aperture control pin on the Helios so no need for modification to have aperture control.

        My Helios is in pristine condition, it looks like it’s never been used. The only downside is the focus ring is quite stiff – still usable, but it could be more pleasant.

  11. Mitakon has a new 35mm f/0.95 Speedmaster lens for Fuji X-mount camera, would you made a review? Really interested.

    Cheers,

  12. It looks like you cannot get infinity focus when adapting a M42 lens to Minolta md mount.
    I tried without the screw-on adapter, whacking the the lens, I cannot go further the little mount dents of my MD Lens turbo or regular MD -> M43 adapter.

    I’m wondering how did you achieved that.

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