Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 | My Favorite Vintage Lens

Above you can see some test footage which I shot with a Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 lens.  In my opinion this vintage Russian lens is very special. It has a very nice look to it and when shooting into the sun it creates very interesting flares that add a lot of character to the footage. It’s not suitable for every scenario, but I think it definitely adds a very cool old-school film look the footage shot with it.  I personally really like the result I was able to achieve with this lens and it’s not just about the flares. The lens is really sharp and close focusing ability makes it a really good lens for close-ups (see 0:49 of the video). The colors are really good too and the maximum aperture of f/2 is great for low light shots. One of the nicest things about this lens though is the fluid aperture adjustment.  This not something that is usually found in photo lenses. It lets you adjust the aperture in a smooth way, so you can easily fine-tune your aperture while recording without a sudden change of brightness. This feature was very handy when I was filming the BMX riders coming into the bright daylight and back under the roof where it was much darker. I was able to adjust the aperture very easily and smoothly without it being obvious in the shot. This a feature that is usually reserved to Cine lenses, so it is so nice to see it in this budget lens. The focus ring on my copy is really smooth and has long through, which meant I was able make really smooth, subtle focusing adjustments, which is what you would usually want from a lens used for video.

A lot of modern auto-focusing lenses have a very short through, which helps the autofocus motors achieve the focus quicker for photography needs, however for video this is actually a big downside, so good old manual lenses are so much better for manual focusing. They also have hard stops, which are important if you use a follow focus and focusing marks. Again, some modern lenses, Canon EF in particular don’t have any hard stops.

I keep telling people that the reason why modern lenses are so much more expensive that the old glass is not only because they have great optics, but also because they have great, fast auto focusing motors, which obviously makes a massive impact on the price. After all, these are photography lenses made for modern sophisticate cameras with fancy auto focusing systems. I said it before and I’ll say it again: if you are only doing video work with you DSLR then there is really no need to buy modern Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, etc glass. You can get so much more for your money if you invest into manual lenses and they don’t have to be as cheap as this Helios. Even very popular manual Nikon and Zeiss lenses will cost so much less that a modern equivalent which will not necessarily be better for video work.

If you are on a tight budget though, I highly recommend this Helios 44-2 58mm lens. It is a great mid/close up lens and it is so cheap that anyone can afford it.

Helios 44-2 58mm f/2.0Helios 44-2 58mm lens on eBay




I try my best to make this website a great resource people interested in vintage lenses for video use, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it will help you save some money on your future lens investments. I’ve joined the ebay partnership program to help me run this website and fund my monthly lens giveaways, so if you found this post useful and would like to help me produce more similar content, please use the links in this post if you’re planning to buy one of these lenses or use this link if you want to buy anything else on eBay. You will not be spending a penny more using these links, while still helping me as I will get a small percentage from any purchase or successful bid you make. A win-win solution for everyone!

37 Responses to Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 | My Favorite Vintage Lens

  1. Very nice job on this video and article. I noticed that there are several different version of this lens, 44-2, 44-4m, 44-6, 44-7 etc. Do you know if the 44-2 you recommend is “better” or “worse” than the other ones? What is your opinion?

    • Hey Stephan. Personally I prefer the Helios 44-2 which has the step-less aperture ring on the front unlike the 44m model. I haven’t tried all the models you mentioned, but the difference between this is usually: construction, older/newer models, the ones with M have multi-coating on them. The most widely available models are the 44-2 and 44m. I tested both and I like both a lot. I’m sure you will be very pleased with either of them because they have such a pleasant character. I always say that Helios 58mm should be in everyone’s kit bag! 🙂

  2. So i finally was able to get my hands on a Helios 44-2 actually new from Russia. I am so glad you spoke so highly of it and encouraged me to get it. I LOVE IT! I look forward to getting more of these exciting vintage lenses. Thank you for you research and for providing this website!!

  3. Hi, in your opinion which would be a vintage option for the 700$ sigma 18-35. Fast zoom, good quality, maybe even more focal length that the sigma for say not more than 350-400$? For an Apsc camera.Thanks in advance!

  4. Hi Alan, Great to see some actual footage (and in particular from Southbank) – I was wondering if you know anything about what versions of this lens that would suit FX Canon cameras? – I have tried both the M and the -2 without much luck and I am aware that there are at least four other versions out there…



  5. Thanks for the post. Loving your site!

    Quick one. I want to get one of the Helios 44 lenses to go on both my 5Dmk3 and my A7s but have read that some of the lenses aren’t compatible with the 5D and will hit the mirror. How do you tell?

  6. Thank you for the article, a question.

    I ordered a helios 44-2, it came yesterday. silver finish, serial is 83152735, Russian lettering, MMZ factory. My initial reactions are that this is not a great copy. How do I tell for sure?

  7. great video. thanks for sharing. It brought me to buy some Helios lenses for my nex 5n. I like the results I produce but I have always problems (due to the non existent image stabilizer in my cam and of course not in the helios) that the shots are not smooth and more shaky/ wobbly.
    your shots in the video look great and smooth. how did you hold the camera this smoothly and even being able to adjust focus and apperture?

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