Swirly Bokeh and more with Helios 44-M4, Zhongyi Lens Turbo and XE-1

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I own the Zhongyi/Mitakon Lens Turbo and had been waiting for what I’d hoped was a beautiful copy of the Helios 44M-4 58/2.  Well, now it is here and it was definitely worth the extra money I paid to get a nice specimen.

I’ll gloss over chronicling the unboxing aside from saying two things:  That the lens arrived with what I assume is a ‘birth certificate’ from the factory.  Both the lens and the plastic case in which the lens arrived smelled (and indeed still smell) faintly of cosmoline.  To those of you who know what cosmoline is without Google, bravo.

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I have been really excited about receiving this lens and trying it out on my X-E1 with the Lens Turbo.  I envision using this combo for fun, when things like ultimate crispness, sterile sharpness and faithful, clinical rendering of every detail are not the key components.  I think it is suited ideally to that task.

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One of the things that drove me batty when shooting with the Lens Turbo and a Pentax SMC 50/2 was the ‘blue dot’ that would appear in shots.  It’s not a fun thing to have to account for and it turned me off from shooting with the LT and the Pentax lens because I couldn’t count on having perfect, soft light.  In conditions WITH perfect, soft light, the little Pentax performs great.

I wanted to investigate how the Helios would perform under similar, harshly-lit conditions.  The M44-4 I own is not one of the multicoated versions, so I wasn’t expecting much.

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This shot of the ’58 Nomad wagon was shot without the Lens Turbo to see how the Helios would do standing up to bright glare, a hot light source just out of the frame (along with bright highlights and sources of glare in the shot) and exposing the shot to the right.  Sun was a hand or two above the roof of this Nomad wagon.  Very film-era-esque ghosting and flares out of this lens due to my lens not having any sort of coatings to protect the glass from the effects of stray light striking the front group.

This is an ongoing project – I haven’t begun to use this lens to its potential – as I have loads to learn about the ‘right’ way to shoot with this great piece of glass to get the most out of it.  Stay tuned for more.

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4 thoughts on “Swirly Bokeh and more with Helios 44-M4, Zhongyi Lens Turbo and XE-1”

  1. Any updates from this combo? I just ordered a similar set (Baveyes and 44-2) to adapt to my X-T1. Hopefully I can get mine to swirl a bit. Do you have more examples?

    1. Hey Shawn – thanks for reading and for the comment! I actually sold the Lens Turbo recently as I have been more and more using the XE-1 with the native Fuji lenses. I kept the 44m4 as it’s just too nice a copy to sell but haven’t shot any manual focus glass for quite some time. Best of luck with your setup – I’d love to see some of your examples!

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