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The Russian Zenit Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens is now available with Nikon F-mount

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The Russian Zenit Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens is now available for F-mount. In the past this manual focus lens could be used on Nikon cameras only with an M42 adapter. Here are the specifications:

  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Aperture: 1:1.5 (max) - 1:22 (min)
  • Field of view: 28°
  • Manual focus, not chipped
  • Focusing range: 0.8 to "∞"
  • Dimensions: 82 x 96mm
  • Weight: 800g/28oz
  • The US price should be around $550 (based on the price of the Canon and Pentax versions)

Head over to Flickr and Fredmiranda for some sample images taken with the Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens. Check also Photozone's review of the M42 version of this lens on a Pentax APS-C camera.

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  • Vitaliy
  • Lomskij

    Is it the one with super funky astigmatism?

    • Nikon Shooter

      In Soviet Russia, lens screws you!

      • Aldo

        damn you beat me to soviet Russia comment :(

    • iseebetter

      This is the one with hilarious publicity photos where you can see all the shoddy lighting gear reflected in each image.

  • Niklas Bergstrand

    Why would someone buy this at all when it’s totally unusable below f/2.8 and has horrible bokeh? All other 85mm lenses are better I guess?

    • Jebagi Erol Paker

      there is 400 US$ tax rebate in Russia, which can be used to buy votka and caviar

      • banzaii

        vodka to clean the sensor and caviar on the front of the lens to create a soft effect?

      • gr8fan

        vodka, with a d, not a t…

        • nemo

          U dumb assES! What’s made in your country ??? credit card debt? MCDONALD?

          You all buy Chinese shit which was AS SOVIET RED AS YOU HAVE NO LITTLE IDEA until recent times! Pick up some books, read history, trash your I phones… get off the internet, get a life…

          There is only Asia, Germany, and Russia producing photo equipment . What’s made in US? Dumb idiots like you who post stupid shit on sites like this! Go ahead and comment on Lomography plastic shit cameras instead !

          • Jebagi Erol Paker

            laughing, enjoying life and being able to buy all those goodies produced elsewhere at cheapest prices is possible in US, while you are cursing everything in a misirable mood.

  • YarRus

    Look great!

  • Hao974

    Finally! :D

    • Marty

      i want it right now ;D

  • Peter

    Thought i love zenit and helios, i have to admit this is such a shit lens, sorry but it just is :(… Go rather pick up a samyang or smt.

  • preston

    Has a swirly bokeh that is super distracting and ugly (and I’m not a bokeh nut by any means). I’d rather pay LESS money and get a nice manual focus Samyang lens that has a focus confirm chip, which is pretty useful when shooting at f/2 or wider.

    • grev

      wow, that is just like your opinion, man.

      • ahuet

        it’s not is opinion, but a fact, the bokeh is awful, and the Samyang is a loooot sharper.

        • BL42E

          No. YOU think the bokeh is awful. That doesn’t make it a fact. You don’t dictate what looks nice and what doesn’t.

          • Mike M

            While bokeh is a matter of taste, calling this bokeh nervous would be an understatement.

        • Genkakuzai

          I love the bokeh actually. Definitely not the cleanest look, but it has a very special feel to it. No focus confirm shit sucks though, I’ll give you that. It’s hard enough nailing focus at f/1.4 WITH one. I still wouldn’t mind having one, but maybe not for that price.

          • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

            That’s what this lens is famous for – unique bokeh.

            • Genkakuzai

              Ya I figured as much heh ^^ Wouldn’t surprise me if I’ve bought one a year from now :P Focus confirm chip would seal the deal for me really

            • Ash

              You dont need that with Nikon cameras, they’re built-in.

          • jc

            I have one converted to Nikon f mount and chipped, mine can focus to infinity without the need of any adapter and has AF confirmation just like an AFD lens

            • Genkakuzai

              Oh that sounds stellar mate. Where did you get it? ^^ That would be pretty much exactly how I use my Samyang, and that one works like a charm!

            • Tomas

              Well i like mine. I use it for portraits mostly, no need for infinity, for that i have the Samyang 85/1.4, the other two lenses are a Biotar 58/2 also known for it s swirly bokeh and a Trioplan 100/2.8, another lens with particular bokeh.

              http://www.pbase.com/tomasg_71

              http://www.pbase.com/tomasg_71

              how can you not like the bokeh? :)))

              http://www.pbase.com/tomasg_71

            • Tomas

              And it looks funky on a D700 :)

            • Tomas

              Sorry for the links, the correct ones are here:

              http://www.pbase.com/tomasg_71/cyclop

              http://www.pbase.com/tomasg_71/sam_hel

            • Genkakuzai

              Looks great! Still curious on where I can get the Nikon F mount version online though. Anyone know?

            • Tomas

              A new one in the first link on top, otherwise there was no Nikon F mount version, but only m39 and m42 mounts, that can be adapted to reach infinity on Nikon F with a lathe.

            • Genkakuzai

              Yeah but the question is, will that bring me focus confirmation? Cause that’s the key issue here. I wouldn’t even dream of using my Samyang 85mm without focus confirmation, at least not under say f/4 or so. Already have a M42 adapter for Nikon, but I still wouldn’t wanna use a lens that fast without any sort of focus assist. I mean, I’m quite sure there’s a reason why half the photos at the image pool for this lens at flickr are out of focus :P

            • Tomas

              The focus confirmation (the green dot) always works, it doesn t matter if the lens has a chip or not, it even works on my D50, it s better with the D700 because it has two additional arrows beside the dot.

            • Aldo

              awesome pictures… I don’t like the bokeh though… funny thing is that I can’t even tell you why

            • Tomas

              It s bokeh is really a hate or love thing. :)

            • Genkakuzai

              Ya it’s definitely a special bokeh, and I’m sure a lot of people dislike it… but I dunno man, it speaks to me in a way I can’t really pinpoint :) Despite having better optics already I do see myself getting this one sooner or later, not as a replacement, but as a complement.

            • Petr Brodík

              Tomas, your bench photo was the one that forced me into buying Helios 40-2. I’ve spent countless nights browsing reviews and photos from the 40-2 and I’ve seen hundreds of photos on dozens of websites, but I still wasn’t entirely convinced (I’d been already using the Samyang 85/1.4 back then). But once I’ve stumbled upon that picture, I didn’t wait for another minute and bought one!

              Do you maybe have a Flickr/Facebook account, where I could add you? I’d love to see more of your work, even snapshots that you don’t consider any good. I’m a bokeh junkie :)

        • Steven Wade

          I know professionals who actually love Helios lenses and that weird bokeh.

    • Graf Almassy

      Ugly? In the good old days we used this lenses and we loved it. If you want vintage-look photos nowadays then make it IN CAMERA!

    • Sahaja

      Really weird aperture blades:

      http://deep-life.ru/helios-40/diafragma.htm

      • http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image

        Those are quite normal, actually. I have two lenses with blades like that. They are more common with rangefinder cameras that don’t close down prior to exposure, but stay closed down or locked up despite exposure. It’s possible that this lens is built more like a rangefinder and doesn’t have a coupled aperture.

        SLR lenses use very light blades that are made to snap open and closed instantly and generally, have to be straight or centrifugally curved.

        • Spy Black

          Sorry, but that is NOT “quite normal”…

          • http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image

            I suppose that you have never used rangefinder lenses before. Many Leica, Canon, Nikon and other lenses from back in the day have aperture blades that look just like that when stopped down. It is certainly different to typical SLR lenses, but hardly odd.

    • compoutereyes

      You sound like a bummer :(

    • malez

      lots of criticism from someone who clearly have no idea how manual focus lens work on nikon cameras.

      the focus comfirm on all nikon cameras works fine, no matter what lens you put on it.

      and just because you don’t know how to work with the special effect of this len’s bokeh, doesn’t mean there won’t be people out there who knows how to make absolutely stunning images with this lens

      • Petr Brodík

        Haha, you just made my day. I’m pretty sure I’ve had more MF lenses on my cameras (and especially Helioses) than you’ve even heard of.

        First of all I only mentioned the cameras I’m using the Helios with, I never said these are the only ones with focus confirmation and metering. And not every Nikon camera is capable of it, so get your random facts straight!

        I also have no idea where the hell did you get that I’m criticising the lens or that I don’t know how to use it. I think I’ve took some pretty decent images with it and as much as I love the Helios for its artistic value, it’s nowhere near the quality of Samyang/Rokinon. Until you’ve used both for a long period of time, you have absolutely no say in this. Deal with it :)

      • Petr Brodík

        Although he has absolutely no say in this, because he never owned both of the mentioned lenses (I doubt he even owns the Samyang), he’s right in a way. Samyang is the superior of the two and is the best choice for the price (which is half of the price of Helios 40-2 at the moment).

        Also not every Nikon camera is capable of metering and focus confirmation. But I guess what you’re saying is that all NEW Nikon cameras work fine.

    • Petr Brodík

      I own both the Samyang 85/1.4 and Helios 40-2. While I’m not a pixel-peeper, I care about sharpness a lot. The Samyang 85/1.4 is hands down better in every possible way. Color rendering, contrast, sharpness, flaring, any aspect you can think of. That’s a fact, not a criticism. Hell, it’s even better than Nikon and Canon versions of 85/1.4. Also I wouldn’t say it’s “pretty usable” from f/2. It’s pefrectly usable at f/1.4 compared to any other brand (except for Sigma, which IMO makes the best 85/1.4 that’s currently available).

      But I still can’t force myself to sell the Helios 40-2, even though I use the Samyang 99% of the time. Yes, it’s awfully soft, there’s only a small circle in the center that’s sharp and everything else is just blur. The default output colors are awful, without a hood from eBay it’s almost unusable outdoors. But its artistic value is just too damn big and it’s got such a unique character. You can’t get that anywhere else. The only possible alternative is to go through dozens of Helios 44 versions and get lucky on a good piece.

      By the way, the focus confirmation works with the Helios 40-2, too (on D7000 and D600). I’m using a cheap M42 adapter from eBay. I’ve also upgraded the lens so I can focus to infinity without an optical adapter.

  • Ryan Hulvat

    This lens looks horrible. For the price find an old Nikon 85.

    • Sahaja

      I’ve got an old scallop barrel 85mm 1.8 Nikkor H-C that was converted to AI.
      Not too bad – and built like a tank.

  • Dan

    Every purchase comes with a free super bowl ring.

    • mikeswitz

      yes, but the engraving is out of focus.

    • AM

      I heard that Putin kept those rings for himself as he thought they were made for him.

  • Kynikos

    Can anybody explain the “40-2″ naming? Went to the site. My Russian is poor, but my wife is actually from there, and neither of us can tell what the number 40 has to do with anything at all. Not the focal length, clearly not the filter size, not the dimensions, etc.

    Thanks.

    • tertius_decimus

      Very long time ago, in a parallel Universe there was Helios 40-1 with M39 screw mount and different coating (single layer, the 40-2 is a multi layer beast).

      • Kynikos

        Thanks very much.

    • banzaii

      IT will take exactly 40 minutes and 2 seconds of using it to decide to return it !

  • Michael Romney

    Get the original that is aluminum. I’ve had mine for years and if you are after the cool bokeh the first Helios model that is non-coated is what you should buy. Really clean used ones are about $400. I had to clean and re-grease the helical and it just rocks! Do not but the new lens folks!

    • Jo

      Is the original in F-mount? Surely you aren’t suggesting us Nikon users to use the M42 mount lens with a glass adapter to make infinity focus. That’s an exercise in futility.

      I like the look of this lens. I would pay maybe $200 for one in F-mount.

  • zeke14zeke

    http://deep-life.ru/helios-40/index.htm
    Review by Sergey Elizarov

  • Spy Black

    I think this is an interesting lens for it’s bizarre optical effects, but it is definitely overpriced. For ~$150-$200 it would be a fun lens to mess with. It is no match for the Samyang as a useable everyday lens however. Other than the 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor-D, nothing can touch the Samyang for gorgeous bokeh.

  • Aldo

    ak-47 is sharper…

  • Jorge

    As an ex-patriot Cuban if I saw a Russian pig laying on the sidewalk I would just step over them, never mind handing those commy bastards over 300 us dollars. We give enough to the Chinese…

  • Genkakuzai

    I actually really like the bokeh and general feel of it. However, I wouldn’t trade my Samyang 85mm f/1.4 UMC for it. That sucker is a steal! On FX in particular.

    • jk

      the best Samyang lens might be the 35mm f1.4 , the 85mm f1.4 is ok but not special.
      I traded it for the 35mm , the 24mm f1.4 is also a good lens but I much prefer the Zeiss 25mm f2.
      and last but not least sample variations among Samyang and Sigma lenses are really bad, if you get lucky you get really good (maybe best bang for your buck ) glass at very very reasonable prices but many times you get bad copies ,with some sort of misalignment of optics or similar issues.

  • StratFF

    Move along test-chart-shooting-internet-photographers, this lens isn’t for you.

  • 0mni

    If you want to shoot with it why bother with native mount or collector’s editions if it can be easily purchased for 30-50$ used… (at list such prices in russia/ukraine/..)

  • Sahaja

    http://www.photozone.de/

    “surely one of the more interesting lenses that found its way to the lab. Technically the lens is no good but naturally there’s still a truth beyond hard facts.”

    “At f/2 and f/2.8 the center quality is very good although the border resolution remains next to non-existent. ”

    The bokeh looks like what you get when you eat some funny mushrooms.

  • jk

    I want to get this 85mm f1.5 for myself , it is so cool.

  • looh

    So the pre-war design is still living well, at least for the Russians…

  • ilya -=-
  • http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image

    It reminds me of the bokeh my Nikkor 85/1,8K Ai converted lens produces. This lens was popular in the 60′s. It may be a bit sharper than the Helios, but overall, the feeling is very similar.

    As a metric for testing, sharpness is important, as is vignetting, and other pits and parts, but none of those make an image that is mean to convey softness, flesh, or mood, look better.

    It depends on the photographer and the subject. Personally, I find this drawing style quite cinematic. I bought the 85/1,8K for that very reason.

  • Ernesto

    Photozone test comments(#’s added by me)
    MTF (resolution)

    As you can see below the Helios shows us a wild ride in terms of resolution. The inner center resolution is good at f/1.5 but the quality collapses beyond. There’s only some sort of color soup left at the borders( f/1.5 498lp, f/2 602lp, f/2.8 605lp, f/4 988lp, worst #’s I’ve ever seen) At f/2 and f/2.8 the usable center portion broadens and the quality reaches very good levels here whereas the borders are still dismal. At f/4 the center quality reaches excellent levels and the borders get finally boosted to good quality. At f/5.6 and more so at f/8 the image quality is very good.

    “There’s only some sort of color soup at the borders” WOW !

    • Ernesto

      LOL, more from the final conclusion:
      Technically the lens is no good but naturally there’s still a truth beyond hard facts. One of the obvious applications for an ultra-large aperture lens is portrait photography. For this purpose you actually don’t really require a super sharp lens and the border quality isn’t all that important here. Within this scope the Helios is pretty usable even at f/1.5 … IF you place you subject into the very center of the image field. The results are “dreamy” here which is sometimes quite desirable. The bokeh (the out-of-focus blur) is pretty good (although not stellar) which also contributes to the effect. At f/2 and f/2.8 the center quality is very good although the border resolution remains next to non-existent.

  • Emmett

    It draws similar to an old Leitz Summicron. It’s definitely not for everyone. Personally, for $550 I’d skip it, but if it were around $200 I might grab one.

    As far as “bokeh” goes, I’m not sure how one can describe it as “good or bad”. Bokeh is what it is. It’s about the way you want to portray your image. Bokeh doesn’t have to be “creamy” to be good. If all lenses drew the same then everyone’s super smooth wide open images would look exactly the same. Go take a look at any fast prime flickr group and you’ll see that the images tend to get quite boring because they all look the same.

    In the rangefinder community people tend to own more than one copy of a certain focal length because of the different way each lens performs. I have three 50mm for my Leica. I pick a lens depending on whether I want a soft dreamy look (Pre-ASPH Summilux), a clinically sharp focus with smooth OOF areas (Zeiss Planar f/2) or a soft focus with harsh bokeh for a vintage film-like look.

    If the lens were more inexpensive I might ad it to my kit as an adjunct to my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 not as a replacement.

  • alex yeung

    Hi guys, do anyone know where that I can order this amazing lens at? Nikon F-mount actually, do they have official website? I saw ebay and amazon they are selling the M42 still.

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