Helios 44M is one of the first lenses that started my interest in vintage manual photo lenses for video use. It is a very interesting lens, not only it is one of the cheapest lenses you can buy, but it’s also apparently a Zeiss Biotar copy. The lens optics were based on Zeiss formulas, so these lenses are apparently very sharp, considering you get a good copy. Apparently the quality control was quite poor, so optical quality varies. It is possible that the lens I tested against Canon was not the best optically.
The lens itself is very well built, it’s fully metal, with a nice, long through focusing ring (about 270 degrees). I have 4 of these lenses and a few have slightly stiff focusing rings, so that is something worth bearing in mind.
You can find out a bit more about this lens in a great article I found here. This lens must be the biggest bargain ever. The first Helios 44m I bought, cost me just £3. “Carl Zeiss” quality lens for under £10? That must be the best kept secret in budget filmmaking world, or was I just blinded by “Canon-Only” world around me? If you didn’t know about this lens, now you know, so don’t hesitate even for a second to get one, at £10-£20 what have you got to loose? In the worst-case scenario you can sell it back on eBay.
I will be giving away a few of these lenses in my next giveaway, but if you can’t wait, just pick one up and you won’t regret it.