Helios 40-2 85/f1.5

Helios 40-2 85/f1.5 is Russian portrait lens for old M42 screw mount SRL cameras. There are apparently four different editions of this lens. There is Helios 40, Helios 40″B”, Helios 40-2 and Helios 40-2 export. I have the last version of them – Helios 40-2, which differs from Helios 40-2 in roman inscription on the lens instead of Russian.

Helios 40-2 85/1.5 wide open

Helios 40-2 85/f1.5 Specifications:

Focal length in 85mm
Lens fitting: M42
Apertures: 1.5 – 22
Angle of view: 28°
Focusing range: 0.8m to Infinity
Mount type: screw mount M42
Filter thread: 67mm
Weight: 1,185g

Picture quality

This lens is really amazing, very well built, hefty, optics are great, sharp even wide open and it creats beautiful swirly bokeh. And that beautiful bokeh is the reason I got this lens so I could create portrait images out of ordinary.

Have to say that there are two other lenses in my bag that have that swirl in the bokeh, but it is not so pronounced as with Helios 40-2. It is my beloved SMC Pentax FA 77/1,8 Limited and SMC Pentax FA* 200/2,8 IF&ED. Here are some photographs for comparison.

Pentax MZ-S with SMC Pentax FA 77/1,8 Limited on Kodak Portra 400NC

Pentax MZ-S with SMC Pentax FA* 200/2,8 IF&ED on Fuji PRO 400H

Pentax MZ-S with Helios 40-2 on Kodak Portra 400NC (converted to B&W in post)

Focusing Helios 40-2

It takes some getting used to manual focusing after being spoiled by autofocus, and one has to check very carefully the focus point because at f1,5 the depth of field is really shallow.

What is quite unusual about this lens it its two aperture rings where one sets the aperture value and the other serves for actual closing of aperture blades. The closing is smooth with no clicks between the apertures values. Uncommon is also its physical positions on the lens – it is kind of switched with the focus ring. I am used to set the apertures on the ring closer to the camera body and focus with the outer ring, but on this lens the focusing ring is the one close to the camera body and the aperture on is on the other end.

(to be continued in part II)

Katarina Souto Mera