I'm looking to buy a Helios 44 series 58mm f/2 M42 lens for my Nikon D600 and will be mounting it using an M42 to F-mount adapter.

I'm primarily buying this lens for portraits due to the interesting swirly bokeh effect it produces.

There seem to be multiple versions of this lens - 44, 44-2, 44-3, 44-4, 44-5, 44-6 and 44-7 and I'm confused about which one is the sharpest and has the "swirliest" bokeh. I've also searched around on Google, but there seem to be conflicting opinions this regard. In some cases I've read that the newer versions (44-6, 44-7) are sharper but have lesser swirly bokeh effect as it was considered a flaw.

Any opinions will be welcome from individuals knowledgeable in this regard.


I propose to add to the list of Helios 77m-4 50 mm f/ 1.8 МС. It differs little from the 44-series (including the price). I have this lens (+ Sony Nex), I am very pleased with its bokeh. Examples of photos (not mine) can be found here: http://lens-club.ru/gallery/lens/c_490.html

IMHO it is the best choice.

Returning to the 44-series. It should be divided into two sections (at least): 1. 44-2 and 44-3 (with swirly bokeh) 2. 44M-4, 44M-5, 44M-6 and 44M-7 (without swirly bokeh or usually without)

Russian description and examples of photos http://lens-club.ru/lenses/brands/c_41/p_1.html

I have 44M-4. I did not get to take a picture with swirly bokeh

Some sites report that 44-2 and 44-3 differ only in design frames, 44M-4 and 44M-5 as well. 44M-5, 44M-6 and 44M-7 labeled after assembly on the actual parameters.

It may be added that characteristics of the specific copies of the same model may differ quite strongly (in mind the age and features of soviet-made)

  • 44-2 and 44-3 both have an 8-blade aperture, the difference being that 44-3 was available as MC (with multi coating). (I have not seen a 44-3 without, but with the variability of these lenses I'm not sure if that might not exist, too)
    – C.O.
    Jul 2 at 1:29

It is 44 and 44-2 that are legendary. I have Helios 44-2 (I'm sequoiagrove) and it is very nice. However, I must say that as a Nikon user you have the wrong camera for vintage lenses. You can only use them for macro, otherwise, to focus infinity you need a bad adapter with a cheap not-fit-for-photography lens in it.

  • Thanks for the reply Michael. I'm aware that I won't be able to focus to infinity without an adapter with a corrective glass element. As I'll be primarily shooting portraits, I won't need to focus to infinity very frequently. I'm mainly buying the lens for the interesting bokeh it produces. Dec 11 '13 at 9:57
  • 1
    I'm years late finding this answer, but you can get infinity-modded Russian lenses… from Russia, these days. I've got one from a company called Iron Glass (not meant to be a spam plug, just a satisfied user) who strip, trim & otherwise fiddle with old Helios lenses to make them fit Nikons & still focus to infinity.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 21 '20 at 16:22

I know this is a bit late to answer your question, but I do so in case someone else happen ask the same thing.

I own a Helios 44K-4, but this is because it has got a Pentax K-mount.

Here is a link where you can find out more about the Helios 44 lenses in general. Make sure you scroll down and also read the comments following the list of lenses.


You can also do a search on the Internet using the phrase "best helios 44M lens".

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