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Reviews, Tests, Comparisons of Lenses

Comparison and Review: Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC and Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 MC lenses

Lenses:

Helios 44-3 58 mm f/ 2.0 MC   (view specifications)

Helios 44M-6 58mm f/2 MC   (view specifications)

Recently I've got to my hands an interesting lens: Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC. An interesting fact that lens was made on the territory of Belarus. Probably the lens lack of "official" and the semi-official information even in the Internet (relatively to other Helios models).  Even such simple things as weight, not to mention the resolution remain uncertain. In Wikipedia it is put as a direct continuation of Helios 44-2 with the same parameters. In my opinion it's not quite true. For example, due to multi coating (44-2 lack of it but 44-3 have), and look (at least in appearance) quite differently. It this moment I do not have Helios 44-2 but Helios 44M-6 50mm f2.0 MC is available and information about this lens as well. Then I chose Helios 44M-6 MC as a reference. Additional good thing: these lenses are made in about the same period of time (‘90s).

More focus will be placed in this review on the Helios 44-3.

Lenses, which will be discussed:

Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC - MMZ (BelOMO) № 9001822

Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 MC - KMZ № 92139526

Group photo:

Parameters for comparison:

Convenience of usage and mechanical quality

Image sharpness in the center of the frame (100% crop) for a short distance (3m) for open and slightly closed apertures.

Image sharpness in the center of the frame (100% crop) for a long distance (150m) with closed aperture.

Vignetting

A pointed source of light in the background (bokeh)

Flare Resistance

Capability of macro shooting

 

Convenience of usage and mechanical quality

In spite of, so to speak, same DNA addressed lenses are very different. Helios 44-3 looks a little more bulky, though I can't call it as drawback. It really made same as 44-2 scheme: Pre-set aperture ring and second aperture ring located at the front of the lens. Aperture is set only for integer values ​​with no half-stops. It has eight blades in the aperture. The focus ring is wide and for my taste is very convenient. Even its location at the back of the lens does not cause any problem - a Micro4/3 adapter places it far enough from the camera. Focusing ring has no backlash and moves very smoothly.

This, however, is a different from my copy of Helios 44M-6 which focusing ring is moving very tight, probably cleaning and lubrication is needed. The lens doesn't have M/A switch; aperture has a set-up ring which allows semi-stops and a pin for aperture opening. This pin does not produce any troubles (as usual), because my adapter Micro4/3-M42 has a special fixture, which pushes this pin.

Actually optical quality of both lenses is near perfect - no stains, scratches or other defects. Helios 44-3 - front lens coating is blue, the back - purple. Helios 44M-6 - front lens coating is yellowish, the back - also purple.

Image sharpness in the center of the frame (100% crop) for a short distance (3m) for open and slightly closed apertures.

Conditions: indirect sunlight, ISO100, white balance fixed (the sun), Olympus E-PL1, a tripod.

Helios 44-3  f2.0

Helios 44-3  f4.0

Helios 44M-6 f2.0

Helios 44M-6 f4.0

100% crop

In fact, 100% crop leaves no doubt - Helios 44-3 has good sharpness from f2.0 aperture and over score by this parameter Helios 44M-6. Closing the aperture definitely increase the sharpness, but not much. That means f2.0 aperture is fully operational.

Image sharpness in the center of the frame (100% crop) for a long distance (150m) with closed aperture f5.6.

Helios 44-3  f5.6

Helios 44M-6 f5.6

100% crop

This test showed no differences between the lenses. Although this is not expected - for sensor with x2 crop factor "edge" of the frame is actually not an "edge" of the lens.

Both showed good sharpness and no chromatic aberration at sharp transitions from light to dark.

Vignetting

The naked eye detects no vignetting in these lenses (again sensor with x2 crop factor). Therefore, the Photoshop has good option to highlight it - (Posterizing level 4).

It makes vignetting more visual, it appears at f2.0 aperture and stronger for the Helios 44-3. At f4.0 aperture vignetting disappears, and the difference between the lenses gone.

A pointed source of light in the background (bokeh)

Helios 44-3  f2.0

Helios 44M-6 f2.0

This test showed almost identical image for both lenses. These images show a slightly "ghost" circles that degenerate into an oval at the edge of the frame. Previous images show that both lenses have the same torsion background typical for all Helios models. While closing the apertures Helios 44-3 bokeh still retains rounded (or close to it) due to eight blades of the diaphragm. Helios 44M-6 shows the hexagons in the bokeh.

 

Flare Resistance

Both lenses shows quite marginal result in term of resistance to flare. The test was conducted without the hood. At open wide aperture the contrast decreases markedly. Following examples are for Helios 44-3.

Helios 44-3  f2.0

Helios 44-3  f4.0

Capability of macro shooting

By themselves they are not macro-lenses - the minimum focal length is only 45cm for both. However, with macro-rings usage (in the example to be using the average macro ring for M42), it is possible to achieve a good result.

Helios 44-3 f11

Helios 44M-6 f11

100% crop

100% crop shows no advantage to any lens. Helios 44-3 gives a more pleasing bokeh because of the eight blades of the diaphragm.

Ratings:

I have tried to rank the lenses by a five-point system for each of the above parameter. Evaluation of course related to the specific lens and does not purport to be absolute. Exhibiting assessment, I also had in mind I used the other 50mm lenses (you can see the list on my personal page) and tried to be objective as possible.

Parameter Helios 44-3 Helios 44M-6
Convenience of usage 5 4
mechanical quality 4 3
Image sharpness in the center of the frame for a short distance (3m) 5 4
Image sharpness in the center of the frame for a long distance (150m) 4 4
Vignetting 3 4
Bokeh 5 4
Resistance to backlight 3 3
Capability of macro shooting 4 4
Overall 33 30

Conclusions:

Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC is a typical representative of the  Helios 50mm lens family and can be used as a universal lens with an emphasis on portrait for cameras with smaller than FF sensors. It demonstrates good image quality for almost all shooting options. Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC has better image sharpness than Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 MC. Also it can be used as a macro lens with macro-rings.

Here you can see art photos taken by these lenses:

Helios 44-3 58mm f2.0 MC

Helios 44M-6 58mm f2.0 MC

Author: YuriS 28.04.2012 18:27:12
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