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This summer I picked up my first vintage lens, the Helios 44-2 58mm. I was a little apprehensive at first. Having purchased the item from eBay for only £49.30, there was a chance it could be in poor condition or not even fit my camera.

The listing advertised the lens with a Sony NEX (E) Adapter. After a little bit of digging I found that this is suitable for my Sony A7iv camera. I hit the purchase button and awaiting patiently for delivery.

Fortunately my Helios 44-2 58mm lens arrived just in time for my trip to Central France. A stunning place to be when it comes to testing new (or vintage) photography and videography equipment.

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sony a7iv with helios lens example photos

My First Thoughts

Upon arrival and unboxing of the lens, I thought “this is awesome”. It came in a lovely leather case marked “Tamron”. Now I’m no genius by any stretch, but I get the feeling this isn’t the original case that comes with the Helios 44-2 58mm lens.

leather tamron lens case

The lens itself is made of a tough metal and makes it easy to see how these pieces of glass have stood the tests of time. Also stamped on the side is “Made in USSR”. This proves the age of the lens as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) ceased to exist in 1991.

Initially I was impressed with the quality, build and overall feel of the lens. It screamed “vintage cinema” and many other exciting image capture capabilities at first glance.

My First Helios 44-2 58mm Lens Photos

My first full day playing around with this lens was great fun. I’d just arrived in France where I’d be staying with my Uncle Darryl. He lives in the middle of nowhere. A small commune near Lyon called Trézelles.

While cooking food on a barbecue on a tiki-torch lit evening, I whipped out the Helios 44-2 58mm to see what it was capable of in low light. I was amazed to say the least. The image quality produced was almost on par with my Sigma 56mm f1.4 which you can read more about by clicking here.

Blown aware by the bokeh, sharpness and stunning separation of subject and background, I knew I had made the right choice by purchasing this lens.

vintage lens photo examples

Shooting in Daylight with the Helios 44-2 58mm Lens

As the next morning came I couldn’t wait to go exploring in the local area with my new toy. Also in my backpack were my Sigma 56mm f1.4 and Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lenses. Each of these I travel nowhere without and use for the majority of my work.

helios 44-2 58mm people photography examples

Day Two in France would be a true test to see if the Helios could replace either of these iconic pieces of photography equipment moving forward. While sampling some of the local cuisine outdoors, out comes the camera with the vintage lens attached. Below are a few examples of images captured during this outing.

Helios 44-2 58mm Lens for Architecture Photography

I’m forever reading in online forums that you need a wide lens for shooting architecture. With my Sigma 56mm f1.4 lens I’ve had over 10 images feature in the Architecture Category and Editorial (Home Page) of Unsplash. The world’s largest free stock photo platform.

The result was upwards of 25 million views in my first 18 months of using the platform. 10+ million of these came from just one image alone which I’ve linked to below on my Instagram page. The image was also feature as their “Photo Of The Day” and spent 24 hours as the hero image on the Unsplash landing page.

adam rhodes photographer unsplash photo of the day

Super proud moment for me as an up and coming photographer. Before I ramble on any further about this, it’s merely to prove a point. A lens is what you make it it. Any subject can be photographed with any lens. To what extent is a different matter. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

On the third day of Christmas… Wait, no. The third day of my holiday, we ventured into the stunning historical city of Vichy. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, wrought iron balconies and glorious sunshine and lighting at every turn. What more could a wandering photographer ask for?

Anyway, enough jabbering about the joys of spending the summer in France armed with my camera and lenses. Here are some architecture photography examples taken with the wonderful Helios 44-2 58mm lens.

architecture photos with helios lens
helios 44-2 58mm architecture photography

Is the Helios Lens good for Wildlife Photography?

The short answer is, I’m sure it can be. Unfortunately I’m yet to put it to the test. Maybe I need to get out into the wild a little bit more with it and find out properly. Again, I understand that certain lenses are more suited to specific types of photography.

With a 58mm lens on a full frame camera you don’t have much change of capturing a Chinese Water Deer or Barn Owl up close. But you can definitely put it to the test when passing animals that are a little less weary of human presence. In the meantime, here’s a picture of a lovely cow I took to give you an idea.

helios lens wildlife photography

Once I have more examples of animals and wildlife photos taken with the Helios 44-2 58mm lens I shall put together another article.

Does the Helios 44-2 58mm Lens Have Auto Focus?

Unfortunately this is one of the only things missing with this lens. The Helios 44-2 58mm does not have any built in autofocus. Everything on the lens is completely manual. This includes the manual aperture ring towards the front of the lens.

If filming video with the Helios, be sure to grab yourself a variable ND filter. The Helios 44-2 58mm filter size is 49mm and I personally recommend K&F Concept filters for both photography and videography.

Can I Shoot Video With The Helios?

Not only can you shoot gorgeous photos with the Helios, but also incredible cinematic videos. Below is a quick example of the only video I’ve had time to shoot with it so far. I’m in the process of writing a few shorts which I plan on shooting entirely with the Helios 44-2 58mm as a test to see what it is capable of.

Helios 44-2 58mm Lens Review Summary

I think you all know where this is going. Even if the lens wasn’t half as good as what it is, at £50 or less it is an absolute steal. Grab yourself one of these as quickly as possible. Screw it, get yourself two or three. Like shares I’m sure they’ll just go up in value as they once again gain popularity amongst photographers and videographers.

As mentioned above, the only downside to this lens is the lack of auto focus. But what do you expect? It’s a vintage lens which holds its own against many modern pieces of glass. Even if this is your very first alternative lens away from your camera’s kit lens, it is one well worth investing in.

Here are a few more photo examples taken with a new entry into my top five favourite lenses, the Helios 44-2 58mm. All the way from the USSR.

helios vintage lens photography
44-2 58mm lens photo examples


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