Helios m44-4 vs Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM – Lens review

I bought the Helios m44 lens some time ago and eventually made it work on my Canon EOS 40D by screwing it on an adaptor ring with an autofocus confirmation chip.

I was so touched to see it came to life on the EOS 40D. It just like the grandfather reunion with the lost grandson.

In the first few shots taken by the Helios m44, I found it was not bad at all in terms the color, sharpness and contrast.

helios m44 color

I compared its performance with my old companion – Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM.

Helios m44 vs Canon 50mm

The first thing to find out is how “swirl” the bokeh produced by the Helios m44 could be. The two pictures below were taken by the Canon and the Helios. The apertures were both set to f2.

helios m44-4 bokeh effect

helios m44-4 bokeh effect

Canon EF 50mm bokeh effect

Canon EF 50mm bokeh effect

How do you like the swirl background at the far end of the picture?

I randomly took some photos along the street and found the flaring of Helios was quite significant.

helios flaringI then made a small investment and put rubber hood on it. The filter size is 52mm.

Helios hoodIt is extendable.

Helios Hood extendedIt is only $1.5 at taobao.com. Shipping not included.

By then the lens could work happily under bright light.

The macro was also impressive.

helios macro


helios-m44-4 sharp

helios-m44-4 macro

The same yellow flower was taken by the Canon and Helios lens at a different angle.

helios bokeh 2canon helios bokeh 2

You may be able to tell the upper photo was taken by the Helios from the swirl bokeh. In terms of picture quality, the $300 Canon EF lens could hardly outperform the $30 Helios m44 by 10x.

In black and white, the Helios is equally impressive.

helios bokeh shape


Canon bokeh shape

Again, the upper one is taken by the Helios. The bokeh light patches are oval. The Canon, at the bottom, gives circular light patches. The sharpness and contrast of the two lenses are just too close for the Canon to justify is price tag. Yeah, I know the Canon is a super fast auto focusing lens with ultrasound motor and the Helios is a grandfather lens with only manual option.

The Helios m44 is an over-produced lens. They are floating around in the second hand market excessively. There are  a series of seven models spanned in its production life. The characteristics of each model is slightly different. You may find detailed comparison at Camerpedia.

jr photography shows great bokeh photos of the Helios m44.


Helios m44-4 vs Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM - Lens review
Article Name
Helios m44-4 vs Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM - Lens review
A review of Helios m44-4 vs Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM. The unique swirl bokeh, flaring of Helios m44 reviewed. The macro and black and white photos taken by Helios.

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