Zenit-E with Helios 44-2 lens

Well for this one I have a lot to say. My first touch to photography, my age, first owner, very interesting lens, just feels right in your hand not like all the DSLRs which every year feels cheaper and cheaper to hold and operate. The world is getting into the wrong direction. Somebody comes and sells the idea of making everything green and "more affordable" and there you go- cheap plastic, cheap glass elements, cheap cheap cheap.... Do Not Like It! Photography is like leaving a trail behind you which means you have to have at least a little bit of passion to do it. Making 1000 photos a day with 11 frames per second and 160 photos in a buffer and forgetting about them in a week is just not right. So manufacturers please stop making garbage and go back to the essence of photography. Make 3 cameras- cheap, mid class and top quality. Then you will save on production cost and open more room for actual improvement! Or maybe manufacturers can do even better:

  • point and shoot category - 2 options
  • street photography - 2 options
  • gossip paper version 1 option with 1000 fps and 2000 pictures in buffer :)
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Anyway back to the camera: Zenit-E with Helios 44-2 f2 lens came back to me after quite some time being overseas. Long forgotten passion came back to change the way I look and do photography.
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From the very first touch I new there was something wrong with my Canon 70D (well, technically I knew before that because of the miss focusing problems and a little bit less comfortable grip). Six months later all Canon equipment got sold for many reasons you can only see, once you touch something as real as my little Zenit-E with its quite unique Helios lens. The all metal body was nice to hold and the size will perfectly fit in my hand. Next was the all manual feel which makes you The photographer and not some small electronic gizmo inside.
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The lens feel and mechanics is over the top. All metal and glass makes it feel like a jewelry. Focusing is just a pleasure with no rush into it. All new lenses have very fast moving focus. I do not know why they do it like that but it is pointless to use. If something is moving so fast that I need such fast moving focus then I will use the auto focus! So what were they thinking!?

The lens has also depth of field markings same ones you can find on Leica lenses.
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Lens picture quality is not bad. The lens is very sharp in the center and starts fading toward the edges. This actually have a very interesting advantage- swirly bokeh. This is the only lens I have read about that has this so this makes it very vey unique. You can see it down on the image bellow how the out of focus area on the back turns. In my opinion this can be very unique and this is why I adapted it first on my Canon and later on on my Leica M. The bokeh quality by it self I think is also on a very very high level.
Sharpness of the lens is not bad at all. Above is a sample done with it and Canon 70D. Sharpness in the center and blur in the corners actually helps isolate better if used right.

Color aberration is absolute 0 on this lens. Because of it Canon 50 mm 1.4 USM took a hike very very shortly after I bought it. On the image bellow any other lens would have had huge purple rings on the right side of the water fountain where the contrast is big. On the picture bellow the Canon managed to produce color noise which is another reason why this 70D is a complete joke.
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Here are some more examples from the Helios 58 mm on Leica M. Sharpness and contrast falls off rapidly once the object is not in center and there is also quite a big lack of contrast but this is easily fixable in post processing. Still quite some interesting shots.
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At the end I would have loved to use this camera, but since it has one defect that is very very common for all Zenit cameras, I cannot. The lever that is used to rotate to the film to the next frame got stuck so it is a game over.

Hope you like the article and if you need more info contact me.

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