“Helios” lenses series

Soviet lenses with the name “Helios” are made according to the Planar scheme of Dr. Rudolph (Paul Rudolph, 1896, Germany).

About Helios lens series

Rudolph himself did not fully assess the possibilities of his scheme. They were discovered by the English optician G. Lee (Horace W. Lee), who in 1920 developed the Opic lens of the Taylor-Hobson firm – Taylor & Hobson, which had an increased aperture ratio – 1: 2.5 (instead of 1: 3.3 for “Planar”) at an angle of view of 50 degrees. Later, lenses of such a scheme were produced under various names by very many companies. “Helios-44”, developed by Professor D.S. Volosov, is the most popular Soviet lens. Since 1958, he was put as a regular one on the “Start” cameras, then on the “Zenith” cameras.

To be used in SLR cameras, the lens must have a large rear focal distance (roughly speaking, this is the minimum distance from the rear lens to the photographic material): then it is possible to place a mirror. But this makes it difficult to develop normal and short-throw lenses, since often the maximum quality with the chosen scheme can be achieved only with a very small back focal length. Therefore, in order not to reduce the quality too much, the focal length of the “Helios-44” had to be increased to 58 mm instead of the standard 52 mm (the field of view is reduced from 45 to 40 degrees). But even with such a rather small angle of view, the resolving power of “Helios-44” is clearly insufficient, such are the possibilities of this scheme (if we use ordinary optical glasses).

Further events developed as follows. The same author calculated a lens with a standard focal length of 52 mm using the same scheme around 1965. The result was “Helios-65” (installed as a standard one on the “Kiev-10” cameras of the first series), the resolving power of which is another 5-6 lines per millimeter lower throughout the field than that of “Helios-44”. In such a situation, it was necessary to use lanthanum glasses – superheavy crowns (STK), which made it possible to create a variant of “Helios-65” – “Helios-81”, with increased resolving power. Lanthanum crowns have a very high refractive index, so that you can make lenses with a sufficiently high optical power and at the same time with a small curvature of surfaces.

Then it becomes possible to better correct aberrations, especially the curvature of the image surface. “Helios-81” was used as a standard on the cameras “Kiev-10”, “Kiev-15”, “Kiev-17”, etc. and has earned a good reputation. Here we should also mention one more design created in 1950 by the same professor Volosov – “Helios-40”. This is a particularly fast telephoto lens (85 mm, 1: 1.5). It detects anomalous behavior in terms of resolution – it is even higher at the edge than at mid-angles.

This is the result of the fact that the curvature of the image surface of the third order, if it is impossible to correct it well, is compensated by the curvature of the fifth order. This is achieved by using very thick lenses and large air gaps. “Helios-40” is very heavy, bulky and gives low image quality. It is used as an interchangeable lens for Zenits, as well as in technical photography for filming from the screens of oscilloscopes. With schemes close to symmetric, coma and distortion are well corrected in Helios.

Nevertheless, it follows from the above that the scheme of the classic “Planar” is suitable for a high-quality normal objective only with the use of lanthanum or other special optical glasses. Schneider took a slightly different path. She released Planar (circa 1970, 50 mm, 1: 2) based on super-heavy crowns, in which, unlike the classic one, two lenses are left unsticked. Schneider’s Planar has 5 lines per mm more resolving power across the field and at the edge than even Helios-81.

On the basis of this foreign development, Professor Volosov created “Helios-97” with similar characteristics (even slightly better). “Helios-97”, it seems, has never been mass-produced, like some other excellent domestic lenses. (I.O.Baklanov, 1998)

Name history

Helios – from the Greek “Sun” – the name of this lens brand common to many enterprises and foreign trade organizations of the USSR (mainly based on the Biotar optical scheme), according to one version, is not in honor of the ancient Greek god of the Sun, but in memory of the Helios power plant in Petrograd, which in October 1917 was guarded by the Red Guards from the optical plant and which supplied the Smolny with electricity.

(The small optical factories of the German firms CP Goerz and C. Zeiss in Riga during the First World War were evacuated to Petrograd, where they were merged into a single enterprise – the GAU optical plant, the second large optical production in Petrograd after the optical department of the Obukhov plant.Then in March 1918 the plant was transferred to Voronezh, in the summer of the same year due to the offensive of General Krasnov’s troops – to Perm, and in early October due to Kolchak’s advance – to Podolsk. In 1927, the precision mechanics plant was relocated to the village of Banki, Pavshinskaya volost, Moscow district, the future Krasnogorsk. In 1941, the Lenin plant will be evacuated to Novosibirsk, and in 1942 a new enterprise was organized on its premises – plant No. 393 NKOP – Krasnogorsk mechanical plant. history of KMZ,as an organization, has been conducted since the beginning of 1942, and not since the end of the 19th century, as it could have been extended with a strong desire).

Another version is based on the somewhat controversial link between the Helios brand and the Sonnar brand (sun). This version is pointed out by Alexander Schulz in his book “Zenit. Die Geschichte der russischen Spiegelreflex-Prismensucherkamera mit M39-Objektivanschluß “.

And, nevertheless, according to any version, the basis of the name is “Sun”, “solar” – most of the names of domestic lenses have either astronomical or light “roots”.

KMZ owns the “Helios” brand since 1986, although it has developed and produced lenses under this name before.

The first lens with this name (Helios-1 2/50) was developed at GOI in 1937.


Helios lens table

Name Focal length, mm Aperture ratio 1: n Angle of view
Helios-2 45 2.0 51 °
Helios-29 25 1.5 28 °
Helios-33 35 2.0 45 °
Helios-40 85 1.5 28 °
Helios-44 58 2.0 40 ° 28 ′
Helios-53 200 2.5 12 °
Helios-65 52 2.0 45 °
Helios-66 ten 3.5 52 °
Helios-70 52 1.9 46 °
Helios-77 52 1.8 44 °
Helios-81 52 2.0 44 °
Helios-85 85 2.0 28 °
Helios-88 50 1.9 46 °
Helios-97 52 2.0 45 °
Helios-98 28 2.8 58 °
Helios-101 52 1.8 44 °
Helios-107 65 2.8 50 °

Lenses “Helios” on [PRO] PHOTO

Using lenses “Helios” on modern cameras

To work on digital SLRs you need a lens-to-camera adapter. The easiest way is to install Helios with М42х1 thread on Canon EF (-s) and other cameras ..

By ordering things from the links below, you help the project cover the costs of site maintenance and development. List of adapters, systems and mounts (direct links for ordering)

When ordering, it should be borne in mind that cheap adapters of poor quality with a lens on the Nikon F mount significantly spoil the picture. Adapters without a lens reduce the maximum focusing range (due to the difference in focal lengths). Adapters with chips come across of poor quality, exposure metering and confirmation of focus on some models of cameras may suffer from this.

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