Many people think about getting a vintage Russian lens. Most of them tend to choose Helios 58mm due to their quality. However, not every customer receives it of good quality. In order to figure out why the quality of two the same Helios lenses may differ, we have to look at the past.
Helios design and lens formula is based on Carl Zeiss Biotar technology, which manifests in focal length and aperture. In this USSR lens, the changes concern body style, coating layers, and resolution. Moreover, the quality of glass has been increased, which allowed Helios to become one of the most popular Russian lenses. Another feature was a preset aperture that matched the latest tendencies of that time. However, it became most popular due to its bokeh and color reproduction. The bokeh added a special swirly effect to the background, but you do not receive it all the time. It depends on the focus and the distance between the lens and the object.
- In the beginning, the Valdai factory has manufactured an early version of Helios 44-2 58mm f2. The thought out design is almost the same as the original Helios 44 has. The housing was simple but sturdy and durable. This lens produces warmer colors, but you lose a bit of control over the flares.
- Later the Helios manufacturing moved to the KMZ factory. It has altered the overall design of the lens and the focus ring has been repositioned. Helios 44-2 58mm F2 from this factory has more contrast colors and it is easier to deal with flares.
In general, both factories stuck to the original design and formula. That is why you can find Helios 44-2 58mm F2 lenses of good quality from each manufacturer. However, there was one thing that both of them lack. Means to control the quality of the lenses were not at a high level. Therefore, some Helios lens may not provide you the expected quality. On the internet, you will find more positive and negative reviews about the KMZ factory. The reason for such a difference is that KMZ had produced much more Helios lenses in quantity than Valdai. The difference between them is not too large, but if you want to be sure about the quality, it is better to get Helios 44-2 58mm F2 from someone reliable, who checks the quality of the lens before selling it.