Optical Formula: 6 elements in 4 groups.
Lens Mount: M42
Aperture Range: f/2 - f/16.
Minimum Focusing Distance: 0.5 meter
Aperture Blades: 8
Last summer I went on a small kick for getting cameras and lenses made in the USSR. The Helios 44-2 is one of those purchases. Strangely other then when I first got the Helios I haven't used it much. I say strangely because the quality of the images from this lens is mostly excellent. I rediscovered that when I decided to do a few posts about equipment from the USSR. I was very impressed by some of the results that I got with the Helios 44-2. I was also stuck by the idea that it would be best if I spent more time getting to know some of the cameras and lenses that I have gotten in the last year or two and spend less time working to get more. Seems like I have been in a pattern of testing out the newest thing and then moving on to the next newest thing. I think my new pattern will be to spend more time with what I already have.
The Helios 44-2 was the standard lens for many of the Zenit SLRs. It appears that it was made from the mid-60's to early 80's in the M42 mount. After that is was made, possibly even to the present day, in the K mount. The Helios 44-2 is copy of the design of the carl zeiss biotar 58mm f2, This design it said to work well in reducing optical aberrations. The Soviets appear to have done a good job in their use of this design because from my experience and from reviews that I have read the Helios 44-2 seems to be a very good lens. Probably the main problem you might have is that the Soviets are said not to have been very concerned with quality control. So if you do get a Helios 44-2 and get poor results it is likely that you have been unfortunate in having gotten a clunker.
The Helios 44-2 is said to have excellent bokah. I also find that it is pretty sharp wide-open.
Colors seem very natural with the Helios 44-2.
Because the earlier versions of the Helios 44-2 probably have just a single coating lack of contrast and flare could be a problem under some lighting conditions. I haven't run into such problems so far although so far I haven't used it much in conditions that might bring out that problem.
I believe that the Helios is my favorite purchase from the USSR. Although to some degree I have been pleased with all the items that I bought during my USSR phase. I also found the Ebay sellers from the former USSR countries to be excellent. Maybe I was just lucky however without an exception their descriptions of their items turned out to be accurate and their packaging and shipping speed was first-rate.
My plan now is to slow down and get to know some of my cameras better. I think that next in line is a couple of FEDs and a Zorki.
If you would like to see a little more of the results from this lens here is the KMZ Helios 44-2 58mm F/2 Gallery.