Helios 44-2 on the Nikon D750: A Quick Turn Around the Scrubs

London is experiencing a particularly colourful Spring this year, with lots of beautiful bloom everywhere you care to look. As a quick mini lockdown project, I thought it would be fun to take out my Nikon D750 on one of our daily exercise walks around Wormwood Scrubs. Rather than using a regular nifty-fifty Nikkor, I attached an old Soviet Helios 44-2 58mm lens that I’d rescued from a dilapidated Zenit E.

When attached to a Nikon with a basic converter ring it will only focus to a couple of metres due to the distance between the lens and the sensor. As I was more interested in photographing flowers and portraits this didn’t worry me. I obviously had to use the lens in Manual mode – exposure metering was in theory fairly simple but I had to go to the RAW file on a couple of shots to fix overexposure. Focusing was also tricky as though the D750 has focus assist, the ring in the actual lens is not especially smooth and has a variable resistance through the focal range.

In terms of results thought the Helios didn’t let me down, with its famous swirly, creamy, dreamy bokeh evident in many of the pictures and helping to bring out the beauty of the little flowers. I was quite pleased with some of the pictures of Paul too, this combination is definitely something I’ll try again for portrait work. Whilst not easy using an old manual incompatible lens, a bit of perseverance and work does give a very characterful result, so worth the effort.

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