At this moment the HELIOS 40-2, manual-focusing lens with 85 mm focal length and a max aperture of f 1.5 is probably my favorite vintage lens. And an ideal companion for slow photography (the lens is somewhat cumbersome to use and thus slows you down, whether you want it or not.

For me, the pictures it produces are nothing short of ‘magical. Most people love this lens for its bokeh/background blur. However, I am particularly fond of its lens flare and how it handles backlit photographic situations.

However, this lens requires practice and experiementing., In particular, if you want to master the ability to get those beautiful lens-flare effects.

Let me show you first what I am talking about here:

Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Taming the beast…


Yes, a strong expression indeed.

Deliberately chosen. Because as much as I love the photographs this Soviet Union vintage lens produces I found it particularly odd and somewhat cumbersome to operate.

I won’t go into details here. The ins and outs of this lens will be subject to an upcoming article.

Suffice to say that some learning and getting used to is necessary with this lens.

But I have no problem with that because slow photography as I practice it is a never-ending learning process.  And playing, whilst learning is one of the things that have made me fall in love with photography.

So, one afternoon my daughter and favorite model Kika asked me to go to a nearby beach as she wanted to play.

Father playing with photo equipment whilst daughter having fun in the water… sounds like a great deal to me.

So we headed off to the beach, quite late in the afternoon. A few of the photos were taken on the way to the beach. But the majority was captured in the last 30 minutes before sunset.

More photographs ?

 Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Helios 85 f2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review

Helios 40-2 vintage lens review


I hope you have enjoyed those photographs. Do you also have a Helios 40-2 ? What are your experiences ? Do you also find it hard to work with ?

Please drop me a line. I would love to hear from you.

Truly’ – DOMINIK

P.S: VERY SPECIAL THANKS to Kika for being such an amazing and patient model.


  1. Dewa Vanyi

    Great shots! Love it!

  2. Kimberly - Vingage Lens Hoarder

    Hey Man!!! I absolutely love NOTHING more than folks who showcase their work utilizing (thus appreciating) the glory of what is known as M42 lenses AND of course any other lenses which are used with the love that someone such as yourself, has showcased here on your blog/website. I love these! May I inquire? (did you do minimal editing at all – The only couple of possibilities that I’ve noticed is perhaps the crop – adding a slight creative rough /border frame? And – OR, (but doubtful) a subtle color desaturation? or a minimal exposure push? Regardless – These are truly lovely. I am infatuated with OLD glass, Jupiter, Helios, Voightlander, Pentax Super Tax, Zeiss, etc. etc. etc. I WILL eventually have a few Jupitors, finish out my Helios collection. And a few OLD Nikkor, Vivitar ad yes, MINOLTA (yo’d be totally surprised on what the old Nikkor/Vivs’/and Minoltas are capabale of producing. Lest we forget a couple of Porst lenses too!!! I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE RADIATION) Just kidding, I do care about the radiation, but I REALLY need a Porst lens so badly. They are truly amazing. Enough of my rant, I now that I am missing about 14 other lenses WELL worth their weight in gold and THEN SOME!!! (Jenna Tessar – “certain copies only”) is another one that I am coveting! Great work!!!!!!! **sorry for the typos** and poor grammar.

    • Dominik Vanyi

      Hi Kimberly,

      Thank you so much for commenting and writing to me. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed my article and the pictures therein.

      Yes, I am also a great fan of vintage lenses. Especially from Russia.
      I meanwhile have quite an arsenal of those lenses:

      2 x Helio 42-2
      1 Helios 40-2
      5 x Jupiter lenses
      2 x Industar lenses
      3 x Canon FD
      1 x Tokina Mirror lens

      You asked about editing. YES, I edit all my photographs. And I consider the editing to be 50% of creating the image.

      Yes, I crop photographs. The rest is then mainly color adjustments incld toning / color temperature adjustments / contrast / curves / HSL adjustments – basically I exhaust the full arsenal of what is available in Lightroom.
      Everything Lightroom only – No Photoshop.

      I have been doing photography and photo editing professionally for 15 years… So I know a thing or two about editing… 

      No, Kimberly, I am not surprised about what old Nikkor and other Japanese lenses can produce.
      On the contrary, I am a HUGE fan of old Japanese glass as well.

      Radiation in lenses is not a topic at all. The lenses which are radioactive have such minimal radiation that you would need a room full of them and constantly be in that room… and even then you may not experience adverse health effects.

      Proly my 2 absolute favorite vintage lenses are:

      Helios 40-2 / 85mm f1.5
      Here is what this ‘monster’ can do:

      You may be surprised to hear that I am even using vintage glass for commercial assignments as well.
      Here is an example:

      If you love vintage glass and the way photography used to be done you may want to join the Facebook group:

      Last, but not least: Kimberly, where can I see your photographic work ?

      May the light be always with you…


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