Grok Photography

Photos and words by Petter Senften

The Nervous Russian

A while back I bought myself a Helios-44-2 prime. It’s a prime-lens (meaning it has no zoom) with the somewhat odd focal length of 58/f2 and is widely considered to be the most mass-produced lens ever with a production history from the late 1950s to the early 1990s numbering in the many millions. Despite it’s massive production scale it’s a bit of an unknown except to enthusiasts. The lens was produced in the Soviet Union and it’s signature trademark is the sharp and crisp center surrounded by a very nervous and swirly bokeh. I bought mine on a lark, it was made in 1972 and it’s quite difficult to handle since it requires an adapter for m42 and a lot of patience. There’s no focus to infinity (due to it being made for a different lens-mount), it flares with no provocation and it has no semi-automatic aperture. Yet it instantly made me like it since it produces photos with a dreamy and nostalgic quality.


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