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Best lenses to match with Helios-44-2 for consistent look on GH4?
  • Hi,

    My high school students love the Helios-44 look on the GH4 and want to use it on an upcoming shoot. I was hoping someone might be able to suggest some old (relatively cheap) primes that could make a potential 3-4 lens kit with the Helios.

    Ideally, I'd love to get the SLR Magic 10, 25, and 50, but the camera and lens purchases are coming out of my pocket, so that's why we've got the Helios.

    I searched the forums, but I couldn't find any topic about lenses to match the Helios look. In a dream world, I'd love something around 10-12mm, 25mm, and an 85.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  • 17 Replies sorted by
  • Canon FD lenses (anything from 17, 25, 35, 50, 85, 135 etc) are pretty cheap and have a vintage look, but closest to the Helios 44 is probably the Jupiter 8/9/11s on M39 / M43. I also love the SLR MAGICs and have a 12, 25 and am saving for the 35 and 50s...

  • How about the MIR 37?

  • You can use Rokkors, but if you want the colors to be closer you will need to go Russian.

  • Yeah, color matching is pretty important because they're young and they don't have the knowledge, experience, or time to learn and use Resolve; I think they'd do more damage to the image than good. We have a Rokkor 50mm 1.4 that they tested against the Helios, and they all chose the look of the Helios.

    The Jupiters look great for something longer, and the Mirs seem to go down to 20mm, but the 20mm is f3.5. Ideally, I'd love to find something that wide that is closer to 2.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how close the following lenses might be to matching up?

    SLR Magic 12mm 1.6 Mir-10A 28mm f2.8 Helios 44-2 58mm (that we already own) Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0

    I know the SLR Magic isn't Russian, but could that work? Or is there a really wide Russian lens?

    This is a potentially cool project. It could be much more than just a student film. And while the kids are hustlers and they work really hard, I think they'd be in over their heads trying to match color.

    All help is appreciated! Thanks so much!

  • To get wider you could combine the Mir 28mm (or the 37mm) with a RJ Lens Booster, it doesn't change color characteristics too much. There is nothing wider or faster from the era in Russia.

  • The main thing is the Helios 44 is a flare monster.. not much modern glass can match it. The SLR MAGICs do flare a bit (mainly purple) but no where near the Helios! Having said that the SLR MAGICs are a bit more 'funky' than most modern glass. Which is good ;-)

    You might also be interested to go for a Dog Schidt Optics FF38 attachment. Its designed to fit Helios 44s (DSO customize Helios glass) and basically acts as a wide angle adaptor but keeps the look of the taking lens - taking it to a 38mm. If you're on a GH3/4 MFT then you can also get a speedbooster and basically have it go wider still somewhere in the region of a 25mm with the FF38. It gets HEAVY with all that extra glass but its cool that the look of the main lens is retained. You can just take the attachments on and off when needing different focal lengths. No light loss either. He's currently making a FF25 and an FF88 for different focal lengths.

  • You can also check instead of dogshidt some guys that are in the business of modifying lenses for longer and make them cheaper, they have several cool options

    As it was said before, you should check other Russian lens like other Helios, Jupiter and Mir, other brands of vintage lenses may also match but is hit and miss because there are many options.

  • These suggestions are awesome! I've been checking youtube/vimeo like mad for footage, and now I've been on ebay. Got a Jupiter 11 4/135 and a Mir 1B 2.8/37. The Dog Schidt Optics FF38 looks cool, but it appeared to me that they are still in pre-order, so I went with the Mir 1B. I'm bidding on a Jupiter 9 2/85 now. These lenses look very cool, and the colors seem close enough that the students should be able to make it work.

    For wider, I'm still thinking the SLR 12/1.6 might be the way to go. I fear the 10/2.1 might be a bit too sharp. And, frankly, since I'm buying these and I'm just a teacher, the price difference between the 12 and the 10 is a lot. But I'm going to wait to get the 12 until the Russian lenses arrive, so we can test them and see.

    Motionsix also seems very cool, but the price is just a touch high for me to just get a 28 now that I have the Mir 37. If I was made of money, I'd grab one.

    Has anyone cut SLR Magic 12 footage with any of the Russian lens footage? Is it close?

    I can't thank you all enough for this help! I really appreciate it!

  • The Mir 1B is another flare monster, you're gonna like it!

  • When I was shooting Helios, my favorite was the 40-2 (or the cheaper 40-1) 85mm 1.5 lens. The bokeh king, cuts very well with the Helios 44.

  • The SLR MAGIC 12 is just a great lens. I would recommend it for almost anything!! It does flare too. Its a tad soft wide open but stopped down its nice and sharp.

  • Love hearing that the Mir 1B is a flare monster. For my personal stuff shooting my kids, I love character and flares.

    The Helios 40-2 seems very cool, too. The ones I'm finding are about $100 more than the Jupiter 9 -- does anyone have any thoughts on how the 40-2 compares with the Jupiter 9?

    And I hear you about the SLR Magic 12 -- I've loved the look of that lens ever since Seb Farges did that first test with it. In fact, his films and the other anamorphic stuff people here were doing with the GH2 is what introduced me to the power of GH cameras. My school almost bought GH2s for the students but the big bosses (not film teachers) decided we had to use Canon because that's the most recognizable name that parents would recognize. I finally bought a GH4 for myself last summer, and now the students want to shoot this film with it because of the look of adapted lenses, control of image, and the 4K.

    Thanks again for all of the help with this. I really appreciate it!

  • @gh4students I have an extensive collection of Russian lenses, Rokkors, Nokkors and several Canon and Pentax lenses. I'm assuming you want a cheap lens that can be had from eBay, but even if budget is no option, I would suggest the following:

    First of all, there are different versions of all these lenses, so the fact that you tested a 50/1.4 Rokkor holds true only for that sample. You have to look at the different versions and sample variations. IMHO some of the MC's are pretty close to the Helios in the "look". MDs would be less close, but closer than Nikkors, Canon or Pentax, but most of the MD coatings are going to have the good color, not the subtle vintage look of the Helios. There's a noticeable difference in the coatings of different versions of almost any of these legacy lenses, and of course the versions of the Helios. A Helios definitely does not "look" like a Nikkor, Canon or Pentax, but it isn't that far off from some of the MCs. If your Rokkor 1.4 was noticeably inferior to the Helios, you probably have a bad sample, or maybe you have an awesome Helios--there are some that are a bit sharper than others. In fact I have one Helios that really is quite sharp. I never use it, but I can't bear to sell it because it is such a good copy. My stupid.

    Modern lenses with modern coatings are not going to match your Helios.

    Second, the Helios isn't that great a lens. It's good, but not great. So to get a set of "matching" lenses it might be more interesting to get a set of vintage Nikkors, which would also create a wider interest in your film project, owing to the large number of vintage Nikkor fans.

    Just my 2 cents, FWIW.

  • DrDave

    Thank you for all of that info -- it's a big help.

    The Rokkor is a MD Rokkor-X 50 1.4 that another student owns. And I didn't mean to suggest that it was inferior to the Helios; the students just like the Helios look better, and that look would fit with this project.

    It's great to know that the MCs are close to the Helios in look. Do you happen to have any experience with the Rokkor MC 24mm 2.8? If so, in your experience, do you think it might fit with the SLR and Russian lenses? It is a lot cheaper than the SLR 25. I would love the SLR 12 and 25, but as a teacher, I just can't afford both of them. Not even sure one is a good idea, but I might not be able to resist.

    Thanks again for all of your time and info. It is VERY appreciated.

  • The Rokkor MC 24mm 2.8 is a very good lens, normally much better corners than the Helios at the same aperture.

    The colors should be closer to Helios than modern lenses.

  • Okay, we've got the Jupiter 11 and the Mir 1B, and we're awaiting delivery on a Jupiter 9. The students are setting up their tests.

    Now we're just going to need something longer. Does anyone have any experience with the Jupiter 6-2? Do they match with the other Jupiter lenses?

    Also, is there any difference between the silver and black editions of the 6-2?

    Thanks again for any and all advice. I really appreciate it. When the students put the Jupiter 11 on the camera, they started grinning -- they love the look!

  • Hi GH4students, how did this go in the end?

    I'm just going down a similar route - Mir 1B/Helios 44/Helios 40/Tair 11A