Helios-81М 2/53 Review

03/03/2016 - 06:39
Helios-81М 2/53 Review




Helios-81М 2/53 is the kit lens for cameras Kiev-17, Kiev-19, Kiev-20. Produced on Kiev factory Arsenal. I have seen this lens produced from 1979 till 1982. It made me think that the lens has been produced at that period of time but the exact information I could not find.

Helios-81М 2/53

 

Since 1982, it was made with multi-coating which reflected trough appropriate inscription in the title — МС Helios-81М 2/53.

Optical design is 6 elements in 4 groups.

Later on, at 1983 it was exchanged by Helios-81Н, about differences later. I also have seen the lens made at 1983 with unusual marks МС Helios-81Н 2/53 with the design of M version.

Lenses have mount Nikon F. The letter "М" in the name scares a little because you can think that the lens has mount M42 like Helioses 44-x-М, but in reality, the mount is Nikon's. In this case, the letter "M" means that the lens has "blinking diaphragm". And does not matter М42 or Nikon. I think that at the years of its production there was not customed yet to mark the "Kiev" mount by the letter "H", but after production of Helios-81H this rule had established.

My copy of 1981 could fit on Nikon after little adaptation.

 

Helios-81М 2/53 Specs

Focal length: 53 мм
Aperture range: f/ 2—16
Weight: 320 г
Length: 42 мм
Filter diameter: 49 mm
Number of diaphragm blades: 6
MFD: 0,5 м

 

Design and Ergonomics of Helios-81М 2/53

The lens has a nice design. Metal corrugated focus ring width of 12 mm is rotated 270 degrees. The front part of the lens extends to 8 mm. The front lens does not rotate.

Helios-81М 2/53

The front lens is slightly recessed into the frame for the better protection from front light.

There is the aperture control ring near the mount. Aperture has 6 petals, petals are not blackened. Iris closes with discrete clicks but has a large number of intermediate values - 2-2.5-2.8-3.5-4-5-5.6-6.3-8-9-11-13-16 (marked by a step) that allows you conveniently adjust DOF and sharpness at the close to open values.

 

Differences Between Helios-81М and Helios-81Н

Comparing this lens with МС Helios-81Н 2/50 you can notice several differences:

Helios-81М & МС Helios-81Н

1. Helios-81М is slightly longer.
2. The aperture ring is 1 cm wide, Helios-81Н has 0,5 cm.
3. The front lens is recessed in the frame.
4. One layer coating with a blue tint, МС Helios-81Н has green.
5. Preset aperture ring a little wider.
6. The diaphragm closes smoothly.

I like more the design of Helios-81m and while on the camera it has a more aesthetic appearance.

Helios-81М 2/53 on Nikon D80

Mounting on camera view Nikon D80

 

Helios-81М 2/53 Sample Photos

All examples were taken on Nikon D3100. Exports from RAW with a slight exposure correction.

 

The Sharpness of Helios-81М 2/53

On a large aperture, the lens has good portrait sharpness. It seemed to me that it was a little better than the lens MC HELIOS-81H and Arsat H 1:2 50mm. Particularly at distances close to infinity.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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When you close the aperture sharpness increases. The best sharpness is observed on the values of f/ 5.6 - f/ 6.3.

 

Drawing and bokeh of Helios-81М 2/53

The lens gives a nice plastic figure similar to the pattern of МС Helios-81Н и Arsat H 1:2 50mm, it the same lens with slight modifications in the scheme such as enlightenment.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Like all Helioses it makes bokeh at the mottled background.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2 MFD

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2 MFD

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Contrast and Color Render of Helios-81М 2/53

In spite of a single-layer coating, the lens has a good contrast.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2 MFD

Helios-81М 2/53 examplesо

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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Helios-81М 2/53 examples

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It does not afraid of back and strong side light but it worse than multi-coating МС Helios-81Н and Arsat H 1:2 50mm.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2 In front of the window

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2 Example with strong backlight

I did not notice big differences in the contrast between these three lenses in color render.

Helios-81М 2/53 examples

f/ 2

 

Conclusion
Helios-81М 2/53 is a nice lens of Helios family. No worse than their fellow MC HELIOS-81H and Arsat H 1: 2 50mm. I liked it even more than the last two.





Jim S.'s picture
Hi, Great pictures. I believe a main difference between the 81M and 81H is that the 81M doesn't have an Ai meter coupling ridge on the back of the aperture ring. The Ai ridge wasn't needed on the Kiev-17 camera, since it didn't have a meter. The ridge on the 81H was needed for meter coupling on the later Kiev-19, 19M, and 20 SLRs.
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