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Helios lens

Old manual lenses for Canon (including Soviet lenses)

If you have a brand new Canon DSLR camera, or just want to squeeze out the maximum picture quality from your Canon DSLR and have no money for very expensive professional lenses, manual optics come to the rescue. In countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union, Soviet manual optics are very popular.

  • Manual lenses are manual focus lenses. Usually, manual lenses mean old lenses. In the old days, lenses and cameras did not have autofocus. Please note that Soviet lenses (all Soviet optics) are manual, i.e. cannot focus automatically. To work with a manual lens, you need to focus manually. This can be learned quickly.

How do I use old manual lenses on a Canon system? It's very simple, to install an old manual lens on a Canon camera you need to find out what mount (bayonet) the lens is designed for. Basically, there are not so many types of fastening, these are the good old M42 thread, H bayonet and M39 thread.

For lenses with M42 thread, an M42 to Canon EOS adapter is required. This adapter is screwed onto the lens thread, and then the lens is attached to the camera. All Canon cameras will automatically meter exposure. Moreover, it will be possible to shoot in any camera mode, even in automatic mode, however, in this case, the aperture will need to be changed manually. It is very convenient to use the semi-automatic aperture priority mode (AV mode). When using the M42 - Canon EOS adapter, you will still be able to focus at infinity.

Attention 1. When using a conventional adapter M42 - Canon EOS without a chip on the camera, focus confirmation will not work. This means that you will have to focus completely "by eye".

To solve this problem, you can buy an adapter with a chip. The chip usually gives the opportunity to confirm the focus and "trick" the camera, after which the camera thinks that it has a native lens on it. The chip is also called dandelion, less often Lushnikov's dandelion. In Dandelion, you can program the focal length of the lens and the aperture value (you don't have to). Therefore, in the EXIF ​​of the resulting images, all parameters of the lens will be indicated in full (possibly, except for the focusing distance). Dandelion can be purchased separately and attached to an adapter, or you can buy an adapter with a dandelion directly.

Attention 2. The parameters set in the dandelion (hard-wired focal and aperture values) practically do not affect the operation of focus confirmation, but they do affect exposure metering.

There are a lot of lenses with mounting threads. For example - the Helios-44m-X family of lenses, some Jupiter lenses, some Industar lenses and others. A striking example is the lenses Helios-44m-2 and Industar-50-2.

For an H-mount lens, you will need to use a Nikon mount F to Canon EOS adapter. Yes, the H mount is the same as the Nikon system. Similarly, there is an adapter with and without dandelion. The most popular N-mount lenses: Helios-81N, MS Zenitar-N, MS Mir-47N, Mir-20N, MS Mir-24N, Kaleinar-5N, Telear-N, MS Granit-11N. Usually have the letter "H" at the end of the name.

For lenses with M39 thread, you need to use the M39-EOS adapter or two M39-M42 and M42 adapters - Canon EOS (picture below).

Please note that lenses with M39 thread are available from two types of cameras - SLR and mirrorless. For normal operation on the Canon system, only lenses from SLR cameras with M39 thread are suitable, for example, such as Helios-44, white Jupiter-9. Lenses from rangefinder cameras can be used only in macro mode, more details here.

Examples of lenses with M39 mounting thread

  • Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0 (mirror version)
  • Jupiter-11 135mm F4.0 (mirror version)
  • Mir-1 37mm F2.8 (mirror version)
  • Telemar-22 200mm F5.6 (mirror version)
  • Industar-26m 50mm F2.8 P (rangefinder option)
  • Jupiter-8 50mm F2.0 (m39, white, rangefinder)
  • Jupiter-8 50mm F2.0 P (m39, white, rangefinder)
  • Industar-26m 50mm F2.8 P rangefinder
  • I-26m 52mm F2.8 rangefinder
  • Industar-22 50mm F3.5 P rangefinder

Lenses from Kiev-10, Kiev-15 "AUTOMAT"

Lenses marked "Automatic" from the Kiev-10 and Kiev-15 cameras cannot be used on modern central control centers, since the lenses have a very short flange focal distance. I have not met adapters, it will be difficult to re-sharpen, too.

Attention 3. When using lenses from rangefinder cameras under the M39 on the Canon system, the ability to focus at infinity will be lost, and indeed, the focusing limit will be in a few centimeters. This is due to the different working lengths of native optics and mirrorless ones. More details are written in the Soviet optics article on Nikon.

For lenses with “B” mount, from medium format, you need an adapter Pentacon Six (Kiev-60) - Canon EOS. Bayonet B is exactly the same as the Pentacon Six, which is available in Kiev-60 medium format cameras. If it is difficult to find an adapter Pentacon Six - Canon EOS, then you can use two adapters - Pentacon Six-M42 and M42-Canon EOS. B-mount lenses include Vega-12B, Jupiter-36B, Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 2.8 / 180 Pentacon Six.

For lenses with “B” mount, from medium format, you need to use two adapters Kiev 88 / Salyut to Pentakon six + Pentacon Six (Kiev-60) - Canon EOS. The Pentacon SIX is also referred to as the P6 and Pentacon 6.

Attention 4. Bayonet “C” and “B” are two different mounts. People often confuse them. Be careful when choosing a lens.

And there are also very interesting CCCP lenses with an interchangeable shank. Usually, lenses are designated with an “A” at the end of the name. This means that the rear of the lens can be changed. You can install, for example, a shank with an M42 thread, or with an H mount, which is needed and is installed. Usually the shank is secured with three set screws, which are very easy to unscrew and then screw back. Such lenses include, for example, the legendary Jupiter-37A. To use it on a Canon camera, it is worth installing two adapters KP-A \ 42 + M42 - Canon EOS on the lens. Well, or completely with a perversion of KP-A \ H + Nikon mount F - Canon EOS.

And so, we installed the old lens on the camera - what to do next? When using Soviet optics on Canon cameras, you should always remember that:

1. Automatic focusing will not be on any Canon camera, even on the coolest Canon EOS 1DX. You will have to focus manually. Without a focus confirmation chip, it is very, very difficult to focus, especially when the apertures are open. I advise you to immediately get a dandelion (chip).

2. On a number of cameras there is a Live View mode - it will help you get into focus. Even with a dandelion mounted on the lens, the Live View sharpening hit rate is much higher. It is very convenient to scale images in Live View for even more precise focusing.

3. Some lenses require refinement of the aperture control method. This usually boils down to locking the blinking diaphragm mechanism so that the diaphragm can be manually controlled.

What a penalty when using old lenses, new ones are much better, faster, etc. Here is a short answer:

1. Almost all Soviet lenses are suitable for full-frame cameras. As you know, lenses for FF are much more expensive. So when you change the crop to full frame, you will have a working lens on the full frame. And also, you can find lenses from medium format, which even on FF will not give vignetting.

2. Lenses are cheap. Of course, this is a moot point, but a simple Helios-44m-2 costs mere pennies, you can find it for $ 10, and it gives a very good picture. For little money, you can get a fast lens. But due to the boom in Soviet optics, for example, the price of Helios-40-2 reaches $ 1000.

3. Old lenses, when used correctly, really give an excellent picture result, teach you many useful photographic things. And for the sake of beautiful photography, all cameras and people work.

What can you pick up from old lenses to start with?

I am often asked what can be taken from the old Soviet optics for Canon, there is no definite answer, since each lens has its own purpose. Taking into account the price / quality parameters, I recommend the following lenses:

  • Helios-44 or any other modification. On APS-C cameras, Canon will work as a great portrait lens. The lens has excellent sharpness, high aperture and legendary twisted bokeh. I recommend Helios-44 or any Helios-44M-X as the first Soviet lens on Canon's digital camera.
  • The Industar-50 is just a nice sharp fifty-kopeck piece, probably the cheapest and most affordable Soviet lens and at the same time interesting to use.
  • Jupiter-9 (any of its variants). Wonderful portrait both in full frame and cropped.
  • Jupiter-37A. Wonderful portraitist. Easy to find. Canon's APS-C is not very comfortable to operate.
  • Jupiter-21A or its brother Jupiter-21M. Excellent telephoto. Allows you to reach out to remote objects.
  • Vega-12B. An excellent portraitist.
  • Granite-11N (Zoom Arsat 80-200). Zoom telephoto. Comfortable in using. Easy to find.
  • Kaleinar-5N. Very sharp short telephoto.
  • Industar-61 LZ. Very sharp fifty dollars, convenient for shooting small objects, when using the macro rings, it can provide excellent macro. One of the best lenses in the Soviet Union.
  • Zenitar-M 50mm F1.7, good sharp fifty dollars
  • MC Helios-77m-4 or his brother MC Helios-77m
  • Wave-3 80mm F2.8 MC excellent portrait lens


On modern Canon DSLR cameras, you can easily use old Soviet lenses, as well as any other old manual lenses. Most often, a single adapter will be enough to mount a lens on a Canon camera.

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