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Helios lens

Fast Soviet lens Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50mm

Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50 is a normal lens with a jumping aperture (switchable) for 35mm SLR cameras with an M42 connection thread.It was calculated by L.S. Yurchenko and was produced at the KMZ plant in the 70s and 80s. Zenitar stands apart from other standard lenses for Zenith. In fact, all Zenitars were supposed to replace lenses with the Helios trademark. A new branch in development, a different optical design, a higher grade of glass. Such a qualitative leap in the optical structure of KMZ is caused by a clear lag behind the world's leading photo manufacturers, Zenitar has come close to the Japanese counterparts of the 70s.


  • The focal length is 50 mm.
  • Geometric relative aperture 1: 8
  • Maximum closed aperture -16.
  • The number of aperture blades is 0.
  • The number of lenses / groups is 6/5.
  • The minimum focusing distance is 0.45 m.
  • Optics attachments - threaded m52.
  • Optics mount - M42.
  • Resolution center / edge 43/24 lines per mm.
  • Weight - 280 grams.

Ergonomics and design:

The barrel of the lens repeats the body of Helios-44M - a combination of metal and glass. The fit is excellent. Focusing is smooth and tight. From the minimum focusing distance of 0.45m to infinity, you need to make a revolution of 265 degrees, it takes about three interceptions. The stroke of the diaphragm setting ring is stepped with clear clicks. The aperture step is indicated by the corresponding value.

The diaphragm has 6 blades, matte but not blackened. The push-down bouncing diaphragm almost exactly fulfills the set values. Over time, the diaphragm return springs weaken and need to be replaced. Just like Helios-44M, Zenitar has a diaphragm repeater available. When used on digital SLR cameras, it becomes possible to aim at open in tutor mode "A". At the right moment during photographing, the repeater is instantly switched with fingers to the “M” mode and the diaphragm closes to the preset value.

Artistic features and photo examples:

The Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50mm lens forms a sharp image already from the 1.7 aperture with a fairly high contrast. Contrast drops when there is a bright light source in the frame. In the case when the light rays enter the lens at an acute angle, the contrast drops insignificantly. I would like to emphasize the bokeh that the lens draws. It is similar to modern lenses without twisting the blur area. Zenitar is well suited for shooting portraits, genre portraits, genre, as well as for any creative shooting where a small grip and a beautiful blur pattern are important.


Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50mm is a flexible high-aperture lens with characteristics not worse than those of the Japanese Takumar. Forms a sharp image already from an aperture of 1.7 with a sufficiently high contrast. Beautiful, soft optical blurring of the front and rear out-of-focus areas. Well suited for portrait photography, genre portrait, genre, as well as for any creative shooting.

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