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Fuji X-E1 & X-T1 with manual and vintage lenses – Part 1: Helios 28mm f2.8

Fuji lenses are absolutely amazing and amongst the best I’ve ever used, but the price tag is high enough that even with some truly great promotions they do, for a hobbyist photographer like me, they remain mostly unreachable. I’ve managed to secure two Fujinon prime lense; 35&18mm, both superb in built quality and performance, but I wanted to get more out of my X-E1, and later on X-T1 and experiment with other lenses.

There’s always the 2nd hand option, but it is still hard to justify paying that much money without any financial returns, not to mention there are not many Fuji second hand lenses out there!, which led me to the third options; old vintage lenses! Any good lens from a famous brand will still have a red price tag on it regardless of it’s age, but there is a market where it is possible to collect 2-3 decent lense for under £100! Old Russian and Japanese lenses from companies no longer in play or transitioned to completely to digital i.e. completely discontinued products have a massive market on eBay! Thanks to Fuji cameras playing nice with these lense with providing good manual focus options, they just fit right in and a £15 lens is producing some excellent results. I admit I’m not very fussy when it comes to colour/contrast rendering, chromatic aberration or distortion and as long as I’m happy with the overall quality, I can look the other way and ignore the imperfections or often enjoy some.

After a little research I decided to get into m42 lenses mainly from the price standpoint. A decent adapter was cheap and a good range of lenses were available. Also I did experiment with a couple of C-Mount lenses, including CCTV and cinematic lenses. Fuji has a standard adapter for leica lenses but who can afford a Leica anyway! In this series of articles I’m going to review my m42 lenses ,and others when I come across them, used with Fuji X-E1 and X-T1. This is not going to be a very scientific approach, I’m mainly interested in providing sample photos in different conditions, what I found to be widely missing when trying to decide what lens to buy. There is quiet an extensive database of but sadly it doesn’t provice any sample photos.

Helios 28mm f2.8
The first lens I tested on my X-E1, with a basic M42 to Fuji X-mount adapter, was Helios 28mm f2.8. I was looking forward to it very much but unfortunately I was not really impressed with the result. I bought it on eBay for £20 including P&P; for that price this lens was absolutely worth it!

Helios (or Ге́лиос in Russian) is a brand of camera lenses, made in the USSR. and currently discontinued.

This is a very average lens.The widest aperture being f2.8, it won’t provide crazy bokeh, but the shape of the defocused areas are very pleasant. It does create a lot of blooming and axial chromatic aberration on the highlights, but as expected the closer the aperture the sharper everything gets. I sold the lens a year after bundled up with my X-E1.

There’s really not much to say about it! It’s the kind of the lens that performs well on a bright day for stationary subjects, it does the job and provides a very good focal length on small size sensors (became 42mm on my X-E1), but it’s doesn’t have anything special about it!. See some of the sample photos in the gallery below:

Helios 28mm f2.8