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IronGlass Adds HELIOS 40-2 85mm T1.6 to Rehoused MKII Line

IronGlass Adds HELIOS 40-2 85mm T1.6 to Rehoused MKII Line

IronGlass have added the Soviet-era Helios 40-2 85mm T1.6 to their rehoused MKII line. This lens offers all the unique characteristics of vintage Helios glass with a quality, cinema-ready body in EF/PL mount. Let’s take a closer look at this lens and IronGlass’s impressive rehousing and modifications.

Vintage Helios 40-2 85mm T1.6. Image source: IronGlass

The Helios 40-2 85mm f1.5 that IronGlass uses as the ‘donor’ lens has a long, interesting history. It was designed around the Zeiss Biotar lens formula and originally released in the USSR in the 1950s. The vintage lens was produced in an M42 mount, and a technical version (the Cyclop 85mm 1.5) was also created for night vision optics.

Since then, the Helios 40-2 85mm f1.5 has become a favorite for photographers looking for a unique look and feel. It isn’t known for its sharpness, contrast, or even its performance but it is loved for its character, and charming bokeh.

The “swirly bokeh” it produces is actually the result of how the lenses were originally designed.  Some might think of this as a design fault, but more of a happy accident than a mistake. 

Image Credit: Katya Shinya | Zenit

The cool swirly bokeh and more artistic images it produces have given it a great reputation as a portrait lens. It’s popularity in recent years has even led to the Helios 40-2 85mm 1.5 to be put back into production in Russia with modern DSLR mounts.

Zenit Helios 40-2 85mm f1.5. Image source: IronGlass

IronGlass uses the vintage Helios lenses as a “donor lens” and rehouses them into a very well-built, cinema style body made for film production.  These bodies feature a matte-box compatible internal focusing system, increased focus ring rotation to 300°, and unified focus/iris ring positioning.

IronGlass Helios 40-2 85mm T1.6 MKII – specifications

  • Completely New & Improved Design
  • Internal Focusing System
  • Full clip-on Matte Box compatibility
  • Shimmable Stainless Steel PL / EF mounts
  • Increased 300-degree focus ring rotation
  • Unified Focus and Iris Ring positioning on all lenses
  • Improved Close Focus
  • T-stop markings
  • Reverse direction focus scales
  • 95mm O.D. Fronts
  • FF / LF Sensor Coverage
  • Imperial / Metric Markings
  • Black & White body color options
  • Optional Optical Modifications

IronGlass HELIOS 40-2 85mm T1.6 – Donor optics & optional modifications

They give you the option to either purchase the original lens and rehouse directly from them, or to source and provide them with the original lens to be modified. Since these lenses are vintage and there could be subtle variations in how they were produced and kept, you might find it worth your time to find the perfect copy yourself.

Image source: IronGlass

IronGlass also allows you to choose from a black or white body color, PL or EF mounts, imperial or metric markings, and standard, amber, or purple flaring. There is also an option to give the lens an anamorphic (or anamor-fake) look with an oval bokeh or oval bokeh with anamorphic flare.

Price & availability

The IronGlass HELIOS 40-2 85mm T1.6 MKII rehoused lenses are available to order now on IronGlass’ site. It is important to note that the estimated delivery time is currently 10+ months. This is mainly due to the fact that IronGlass is located in Ukraine.

The lens is priced between $2,400 – $3,100 depending on whether you source the optics and which modifications you pick. IronGlass does offer a 1-year warranty that covers “all parts and labor associated with fixing any issues related to the housing and mechanics of the lens”.

Find out more about IronGlass in the below video interview we did during CineGear 2022:

What do you think of the IronGlass MKII rehousing? Have you shot with vintage Helios glass? Let us know in the comments below.

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