Mod: Autofocus Helios-44 for Nikon

Hello, everybody! I am going to show you a little project of mine. I get bored with fixing and repairing lenses so I do modifications as well when time and budget permits. Here is my latest creation (now in prototype stage) – the Autofocus Helios-44 for Nikon!

Here is the thing in action. It works surprisingly good at this stage so I am going to take this thing for a test tomorrow afternoon!

What you see here is the Mk1, the Mk2 will have the iris coupled to the lens and the Mk3 will have a macro mode. The Mk3 might require a different host lens which has a bigger inner diameter for the objective of the Helios-44. I was initially thinking of modifying a Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58/2 lens but that thing is too expensive for me. I am thankful for the advise that was given to me to use the Helios-44 instead since it is the Russian copy of the Zeiss and costs a lot less so I went about looking for the oldest one available and the iris had to be of the “pre-set” type for simplicity so that everything relating to the optic is contained in one compact cell.

The project itself didn’t take long and the hardest part is sourcing a 3D printing service. I do use 3D applications at work so I am able to make CAD data for the 3D printer. This is just a proof of concept at the moment and with the very limited time that I have I think I will be able to finish this project my Fall of this year. I do have many things to work on so I this is not an urgent thing for me plus I am still not done with last year’s backlog.

I consider this as the poor man’s Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G AF-S lens. Let’s see where this thing will lead to. I am sure that some people made something like this previously since this is something simple and common sense is all you need to connect these 2 different types of lenses into one working object. It is as natural as sticking a pen into a damn apple so you end up with a “pen pineapple apple pen” or whatever that damn thing is called.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Articles Index | Richard Haw's Classic Nikkor Maintenance Site
  2. Andrew dalton
    Aug 13, 2017 @ 14:00:44

    Really impressive! The performance is great – it’s nice to put your own modern stamp on an iconic lens like that. I would really like to try a similar project for a Helios ideally for Sony FE mount. any luck on version 2?


    • richardhaw
      Aug 13, 2017 @ 15:34:48

      Hello, Andrew!

      I am currently using it on the 50/1.8D, the AF is VERY fast.

      Here is a video of it in action. I do not know how it works for the Sony FE lenses but in principle it should be the same. Just grab a fast prime for the main barrel. The problem here is Sony’s lenses have electronic iris so it will be a bit more complicated. Ric.


      • Andrew dalton
        Aug 13, 2017 @ 17:54:53

        Thanks for the response and thanks for sharing! Doner lens choice is a bit difficult for sony FE if I want to couple the iris. Am I right in thinking that you would take the iris from the donor lens – if so – for a 58mm f2 – the iris diameter should be 29mm which is larger than a 50mm f1.8 iris (27.7) – so I think the result would be a Helios 58mm f2.1. What is your minimum focus distance?

      • richardhaw
        Aug 14, 2017 @ 01:27:10

        Hello, Andrew.
        For something like this you would want it to be as simple as you ever wanted it to be. I would transplant the objective into the Sony lens but the first thing that you would want to do is make sure that you can use the lens when the electronic iris is not there. Nikon uses mechanical irises until recently so this was easy for me.

  3. Trackback: Mod: Autofocus Helios-44 for Nikon pt2 | Richard Haw's Classic Nikkor Maintenance Site

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