Shooting with the D810 is wonderful, like driving the nicest car you can imagine. Pairing it with some funky old piece of glass may not be what a lot of people think about when they consider a camera like this, but lately I wanted to see what else is out there, outside the Nikon bubble. Achieving a swirly bokeh with a nice piece of classic glass become my first mission. The Zeiss Biotar was the first I looked at, and it’s not so easy to find a copy, or find a copy at a reasonable price. I read about the Helios and how it’s a Russian copy of the Biotar. Having a little Russian ancestry got me excited about this strange thing so I hit the clubsnap site and got a copy second-hand with a Nikon M42 to F-Mount adapter. I’m not the type to get out to parks and fields to shoot, I’m more of a low light, evening person, so I took it out for a walk around the Bugis area to see what kind of shots I can get with it.
Not much “swirly” or “spinning” bokeh, but still very nice bokeh and quite smooth. Surprisingly smooth!
The shots I get from this lens are consistently contrasty, with nice tones.
It’s a really odd experience though, unlike what you would expect from any other lens. The aperture ring just spins back and forth, no clicks. There’s a little red dot on the ring that lines up with the aperture numbers. This is handy for videographers, but for photographers you sort of have to keep checking it to make sure it has not slid a notch in the other direction. It’s also a screw mount(M42), so the available adapters are pretty crap, you’ve really got to screw it on TIGHT to keep it attached when snapping onto your camera’s F-Mount. Definitely worth it though, for the price, to pick one up and try it. It’s got an 8-blade aperture that produces lovely and odd bokeh, and at F2 produces dreamy and unique images.