At Cine Gear 2022, we had the chance to put our hands on an upgraded edition of the Helios 44-2 MKII rehousing by IronGlass. Compared to the original version, the lens barrel now features a better overall build quality, an internal focusing system, and smoother rings. The IronGlass MKII Upgrade Program is currently available for existing customers.
A few years ago, we reported about a re-housed version of the Helios 44-2, a vintage lens from the Soviet era. The company behind this cine-mod is IronGlass, a vintage lens rehousing company from Ukraine, that has recently been working on a Mark II version of this rehousing.
At Cine Gear 2022, my colleague Graham bumped into Peter Choi, a vintage lens enthusiast who happened to be testing the first final prototype of this rehousing to reach the US soil. Although Peter does not work for IronGlass, he’s a kind-hearted customer willing to help out the company during these difficult times of conflict. Let’s take a look.
IronGlass Helios 44-2 MKII rehousing: improvements
Despite the deceptive name, the Helios 44-2 is a 58mm f/2 full-frame vintage lens that comes with a native M42 mount. The lens is known for producing a peculiar swirly-style bokeh. However, its original design is not really suitable for video shooting, thus a rehousing can come in handy.
We sat down with Peter to learn more about the advancements over the original version. According to him, the overall build quality has been improved and the lens now features smoother focus and iris rings. Also, it now comes with an internal focusing mechanism. This means the length of the barrel does not change when focusing, thus ensuring compatibility with clip-on matte boxes.
Peter’s lens sports a sturdy PL mount. However, through the company’s MKII Upgrade Program, you can also opt for a Canon EF lens mount. Also, it looks like you can choose between a matte black or bright white finish, imperial or metric focus markings, as well as standard, amber, or purple coatings.
Price and availability
The IronGlass MKII Upgrade Program offers existing customers the benefits of this upgraded rehousing. The cost of the operation would be $1,900 per lens (does not include the price of the donor optics). However, existing customers who have already placed an order for the original MKI housing can upgrade now for $950 per piece.
Finally, Peter Choi told us he’s currently renting out his lenses with the MKI rehousing in Singapore and will donate 100% of the profit to support IronGlass during these challenging times. If you’d like to provide your help too, the Donation for Ukraine page is still up on the company’s website.
Have you ever shot on the Helios 44-2? What do you think of this upgraded rehousing by IronGlass? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!