Contax IIa with Arsenal Helios-103 ( ГЕЛИОС-103 ) at the Warbirds show

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. Contax IIa with Arsenal Helios-103 ( ??????-103 )

    I had got my 'new' Contax IIa without a lens and shot it with a "Sonnar" converted, most likely, from a 50mm Jupiter-8 Soviet Kiev-mount lens ( ). Eventually when I find something I think I can depend on to be real thing, I'll get a real Sonnar for it.

    In the meantime, hunted for a body cap - a difficult thing to find for this mount. I finally found one at Cameraquest - left-overs from a Voigtländer run.

    I found some rear lens caps for the outside mount lenses, but have had no success so far in locating a rear lens cap for the 5cm lenses. However, I so liked the Helios-103 I had got on my Kiev 4AM, that when I found a brand new one on eBay for $30 post-paid - from the Ukraine - I went ahead and got another one. Not a heck of a lot more expensive than a body cap for one of these.

    It came in a couple of weeks from the highly efficient Ukraine Post and it was, in actual fact, new. This variant ( ) seems to have been made up to at least 1985 and seem to sell often these days for about US$15 (shipping from Ukraine doubles that).

    The lens is, I believe, ultimately derived from the late pre-war Zeiss Biotar best known in its SLR incarnation of the Biotar 58mm f/2.
    In any case, it is Biotar type design:

    And the lens itself:

  2. It fit on the Contax IIa a little snugly at first, but as I used it, it became smooth and easy to focus. The rangefinder on my Contax IIa is a little greenish, with the salmon rangefinder spot, but it works surprisingly well, as I had discovered in using it with my "Sonnar".

    Thanks to Lupo Lobo, I found out that the Commemorative Air Force (née "Confederate Air Force") was in our area. True to form, the story in our local rag was buried so I would not have known if it had not been for Lupo - Thanks.
    Now for the pitchers.

    First, a general view to place the context, done with a modern digital camera though.

  3. Now the Contax IIa with the Helios-103 53mm f/1.8 on Kodak Ektar 100.
  4. All of the engines were radials except for the Merlin in the P-51. Here is the exquisite and exposed radial of a Stearman 75 trainer.
  5. These are all flying specimens, and here is the P-51 Mustang fighter being gassed up. I would have loved to take a ride in it, but the price was $1995, so I was glad it wasn't on my bucket list.
  6. A nice SB2C Helldiver dive bomber was there. It was thought difficult to fly by wartime aviators. It carried a pilot and a rear gunner.
  7. A high standard of nose and tail art was set during WWII.

  8. Finally, here is the Stearman 75 trainer in action in the pre-war trainer aircraft colors for the full sized image. (Crop, below)
  9. and a 100% crop from the above.
    Again, this is Kodak Ektar 100, which the box assures us is the "WORLD'S FINEST GRAIN." I checked occasionally with the Gossen LunaPro SBC, but most of these were sunny-16 exposures. Digitized on a Canoscan 4000 using VueScan at 4000ppi.

  10. Not bad, I think for a $30 lens. Despite the high cost of original Zeiss lenses, it is clear that shooters don't need to suffer much given the high quality of the Soviet copies.

    By the way, I have quite a few of these Soviet lenses in one mount or another, and --perhaps I have been lucky-- I have had problems with only one Soviet lens, and that seems to be merely 'oil' on the interior lens elements.
    That's all, folks
  11. Nice series, JDM. I love old planes, especially WWII ones. Thanks for posting.
  12. Me too,excellent to see, and the colour is really good. I always enjoy a good air show and the Confederate Air Force is quite amazing...a really dedicated bunch.
    That lens seems excellent. I have a Jupiter 3 in Contax mount but mine is very ordinary, probably just a bad sample because I have heard many good reports of it. Is your Helios the same lens by a different name?
  13. The Jupiter-3 f/1.5 is, perhaps like all of the Jupiter lenses (?), a Sonnar-derived design ( ). Even that source remarks on variablity in that particular lens.
    The Helios lenses are derived from the Gauss lenses.
  14. Of course, some Jupiters are based on non-Sonnars - the Jupiter-12 35mm is a "Biogon", for example.
  15. great fotos with FSU lens, My experience has been FSU lenses that I've owned and used have been top notch! The only one left in my stable is Jupiter 12, 35mm f2.8 (Biogon) that fits my Nikon S-2. I gave up on FSU Contax copies and Feds and Zorkis because shooting with 35mm film cameras has become more expensive. Should I wish to continue, I prefer my Leica, Nikon and Canon rangefinder and SLR cameras for my film expositions. The only other 35mm cameras I still have and use are Vito II, Contessa, Rollei 35. I have definitely "thinned the herd"
    : < (
  16. In my experience, the Helios-103 is the best all around lens that came from the old USSR. Let us keep the secret.
  17. Very nice series, colorful and crisp. Thanks, sp.
  18. Fine images from one of my favourite lenses, JDM. The Helios is just about the best "bargain" lens currently available, in my opinion, though your post may change all that... There's a theory, apocryphal or otherwise, that when the 6-element Summicron appeared in 1979 the designers at Arsenal were most impressed and set out to create a copy. The two lenses are very similar, and the timing looks about right...
  19. Very nice and colorful images of these warbirds JDM. Great work with the Helios.
    Maybe I should look for one of these too. I've only got a 50mm Sonnar and Tessar for my Contax II and III.
  20. I really don't want to detour into the lens history area again, but let's just all salute the virtues of Double Gauss design, regardless of maker and time.
    Rick, you can do a lot worse than the Sovietski lenses for a lot more money. I just got a Jupiter-8 to compare with my "Sonnar" .
    However, I will probably draw the line there. The Jupiter-3 f/1.5 lenses are going for about the same money as many real (always ?) Sonnars.
  21. Sounds fascinating but I'm only getting white space where the pics should be :(
  22. Sometimes the new way of displaying images on takes a while or stalls depending on the settings of your browser.
    Try "Reload " from the 'View" menu in Firefox or similar command in other Browsers.
  23. Press CTRL+F5 to also refreshes the browser cash and reload everything on the page. Sometimes works better then just pressing F5 to refresh the page.
  24. Thanks for that explanation JDM, I must try another sample of the Jupiter. The few versions of the Helios that I have are really good, better quality control there maybe?
    I have recently bought a Jupiter 3 F1.5 in Contax mount, haven't had time to try it yet, although it seems well made with a nice round diaphragm.
  25. Very nice pics... I'm inspired I have this combination too.
  26. Cool photos. I've had a Helios 103 since I got my Kiev 4M back in 2005. It's a fantastic lens. Try it with some E-6 film if you can still find processing. Great to see the C.A.F. is still around. I recall seeing their B-29 Superfortress fly back in 1982. Quite an impressive beast even today. And for the record that "B-24" is actually and LB-30, the armed transport version of the same famous bomber. I believe Churchill used one for his personal aircraft during WWII.
  27. Thanks all,
    Russ, there was no "false advertising claim" on the "B-24" - here are its markings in larger detail:
  28. The .- ..-. .- - -.-. on the logo is "AFATC", BTW (-... - .--).

Share This Page