Monocle - a lens with just one lens. The lens is necessarily concave-convex, often called the meniscus. On the one hand, a monocle thing is nowhere simpler, but on the other hand, it is a very difficult device to understand and operate.

This review presents two monocles, one redone from the Helios-44 lens, and the other from the Helios-44m-4 lens. Both monocles are very similar. The best thing monocles from converted Helios behave on apertures 4.0-8.0, I almost always use them on 5.6 and forget about the aperture control ring. It's funny, but if you close the aperture to 16.0, then the lens turns into a rather dark, but sharp lens.

Monocle aperture with Helios-44m-4 lens

Aperture on the monocle from the Helios-44m-4 lens

Monocle best made from a lens with a large aperture. The more aperture lens - the more interesting the drawing will be. I met bright thoughts that the diaphragm of the monocle should be annular. Well, even if not a ring, then at least placed in front of the lens, and not behind it (as in a conventional lens).

Photo on a monocle. After the rain.

Photo on a monocle. After the rain.


  1. Simple unique pattern... And no editor can repeat the airiness and volume of the picture. If you take a few good shots with a monocle, you can fall in love with it for life.
  2. Cheap manufacturing. You can make a monocle yourself. How to do this is not difficult to find on the Internet. Usually, simple monocles, such as mine, are made of inexpensive fast fixed lenses of the same type as Helios-81n, Helios-44m-X.
  3. The lens is very light and you don’t have to worry about its integrity, even if it breaks down, you can always do one more.
Photo on a monocle. Portrait.

Photo on a monocle. Portrait.


  1. Spherical and chromatic aberration, distortionfalling contrast. But in skillful hands, these shortcomings turn into virtues, the main thing is the right approach. Even in the backlight you can get an interesting photo for the landscape from it.
  2. Focus difficulty. Not for the faint of heart. After switching from autofocus zoom to a monocle, your head may slightly ache from trying to get into sharpness.
  3. Like the other manual lens, on most Nikon D-SLR cameras from Nikon the exposure meter will not work... For more details on how to work with manual optics on a Nikon system, see the article - Soviet optics. How to work on the Canon system in the article old lenses at canon
  4. It’s almost impossible to make a zoom monocle
Monocle photo. Street after the rain. Bright spherical aberration

Monocle photo. Street after the rain. Bright spherical aberration

Regarding working with monocle

When you close the aperture, not only does the depth of field change, but also the focus point itself. The usual method of aiming on the open and taking a picture on the covered one is not suitable. Therefore, you need to focus on the sharpness already at the aperture on which you plan to shoot. To facilitate focusing on film cameras, it is advisable to use special focusing screens. On DSLR cameras, only a keen eye will help without additional funds, sometimes Live View. But even Live View helps very little and is difficult to focus on.

Monocle photo. Telephone.

Monocle photo. Telephone.

About the picture on the monocle

Picture really unusual, actually, only for the sake of the picture, people use the monocle. The monocle has the strongest spherical aberrations (blur between contrasting elements in the image). And these aberrations serve as a good service for creating interesting pictures. The monocle is especially appreciated for creating portraits with interesting effects. Also for still life and landscape - there the monocle can show its fabulous drawing.

Most of the distortions are visible at the edges of the frame, therefore, by placing objects in the center of the photo, you can well focus on it. In general, images printed on A4 look very good with monocle.

Monocle is excellent transfers volume. In the portrait you can forget about skin defects and begin to focus on the character of the person being portrayed. The softness and lightness of the monocle is very important for a facial portrait. Spherical aberrations may eat sharpness, but the monocle gives the contours of the image, which is very, very important in photography.

Monocle photo. Smoke from the chimneys of the night city

Monocle photo. Smoke from the chimneys of the night city

The most interesting

And the most interesting thing is that in post-processing impossible to repeat monocle pattern. So if someone asks you if it’s easier to just take a photo, tell him that the monocle pattern cannot be faked. At the same time, the monocle is in demand among professionals, and as such the lens is not released. That is, it is not so easy to find a monocle on sale, it is much easier to order its manufacture from a working lens or just buy an already made one. If you are looking for a monocle, then note that there is monocle lens, but there’s just a monocle (like binoculars, for one eye only).

When remaking Helios-44 and Helios-44m-4, the focus distance scale no longer works, and the 58mm lens itself turns into a 70mm short telephoto somewhere. To be able to focus normally, attach a pair of extension rings to the lens. I use a monocle from Helios-44 using the KP-42 \ N adapter. A lens with such a ring perfectly focuses on infinity, which cannot be achieved with the KP-42 \ N without a lens with a conventional lens.

Monocle Sample Photos. All photos without a backing, only reduced size and imprinted EXIF. You can imagine what will happen to the photos if you also apply the simplest processing to them, such as translating the photo in shades of gray, sepia, etc.

As advertising: If you are interested in the monocle, you can order it by the contacts indicated in the manual optics section.


Monocle is a very simple device, which gives an incredibly interesting picture. If you learn to use the monocle correctly, then you can create real masterpieces in photography. Usually monocle get a remake of an old fast fixed lens, the issue price is quite modest.

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 107, on the topic: Monocle

  • SONY

    > Well, even if not annular, then at least placed in front of the lens, and not behind it (as in a conventional lens).

    Exactly. In the monocle, the diaphragm should be in front of the lens (if you think in your mind the path of the rays going at an angle to the optical axis, it is easy to notice that the position of the diaphragm is very important). The distance is selected experimentally (you can calculate, but you need to be able to).
    If you “score” on this, then, in principle, the meniscus is an optional requirement. Any collecting lens will do. Just a meniscus with a diaphragm in front of it gives maximum quality.
    Well, in an ordinary lens, the aperture is not behind and not in front, but between the lenses.

    > Disadvantages: Spherical and chromatic aberrations, distortion, drop in contrast.

    So these are its main advantages :-)

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Well, because it is written that this is also its virtues. Read the full story.

      • Jury

        Arkady, you won’t tell who you can order a monocle from.

  • Swami Doupadu

    Good afternoon, I noticed that on some lenses Helios is written in Russian, and on some in Latin - HELIOS, is there a difference? I dug up HELIOS-44-2 2/58 in my dad's closet =))

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Some with Latin went for export, therefore, in theory, better quality. But as my practice shows, there is no difference.

  • Viktor Minchenko

    I read it with interest, thanks! The main thing is that it inspires confidence ...)) For some reason, you want to read about a monocle based on MIR 24 N. Maybe because it has a Nikon shank ...? And is it possible? And it itself has enough necessary lenses (in my opinion). Yours faithfully…

    • Dmitry E.

      in my opinion it’s not worth it, the lens is quite rare and suitable, it’s better to have a lot of helios / worlds

  • Elizabeth

    Good afternoon, Arkady!
    I understand correctly that such a pattern (blur, airiness, softness and smoothness of lines) can give a soft-focus lens or a soft-focus lens?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes maybe.

  • Shaloman

    And it must be added that in monocles the zone of greatest contrast and the zone of best focus are two different things and are at some distance from each other (a couple of degrees). And it is advisable to get in the center.
    The external diaphragm can be attached from the Kiev movie camera. There, in some cameras, the external diaphragm went and it fits perfectly on the diameter of G44-2. and she is working, that is, she can be controlled.
    The soft filter will not give a monocle like pattern to the full.

  • Andrew

    QUESTION: Does multi-enlightenment and focus length matter or can I try on any?
    I ask, because I saw a 2,8 28mm lens with a yellow lens coating on a flea market.
    lies long ago, met. case, clean, even in a case.
    get a monocle from him?

    • anonym

      lens enlightenment is necessary for optical circuits with two or more groups of lenses. There is one lens in the monocle, so it does not need enlightenment, although it does not hurt.

  • Jury

    I have a desire to make a monocle from Helios-81N, I have 2 pieces, one in excellent condition that I will leave for normal shooting, the other for worse and could be used for this purpose. But is it possible to do this from this lens and where to find instructions? Google crawled for Helios-81H and did not find instructions only for Helios-44. You can buy cheap and 44, but you will still need to buy a bunch of adapters, but it will not be cheap ((

    • anonym

      sell your helios-81N and for the money raised buy a ready-made monocle.

  • Alexander

    I love to do to collect original lenses with artistic parameters. Their main meaning is that technical criteria do not work, everything that the lens gives out - use it for your artistic ideas. This week I just collected a moderate macro from Helios 44M and a cinematic 8 mm Meteor 8. It gives a very interesting drawing, a zone of sharpness in the center and goes to the edges as it melts in water. Unusual rendering of blue (well, what, Meteor "blue" has been known for a long time). Bokeh spins into fractals. If you just unscrew the back group and leave the front lenses, then you get a lens of about 70mm, maybe more, the twist goes away, but the dissolution to the edges and the blue remain. Interesting. The only negative is the size of the Meteor liz, it is larger than the Helios block and smaller than its helicoid, I did not pick up the bushings, put them on chopiks from toothpicks, I will sharpen the bushing.

    • Inna

      Very beautiful !

    • Stas

      Such an effect is achieved by putting on a transparent filter on a protective lens and taking Vaseline and smearing it in diameter towards the center, but the center is not touched by the method of selecting the density of the prayer, or even just touching the glass with a fat finger in a circle, this was used by photo video operators back in 1950 or maybe be earlier), many Soviet-era cartoons, especially from dolls, are filmed in this way, where there is a loss of sharpness from the edges. good luck with your experiments ...

      • With Sergei

        Thanks for the advice.

      • Anatoly

        This is how I make a "ray" filter. It turns out pretty bad. The best ointment in this case is silicone. It is completely transparent.

    • With Sergei

      This designer has a super picture .. I'm impressed. Especially a twig.

    • Marina

      Indeed, an incredibly beautiful twig turned out!

    • Igor

      Oh, Alexander, this is how you turned out (according to the drawing) one of the dear Helios! This is Helios 40-2. Hello !!!

  • Yuriy75

    My head ached to look at these photos, not like working with monocle. I do not see any point in this device. Reminds a picture from modern games.

  • Anatoly

    Yuriy75. It's a matter of taste. Not all people even love meat ...

  • Ruslan

    Honestly, the photos were not impressed, some blur. Of course, maybe this is a monocle chip, but as they say, this is not for everybody.

  • Anton

    you are addicts, gentlemen, if you like this picture. unscrew the wheel of the car and say this is a trick. this is called a spoiled photo. Can't be faked in Photoshop? lolshto? firstly it is possible, and secondly it is meaningless. and this is not categorical in the style of the pictures should be clear. no lubrication can transmit motion. the picture may be soft. and here is the picture "my lens fogged up"

    • anonym

      and here the picture "my lens is foggy"

      Yes, the examples of the photographs are just awful, completely different from the monocle. Just a foggy lens.

  • Denis

    Some kind of perversion, the picture is the wildest soap, highlights, the minimum resolution (somewhere on the level of the first phones with a camera, there is also a monocle, by the way), I did not find any drawing at all. In order to see the “drawing” and “awesome picture” in this set of optical disturbances, one must have a very peculiar (if not to say, perverted) taste.

  • Alex

    All felt-tip pens are different in taste and color, I really liked the photo, especially the 11th with puddles. Respect and respect to the author :)

    • Anatoly Bigaydarov, Gomel

      You can monoclate with any whale oblique - especially Nikon's or Canon's. The question is who is the monoclite! This is art, and it is a gift from God, and it falls to only one out of thousands of camera owners.

  • Kel

    Photod * contour! :)

    • Lynx

      "Your opinion is very important to us" (c) TM

  • Jury

    Made a monocle from Helios 44, the first releases from the zenith, the focal length is somewhere around 75-80 mm,
    shot another film, oil painting!, after buying the numbers
    I made a focal length from the industrial range 61L / D with a rangefinder in the region of 35mm, the picture is still not very good, I will refine it, and the monocle of 44 on the crop is too long-focus, but in any case the game is worth the candle, just with the plots you need to watch that shoot, who strive for romance in the pictures, do not be too lazy to do it, although now you can already buy or order a finished one, all the creative successes!

  • Svetlana

    Good afternoon! Above, we have already asked a question about Helios 81 N. How to convert it into a monocle, but there is no answer, share it if anyone knows ...

    • anonym

      1. Sell g-81N to Nikonovod
      1. To buy the finished monocle with the money raised.

  • Irina

    I like to experiment, to break the “rules”. I repaired the broken-down Jupiter-37 A, and we got titl-type pictures. One of these days I will convert Helios 44-2 into a monocle. Although one has already been converted into a title. You have to be a romantic, gentlemen!

  • Oleg

    A very entertaining thing to play with at your leisure. You will have to try it yourself. For those who write about sharpness (its absence) and other “shortcomings”: a picture perfect in terms of quality will be simply boring. Did you never get photos that were blurry, low-contrast, with bizarre hares, or some other defects, and that is why you liked them?

  • Alexander

    The photos somehow reminded the pictures in adverse conditions of old mobile phones with a 1.3Mpix camera))))

  • Denis

    It is simply physically painful to look at the photos presented in the article :). The impression of being photographed through a very dirty and dull glass is even worse. Yes, soft focus as an effect can look very good, especially portraits. But in this case it is overkill - too much loss of clarity and contrast. For soft focus, you need an appropriate lens or filter.

  • anonym

    Let's start with the fact that “monocles made of helios” are not monocles in the classical sense of monocles. There is no positive meniscus inside the helios, and there can be no successful monocle. And real monocles are appreciated not for what is shown in the photos above, almost all successful photographs with monocles that I have seen are, first of all, magic rays of backlight that become, as it were, tangible.

  • Novel

    You take Helios 40-2 with an adapter for Nikon (thick, not Chinese, with a correctly enlightened line and, so as not to suffer, Lushnikov’s dandelion), unscrew from it (the adapter, do not spoil the Helios!) This same lens (of course, for educational purposes ), you will certainly drop it on the floor, table, etc., swear with kind words (and what to do) and screw it back into the adapter, of course back to front.
    What are we getting ?!
    from F1,5 to F5,6 - this is not just a monocle (although the contrast is greatly reduced even in hard and bright sunlight), but some wild, softest-halo INFERNO not from this world. The degree of awe is adjustable by the aperture, fully letting go with F8.

  • Daria

    I don’t understand, they say that the monocle turns out to have a sharp circle in the middle of the frame, and in general I thought that on any frame there should be at least a small piece of sharp, otherwise it’s soap, I see a lot of pictures where there is no play at all. So what should an artist look like? Monocle photo. And yes, I agree with the statement above that it is not a sharp shot, but it clings to the soul so much that it cannot be deleted. But I’m interested in what exactly can photos that do not have sharpness taken with a monocle be considered professional, or is it a marriage, or is the monocle the exception?
    I’m shooting with Soviet lenses and the problem with focus is on the edge, there are beautiful shots but very often not sharp enough, help with advice!

    • Julia

      Daria, in art photography, everything that is good according to “artistic” criteria is “professional” :) And for advertising and other commercial purposes, you will not shoot with similar effects.

  • anonym

    A shabby lens on the phone’s camera gives the same effect. You fight with it, polish it, and here they offer to do it on purpose. Brrr

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