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

  • Anatoly

    And so my monocle draws

  • anonym

    It's not worth the candle ... modern post-processing can give any result ... making something good out of your taste is easier than out of g ... candy ... excuse me ...

    • Alex

      To you, the author wrote several races - no post-processing WILL GIVE such a result, you will NOT do this with Photoshop, of course.

      • Dmitriy

        Are you used to blindly believe everything they write on the Internet?

    • anonym

      With your philosophy, it’s easier to hire a professional photographer, and you don’t have to bother with anything.

  • Rodin

    I hate those who spend their working lenses on these stupid monocles, especially the helios. None of the lenses of Helios closely resemble a monocle, for a monocle is a landscape lens.

  • anonym

    excellent! The effect of watching Soviet cinema in the late seventies and early eighties.

    • Vlad

      To be honest, that says more about this movie...

  • Dmitriy

    Here are some more examples of monocle photos.

    • Oleg

      Well, you need to be kinder, we understand everything: Beauty will save the world ...

  • Olga

    Hello everyone! I ask for advice on how to make a monocle from Mir-1v

  • anonym

    some bullshit. On the contrary, people give a lot to get clear sharp images, the whole industry gets rid of optical distortion. And here they do it on purpose, the pictures seem to have been passed over the eyes with sandpaper and make you look at the LED lamp with open eyes. I'm sick of such photos, honestly. There is no practical sense, except to show a stupid cunt "oh look, what a photo turned out" They love it, all sorts of shit editors in Instagram and other cattle photo resources. People waste time and money when all this can be put on a more sensible channel.

    • EvgenyDd

      I completely agree. The photos are disgusting.
      Apparently, many find it difficult to admit - how to go against the opinion of the guru and the thousands of teapots who look into the mouth of the guru ... Well, there is not enough strength to take it and say that despite the cost of hundreds of millions, both “Scream” and Doctor Gachet ”are shit canine ... Mass opinion is a self-sustaining phenomenon ...
      Monocle is the same shit as lomography ...

      • Denis

        Here is a popular opinion and imposed on you the stereotype that a figure can do anything. Fuck there. It can only repeat after the film of the cell since everything comes from it. And it will not work to achieve the same quality. Since the film is created by chemists and a mathematics figure.

      • Bulldozer

        For Eugene DD. You are not only a completely illiterate person in art and photography, but still terribly aggressive in your ignorance. Monocle allows you to draw and take artistic pictures, and not just a sharp statement of facts. Moreover, you need to learn not only to watch, but also to see. Which, unfortunately, God did not give you. And gross aggression is just your defensive reaction to what you do not understand and do not feel. I am sincerely sorry for you. Because a lot of good things in life pass you by.

        • Michael

          For you, art and artistry is, apparently, in soap and bokeh. This is the second pole, though somewhere in the middle)

        • Anatoly

          I completely agree with your assessment of the photos from the monocle. Ignorance is everywhere. I have been engaged in amateur photography since the 50s, but I never shot it with a monocle. In May of this year, I bought a monocle based on Helius-44 with two external diaphragms on the thread. I have a friend, a professional photographer, told me how in the old days to create a monocle effect, he smeared the lens filter with Vaseline.
          I'll try to shoot. I understand that it’s better to shoot in the rain or on a cloudy day, in the fog, when nature itself creates a monocle effect.
          If you have any "tricks" when working with a monocle, share, please.
          A.I. Belsky

  • anonym

    ... The Magic Bullet looks plugin for fsh ... it has a diffusion filter and I assure you that this so-called monocle will end up in the trash can ... write to VK we will chat)

  • kronitopov

    I regularly precipitate from comments like “pictures from a monocle - turbid city ..”.
    firstly, you need to be able to shoot, and secondly, the aesthetics of pictorialism, as they say, for a trained audience.

    • Lynx

      we drag then 90% of the photos from the monocle - muddy g..but

    • Lennaganci

      I also consider it a great tool for the monocle, for whom there is not enough flight, thoughts can sit while on the veins of sharpness, you look and see clearly)

  • anonym

    If you screw the lens +2, then the rings are not needed

  • Matthew

    But there is a difference - the assembly at Helios-81N is different. The procedure for converting it into a monocle is also noticeably different. I can’t provide a detailed description, since enough time has passed. But this is an easy and workable procedure.

  • anonym

    Arkady, but I can't find the section "Manual optics". Suggest contacts for ordering a lens

  • Tatyana

    Thanks for the article.
    Those who are yapping that this is soap and perversion: according to your feedback, language and level of intelligence, it’s immediately clear that you have nothing to do with the art of photography, you’re just pathetic. Silence is better, then you can pass for smart.
    And for those who doubt they need a monocle or not, follow this link:
    In this article, the author describes how to focus correctly and why photographers often miss. An exercise for proper focusing is also described there. And on the site of the author, who makes excellent monocles, there are examples of good photos, if the photos in this review did not quite convince you. Although I liked almost everything, especially "After the rain"
    Add one of my photos made by monocle. It seems to me that it was the monocle that helped to highlight the plot and gave the photo a sort of plaque of the old photo, removing the deprivation of detail.

    • Master

      Have you ever seen pictures of Glazed? You here criticize and humiliate those who do not like these photos, but look at the photos of Glazd. Until now, they do not know how he achieved these successes, but his photographs are much better than those shown here. Such a feeling that the distortion of 'helios' lenses is beneficial to the current competitors of the lenses.

    • Zhenya

      This is not a photograph, this is shit. If only to remove the shit on lynhoff will remain shit

  • Tatyana

    Here is another portrait. In fact, the monocle can be removed and very blurry and almost clear, it all depends on the diaphragm. And from my point of view, black and white portraits are especially good. But this is a matter of taste.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    I like the photo from the stock Helios more. It seems to me that in the photo from the monocle, there is no sharpness even on the subject

  • Max

    Damn, what are you singing about Helios, you can buy them with buckets, a penny. If you do not understand the monocle, why whine and sob? I have 10 pieces of helios, one ditched to a monocle, why pity him, a piece of iron. But under the monocle, the plot is not easy to find.

    • Rodion

      Because the Helios monocle is shit. And in general, from the lenses, handicraft monocles are crap. One uncle just started to produce a specially calculated monocle - and the difference is very important.

      • Nik

        Rodion. why are you so bilious? Or do you have your hands sharpened under the bolt? You like in Yeralash - “settled down here”, “lay down here” Well, you don’t like the handicraft monocle - buy NOT ORNATE from my uncle. I made myself two - from I-50-2 and G -44-2. and I have no regrets. My budget (as well as many here) does not allow me to go to UNCLE. Good luck.

        • zengarden

          Probably, was meant - they developed their fifty-dollar monocle there; and the rest are made / sold from converted Soviet lenses.

          • Onotole

            Looked at their site. If this is really the same uncle who specially designed the monocle - then well, he nafig. I did not see anything pleasant in the drawing, rather the opposite. They also make monocles out of the same helios, other old Soviet lenses, and in general from a lot of things. They even offer autofocus (!) Monocles, which in itself is a utopia - to the eye it will always look like the strongest front focus.

        • Rodion

          Well, do it yourself - order the lens you need in the optics and that's it (it will have a shape just for the minimum of aberrations, most likely), why the hell would you turn normal lenses into this shit?

          • Lennaganci

            You compared, what are they better?))

  • Max

    That's what a fun monocle

  • Olga

    Here such connoisseurs have gathered ... a monocle is not a monocle, if only you were at least something to think about or understand the issue. Malevich's black square is worth millions of dollars, even though the fans have not 100% seen this masterpiece. So the art historians are home-grown, who has "all the g ... but" most likely smeared it under his nose.

    • Nik

      Class !!

  • Pawel

    When I read the article, I thought that I would write something like "soap and go. But", but after reading the reviews, I realized 2 things: firstly, there are every second such writers, and secondly, there are really interesting photos in the comments. I recently read how Arkady makes his reviews, how long it takes. We have to wait for the parcel, send, test, learn to use if necessary, look for aspects, take test photos, process, print and wait ... that some Vasya from Voronezh or Kherson will write - bullshit. Well, Arkady did not get artistic test pictures that Now? Or does anyone doubt that he is a good photographer? Monocles, lomographs, etc. are certainly not for everybody, but respect the work at least. My friend takes pictures badly on olik 4/3, so his portraits are all blurry, well, he translated B / W and got awesome shots, almost a monocle)))

  • anonym

    Look and read George Kolosov. For him, the monocle is a whole philosophy. I saw his pictures in print. There are no problems with sharpness. Beautifully incredible. And helios and industries are rubbish.

    • Lennaganci

      Yes, he himself takes them off, you just need to understand what you shoot and zachkkm and everything will work out)

  • Sergei

    Thanks for the review!
    But! Please! Please!
    You can jump from a tree, but made from a tree.
    The monocle is made from the lens.
    The cap can be removed from the lens, but not the monocle ...

    • Arkady Shapoval


  • anonym

    This effect can be achieved by shooting through polyethylene, and on any lens.

    • zengarden

      No. This is even very difficult to do even in a graphical editor (although there are special filters).

      • Nikita

        I usually don’t interfere in discussions of this type, but here I will answer - this effect is done by 4-5 manual operations in Photoshop. You need to select a little layer blending parameters, and, possibly, the field of sharpness, manually do something like a depth map. For me this is elementary, it will take several minutes for an accurate simulation. Well, if there are third-party self-described filters - so why not do it at all with one click. In fact, the effect is a very soft focus, plus a curvature of the field. I'm wrong? You need to correctly apply several blur layers, balancing the transparency between them and go over softlight + maybe something like hi / low pass. Or maybe it’s not even necessary :)

        • Anatoly

          Designers work in graphic editors. Photography is a separate subject. It is more interesting for a photographer to have different brushes - different lenses. Monocle. Steamed in Photoshop for the amateur.

  • George

    some kind of self-hypnosis about a "special" drawing ... ..for me so-soap!

    • Michael

      Not really. Spherical aberrations and low resolution (soap) are related things, but the result is different

  • Vadim

    Lord! :)
    Now I am turning more to the "ignorant". It's not about ignorance, it's about taste. Someone understands the monocle and he likes it, but someone on the contrary. For those who do not like it and who do not understand, see the work of Kolosov. And you will see all the thrill of the monocle. And then look at the shit that is being published here and say that the monocle is shit))

    PS The critic is the person who knows exactly how he would do if he could)
    Therefore, friends, do not be "critics", but see the real masters

    • Michael

      The matter is also in the taste of the viewer. Some people like pictorialism, some don't

  • Fast

    For me, a monocle is a great tool for soft portraits.
    Self-made lens.
    Criticize constructively, if not lazy)

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