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

  • Trueash

    Any tool can be good or bad. If the photographs are remarkable * only * for the fact that one is "sharp" and the other is "soapy," then both are shit.

  • Jury

    Thank you, write interesting and competently

  • Ivan

    I often use a monocle on shooting, especially when the client wants to get something non-standard. This August I was in Sochi and took photographs by order of the company which sells yachts and boats. They also publish a glossy magazine with other similar firms. He worked with and without a monocle. Those photographs that were through the monocle were accepted with a bang. In general, there was an impression that the customer had seen the photographs in such a design for the first time. This, in principle, did not surprise me, since few photographers use this technique.

    • Novel

      Is there a couple of examples so that I turn a blind eye to frank and inappropriate advertising?

  • Jury

    On the specified site, about 70% of my photos. But I have already sold the copyright for them

  • Dmitro Podkova

    “Binoculars for one eye only” is not called a monocle, but a MONOCULAR. And there really is a monocle for one eye, in the form of half of the glasses.

  • Vlad

    To be honest, the photos on the monocle were not impressive at all. One feels not “lightness and airiness”, but as if sleepy after a stormy party, he climbed out into the street and with a cloudy look trying to find the way.

    • B. R. P.

      Well, to the regulars of such parties, everything around seems to be like that. I saw beautiful photos on a monocle. Only it should be the “correct” monocle and the ability to shoot with it. Plus, the author must have an artistic taste. All these components rarely coincide. Especially now, with the development of technology, a monocle, stenop, film, etc. go into the category of exploration. Everything can be photoshopped. In addition to the thin taste and talent.

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