View Full Version : Information on my received Helios - 103 lens

11-02-2003, 20:14

I live in Israel, and this week I received my ordered Kiev 4m, fitted with a normal lens named Helios-103 1:1,8/53mm.

I will like to have any reliabe information on this newer named lens fitted to my recently acquired Kiev made in 1983, to my knowledge the last model made before the factory ended the Kiev production during 1984.

Thanks in advance, from Israel


back alley
11-02-2003, 21:13
greetings alex & welcome to the forum.

i'm sure someone will be along soon to answer your question.
unfortunately i'm not the one for this set up.


Rich Silfver
11-02-2003, 22:31
Not sure if your questions are answered there already but the most complete forum for Russian cameras are probably at:

Another great site is at:

11-03-2003, 00:41
Well, I can't really give you any technical info on it, but I can say that I've had excellent results with it on my Kiev. Easily the best Soviet lens I've used - sharp but with a nice character to the images. It also has a few more "modern" touches such as a click-stopped aperture ring that you don't see on the Jupiter and Industar lenses, and seems very nicely built. It's a shame they didn't make a LTM version...

11-03-2003, 02:13
On the book 'Collecting and using classic cameras' by Ivor Matanle I read there is an adapter for using Contax lenses on LTM cameras (imagination applied in order to solve the post-war importation restrictions). The manufacturer was Cook&Perkins, and I think the model was named MKIIIa. If it's available nowadays, I don't have the faintest idea, but you can always try... :)

06-09-2004, 23:59
BTW, I have such lenses and adapters in stock.
Some info about this lens available at http://rafcamera.com/scl/contax/helios-103.htm

And I'll translate original manual for this lens within a week.

06-10-2004, 02:26
Originally posted by RafCamera
BTW, I have such lenses and adapters in stock.

Is there such a thing as an adaptor that goes the other way? i.e. to use LTM or M lenses on a Contax body?

Just wondering, John

Brian Sweeney
06-10-2004, 02:33
Now that we have a Kiev Mount Expert in the forum: I would like to ask about the differences in the Physical Bayonet Mount (Not Flange-to-Film distance) between the Contax, Nikon, and Kiev that allow:
1: Zeiss and Nikon lenses can be Physically mounted on the two manufacturers bodies, A Sonnar mounts easily on a Nikon and Nikkors mount Physically on the Contax.
2: Kiev Jupiter-8 and Helios-103 lenses mount easily on the Contax BUT NOT on the Nikon. I have had some mount by filing the locking pin down, and another that does not mount - it seems to hang up on the bayonet.
3: Tanar Lenses marked with a "C" (on the lens mount) for Contax will not mount on Nikon bodies. The Tanar 135 F3.5 mounts well on the Contax, but required some filing of the locking mechanism to mount on the Kiev.
4: Nikon lenses with a "C" (on the barrel) for Contax will mount on Nikon bodies. I changed the Flange-to-Film distance on one of my S2's to properly focus with the "C" lenses. I calibrated it at 8' to "split the difference" between close-ups and infinity. It works well, even with the 135.

AAAAAHHHHH!!! What did they do to these mounts that look identical!

06-10-2004, 02:43
I'm not so skilled specialist as you think, unfortunately.
I never hold a Contax or Nikon camera in my hands, so I have no ability to compare these cameras. Your info is intersting but I have nothing to add to it.
I live in Belarus and dealing with Russian cine equipment primarily. As to Helios-103 lenses, I just bought a wholesale quantity of them to sell them during next 10 years ;-)

As to LTM to contax mount. I didn't saw it. But I suppose that it is possible to make it. Unfortunately, all my machinists and designers are about to leave for vacation in next couple weeks...

06-11-2004, 13:55
Well, here they are, the original Orions and Cook&Perkins, all together...


not for sale and only for watching, but not a common thing to see on eBay nowadays...

that makes me think... could such kind of adapter be constructed again using a Nikon/Contax mount and some reverse engineering... just dreaming you know, but fun to dream anyway !

Brian Sweeney
06-11-2004, 20:40
Steve Gandy will have such adapters made new for $1,000ea. My "dreaming" is to look at a Kiev and imagine it cheaper. The focal length of the Leica and Nikon is the same, so an old parts Nikon would be better. But the difference is not so great as to impact a 50mm lens or wide. On the other hand, $1,000 gets you a full set of Nikkor lenses in LTM these days.

06-11-2004, 21:34
We can make such things cheaper, I think. But we need a sample and corresponding cameras to check a prototypes.
So, we'll start with ltm lens to Kiev body adapter just to see if we can make it.

06-12-2004, 01:08
It's really nice to see such an interest in this project even if it's only a 'dream' !
Somebody modified an LTM lens to fit a Kiev body with some success, more info here:

Brian, I think that even if we can get that Nikkor set easily, there would be enough 'mad people' like us out there interested in having those adapters made again :)

So RafCamera you may have started something here, just keep us informed ! ;)

06-17-2004, 02:24
I just looked through Russin passport of the Helios-103 lens. There is nothing except of tech info and factory warranty. But tech info is bit different form the info I had before (resolution). So, my description is updated.

As to adapters, we didn't started this project yet due to heavy load with other projects. Sorry.

Brian Sweeney
06-17-2004, 02:43
The Orion Type Adapters allow the use of Contax and Nikon mount lenses on Leica Thread Mount and M-Mount cameras. They are rare, and expensive... Steve Gandy has an original for sale at $1,800. The Nikon and Contax mount lenses usually sell for a lot less than Leica contemporaries, ie I picked up an 8.5cm F2 in Nikon S-Mount for $189, a truly mint 50mm F2 for $150, and a 135 F3.5 for $43! An adapter for a "reasonable" amount ($200?) that allowed these lenses to fit, focus, and RF couple on M series and Screw mount series would have a good niche market. It would have to have the helical built in to the adapter and have a RF coupling cam for the Leica coupling. A Kiev Helical with a M-Mount adapter may be the place to start "rapid Prototyping". Could that be done?

06-17-2004, 03:04
I don't have any M-mount camera. I have only Kiev's, FED's, and Zorki's,

Brian Sweeney
06-17-2004, 05:46
An "Orion Type" adapter made for the leica Screw Mount camera could easily use a Screw-mount to M-Mount adapter to work on the M-Mount camera. An adapter to fit the lenses on a screw mount camera should work on both LTM and M-Mount. If it works on a Fed, it should work on an M3.

06-17-2004, 08:12
This is getting more and more interesting !

So probably the rapid prototye would be one without the RF cam. Just the Kiev helical mount and a screw thread to give the proper film to flange distance. This would provide the lens mount and allow for not RF coupled focusing.

Then the most difficult part is probably attaching the RF cam to the Kiev helical, this is where my mechanical knowledge disolves into nothing, sometimes I still wonder about how the internal focusing mechanism of the Kiev/Contax works.

But it's never late to learn something new, don't you think so ? BTW $200 is exactly the price I was thinking of to be reasonable, however, I bet the availability of such an affordable adapter would increase prices for those Sonnar and Nikkor lenses :)


Brian Sweeney
06-18-2004, 02:40
And by this time Rafcamera is regretting that he ever told us that he had a MechE with photographic hardware experience...

The Nikon RF has an RF pickup that looks just like the Leica; a small wheel that makes contact with the back of the lens-helical. The difference is that the helical is built into the camera, rather than mounted with the lens. The cam is set up for 51.6mm focal length, just as the Leica; but different from the 52.3mm focal length of the Contax. The difference in back focus is VERY slight for the various distances; I have an Excel spreadsheet if anyone is interested. A Contax lens mounted on a Nikon will focus slightly behind the spot as indicated by the RF. When the Nikon camera indicates 36", the Contax or Jupiter "Normal" lens is really focussed at 37". I changed the flange-to-film distance on my S2 so that the "50mm" (52.3mm) Sonnar was in focus as indicated by 8' on the Nikon distance scale and then calibrated the Nikon RF for 8'. I could not change the helical itself, so I "Split the Difference". The results were good enough to use the 135 "C"ontax lens on the Nikon.

Nikon S2 with Contax mount 135 (http://mywebpages.comcast.net/brianvsweeney/s2n135_nikki8.jpg)

Another Shot with Nikon S2 with Contax mount 135 (http://mywebpages.comcast.net/brianvsweeney/s2n135_nikki1.jpg)

02-13-2005, 04:48
I'm sorry for being silent too long.
I tried few my fellow techs, and all of them told me that it is impossible to use an LTM lenses of Contax (Kiev) bodies with any adapter. It is sad.

Brian Sweeney
02-13-2005, 05:44
RAFcamera, thankyou for checking. The very rare "converters" that have been made essentially allow use of Nikon S-Mount and Contax RF lenses on Leica cameras by building an entire contax mount that screws into the 39mm (or M-Mount) body. It has the entire focus helical built into it, and a cam that connects to the RF coupling of the camera. They typically go in the $1,000 range. They are anything but a simple adapter. I found it cheaper to buy 5 Nikkor lenses in LTM than to buy one of these "converters".

02-14-2005, 14:04
Cozva, the Helios 103 is a very good lens, I prefer it to the Jupiter for colour work. it is very simialar to a good Zeiss Biotar, nice OOF areas with velvety colour renditions esp. on portraits. As one member said, it is too bad it was not made in LTM. The Jupiter 8 is also a classic esp. for B & W shooting in low contrast situations, so that what I use the Jupiter for.Eventually you should own both, the price is certainly affordable.

02-16-2005, 04:29
I lost track of what is going on with these adapters. Did anybody made some sort of reverse adapter (to mount Helios lens onto LTM camera)?
If not, may be it is worth to try this?
BTW, why I don't receive notifications about new posts in this thread?

02-16-2005, 06:03
I wonder if the lens block from a Helios-103 would fit into the Jupiter's body? That would be one relativly easy way to have a LTM Helios.


02-16-2005, 10:27
Raf, as far as I know, the idea a crazy group of people (myself included :)) had a while ago of building these Contax lens to LTM body adapters using Kiev lens helicals is still going on. The first prototype is being built and will be sent to SKGrimes for testing and evaluation. If it goes well, the idea would be to have them machined there.

Mark D.
10-05-2010, 00:04
I'm bumping an extremely old thread, but it is very relevant to my current interests.

Was anyone successful in making a DIY Contax adapter with the Kiev helical? Is it as simple as buying a broken Kiev and attaching the adapter to it then testing and modifying the depth of the adapter until it focuses properly to infinity?

Brian Sweeney
10-05-2010, 02:33
Amedeo did one better than this with a custom made helical. Several adapters were available from Hong Kong as well, under $250 or so.

Almost forgot: I hacked a Helios-103 into LTM using a close-up adapter for a Summar.

Mark D.
10-05-2010, 14:18
Amedeo does make amazing adapters.

The idea of making it myself along with the low(er) price tag is appealing to me. I'm hoping to find a bit of background information from the people that have attempted it before trying it myself.

Brian Sweeney
10-05-2010, 14:50
If you have s specific lens, it is often easiest to transfer of optics module into the focus mount of an LTM lens. I prefer that for making Zeiss Sonnars into Leica Mount. I've converted a Zeiss Tessar using Industar-61 mounts. I just bought two Exacta mount Tessars for conversion.