LAST EDITED ON Jul-30-01 AT 09:05 AM (GMT)
The problem with people like me who got so used to full auto cameras is that we get lost (and panic!) once situations call for full manual operation. I hope you guys will be patient with me as I have to properly lay my premise for this post and see what I mean. I wanted to extend the range of my VR with a 2x teleconverter, hence, I purchased the Nikkor TC-201. However, after reading the post of BJNicholls regarding his comparison of the VR with Sigma's 50-500mm, it got me thinking. Here is the link:
His post included a reference to his test and picture posts on the VR and Sigma's 50-500mm. Again, the link:
Notably, one of the pictures in the post is that of Oquirrh mountain in Salt Lake City, taken with the VR and outfitted with the Sigma APO 2x teleconverter. Needless to say that the shot impressed me since shooting at 800mm handheld (?) is something else. To make a long story short, I now have two teleconverters, the TC-201 and the Sigma APO 2x.
The TC-201, lacking in electronic contacts and must be used with a tri-pod, practically disabled everything, i.e., the VR, autofocus, metering and all those wonderful things we paid for including in-camera data on shutter speed and aperture. The Sigma, on the otherhand, maintained the metering but without autofocus (on the VR @ 400mm f/5.6 - effectively f/11, it continuously hunts) but, at least, I have shutter speed and aperture display and, of course, the all important VR. However, for both teleconverters, lens/camera setting is shifted to manual focusing which had proven to be such a tedious task (for me, at least). I have practically been enslaved by my camera's autofocus and relied heavily on my in-camera digital focus display (you know, those two convering arrows with a black dot in the middle). For both teleconverters, I can't seem to set and fix the all important "black dot in the middle of the two converging arrows", and the latter continuously blink! Nontheless, I dared shoot since to my eye and from the in-camera view, the subject seemed focus. Howvere, the pictures I got are not the kind I wanted in terms of crispiness. How do you manage to focus with these teleconverters which do not give you in-camera focus display? With the TC-201 (do I use it on full manual?), how do I know if my shutter speed is in sync with my aperture opening absent the metering?
I am sorry if this appears to be too elementary-a-question to post but this definitely boggles my mind! Any kind-hearted/patient Nikonians out there who may be willing to put some directions in this stray cat's predicament?
#1. "RE: Teleconverter for 80-400mm VR" | In response to Reply # 0Obregon Charter MemberMon 30-Jul-01 10:57 AM
I use a Tamron 1.4x teleconverter with my 80-400. It has a full set of contacts. All functions work in all modes. I have to confess that it is not made with the precision that a Nikon converter would have (the camera is a little shaky hanging on the lens, but it doesn't seem to affect performance), but the original Nikon converter that I bought wouldn't accept my Nikon 70-300 lens.
One problem you may have with a 2x converter is that at 400 mm the camera is essentially looking through an f11 opening (f5.6 + 2 stops) and many of the autoomatic functions will not work with so little light. I seem to remember somewhere seeing that the 80-400 should not be used with a tele-converter longer than 1.4x.
#2. "800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 0Mon 30-Jul-01 01:40 PM
LAST EDITED ON Jul-30-01 AT 05:46 PM (GMT)
The Sigma converter is gone with the 50-500 zoom, the Nikon converter will go soon. I'm keeping the Tamron Pro 2X converter and will probably get a 1.4X converter of the same series (either by Tamron or the same converter as marketed by Kenko).
I'm sure I mentioned the full compatibility of the Tamron/Kenko pro converters in my various postings as compared to no AF support in the Sigma (which was designed for use with a lens with internal HSM and thus has no AF drive linkage) and the Nikon TC-201, which is optically top notch but which is way outdated with no support for AE and AF.
The Tamron 2X converter will do AF with the 80-400 lens at shorter focal lengths (in the fast part of the variable aperture). Unfortunately, that's not the range you want if you're resorting to a TC. The 1.4X converter only causes 1 stop loss, so I expect AF should be functional with the lower power converter, although you'll only get 560mm at maximum zoom, not 800mm.
Keep in mind my shot of the mountains was a relatively easy one to do. The snow covered mountain was quite bright, the distance was a few miles away and it was easy to see focus in the viewfinder using the groundglass. The VR really worked here, but I only shot this to test the concept. With lower light, closer subjects and (god forbid) anything moving you will have a tough time getting anything sharp at 800mm handheld even with VR on.
That's not a knock against VR or the 80-400. It's difficult to get a crisp shot at 800mm without very solid support and careful shooting technique, even with a superexpensive prime lens. I was impressed that I could use VR at 800mm and get anything useful - I really didn't mean to suggest that this was a viable way of shooting in most circumstances.
Some other specifics:
The TC-201 will meter with my F100 body, but it's a hassle to set up since I switch over to the aperture ring instead of the command dial. Although it has the edge optically, I'm not willing to keep it with the incompatibilities that make it useless for my N80.
The classic "rule of thumb" for handheld shooting at 800mm would be to use 1/800 second as the slowest shutter speed. Assuming VR would get you a couple of stops slower than that, you'd still need 1/200 second at an effective wide open aperture of f/11. If you want to shoot anything darker than snow covered mountains, you'll need to use fast film to give you any kind of working capability. Shooting ISO 400 film, I'd either use a tripod or a beanbag support, most likely with VR disabled.
Finally, remember that ebay is a good way to part with purchases that didn't work out. I broke even when selling the 50-500 with the converter even when you factor in shipping and ebay fees.
I hope I didn't unintentionally lead you astray...
#3. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 2Mon 30-Jul-01 08:12 PM
LAST EDITED ON Jul-31-01 AT 00:18 AM (GMT)
LAST EDITED ON Jul-31-01 AT 00:16 AM (GMT)
Thank you guys for the inputs. Not to worry, BJ, as I took everything (including limitations) into account before plunging into the Sigma APO 2X. Like what I said before, I try to do away with tripods if I can and the reason for the Sigma is to be able to make those "must shoot" scenarios that I am suddenly confronted with, sort of a security blanket and nothing for "commercial purpose". I do use my F100 with the VR and make it a point to load ISO 400 film. That part I got right. I am aware of your post regarding Tamron/Kenko's full compatibility but the thing about it is we don't have them in our neck of the woods. Sigma was the next option, not that great but an option nevertheless.
I don't really mind the lack of AF on either teleconverters but it's the manual focusing I am having problems with, even on my TC-201 mounted on the tripod. At any rate, to push my inanity a bit further, what exactly do you mean when you said "it was easy to see focus in the viewfinder using the groundglass"? Do you actually "see" focus digital display (again, that little "black dot" that tells you that camera/lens attained focus on the subject) or is it simply a clear image in the viewfinder? I seem to recall that with the TC-201 on my F100, the only display I get is the apeture and not the shutter speed (now I can't even seem to remember...I may have to revert to you on this one, sorry). Finally, do I put the camera on shutter priority and manually set the aperutre ring on the lens, or do full manual (with your "rule of thumb" in mind)? Again, thanks a lot for the inputs. Have a nice day.
#4. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 3f5fstop Basic MemberMon 30-Jul-01 10:00 PM
Will the new TC20E II Nikkor TC work on the VR lens? If answer is not known, with JRP's help and permission, we could try this combination in NC; I have the TC 20E II, JRP has the VR lens.
--Take only photographs, leave nothing but footprints--
NC, second week of October, 2001...
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"
#5. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 4Mon 30-Jul-01 11:17 PM
I've never seen a post from anyone who has tried it. It would be very interesting to know. Check the rear element clearance at 80mm before mounting the converter ...it could be possible to have contact with the front element of the TC if it sits near the front.
#6. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 3Mon 30-Jul-01 11:47 PM
I do my initial focus using the groundglass of the viewfinder. I look for the image to be as clear as I can make it as I turn the focus ring back and forth across the point of critical focus. It's easier to do this when you're looking at a blank area on the screen, not one of the AF rectangles.
If I want to verify that I got it right, I position the AF point over the same focus area and check the digital rangefinder spot. The spot will function fine with the teleconverter in place - it doesn't care about AF compatibility.
The groundglass is very fine in the F100 display, so it takes some concentration to focus this way. If you find it really difficult, a magnifying finder would help significantly.
With the TC-201, I use aperture preferred auto. I set the custom setting 22 to 1 to enable the use of the aperture ring on the lens. Then I select the aperture with the ring. There isn't a display of the aperture in the viewfinder, just the shutter speed. You read the aperture from the ring and factor two stops slower. Of course the TC-201 has no electrical contacts so VR won't operate.
Until Nikon comes up with a better way to display custom settings without forcing the user to look up numbers, I would leave the CSM dial setting to 22 so it's easy to just change from 0 to 1 when needed.
I found the Sigma converter to be more solidly made than the Tamron Pro converter. The optics were similar with the 80-400 and the VR and AE modes all work without fussing with custom settings. Do some comparison shots from a solid tripod and see which performs best. My TC-201 predictably underexposes by 1/2 stop - let me know if yours does too.
#7. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 6jrp Charter MemberTue 31-Jul-01 12:28 AM
LAST EDITED ON Jul-31-01 AT 04:36 AM (GMT)
You forced me to look for the VR manual and luckily I found it.
On the "Optional accessories" section it mentions the TC-14A and TC201, however warning that the VR mode is not effective when using either of these TC´s and only manual focus is available.
Furthermore, at the very beginning the manual screams "IMPORTANT!: Do not use AF-I teleconverters TC14E/TC20E."
Now I now why I did not buy any TC´s for this lens, although I do own the TC14E for the 80-200mm AF-S (combo which I decided not to bring to the First Nikonians Photo Trip to North Carolina in order to reduce my backpack load to just a tad below 25 lbs).
Have a great time
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#9. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 7Tue 31-Jul-01 02:36 AM
That manual warning must have been lurking somewhere in my cobwebbed mind. I suspect that the zoom could be mounted to the "E" converters at 400mm, but somewhere toward 80mm the glass will collide. You wouldn't want to try to work this way without duct taping your zoom ring for safety...
The Sigma 50-500 zoom has this problem with the Sigma APO converter that's designed for it. The lens has a lock-out switch that limits the lens to 100-500 to prevent contact. The problem is, you have to remember to set the limiter, otherwise potential damage is just a twist away. Not a very smart solution on Sigma's part.
#10. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 9f5fstop Basic MemberTue 31-Jul-01 08:13 AM
I don't think we will try this experiment.
--Take only photographs, leave nothing but footprints--
NC, second week of October, 2001...
"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"
#13. "RE: TC14E/TC20E Warning" | In response to Reply # 7hawkinslm Basic MemberSat 18-Aug-01 10:15 PM
Does anyone know if the new TC14E II is subject to the same incompatibility?
As long as I've brought it up, what's the difference between the 14E and 14E II anyway?
Please enlighten the unknowing
#8. "RE: 800mm handheld? What I really meant to show..." | In response to Reply # 6Tue 31-Jul-01 02:22 AM
Such a patient instructor you are, BJ. Thank you so much for the great help and for putting up with my queries. I will most definitely let you know how it goes. I am already excited for my weekend! I can't overemphasize enough my appreciation for the existence of this forum and best of all, for being a NIKONIAN!!!
#11. "RE: Teleconverter for 80-400mm VR" | In response to Reply # 0
I use the TC201 with AF and AFS lenses and it has never really bothered me that I lose all the full auto modes. I am just happy to get such a clear image in the viewfinder and in the shots. So long as you use semi auot modes or know the Manual basics you should never have a problem, maybe a problem of aquired laziness but you can always train yourself to switch between one mode to another and be a much better photog in the process.
By the way over a wide range of zooms and fast lenses the TC201 outperforms the kenko 300 pro 2x but the kenko does seem to retain all modes for all AF nikkors, maybe even VR and is rather good with telephoto prime lenses, amazing and well worth having a look at....but you get what you pay for despite what some people are implying.
#12. "RE: Teleconverter for 80-400mm VR" | In response to Reply # 11Tue 31-Jul-01 10:57 PM
Thanks for the tip, Michael. Glad to know I do know the basics. It's the switching from full auto to full manual that bothers me and, in the process, what confuses my set-up. I believe I am sticking with my TC-201. As Bj said, it really seems impossible to get crisp focus with the Sigma @ 800mm f/5.6 (f/11, really) HANDHELD, notwithstanding the VR (there goes the spur-of-the-moment handheld shots!). I tried it yesterday and it really is such a pain! I will, however, still do the comparative tripod shots this weekend on both the TC and the Sigma APO. Hopefully, the sun will cooperate as we are currently in our wet season. More work for the TC, though, since everything is on manual vis-a-vis the Sigma APO where the only thing to worry about is the range-finder manual focus (geeezz...I am probably justifying the money I spent for the Sigma!). Have a nice day.
#14. "RE: Teleconverter for 80-400mm VR" | In response to Reply # 0
Well, for anyone that's interested...
I've tested my new 80-400VR with two teleconverters successfully on my N80. The Kenco Teleplus Pro 300 1.4x and the Tamron (non-pro) 2x. Autofocus and VR both worked beautifully.
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Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles.