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Lens Reviews

Teleconverters and Long Lenses

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg)

Keywords: teleconverter, nikkor_200_500, sigma_150_600, nikkor_1000, f11_reflex_lens, jnadelberg

People often ask about teleconverters. They sound like a great idea. For a 200mm lens, you can use a 1.4x TC to make it 280mm. Or you can use a 1.7x TC and make it 340mm. Or a 2.0x TC and turn it into 400mm! Of course, you also have to lower your f/stop ability by the same factor (an f/2.8 with a 2.0 TC turns into an f/5.6 lens), but it sounds like for a lot less money, you can get yourself a much higher power lens on the cheap. Do these things work?  Most people already know that that the higher magnification that you use, the more the image quality deteriorates.  But is it still usable?  And does the image quality degrade that much for basic usage?  In this article we’ll take a look. I have a mix of different lenses and teleconverters collected over the years.  A Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary, a Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6, and an old Nikkor 1000mm reflex lens.  For teleconverters, I have the same brands as lenses, Nikon, and Sigma. For the camera, I’m using a Nikon D850.

The Nikkor 200-500mm

The first lens we’ll look at is the Nikkor 200-500mm lens. The TC used was the Nikon AF-S FX TC-14E III.  To try this combo out I went to a local bird sanctuary.  The wind was blowing, and lens was catching the wind making it difficult to hold the camera still.  I used a monopod to try and brace the camera for these photos.  The combination of the lens and TC was able to produce sharp images. Figure 1 shows an image taken with this combination.


Taken at 700mm.
Click for an enlargement


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bobby van mierop (bobbyv) on November 28, 2018

The Pelican is actually a Flamingo.

Jon Nadelberg (jnadelberg) on November 21, 2018

Ribbon awarded for his multiple contributions to the Articles section

Thanks for your comment. The point was not the weight. The point was that the TC caused the autofocus to no longer function, and with a very heavy lens, it became exceedingly difficult to focus the lens, particularly on moving objects. Also, I mention that with a high resolution camera, cropping the image works better than using a TC, which is similar to the idea of using a crop sensor camera.

Richard Robert Faris (Rrfaris) on November 20, 2018

While I appreciate your efforts in submitting an article, I feel there are some inconsistencies. In regard to the Sigma 150-600C, you make a big issue of the weight. The TC is less than 10% the weight of the lens. The lens and TC combined weigh less than the Nikon 200-500 lens on its own. You used a monopod with this and it is a shorter lens. TCs are a compromise option. The cost of fixed lenses of 600mm or more are generally a quantum leap above those you discuss and very heavy. Personally, I find a TC a useful option when travelling sometimes and airline weight restrictions can be an issue. Another option to consider when using FX cameras is to switch the image area to DX. Richard