Are teleconverters really worth it?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pdechavez, May 21, 2009.

  1. pdechavez macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2007
    I just got a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 and was wondering if i should get a teleconverter? and what multiplier amount?

  2. feuerschlange macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2008
    Nikon 70-200 works great with TCs - sample pics inside D3, D300

    It all depends on what you use the 70-200, what light you have available and which focal length you really need to be in.
    The subject is an important fact too, as the AF system is affected by the loss of light too.

    Teleconverters are mainly designed for long telephoto lenses, to extend reach and provide more options in focal length.

    Regarding the 70-200, there are only 2 tele converters, that net you reasonable quality.

    Nikon TC14E and TC17E.

    The TC14 will give you a max of 280mm and one stop loss of light.
    It does not notible compromise AF speed or image quality and is regarded as the mild TC, when image quality is high on priority.

    The TC17 gives you 340mm and a 1 1/2 stop light loss.
    Image quality degrades to a certain amount, but it can be used with good outcome by slimming the working window a bit down (stop down 1/2 to 1 stop from wide open, stay away slightly from the weak 70mm and 200mm setting).

    AF speed of the lens is slightly slower but does not produce bad hunting on quick subjects in good light.

    The TC20 is not recommended for the 70-200.
    It nets a 2 stop penalty, notable image degrading (softness) and focus hunting.

    You can find some very good advice for the usage of the 70-200 with TC here.

    I use the 70-200, TC17 and TC20 on a D300 and a D3 mainly for motor sports (non professional). The 70-200 actually is not a lens, one wants to use for longer reach. You really have to go for a longer professional telephoto, to get more reach (I am looking for a good deal on a 300 2.8VR, to extend into a better focal length for motor sports).

    You can find some samples with the 70-200 on my website

    The thumbnail frame of Rubens Barrichello in a '09 BRAWN GP on the navigator page is shot with a D3 + 70-200 + TC20 from around 300 meters away and cropped to almost 1:1.

    This shot of Heikki Kovaleinen is made with a D3 + 70-200 + TC20

    Blog entry is here.

    This shot of Kimi Raikkonen is made with a D3 + 70-200 + TC217

    Blog entry is here.

    I used the 70-200 and TCs the whole saturday at this years F1 GP in Shanghai. A gallery can be found here.

    Here is another subject. A Chinese worker, welding on a roof, shot with 70-200 and TC20.
  3. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    I have a 2x and it was worth every penny. 1.4x will produce sharper pictures and only cost you 1 stop, 2x will soften things up a bit (individual lenses vary, mine is a pretty good copy and my doubled 70-200 is still way better looking than my 17-85) and cost you two stops of light. I don't have a ton of pixels on my camera, so cropping to get the shot is not the best option. The 2x allows me to get some shots that would otherwise be quite boring. Keep your eyes open for used ones, they have no moving parts, so they survive quite well. I would recommend a real Nikon teleconverter unless somebody can recommend a specific off-brand. Some of them are complete crap and will never come out of your bag.

    EDIT: ^ what he said is much more complete. go with his answers
  4. CK Williams macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2008
    North Las Vegas
    Nicely posted feuerschlange. I recently acquired a refurbished TC-14II via Adorama and have found that it works very well with the 70-200. Focus speed was just as quick with the TC on as it was without it. No apparent loss of IQ with the TC.

    Taken w/D-700, 70-200 VR, TC-14II, no PP other than compressing for the web (clickable)

    Attached Files:

  5. feuerschlange macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2008
    Thanks CK.

    I guess, you didn't apply sharpening before compressing for web and output sharpening during compressing and gave the real naked file (heavily compressed though:D).

    If I am wrong, there could be something with your lens/ TC combo, I have seen with different TCs on my sample of the 70-200 (very soft or slightly oof).

    The two TCs, I bought for this lens were really handpicked by me. The camera shop owner was already annoyed and thought, I am only to try and not buy. You really have to handpick the TCs. I do not recommend, to buy them online, if you don't have a save way, to return them.

    The different TCs of the same type I tried, showed big differences in focus and sharpness. You have here really three sample variations (lens, TC and body), that might add up to the worst and are really brought out by the magnified rendering of the TC.

    The slightest off from the combination nets you a soft photograph.
    You can trick and fine tune focus on some bodies nowadays. This works only to a certain degree though.

    The TCs are not too expensive (the TC20 being more costly). I really recommend, to buy them in a good camera shop and try them on site (used is no problem, the Nikons are built like tanks).

    Also actually shooting with a TC is quite different, than shooting without.
    Every TC limits the actual sweet window of the lens, also, when you might not think so on first sight (TC14). Some flaws of the lenses do get exaggerated. While a lens might be good at its widest aperture naked, this aperture might get very soft with TC. Stopping down helps a lot here.

    The 70-200 looks horrible @ f4.8 with my TC17 (widest aperture) and tack sharp from f5.6 on.

    I really had to trial and error, to find out the good range, to use it.
    It took me one year, to find a good range for my combo, only to find myself always hitting the longest focal length lately. ;)

    I guess, its the same with cars - there is no such thing as "enough power".
  6. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    I can't speak to Nikon's offerings, but I have the 1.4x canon teleconverter and I can tell you it almost never gets used. I find it softens too much for my liking and I buy fast glass because I want it to be fast, not slowed down by a converter.

    If I had it to do over again, I'd pass.
  7. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Teleconverters are an interesting subject. A lot depends on what you consider acceptable image quality and a lot depends on how you evaluate your images as to if you'll see the difference, as well as the nature of the subjects and the lenses you're using.

    Personally, I've never found the image quality of a 2x TC acceptable for my work. The 1.7x TC is barely at the edge of acceptable to me on a 400mm prime, and the 1.5x TC is well within what I consider acceptable. I generally evaluate IQ initially in an 8x10 or 8x12 print, and I generally shoot relatively low contrast subjects with a high amount of detail.

    I've known people who've raved about the IQ of prints made from shooting through a spotting scope- and while standing next to them looking at the same prints, I've been aghast that anyone could consider them anything other than "At least I got the shot."

    If you need the reach, they're obviously significantly cheaper than a lens of the appropriate focal length if one exists- and if the IQ satisfies your needs, then don't worry about it- but I'd encourage you to shoot some shots with each in a store *and* have the results printed to see where your level of criticality lies. Don't forget that the magnification will require better long lens technique and/or a more stable platform/faster shutter speed. I'd evaluate off a tripod with 1/500th of a second or faster at the aperture you expect to shoot at the most and at a range of apertures to see where the lens/TC sweet spot is and if that matches what you shoot.
  8. PeteB macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2008
    TC don't always result in loss of IQ, but they do tend to diminish the AF ability of the camera somewhat. In my opinion, they'll also accentuate noise when getting the correct exposure is problematic. Also, the further the subject is away, the more the degradation of IQ.

    For example, this was taken with a 1.4xTC

    And with a 2xTC at a further distance (same base lens though)

    See how it's softer - not just mis-focussed as it if was, you'd see at least some of the branches as pin sharp.

    TCs have a very good and valid use, but you need to understand them to get the very best out of them.

    Sometimes, however, they'll get you a shot (of sorts) where you couldn't have managed one before.
  9. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I'm sorry, but this simply isn't true. Adding magnifying elements to the lens will always result in a loss of IQ. If the loss is significant or not is another story entirely- but the loss will always be there and as far as I've seen, will always be measurable, even with the best lenses and matched TCs. Certainly, the loss will be more significant than the ~14lp/mm that a multi-coated plain glass filter on the front of the lens will give.
  10. CK Williams macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2008
    North Las Vegas
    Nope, no changes made other than converting from RAW then compressing (and you're right, a lot of compression was needed). I haven't had the chance to do any PP with it. The image was taken on my first time out with the combo. I'm still learning where the sweet spot is with this pair. :)
  11. PeteB macrumors 6502a


    Jan 14, 2008
    I only report from personal experience.

    This may differ wildly from actual reality.

Share This Page