Nikkor 400mm f3.5 AI lens with TC-300 teleconverter

Discussion in 'Nature' started by frank_daunis, Dec 2, 1997.

  1. Does anyone have any experience with the Nikkor 400 f3.5 AI lens with TC-300 teleconverter?I want to use this for small bird photos,using 100 ISO film.Is f7 too small of a aperture?Would a SB-26 flash make this a better combo.I already have the TC-14B teleconverter,but 560mm is still not enough for small birds.I have priced the TC-300 (used) for $350,but have doubts about it's use and optical quality.
  2. I have a 400 f3.5 AIS lens that I use with a with a TC14B and TC301. I've been able to get sharp results (viewing the slides with a 15x loupe) with the 2x converter with solid tripod support. Larry West, in his 1993 book "How to Photograph Birds" took a lot of the photos with this lens and TC14b or TC301 converters. He felt the quality was still high with the 2x converter. A few years back (early 90's I think) George Lepp said the Nikon 400 f3.5 was the sharpest telephoto he's ever tested.
    As for the lens speed with the 2x converter, I don't think you'll be able to find a lens or lens combination in the 800mm range that's faster than f5.6, and f7 is only about a half stop slower than that.
  3. I'm not a Nikon user, but I've heard that the Nikon 400/3.5 works
    very well with the Nikon 2x TC (presumably the TC-301??). One of
    the better (lens+TC) combinations. Then again, as I said, I'm not
    a Nikon user and I've no direct experience. For $350 it sounds like
    it's worth a try. f7 is still a very usable speed. As the previous
    poster said, f5.6 is as fast as you are going to get at 800mm
  4. I'm with the rest - go for it. I suspect you'd be in the same ballpark as those who use, say, Canon's 300/2.8 + 2x for bird photography, in terms of sharpness, with more reach and a bit less speed. That 300+2x combo has been used to sell a lot of bird photos by folks (including me, before I bought my 600) and you should be able to do even better with the resulting 800 combo. Especially now that we apparently have a fine-grained ISO 200 E6 film (the new E200).


    400/3.5, 1.4x, 2x - you should be set!
  5. It truly is an excellent combination, I use it (400 f3.5 and TC301)
    the TC 301and Kirk lens support bracket a must use accessory.
    It attaches to the lens using an arca style Quick release and a
    saddle at the other end allowing lens rotation while supporting
    the lens to tele connection and it has a long base plate good for
    center of balance. Try this comination, mate your TC14b with a
    Nikon PK11a -- extension tube to the TC301 (called stacking TCs)
    You will be pleasently supprised. IT WORKS WELL! giving
    you 1120mm at F9 The whole system is nice with a Wimberly
    head. The SB26 will need a fresnel adapter to condense the beam
    but this will up the flash output by three stops. A nice traveling
    combination. I question the TC300 I think Its the older version
    the TC301s go for $350 to $400 also.
  6. It's a great lens and built to last. It's been my primary long telephoto for a long time. I use it for sports and nature. The 14B is a great combination but the 300/301(300AI/301AIS) teleconverter requires a very sturdy tripod plus mirror lock-up to produce quality images. It also cuts off the image at the top of mirror. I don't use it anymore, I try to get closer. $350.00 is a little high, $250.00 to $300.00 is more in line.


    If the 400 3.5/ 14B dosen't work for you move up to a 500 4P with the 14B gives you a 700 5.6. Great lens, just a shade heavier and works with the electronics of the newer camera bodies.


    I use the SB26 with a fresnel. It works great but I always double check my exposure with a light meter, when possible.
  7. A small warning is in place here. I recently ordered a TC-300 for the 400/3.5 and it certainly doesn't work perfectly. When I use this combo on F-801s and F5 I see a faint blue cloud in the viewfinder. This gets much worse when I try to stop the lens down. The cloud turns into a dark star shaped form that severly obstructs vision. This doesn't affect picture quality much at full aperture, but at smaller apertures the film will be over exposed by up to several stops.

    A asked a question about this phenomena in the unarchived forum and got these replies from Alex Lofquist:

    "You need a G4 focussing screen if you wish to get a full, unobstructed view. The focal length of the condensing lens on the standard screen is broadly optimized (for about 70mm, as I remember), so even the "Brite View" screen cannot really compensate for an equivalent 800mm f/7. The G4 F.L. more closely images the exit pupil of the longer lens at your eye's pupil. Unfortunately, Nikon does not make a "EC type" G screen, so you have to make the best of it.

    The TC301 may help as it has much closer coupling. Your photos taken wide-open do not need compensation by the camera as it assumes full aperture no matter what it is in actuality, but when automaticly stopped down, it becomes closer to the true aperture and gives you an over exposure.

    Going to a G4 screen might change the calculated exposure, but there would be a compensation correction provided with the screen. This would be entered as a custom setting on the F5."

    Please note that I cut and pasted this reply from the unarchived forum into this forum without asking for Alex' permission. Please take into consideration that it wasn't originally meant for this forum. If there are any problems with this I'll ask the moderator to remove this message. Thought it could be an important piece of information though.

    Best regards,
  8. I use my TC-300 with my 400mm f/2.8 IF ED AIS Nikkor and D500 with great results.
  9. I did a post here some time ago on Nikon's claim that their TC-1 2X teleconverter worked without loss of quality.

    In Search of Reach: Tele Converters
    I also tried out my Vivitar 2X, both worked very well with my Reflex-Nikkor 500mm.

    Keppler had tested it and found the claim to be 'reasonable', at least
    Nikkor TC-1-Keppler 1976-1 copy.JPG
    Keppler, Modern Photography 1976 p 1
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  10. When I owned the Nikon 400mm f3.5 AiS lens I used it with the Nikon 14B and TC 301 teleconverters. I got excellent results with each of the two mentioned TCs. Since this lens is front heavy, make sure your tripod and support system is set up for the lens and the tcs and camera. I am not familiar with the tc-300.

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