Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kevin_blevins, Aug 11, 2013.
Which (not witch!) lens are you looking to extend? How will you be using it?
It's not a matter of which single one is best, it's a matter of which one is most appropriate for the specific task you're facing. It's very possible that no TC will actually fit your circumstances. Can you explain more about which camera and current lens(es) you're using, and what you have in mind?
Ok, I fixed the title to "Which Nikon teleconverter ..."
Every teleconverter degrades the quality of the lens. "The best" is not using any teleconverter. Otherwise, Matt Laur's suggestion above is a good starting point.
Check with this site for your nikon teleconverter quality. Bjorn is very good at paring the two together.
The most recent Nikon teleconverters are great as long as they are used on top notch lenses and with good technique (read if you can control shaking with enough stabilization or shutter speed).
First you have to start with a great lens as the teleconverter will emphasize the weaknesses of the lens you are using. Zooms typically don't work too well with teleconverters.
The main reason is due to their speed. A 1.4x converter reduces the light coming to the sensors by 1 stop, a 2x converter by 2 stops, so the first issue you are facing is that your body/lens combo won't autofocus anymore with a teleconverter. The newer Nikon body such as D4, D800, and D600 (I think) will autofocus down to f/8. So that means that your lens needs to open to f/5.6 if using the 1.4x converter or f/4 when using the 2x converter. With older bodies you will need an f/4 lens for the 1.4x or f/2.8 lens for the 2x. When I say that the body will autofocus it doesn't mean they will be able to use all AF functions or areas. You will mostly be limited to the central AF areas of the viewfinder.
Second is that image quality goes down the drain the more magnification you use. So a 2x converter typically gets worst results than a 1.4x. This is a generalization as some converters can work great on a particular lens and be so-so on another one, even a shorter one. A converter image quality may also vary depending of the subject distance. So testing is important.
It's recommended to stop down at least 1 stop when using a converter. As a result you will have to bump the ISO in order to get the necessary shutter speed. Recent cameras with better high ISO properties offer definite advantages with converters.
On a proper lens the Nikon TC-14e (and TC-14eII, they are the same) is a must have as image degradation is minimal. The Nikon TC-20eIII is definitely better than its predecessors (eI and eII) and can be useful but it won't be as good as the TC-14e, if you can get enough shutter speed. I do not have any experience with the TC-17eII yet, so other might jump it.
I use teleconverter on 3 of my lenses, the Nikon AF-S 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, the Nikon AF-S 300 f/4, and the Nikon AF-S 500 f/4. The TC-14e is great on all and super of the last two. The TC-20eIII is good on the last two.
I sometimes stack the TC-14e and TC-20eIII (modification needed on the TC-14e) when I need extreme reach. I loose AF capabilities but it can get some decent shots if the light is sufficient. George Lepp has an interesting article in which he talks about stacked teleconverters in the September Outdoor Photographer magazine.
The best one on the market is Nikon's newest, the TC-20 E III.
While in general I agree that no converter can be better than using one, with care, I have had excellent results with it on my 105mm AF-S and 200-400mm AF-S II at 400mm (giving me 800mm). I get a slight increase in resolution with both these lenses. Oddly, I find it unacceptable when paired up with my 70-200mm f2.8 II.
@ Matt Laur; thanks for correcting my little pronoun mistake. I was thinking in all different direction as I was typing aimlessly. Thanks to all who gave their input. I was thinking of using my 80-200 2.8 on my D3.
Kevin, there are multiple versions of the 80-200, and for the TCs that can make a difference:
AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8: this one accepts the current Nikon TCs (TC14E, TC17E, TC20E, regardless of their version). To the best of my knowledge, it takes a quite considerable performance hit, so I wouldn't get more than the TC14E - and then you go from 200 to 280 mm, which isn't all that impressive a gain in reach.
AF / AF-D 80-200 f/2.8: without modifying the TC, the Nikon TCs will not fit (and modify = dremel out a part). So, you'd have to opt for the 3rd party TCs such as Kenko, Tamron. The issue remains the same - the lens will take a serious performance hit, so I still wouldn't push beyond a 1,4x TC.
TCs tend to work better with primes, and then actually only with the really pricey ones. You'll loose quite a lot of quality, on top of the loss of light that is inherent to using a TC.
Based on the limited information given, I'd say the Nikon TC-17e would be the best option.
The Kenko. Seriously, the Nikons are kind of limited in which lenses they'll work with.
A little thinking off the top of my head on teleconvertors:
The whole point of a teleconvertor is to magnify the image before it is stored on a, less than perfect, medium.
If the storage medium (the image sensor) was perfect, and had unlimited number of pixels, no one would need teleconvertors! We could just capture the image with any focal-length, and zoom in to the recorded image later.
In the past with grainy film, zooming into images quickly gave high loss in detail, so using a teleconvertor to magnify the image before it was recorded made great sense.
I profess that by now, with 20-50 megapixel sensors, this is totally obsolete.
Since teleconvertors intruduce loss of sharpness, contrast and other tings (like camerashake), there is a point on the line from the low resolution sensor to the very high resolution sensor where you no longer get a benefit, but rather the opposite no matter how hard you try.
In my opinion it is always better to crop the image from your high resolution sensor with your longest tele-lens first, than use a teleconvertor.
If even a 100% crop gives too little magnification, than be my guest and use a teleconvertor. (Even if a further upsampling actually could give a sharper image still...)
Telconvertors are produced and used by old habit, and should be abandoned. They will soon, trust me
The whole point of a teleconvertor is to magnify the image before it is stored on a, less than perfect, medium. If the storage medium (the image sensor) was perfect, and had unlimited number of pixels, no one would need teleconvertors!Kim, I believe it cannot be the same. No doubt a huge and "perfect sensor" (what is it?) helps a lot. However, the teleconverter magnifies the lens to let the sensor record the details of a scene or object. Without the teleconverter, the sensor captures the scene without magnified details. Because it has not captured the details to begin with, after-math cropping and magnification will not be the same, especially on remote objects which are filtered through additional atmospheric elements when the captured area is much larger.
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