Tips on Teleconverters

A teleconverter is a fairly inexpensive way to increase the focal length of your lenses. However, there are some significant caveats to using a teleconverter, including compatibility, light loss, image degradation, and autofocus performance. Here’s a brief video where I discuss the major points of TC’s.

Good lens/TC combinations for Nikon users

TC 14E II (1.4x)

The Nikon TC-14E works very well with just about any AF-S Nikkor lens f/4 or faster, including the under-appreciated 300mm f/4 AFS Nikkor. It’s generally considered to have the least impact on image quality. The 1.4x TC works well with the big exotics (400 f/2.8, 200-400 f/4, 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4)

TC-17E II (1.7x)

To get optimal AF performance with the Nikon TC-17EII, you’ll need to use an AF-S Nikkor lens with a maximum aperture f/2.8 or faster. You can use it with mixed AF results on f/4 lenses. The TC-17E gives best performance when you’re stopped down slightly from wide-open. I will be most interested in testing this converter on f/4 glass with the new Nikon D4, which should permit autofocus operation at the effective aperture of f/6.7.

TC-20E III (2x)

The newest 2x converter from Nikon, the TC-20EIII, only allows AF on lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or wider. 2x TC’s are the worst offenders when it comes to degrading image quality, so you want to save this for your best glass. I’ve had great results with the TC-20EIII on my 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS G VRII zoom Nikkor…to the point where I highly recommend that combination for hand-held shooting.



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3 thoughts on “Tips on Teleconverters”

  1. Jason:

    I hope life without The Image Doctors is going great. Thanks for that great series. In this video you are very favorable about using the TC-20E III with the 70-200 f 2.8 but did not like the 2xs converter in your article in Luminescence of Nature Press….Teleconverters 101. Is that because at that time you had to use the TC-20E II and that model did not do very well as compared to the III? I have the 70-200 f 2.8 and I want to extend it for birds. I am worried that the TC-20EIII will lose too much light when I stop down. Also if I stop down some will it decrease the ability of my D-7000 to autofocus?

    Thanks again and continued success.


  2. David-
    Stopping down has no effect on AF, because the lens remains wide-open until the shutter is released. The impact to AF is due to the “effective aperture” when using a TC. So if you put a 2x TC on an f/4 lens, it behaves as though it’s an f/8 lens wide-open.

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