With my photography I really love to get up close to wild birds and animals. There is nothing better than capturing a sharp nature image with all the fine detail of the animal’s or bird’s sharply captured fur or feathers, generally a good nature image will depend on capturing lots of detail in the image.
Many photographers are critical of the Nikon TC-20E III teleconverter and complain that the images are not sharp, this teleconverter has a two times magnification factor and hence will magnify any aberrations of your lens and will also magnify any aspects of your poor techniques causing degradation of your images. As a consequence of this, when using teleconverters you will need to firstly use a high quality lens and generally prime lenses will perform better with any teleconverters compared to zoom lenses. All the images in this blog were captured with the Nikon 300mm f/4 D AF-S lens and the TC-20E III teleconverter.
The biggest cause of unsharp images when using teleconverters is poor technique. You will need to keep in mind, that in my examples, I am using a prime lens of 300mm and with the teleconverter it becomes an equivalent 600mm lens with an aperture of f8. So how can we get sharp images with this outfit.
- I use a very solid monopod (Gitzo GM5561T). A solid tripod can be used but for birds and animals I do prefer the monopod. it is more versatile and mobile, tripods can be quite cumbersome when you are chasing birds and animals. Keeping your camera/lens outfit very steady is one of the prime objectives.
- Also you need to think about the camera settings. Teleconverters will perform with better image quality if the lens is stopped down a few stops from the largest aperture. One of the great aspects of the latest cameras is their high ISO capability. A higher ISO will allow you to use faster shutter speeds and also smaller apertures. With smaller apertures less light will pass through the lens.
- I find that the best camera settings for myself, will be with the camera set to shutter priority. With a lens of 600mm you will need a shutter setting of at least 1/1,000 second maybe even higher and this is on the basis that I am using a very solid monopod. Also set the camera ISO to as high a setting possible. So that you do not get excessive noise in the final image, you will need to learn the capability of your camera from experience. With my D700 camera I find that I get good images at ISO4,000 and even ISO6,400 but I may also need to use some noise reduction software to help keep the noise down (NoisewarePro is my preferred noise reduction software). If you use these settings you will find that depending on the available lighting, the camera aperture should be quite significantly smaller than the nominal aperture of the lens and teleconverter.
I find that the above tips help me to get very satisfactory images using my 300mm f/4 lens and TC-20E III teleconverter. This combination is quite a cheap way of getting to 600mm. The images will not be as good as when using the native lens but I find them very satisfactory and after some careful sharpening in post processing software the images can be very nice. After all nearly all images do need some post processing.
Nikon AF-S Teleconverters
Nikon AF-S Telephoto Lenses