Are Teleconverters good for Photography? This would be the question which lingers in your mind if you are a beginner or amateur in photography. So, let us what a Teleconverter is all about.

What is a Teleconverter?

Canon EF 1.4x III Extender

A Teleconverter is a camera accessory which gets connected in between your camera lens and body.

Here, you are introducing additional glass elements along with electrical contacts to your camera. They are also known as “Lens Extenders.”

What does a Teleconverter Do?

Comparison: Image with and without Teleconverter

Now, your question would be, What does a Teleconverter do? It does the job of increasing the focal length. So, you will get more reach. It basically, multiplies the focal length by a ratio, depending on the type of lens extender you are using.

It is better to explain the Lens Extender’s job with an example. Suppose, you are photographing a bird with Canon 1DX Mark ii (a full frame camera) with a Canon 500mm f4 L IS II lens; then you will get an effective focal length of 500mm. The final image will look like the one given below.

Image without Teleconverter

If you attach a Canon 1.4x extender to this camera set up then your effective focal length increases to 700mm (1.4 x 500 = 700mm). So, you can get the additional 200m reach. The final image will look like the one shown below. (This image is 1.4x zoomed version from the original picture, shown for illustration purpose.)

Image with Teleconverter

What Type of Photographers should use Teleconverters?

Now, we know what a Lens Extender is. Now, the question is, who should use a Teleconverter? There are two types of photographers, who will find it very useful.

1. Wildlife Photographer

If you are into wildlife photography, then using a Teleconverter is a good option. As a wildlife photographer, you won’t have the luxury to get close to your subject.

So, make use of a teleconverter to get that extra reach. It ensures that you are at a safe distance from the subject.

If you get too close to the animal, then it may not be comfortable with your presence, and you will not be able to capture its natural behaviour.

2. Bird Photographer

It is a must-have camera accessory for a Bird photographer. When you are doing Bird photography, then they would be at a distance, and their size would be small when compared to a wild animal. So, more the reach better the photo.

So, always keep it attached to your camera and lens when you are doing bird photography unless you are photographing big birds like cranes or birds in close vicinity.

Consider reading, Different Types of Photography, if you want to know the various genres of photography which you can practice, if interested.

Is it worth using a Teleconverter?

To answer this question, we should see the advantages and disadvantages of using a Lens Extender.

So, let us start with the advantages of using a Teleconverter.

Advantages of Teleconverter

1. Helps you to get more Reach

The primary job of the Teleconverter lens is to increase the focal length. As a result of which you will be able to get more reach.

It is helpful if your subject is far and you don’t have the luxury of approaching it to get a nearby shot.

2. Cost-Effective

If you don’t use a Teleconverter and if you still want more reach then you will have to upgrade your current camera lens, which will require some investment.

You can easily get one under $450, which can do the same job. So, it is cost-effective solution.

3. Reduce Weight

As a photographer, you always want to travel as light as possible. You will be more comfortable if you use lightweight camera gear.

You can save some amount of weight if you use a teleconverter rather than going for a telephoto lens with the equivalent focal length.

For example, If you are using a 300mm f2.8 lens for wildlife and bird photography and you want to increase the reach, then using a 2x extender would be a good solution, in the weight perspective. Here, you will get an effective focal length of 600mm at f5.6.

The other option would be to go for a 600mm f4 prime lens, which would be a bulky option.

Disadvantages of using a Teleconverter

Now, let us have a look at the disadvantages of using a Teleconverter.

1. Impact on Image Quality

It does have an impact on image quality since we are introducing additional glass elements in between the lens and the camera. There will be a slight reduction in the sharpness.

The camera lens technology has advanced so much that the slight reduction in the sharpness is hardly noticeable in the latest versions of the Teleconverters from the manufacturers like Canon and Nikon.

2. Slows down Auto Focusing Speed

Reduction in Autofocusing speed is another disadvantage of using a Teleconverter. Most of the standard ones supports autofocusing feature when attached to the camera and lens set up.

But, the autofocusing speed reduces as we are introducing additional electrical contacts in between, which accounts for the delay. It is also dependent on the lens and the camera model.

3. Reduction in Aperture

It is a known fact. When you introduce a Teleconverter, you will have a reduction in Aperture by one or two stops, depending on what extender you are using.

If you use a 1.4x Teleconverter, then the Aperture reduces by one stop, and for a 2x teleconverter, the Aperture reduces by two stops.

For Example, if you use a 1.4 x extender with a Canon 500mm f4 L IS II Lens, then the maximum aperture value gets shifted to f5.6 from f4.

If you use a 2x extender with the Canon 500mm f4 L IS II Lens, then the maximum aperture value gets reduced by two stops. So, the Aperture shifts to f8.0 from f5.6

4. All AF Points will not work

When you use a Teleconverter, then there will be a restriction in the number of autofocus points. All Autofocus points will not work. Only certain focusing sensors are compatible with this reduction in Aperture settings.

It also depends on whether you use a 1.4x converter or a 2X one. Whatever autofocus points which work with a 1.4x converter may not work with a 2X converter.

In most of the cameras, the Autofocus point at the center will be the fastest one, and it will work for both of these the Teleconverters, in most cases.

5. Lens Compatibility

Teleconverters won’t be compatible for all types of lenses. It is designed to work with prime telephoto lenses.

So, if you are planning to use a teleconverter on a zoom lens, then you should check its compatibility before buying. Only certain zoom lenses support teleconverters.

6. Time for Set up

Attaching the lens extender to your camera set up will take some time. So, you should have a good practice to get it done fast.

Another issue is that when you attach a teleconverter to the camera in the field, then your camera sensor and the camera lens side are getting exposed to dust and dirt. So, you must take it for cleaning, if you made the change in the field.

Popular Teleconverter Models

Nikon 1.4x Teleconverter

Let us have a look at the popular Teleconverter models from Nikon.

Nikon Teleconverters
Teleconverter Model (Nikon) Focal Length Multiplication Factor Reduction in Aperture
Nikon TC-20EIII AF-S teleconverter (2189)  2x 2 stops
Nikon TC-17EII  AF-S teleconverter (2151) 1.7x 1.5 stops
Nikon TC-14EIII  AF-S teleconverter (2219) 1.4x 1 stop

Let us have a look at the popular Teleconverter models from Canon.

Canon Teleconverters
Teleconverter Model (Nikon) Focal Length Multiplication Factor Reduction in Aperture
Canon EF Extender 1.4x III 1.4x 1 stop
Canon EF Extender 2.0x III 2x 2 stops

You can also get cheap ones from third-party vendors. Some of them come without the Autofocus feature. So, check the features and read reviews, if you are planning to buy one of these.

Conclusion

So, now you can decide whether to go for a Teleconverter or not. I recommend using it if you are into Wildlife photography or Bird photography.