Richard Batterley PhotoGraphs

The world of captured lights

Getting up close and personal - a big zoom lens and a couple of teleconverters

March 2018

How many photographers have thought "Hmmm, what can I photograph now?  I know.  Wildlife!"  And then they've realised that maybe their gear isn't quite up to it ... the longest focal length lens they have just isn't long enough and then they shudder at the cost of an 800 mm or longer lens ... and so forget the idea.


Well, they don't need to.  There is a cost effective solution that still retains top quality images.


But it's not just wildlife, they might also think about street photography and other topics where they want to stand well back from their subject and still take "close up" shots.


Interested?  Read on!


I've always had a fairly big zoom in my arsenal of lenses, and not long ago I purchased a Tamron 150 - 600 G2 lens.  Now at 600 mm it's pretty impressive and the performance is stunning ... Tamron ALWAYS make good quality lenses.  But then I got a project that meant I couldn't get close enough to the subject to fill the frame, even at 600 mm.  And it really wasn't worth going out and buying a bigger lens just for this project.  I looked round and found out Tamron also made a 1.4 x and 2 x teleconverter that was made specifically for this lens.  I then not footed to my friendly retailer with camera body and the Tamron 150 - 600 and tried out both teleconverters in the shop (well, in the street outside, the retailer trusted me!).  Couldn't decide which to buy so hesitated and then bought both.


Now one thing you MUST realise when using a teleconverter ... there will be SOME light loss and you will lose a stop or two.  But with the ISO capability of modern cameras unless you're shooting in really low light conditions it shouldn't be too much of a problem for most photographers.


But how much difference do teleconverters make?  A LOT, just look at the images below:

For more info on the lens or teleconverters below, just click on the one you want to know more about and you will go to the website

The image on the left is with the zoom on the lens set at 150 mm with no teleconverter in place.  The image on the right is the lens zoomed to 600 mm with a 2x teleconverter in place.  So the lens is effectively 1200 mm.  The camera was mounted on a tripod so the central point of both images was identical.  And the image quality has been retained - just as sharp, depth of colour, tonal qualities etc.


Light loss?  Yes there was some.  When I used the lens alone at 150 mm the exposure was 1/640 sec at f18, with the lens zoomed to 600 mm and the 2x converter in place it was 1/400 sec at f16.  I left the camera on "P" mode so it made it's own decisions and adjusted the exposure for "best result".  Please remember you are looking at JPG images that have been optimised for web usage and so a really small, low quality files.


Well I was impressed with the results on the lens.  More than happy with the investment I'd made.


Having the 2 teleconverters gives me added flexibility without having the huge amount of additional weight carrying additional lenses around would mean.  So for it's a great solution retaining high quality images at a relatively modest cost.


So if you're thinking about photographing subjects where you want to stand back and not be "in their face", think about a teleconverter before you spend big on a big lens.


Over to you.