Should You Use a Teleconverter?

We’ve all been there. You see the perfect photo out in the distance, but it’s just too far to capture with the lens that you brought. This is where a teleconverter comes into play. A teleconverter can take your lens and allow it to reach that extra distance for that special photo. In this video, SnapChick explains what a teleconverter is, why you might need one, and when to use it:

The main questions photographers ask about teleconverters are whether they are worth the price whether their benefits outweigh their compromises.

What is a teleconverter?

In the simplest terms, a teleconverter is a lens for your lens. Each teleconverter has a number or a multiplier. Nikon teleconverters come in 1.4x, 1.7x, and 2.0x, whereas Canon teleconverters come in 1.4x and 2.0x. The number of the teleconverter takes the effective focal point of a lens and multiples it by that number. For example, a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter would take a 70mm-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens and convert it to a 70mm-340mm lens.

telephoto nikon zoom

What are the downsides to using a teleconverter?

The first downside to a teleconverter is that it does not work with all lenses. Typically, it works with telephoto lenses that were already meant to reach. Make sure to check that the teleconverter will work with the lenses that you already have.

Secondly, the teleconverter causes some loss of light. For reference, a 1.4x teleconverter typically loses 1 stop, a 1.7x loses 1.5 stops, and a 2.0x loses 2 stops. What this means is that if you start with an f/2.8 lens and use a 2.0x teleconverter, the lens will no longer be f/2.8 and instead be f/5.6. Depending on the lighting situation, this could be a negligible change; however, it could also make the difference between a clear photo and a blurry one in some situations.

The last downside is that adding more glass to the original glass can make the photos a bit softer. This is where a lower f-stop will be beneficial. Also, an increase in shutter speed will help compensate for the extra shake due to added length.

Is a teleconverter worth buying?

Teleconverters are easy and lightweight to pack, which makes them perfect for traveling. If you are not too worried about a bit of lost quality, they can be a great deal!

“The long story made short is that you are getting additional reach from a lens that you already have for a price that is much cheaper than buying a whole new lens.”

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4 responses to “Should You Use a Teleconverter?”

  1. lyle says:

    “For example, a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter would take a 70mm-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens and convert it to a 70mm-340mm lens.”

    No, it will extend it at both ends and all points inbetween: 119-340mm, not just at the long end…

  2. Lyle says:

    ” What this means is that if you start with an f/2.8 lens and use a 2.0x teleconverter, the lens will no longer be f/2.8 and instead be f/4.8. ”

    A 2 stop drop in light from 2.8 is 5.6, not 4.8. (2.8 to 4 is 1 stop, and from 4-5.6 is a second full stop)

  3. tonyidaho says:

    Lyle,

    She uses the 2x example in the article to go from 2.8 to 5.6 but in the video she uses the 1.7x to get to 4.8.

    • lyle says:

      I was solely responding to what was written which was always a 2.0. Someone corrected the f stop after I commented. The focal length example is still in error as written.

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