Nikon AF-S TC 1.7x II Teleconverter Review

They say big things come in small packages. This is very true of teleconverters which are powerful optical magnifiers that fit between your camera body and lens. Effectively giving you more reach at the expense of a little bit of aperture. I purchased mine from Calumet but I would also recommend Amazon, Simply Electronics, Jessops or Digital Rev.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4

Sensor Type: Both DX and FX Sensors
Focal Length Increase: 70%
Aperture Reduction: 1.5 stops (f/2.8 = f/4.8)
Construction: 7 elements in 4 groups
Autofocus: Only on AF-S Nikkor Lenses
Weight: 265g

Introduction to the 1.7x

View on FlickrOne rule of wildlife photography is that no matter how long your lens is, you could always do with a little more reach! If you own a telephoto lens, stepping up to a 400mm or 500mm lens will cost you the equivalent of a used car. Whilst being more desireable than a used car, these super telephoto zooms are out of the reach of most photographer's wallets.

This is where a teleconverter comes to the rescue. Simply attaching this lens between the camera body and lens mount will increase the focal length by the stated power. Nikon make 1.4x, 1.7x or 2.0x converters.

TC1.7x Version 2Unfortunately, your lens won't be able to function at its maximum aperture due to the increase in distance from the lens to the camera sensor. It's also fair to say that you shouldn't really consider a teleconverter on a lens slower than f/4 because using a zoom lens at f/8 or f/10 is a bit restrictive and requires bright light or high ISOs to maintain a fast enough shutter speed. Also, Nikon do not support most of the budget lenses with teleconverters so you really need to check if your lens is supported here at Nikon's website.

The owners of lenses such as the 70-300mm f/4 - f/5.6 etc cannot use teleconverters. However, if you have good quality f/2.8 or f/4 lenses, these converters will be great for that extra reach without robbing you of too much light. By using a teleconverter you will also reduce the vignetting that occurs on certain lenses as the camera sensor is only using the centre part of the lens.

TC1.7e Build Quality and Handling

D700 with TC1.7xThe teleconverter is constructed fully in metal and is solid enough to support some semi-heavy lenses without your other hand supporting them, with the exception of large zooms. When connected, there is a tiny bit of rocking that occurs when moving the lens and body. It's not a lot but it is noticeable. The teleconverter has a little latch that you spring open to release the lens from its grip and this may be where the play results from.

Autofocus will slow when using a TC, but if your lens was a speedy focuser to start with, it won't make too much of a difference and to be honest I don't notice it much at all except when trying to capture very fast subjects such as birds.

Nikon TC-1.7x Optics and Performance

TC1.7x on Nikon 105mm Macro lensI only use this teleconverter with the 105mm f/2.8 macro and the 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. Of the 3 teleconverters available from Nikon, the 1.4x offers the least zoom but the best optical quality and you only lose 1 stop of light from it.

The 2.0x teleconverters offer a whopping double the zoom on your lens but at the expense of losing 2 stops of light and also, the type II version of the 2.0x has awful image quality. The recently released 2.0x version III has better optics however it is at least £100 more expensive than the 1.7x converter and better optics or not, losing 2 stops of light makes an f/2.8 lens into a slow f/5.6 lens.

The 1.7x teleconverter loses 1.5 stops of light and suffers almost no deterioration in image quality which is the reason I carry this converter in my bag. It is the perfect balance of optical quality versus maintaining a decent aperture.

Overall thoughts on the 1.7x TC

TC1.7x on a Nikon 70-200mm VR LensThis incredibly useful 1.7x converter turns my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens into a 120-340mm lens at f/4.8. This is great for shooting wildlife and the fact that the converter is compact enough to fit into a pocket makes it really easy to carry for those times when more reach is necessary.

For macro work too, this allows me to turn my 105mm macro lens into a 178mm F4.5 macro lens with the bonus of the teleconverter acting like an extension tube and allowing slightly closer focus. Nikon's 70-180mm F4.5-F5.6 macro lens retails around the £1000 mark so not only do you now have the capabilities of this lens (minus the zoom), you have saved money and got yourself VR to boot

So whenever you are working to the extremes of pushing zoom, you might want to look into a teleconverter for immediate extra reach at far less than the cost of a new lens.

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This blog is written by Paul Nimmo, a freelance website designer and photographer based in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

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