You must have heard about teleconverters if you are sports, wildlife, or birding photographer. If you haven’t and are interested in these genres, you should check this discussion because you will learn about teleconverters, why they are so helpful, and if it makes sense to pick one for your kit bag. And to clarify, teleconverters can be a tremendous addition to your camera bag.
What are teleconverters?
Teleconverters act like magnifying glasses between the camera and the lens. Their job is to extend the lens’s focal length and allow it to see further. Teleconverters work with most prime telephoto lenses. But they will rarely work with wide-angle primes, wide-angle zooms, and shorter focal telephoto lenses (both zooms and primes).
If you’re looking to invest in a teleconverter for your lens, you need to check if the lens is compatible with a teleconverter. There are many OEM and third-party teleconverters available. Check if the one you want to buy will work with the lens you plan to pair it with.
Advantages of teleconverters
The apparent advantage of teleconverters is that they extend the focal length of your lens. If you have a 400mm f/2.8 lens, you can use a 2.0x teleconverter and make it an 800mm f/5.6 lens. You drop a couple of stops of light, but you gain 2x the focal length.
Disadvantages of teleconverters
The major disadvantage, as mentioned above, is the loss of light. With a 1.4x teleconverter, you lose one stop of light. With a 2.0x teleconverter, you lose two stops of light. Therefore, you should only use teleconverters with lenses with a fast aperture.
Should you use a teleconverter vs. use a longer focal length?
Teleconverters offer you a cheaper option to extend the focal length of a lens. If you used a 600mm lens like the Nikon 600mm f/4, you would have to doll out bags full of cash. Alternatively, for less than 25% of the cost of that 600mm lens, you could get a setup that lets you use the same focal length. Albeit, you do lose out on the maximum aperture and, with it, a lot of light.
So, teleconverters are the best option if you’re on a budget and need a super telephoto lens. Also, when you need to extend the focal length of a lens and increase its usability, teleconverters are a great way to achieve that.