Last week, I got a chance to try out the new Canon EF 2x II Teleconvertor on top on Canon 100-400 on a non-pro Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) body. It was not a ‘test’ of sorts. I just chanced on an Egyptian Vulture and shot from the car. As it was too far for a good frame filling shot on 400mm lens, I put the 2x extender to check what I can make of this. I did not use a tripod, but used support of car window.
On non-professional Canon bodies such as EOS 450D (Rebel series), 40D, and 7D, Auto-focus doesn’t work at aperture f/8 and higher. So, I had to use manual focus. The results were very impressive. Here’s for you to see:
First image – Canon 100-400mm @ 400mm, Canon EOS 450D, Auto-focus, ISO-200, f/5.6, 1/1600s.
Second image – Canon 100-400mm + Canon EF 2x II Extender @ 800mm, Canon EOS 450D, Manual-focus, ISO-200, f/11, 1/400s.
I don’t believe in tests under controlled conditions where you use a sturdy tripod and test pattern. What matters to me is what I get in the field. And I am impressed with the Image Quality, Sharpness and Contrast produced on the new 2X extender and Canon 100-400mm combination. Many a times I have heard that zooms don’t perform well when used with a teleconverter, but this trial has proved it otherwise. If I can get this kind of sharpness and Image Quality, I love the flexibility of a zoom lens.
Here is a 50% crop of the image captured with a 2X TC.
I did not put up a 100% crop because, the image was not as very sharp as you can get on a frame filling 100% image on 400mm lens. I didn’t want do excessive sharpening to give an appealing image. Also, I felt it is not fair to put a 100% crop when the conditions used to capture the image were far from ideal – hand holding with support of a car window to manual focus at 800mm and 1/400 shutter speed. If you use a sturdy tripod, I definitely think the results would be much better. I also stopped down to f/13 and captured few more frames, and it has come out even sharper.
Bokeh or Depth of field – Shooting at f/11 takes away the advantage of the bokeh you expect to get on a 800mm lens. It is almost same as what you get on 400mm at f/5.6 (obviously so?).
The catch of course is where can you get the luxury of shooting at 1/400s shutter speed at f/11 aperture at ISO-200. Definitely not in 80% of the situations I shoot in. It is best suited to open grasslands, lakes, coasts, and similar spots with good lighting. Also, not suitable for birds that are very agile. Most raptors maintain their distance and don’t move much. So, ideally suited for photographing such birds.
It is best to have a longer lens if you want to shoot far away subjects, but for those who want to try a longer reach without shelling out a lot of money, this works decently. Though I haven’t tried out the older Canon 2X extender, I have heard it is not very good. But the version II of the 2x extender definitely is worth a look.
P.S.: I have not done excessive post-processing to give a impressive image. As I always follow, only the very basic post-processing steps of levels, saturation, and USM have been used.