Comparison Test – A Crop Camera vs A 1.4x Teleconverter On Full Frame

So, what’s better – using a 1.4 teleconverter on a full frame camera or, when you need the extra “reach,” switching on a crop camera instead?

Well, there’s a lot to consider, and the video below covers it all and then some! We’ll look at several sharpness scenarios as well as cover some of the other pitfalls that using a teleconverter can create. So, click play, sit back, and enjoy!

Note – towards the end of the video, I can be seen using a belt system for my extra camera. This is the Spider Pro SCS and can be found here. I’ve only had it a short time, but I really like it so far ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, check out the images from the video (below) to really see the differences in the photos. Click the photo to enlarge on a new tab. Note that you may need to click the image a second time to see the full-size image (depends on your browser size).

D5 with 1.4 TC E III Vs. D500 All Wide Open

tc-examples-d5d500-300mm-wide-open

tc-examples-d5d500-200-500-open

tc-examples-d5d500-600-wideopen

D5 with 1.4 TC E III Vs. D500 Stopping Down TC Lens

tc-examples-300open-and-stopped-down

D810 with 1.4 TC E III Vs. D500 All Wide Open

tc-examples-d500-d810-300pf-wide-open

tc-examples-d500-d810-200-500-wide-open

d500-d810-600mm-open

Notes…

Also, I mentioned this in the video, but I want to stress that these examples are only from a small selection of cameras and lenses. However, I do feel like they mimic the typical results I see in the field. However, keep in mind that other combinations may fare worse or better. This video and article are more of a general guideline and each lens / TC / camera combo should be evaluated on its own to discover individual strengths and weaknesses.

PS…

If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check it out – click here (hey, it’s free to look ๐Ÿ™‚ )

 

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run 3
2 years ago

This is a great thing, I think everyone feels this information is very valuable, thank you

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3 years ago

[…] Cropping Full Frame Vs Shooting A Crop Camera | All About Your Cameraโ€™s Crop Modes | Use A Teleconverter Or Crop The Image? | Comparison Test โ€“ A Crop Camera vs A 1.4x Teleconverter On Full Frame […]

Robert Newman
Robert Newman
3 years ago

The results would have been somewhat different using a D810 or D850. With same pixel counts, all you’re factoring in is the slight additional aberrations from the TC. With more pixels, the resolution advantage from the extra pixels can often more than overcome the loss from a good TC.

Gariel
Gariel
3 years ago

Interesting analysis – thank you! And I agree that different lens and camera combinations behave differently. Both of my cameras do have the anti-aliasing filter, for instance. (D610 and D5200). I would encourage people to test with the combinations they currently own and use. I’ve found that in shooting wildlife with an AF-S 300MM F4, I don’t see an observable difference in sharpness between the D610 and TC vs. the D5200. I’ve read that the Nikon TC-1.4E II theoretically degrades sharpness by 5%, but darned if I can see it on screen or in 16×20 prints. The D610 and TC… Read more »

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[…] Comparison Test – A Crop Camera vs A 1.4x Teleconverter On Full Frame […]

Steven Kersting
Steven Kersting
4 years ago

Nice video, as usual… But there is a common but notable error. The aperture of the lens does not transmit more light to the AF sensor. Instead, it can only restrict the light when the main lens aperture is smaller than the AF system is designed for. The limiting factor is the FOV/aperture of the AF module’s separator lenses. The separator lenses take virtual images from different areas of the objective lens and compares them for position/offset/phase… it is the size of those individual areas on the objective lens that determines how much light is received. The main lens aperture… Read more »

Alfredo
Alfredo
5 years ago

Thanks for the useful comparison. If I may ask, I would be interested in a similar test but done the other way: APS-C camera (e.g. D500) vs FX Hi-Mpixel camera (e.g. D810), cropping the FX in post-production. No TC, same lens, same focal, same everything. APS-C will have the 1,5X field of view factor crop, but D810 might be cropped in post production. For those who have a tight budget, it could be interesting to see if a high Mpixel FX body can be used (despite the lower frame rate) to get cropped high quality shots…

Robert Newman
Robert Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

You didn’t compare the D500 against the D810with TC downsized to 20MP, which the one that tells you what the end result will be.

Steven Kersting
Steven Kersting
5 years ago

Just a small note. The D500 almost always tends to fare a little better than the D5 in sharpness even w/o TC’s… this is because the D500 (like the D810) does not have an AA filter. Personally, I think most of the gains noted with the D810 are due to “equalizing” this factor, and the slight improvements over the D500 are due to the increased resolution.

Steven Kersting
Steven Kersting
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

I assume by “resolution” you mean total MPs and not pixel pitch/size (the D8xx is ~ equivalent to the D7000 in terms of pitch/size). As I think you alluded to, there is no simple “one answer.” The use of TC’s vs cropping/crop sensor is a circle of tradeoffs.
My general ROT/recommendation is: Use the largest sensor you can fill, and whatever sensor you are using, do whatever you can to fill it maximally (for the desired composition).

Winston
5 years ago

Steve,

As always your videos are sharp as a tack when it comes to verbal clarity. Clear, concise, and always containing a bit of humor. I bought your Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography eBook a bit more than a year ago and it has become my bible. As a bald eagle field researcher and avid ethologist wildlfe has been my main focus for many years, but now when I focus on them via my camera the result is finally sharp.

Thanks!

Dave
Dave
5 years ago

Thank you Steve. I am a Canon user (1D X & 7D mkII) and I would love to see similar review for Canon as well (the same regarding your great book that I bought). I would appreciate to hear your opinion regarding a IQ comparison between FF body (in my case 1D X) with x1.4 versus software +40% “blow-up”. I am not sure which one is better regarding small birds from up to 25 meters (from practical point of view i.e. risk of dust and slower AF I am not using the x1.4 very often). I guess that for longer… Read more »

Daniel
Daniel
5 years ago

Hello Steve, I have not seen any mention about APS-C crop + teleconverter 1.4x. That is why you think is it useless? Have you ever tried it anytime?
Thanks Daniel

Harvey B.
Harvey B.
5 years ago

I’ve been using a D500 / 80-400, the old one. I’ve made a comparison shot with a D750. Blew it up 50% and re cropped to about 15″ @ 360ppi. The sparrow in both shots are now the same size. I shot in overcast light at 3200 ISO and the 750 has way less noise. Did I buy the wrong camera? I love everything else about the 500. Thanx, Harvey.

Sergei
5 years ago
Reply to  Harvey B.

Somebody asked about noise on D500 versus D750. A simple way to compare these is to look at dxomark.com. The Camera section lists all cameras by categories. ISO performance is rated in the ‘Sports’ column. This is the ISO setting at which the given camera will still produce a clean image. If you click on the heading, and select Nikon cameras only, you’ll rank the cameras from the best to the worst. Nikon D500 is nowhere near the top. It can have the latest technology, but the 20 MP sensor is what counts. #1 is Nikon DF with ISO 3279.… Read more »

Frank
5 years ago

Great Steve, this is answering my question which was following me for a long time. The only question remaining: is it right what I have read that the 2x converter is 25% less sharp compared to the 1,4 offering 5% less? So I am hasitating buying the 2x converter for my Sigma 300 2.8 lens with the D500.

Sebahattin Demir
Sebahattin Demir
5 years ago

Thank you Steve,
I have Nikon D810 body and 70-200mm F2.8 Nano lens with using TC-20E III.
Have you any experience with 2x Teleconverter (TC-20E III)?
Can I assume that we will have similar result as TC-14E III?
Thank you in advance for your interest and help.
Regards.

Andrรฉ
5 years ago

Thank you Steve , you always have the most comprehensive and straight to the point reviews . I’ ve learned a lot but what I’ ve found most interesting is that I didnt knew that when you strart stopping down a lens you loose focus points coverage and focus speed ! I’ ts funny because you hear all the time and also from pro’ s, that with telephoto lens youd rather stop down your lens to get more of the animal in focus( considering the smootness of the background you want to achieve also of course) . But I guess… Read more »

Russ Heim
Russ Heim
5 years ago

Great as always Steve… Haven’t used my TC 1.4 E II in quite a while and after watching this I’m pretty sure I’m gonna sell it…
It’s the older version and I rarely shoot on my FF D750 cause I can get longer with the crop body.
Just wondering IF you think there’d ever be a reason down the road where I MIGHT have to buy it back again???
Thanks in advance and keep up the great work… gonna share this now with all my friends ๐Ÿ™‚