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 πŸ™‚

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




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


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





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.


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 πŸ™‚ )


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28 Comments on "Comparison Test – A Crop Camera vs A 1.4x Teleconverter On Full Frame"

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

Steven Kersting
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 »

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…

Steven Kersting

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.



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.


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 »

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.

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.

Somebody asked about noise on D500 versus D750. A simple way to compare these is to look at 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 »

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

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.

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

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 πŸ™‚