Wednesday, April 4, 2007
In the world of photography bigger is better. The bigger the resolution the sharper the image. The larger the memory card the more images I can store. The longer the focal length lens the closer you can get to the action.
Now it would be nice to have a 400mm, a 500mm or even a 600 mm telephoto lens for shooting sports. But costs for quality optics in that range can run into the thousands of dollars.
An inexpensive alternative is to consider the use of an extender. A small set of lens in the tube can increase the focal length of the lens by either 1.4 or 2 times. I recently bought the 1.4x extender for use with my 300 mm lens and 70-200 mm zoom. While it is convenient and cheap there are some considerations and sacrifices using them.
Using the 1.4x extender turns my 300mm f.40 telephoto lens into a 420 mm f.5.6 telephoto. When it is attached to the work camera, a Canon Eos 1D the APS H size sensor makes the effective focal length 546mm. Hooking it up to my Canon Digital Rebel turns it into a whopping 672 mm lens with the Rebel’s 1.6 digital magnification.
So what are the drawbacks? Well no matter how nice the extender it could never equal the quality of the same focal length glass telephoto lens. There is a drop in maximum f-stop so night or indoor usage of the lens could be a problem.
I gave the extender its first serious workout using it to cover a tennis match, a soccer game and a protest march through town. Overall I am happy with the results. The increased focal length gave me a pleasing soft background in the photos. Shooting at maximum aperture you are either in focus or not so care is needed in focusing.
I found the images a little flat in contrast but a little time in Photoshop pumped up the highlights to a pleasing value. The images are crisp and the lens operates just a before with the addition of the extender. A little bit heavier, maybe one day I will invest in a monopod.
I am pleased with my new extended view. I wonder why I waited so long to try it. Now I have a way to reach out a little further when I want to get up close and personal.