Now THIS is a real odd-ball. – A guy who is completely and almost exclusively into shooting small prime lenses on the narrow streets of Århus in Denmark, suddenly reviews a 2 x tele converter for use on big heavy long reach zoom-lenses!
Usually when I get to test some form of Fujifilm gear, it’s usually because it fits my profile of shooting (I guess). But this time around it was a little different.
A little while ago I had the immense honour and pleasure of shooting ALL the X-series stuff as packshots for use in the banners over at www.fujifilm-x.com (Go check it out, if you havn’t already). As part of this I was sent the Tele Converter XF 2X TC WR. I had a big trip to Iceland planned just 4 days after receiving it, so I asked if I could bring it along for some quality time along with the “Bigguns” the XF100-400mm and the XF50-140mm .
The guys at Fujifilm Nordic must’ve raised an eyebrow or two (as did I upon expressing that thought!) – But they said go for it.
Now, I guess what is the ever-important thing in a teleconverter is how does it retain detail and sharpness. The 1.4X teleconverter already does a fine job at this. And from the samples I’ve seen, and from my own experiments, the loss in sharpness is minimal. It is there, but minimal. So going even further in magnification would indeed mean even harsher demands for such a converter as the 2x.
You loose two stops of light when using the 2x teleconverter. The 50-140mm f/2.8 becomes a 100-280mm f/5.6 and the mammoth XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 becomes a 200-800mm f/9-11. This of course means that you need some extra punch in the ISO department, or use them on tripods and close the shutter speeds down when dealing with stationary subjects. The extra stop of ISO performance of the X-Trans III sensor in the X-Pro2 does provide some more room to manoeuvre without excessive noise.
So, what does it look like?
Well, its a tube…..with glass…. a little bit longer than the XF 1.4X TC WR. Basically a weird looking little lens. It retains all the build quality that we’ve (or atleast I’ve!) come to expect from the Fujinon XF series of lenses. Thats about it. Theres nothing too sexy about the look of a teleconverter!
Its weather resistant, so in conjunction with the big WR zoom lenses and the XT1 or X-Pro2 the weather will pose no threat to this little thing.
Iceland had some harsh weather while we were there, and there were times where the combo got quite wet from either hail or rain. So it passed the WR-test with flying colors.
Now, what about performance?
*A little disclaimer is in order here. My test version was a pre-production unit, so I do not know if image quality is final. Fujifilm is known for finishing lenses through firmware corrections right up until shipping.
As you can see from the images I did not test this converter on people doing weird physical activity aka sports. I did not test it on a roaring polarbear running towards me. I shot some seagulls, landscapes, deers and some kids. Not really the AF test of champions, now is it? – But suffice to say, the autofocusing did not suffer from using the converter under me given settings. The XF100-400mm could easily follow a bird in flight with the XF 2x TC attached.
If you’re into sports (for which this converter would prove invaluable for reach) somebody probably tested it under those circumstances.
Image quality I felt was good. It did soften my images somewhat at the longest end of the zoom ranges. I can’t tell if this was because of heatwaves, mist, OIS or me not holding my camera still! – All I know is that on the close end of the zooms the sharpness was almost indistinguishable from using the zooms without the converter.
The cameras didn’t have updated firmware to read the correct EXIF from the converter, so I was given the EXIF as if I was using no converter.
Now let’s look at some images, shall we? These images below are all taken with the XF50-140mm f/2.8 on the X-Pro2.
What you can see above is that if I stand close to the subject and is zoomed all the way in, you still get incredibly sharp images, but if you stand further away it doesn’t matter if you’re at 50mm or 140mm, you loose some detail. – But come on…. this is impressive territory for a 2x converter.
It does work very well on the long exposures. The extra lightloss can actually become an advantage here.
As I stated earlier, the autofocus didn’t present any issues to me. I tried to scare the deers as best I could, but apparently I’m not threatening enough! They just kept eating, or walking. Subject separation is good a these long focal lengths. You really draw out your subject, all the while pulling in the background.
Now, lets look at some of the images from the XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 in combination with the XF 2x TC. This is where you can really get that extra reach. The two images below are jpegs from RAW. Nothing done to them except export them and downsize them to 3000px on the wide end. They represent the reach you can get at 200mm and 800mm respectively.
I loved the mood that I could get at close to 800mm. Thats actually 1200mm in full frame eq. It’s crazy!
So the first thing I would like to conclude is that the XF 2X TC WR is NOT a tool for my usual type of photography. That might crumble the entire foundation of this little write-up, but thats how it is. For the wildlife- and sportsphotographer using the X-series system, this little thing should without a doubt be an integral part of the toolkit.
The 2x teleconverter will give incredible reach, while maintaining decent sharpness. The compression of the scene is insane, and it makes for great scenic images when used for landscape photography.
Below you can find mixed sample shots. All shots taken with the X-Pro2 and the Tele Converter XF 2X TC WR and either the XF50-140mm or the XF100-400mm
My friend, fellow X-Photographer and wildlife photographer extraordinaire Ben Cherry also just published a great write-up on the 2x TC as well. Go check it out.