Digital Teleconverter Extreme Test

This article features a selection of digital teleconverter extreme test images captured handheld during this past weekend in my backyard. As regular readers know, on occasion I enjoy conducting extreme tests with my camera gear. This helps me better understand the limitations of my camera equipment, as well as assess my current level of photographic skills.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

In order to conduct an extreme test of my E-M1X’s digital teleconverter I started by deciding how I was going to set up my camera gear.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

As you examine the EXIF data from the images in this article you will notice that I used an M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS fully extended to 400 mm. In addition, I used an M.Zuiko MC-20 Teleconverter and my E-M1X’s in-camera digital teleconverter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

This combination creates a focal length of 1600 mm. For readers who relate to full frame terminology this is an equivalent field-of-view of 3200 mm.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-640, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

I used my trusty stool so I could get close to the ground and achieve more pleasing shooting angles. For the most part I was photographing bees, flies and ants in bright sunlight, so I used -0.7 EV exposure compensation for the majority of my images.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

All of the images featured in this article are full frame captures without any cropping done to them at all. When using the digital teleconverter the output is a jpeg file.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

These were adjusted modestly in post using PhotoShop CS6, and out-of-date versions of the Nik Collection, Topaz Denoise AI and/or Topaz Sharpen AI. I was situated about 1.3 to 1.5 metres away (~ 4.3 to 5 feet) from subject insects for most of the photographs in this article.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

To say it was challenging to locate insects in my viewfinder at this extreme focal length on a handheld basis… and in such close quarters… is an understatement of significant proportions.

I was not expecting to create any high quality images given the aggressive settings I was using… i.e. a zoom lens fully extended to 400 mm… with a 2X teleconverter… shooting at f/13…. and with a 2X digital teleconverter.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, full frame capture, RAW file adjusted in post, cropped to 3257 pixels on the width

As could be expected, there is a loss of image quality when shooting with such extreme settings… especially when the output is a jpeg file. The image above was created from the corresponding RAW file… which excludes the digital teleconverter effects. If you toggle back and forth between the two previous images, you can see more details and better colour rendition were possible from the RAW file. This is to be expected.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

Photographing bees during this digital teleconverter extreme test was a difficult enough task. Trying to capture images of ants as they scurried about ramped that challenge up to another level.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

I found that I needed to back off the focal lens of my zoom lens to help find the ant, then quickly zoom back in on a subject ant once it was located in my viewfinder. This was one of the few times that I’ve ever noticed the “non PRO” zoom action of my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS lens to be a bit problematic. It is a bit stiffer than the M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 and it did cause me to miss a few image captures due to a slightly rougher and slower zoom action.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

The ultimate challenge during my Digital Teleconverter extreme test was attempting to photograph flies. They were by far the most skittish and fastest moving subjects… and created another level of difficulty above the ants.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

The surface area of my garden where I conduced my Digital Teleconverter extreme test is mostly covered by dark brown mulch,¬† with some occasional bare soil visible. This made spotting the flies quite difficult as there wasn’t much colour contrast. Further complicating my image captures was the fact that the flies would only stay on the ground for a couple of seconds before they took flight again.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1000, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

One of the sidebar benefits of my digital teleconverter extreme test was experiencing what a fantastic exercise in eye/hand coordination this challenge represented. I found the degree of concentration and physical precision required was substantial. Anyone looking for an intense exercise to help build eye/hand coordination should give this digital teleconverter extreme test a try.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1600, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

While the resulting image quality from the out-of-camera jpegs from this digital teleconverter extreme test may not meet every photographer’s requirements, I found the challenge in capturing them was significant, fun, and very rewarding.

 Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from out-of-camera jpegs using PhotoShop CS6, the Nik Collection, and Topaz Denoise AI and/or Topaz Sharpen AI. All photographs are displayed as full frame captures without any cropping. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,311 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter and in-camera Digital Teleconverter @ 1600 mm, efov 3200 mm, f/13, -0.7 EV, 1/1000, ISO-800, full frame capture, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

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2 thoughts on “Digital Teleconverter Extreme Test”

  1. Very nice images. Occasionally I use my M1 ii with the 100-400mm, the 1.4x teleconverter and the 2x digital teleconverter and find that it produces far better photos than expected. Skittish small butterflies and day-flying moths are good subjects for that combination, but I can see other potential uses as well.

    1. Hi Woody,

      Thanks for sharing some of your experience using the 2X digital teleconverter. Like you, I’ve used the 1.4X teleconverter in the past and got better than expected results with it. I decided to use the 2X teleconverter to push things a bit farther.

      Tom

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