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Old May 9, 2004, 2:15 AM   #1
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This may be a misleading question. But, when I was chasing my backyard birds, I frequently found out a teleconverter is not needed! To investigate the reason, I first studied my shooting style (which was built up with my SLR/DSLR gear) and found that I prefer to get to my subject as close as possible (in order to increase its size on the image). However, my experience showed that the use of a teleconverter is usually counter-productive. So, I did a test, informal but scientific. First, I measured the minimum working distance (i.e., the distance from the lens front end to the subject) and got the following table in which the results are usually truncated to smaller integers:

FZ-10: 66"
TL-55 (1.4X): 127"
TCON-14B (1.45X): 145"
Minolta ACT-100 (1.5X): 152"
TCON-17 (1.7X): 207"
Sony VCL HGD1758 (1.7X): 207"

As you can see, a higher power teleconverter implies a longer working distance. A 1.4X converter has a more than doubled minimum working distance than that of the on-camera lens, and that of a 1.7X teleconverter is more than tripled!

What is the impact? It could be a surprise to you if your bird shooting style is similar to mine: no converter is better than adding a converter. To prove this, I take an image at the minimum working distance of each teleconverter. The subject is actually a book cover. The drawing on the cover is about 14cm x 7cm, which is approximately the size of a backyard song bird. The following shows the 30% crop of the original. Please do not blame me for the image quality as this is not the issue.
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F...ce/FZ-10-s.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F...ce/TL-55-s.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F...TCON-14B-s.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F.../ACT-100-s.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F.../TCON-17-s.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/FORUM/F...e/Sony17-s.jpg[/img]
From these images, one can immediately see that at the minimum working distance, the FZ-10 without any teleconverter generates the largest image, followed by the two 1.4X and 1.45X converters, followed by the 1.5X converter, and then the 1.7X converters. Conclusion: if you can get close, remove your teleconverter and use the on-camera lens to get a larger image size of your subject!

One thing I'd like to share with you. The FZ-10 AF system reacts strangely at the minimum working distance. In general, I have my camera positioned at a longer distance, and move closer. At each position, I make sure the camera can focus (with the center spot). If it can, the camera is moved a little bit closer. This process is repeated until the camera cannot focus. Well, you might want to assume that if the camera is backup a little it should focus. No, it is not the case. I have to move the camera backward for a larger distance (e.g., 1 foot) and repeat the process. This is a very frustrating design if it is a universal problem.

CK
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam
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Old May 9, 2004, 12:42 PM   #2
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I think you have touched on some important issues...good post.

I have always wondered if an IS worked as well with an additional add on lens? ....or now with a 4mp camera would the (GAD!) digital zoom would deliver a 2mp photo. After all who needs a larger than life bird??? ...yeah I know there are some BIG birds.
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Old May 9, 2004, 10:22 PM   #3
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I guess if you can get close enough to your subject, you don't even need the 12x zoom, but what if you subject is not approachable such as in a zoo, or out on a lake, or high in a tree?
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Old May 9, 2004, 10:46 PM   #4
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Shene, I appreciate your post because it got me to thinking about how much I've been focusing on the converter to the point of neglecting the capabilities of the FZ10 "without" the converter. For the first time in weeks I went out today and actually used the converter "only" when I felt it was necessary. Thanks to your post I've come back to reality and the major theme...getting a good shot with "or without" the converter.

Thanks for knocking some sense into me.
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Old May 13, 2004, 5:28 PM   #5
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Normcar wrote:
Quote:
Shene, I appreciate your post because it got me to thinking about how much I've been focusing on the converter to the point of neglecting the capabilities of the FZ10 "without" the converter. For the first time in weeks I went out today and actually used the converter "only" when I felt it was necessary. Thanks to your post I've come back to reality and the major theme...getting a good shot with "or without" the converter.

Thanks for knocking some sense into me.
I too have been wondering about therush to getand usetele-converters. Most new FZ10 owners have never seen a 420mm (equivalent) telephoto lens, much less owned one. Now that they have more zoom than they ever imagined having, it'snot enough.

It's just human nature, I guess.

Rick

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Old May 14, 2004, 4:48 PM   #6
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The FZ-10 has ridiculous zoom. It's hard to find places where I can use the whole range. I have the TCon-17, but it's mostly overkill. I only use it when I'm shooting something from a riser and get bored with playing with sport mode and bracketing.
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Old May 15, 2004, 1:03 AM   #7
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The teleconverter definitely has a place but perhaps we need to work out when and why it's used. I know that it would have been impossible for me to get some of my own personal shots without the converter. I also know that on many, had I "not" had the converter on I'd probably have gotten a better shot. So, it all boils down to decisions.
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