D800 and 600VR with 1.4X and 2X TCs

Started May 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
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mikew
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D800 and 600VR with 1.4X and 2X TCs
May 28, 2012

I received my D800 and D4 a couple of weeks ago. Since then I have been actively testing them, to be sure that everything is working for a big wildlife trip coming up in August. Here in Florida, during March thru May, we have an influx of nesting birds that make great subjects for evaluating the performance of a camera/lens combination. After doing initial AF Fine Tuning with a lens align, I like to go to the rookeries and fine tune even more using the eyes of birds as they sit quietly and still on their eggs. I figure since the eye in focus is the foundation for a good picture, I use their eyes as the focus target. I have found that once the camera/lens is adjusted to get the eye in focus, I don't have to worry about the focus issue anymore in any circumstance.

I have adjusted the D4 with my long lenses ( 200-400, 500, 600 ) with and without TCs, and everything works as expected. I am using nikon"s latest 1.4X and 2X TCs. There is a slight loss of sharpness and contrast as expected with the TCs, but this is more than made up for by the increased magnification.

With the D800, however, the 1.4X works OK, the 2X simply will not produce images with a decent sharpness and contrast. I have adjusted the AF all the way from -20 to +20. I am using good field technique - high shutter speed like 1/2500 and 1/3200, good tripod. I do not lock the mirror up, as that is useless in the field shooting kinetic birds. ISO used is from 400 to 1600 to get the shutter speed up. The lenses are shot wide open. Stopped down there is some improvement, and this helps with the 1.4X. But the 2X just will not deliver the goods. The D800 works fantastically in all other situations tried so far.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone is having any success using the TCs with the D800 and the 600 lens in particular. The D800 with the bare 600 is everything you could ask for. But with the TCs the combination just falls flat.

Also, I find it interesting that while the D4 works a expected with both TCs, the D800, which is a spectacular camera, chokes on the TCs. Or maybe it's the other way around. This may be the ultimate example of having to feed the rapacious D800 sensor images from the finest lenses.
I welcome any discussion that might shed some light on this.

 mikew's gear list:mikew's gear list
Nikon D4 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +10 more
Nikon D4 Nikon D800
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