D7100 vs. 1.4x Teleconverter for wildlife photography

Started Feb 23, 2013 | Questions thread
mosswings Veteran Member • Posts: 8,943
Re: D7100 vs. 1.4x Teleconverter for wildlife photography

bugbot42 wrote:

I'm primarily a wildlife photographer; favorite lens is the AF-S 300f4 and I shoot with a D90. I've been thinking of buying a teleconverter to use with it, mostly for birding. But with the introduction of the D7100 and its 1.3x extra crop mode (at 15.4MP) it seems that getting a D7100 might provide a far more flexible shooting situation than a 1.4x teleconverter (if I recall correctly anything larger than 1.4 won't autofocus with the D90 which requires f/5.6 at least). I could instantly turn on/off the teleconverter without switching lenses, and not lose a stop of light. I could also crop the image even further and get greater than 1.3x magnification with a crop to 12MP to equal the print size of the D90.

Plus, I've been looking for a good video camera, and the D90's performance is less than stellar. I was considering an NEX 5R due to its focus peaking, but if the video on the D7100 is good enough, I would end up saving $100 compared to an NEX 5R (with 16-50 for portability) and Nikon 1.4 for a total of $1300 vs. the D7100's $1200 base cost.

Any disadvantages that I've overlooked? What would you do?



The crop mode on the D7100 buys you smaller file size and increased burst rate, but reduces the resolution available to 15MP from 24MP as well as increasing noise by close to a stop due to the reduced sensing area, so it's not a panacea; you could accomplish exactly the same thing as the 1.3x crop by just cropping in post by 30%.  If you weren't into high burst rates.

One should not confuse crop mode with the FX-to-DX crop...in that case, it is possible to obtain the same resolution in DX as FX (by appropriate camera selection) with the benefit of 1.5x further reach.  This puts more pixels on your bird (so to speak) which may be more of what you want.

On the other hand, sticking a teleconverter on your 300f4 will penalize you as you note - 1 stop slower wide open (BUT the D7100 will focus at f8 on the central focus zone, the D90 is limited to f5.6), but also at a noticeable reduction in image quality over just simply cropping.  A fuzzy, low contrast 40% larger image is not necessarily better than a critically sharp, contrasty image that's been cropped by 30%.

The crop mode would preserve fast shutter speed which probably is of equal if not greater benefit to BIF photography than the minor loss of DR you get from effectively turning the D7100 into a u4/3 camera with the crop mode. And you get the benefit of 15% faster burst rates and a larger buffer, all good for the pesky flitty little creatures.

As far as video is concerned, jury's still out.  The D5200 is significantly better than previous generations by all reports, the D7100 should be similar.  They're probably not as well optimized towards video as a Canon or Sony would be, but if you're not looking for dedicated vidicam levels of useability, it should do you fine.

I'd say the D7100 in crop mode - or just heavily cropped in post - makes a lot of sense for this application.

 mosswings's gear list:mosswings's gear list
Olympus XZ-1 Olympus Stylus 1 Nikon D90 Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +5 more
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