I needed it longer. My focal length that is.
While I own a Nikon 300 f/2.8 and a 1.4 teleconverter, there are a few times where I wanted a longer lens, but as a NPS member, I canâ€™t always borrow a 500 or 600, especially with the 2012 London Olympics this summer, long glass would be hard to get.
The other factor preventing me to personally own big lenses is I donâ€™t have a spare $8,000 to drop on one.
My other option was to pick up the new Nikon 2.0 teleconverter version III. While the 1.4 and 1.7 TCs were always well-regarded, doublers were always too soft for producing usable work, but reviews and raves rated the newest iteration from Nikon on the 2.0 III as really freakinâ€™ good, supposedly as good as the 1.4 version II, so I figured Iâ€™d give it a shot.
It is about twice the size of the 1.4 TC, almost like if you stacked two of them on top of each other, so it packs anywhere fairly easily.
At around $450, it is not a bad price point-to-image quality. In good conditions, it is almost as good as the 1.4 wide-open on f/2.8 lenses, but that does come with some need-to-know caveats.
The teleconverter arrived a few days prior to two big sporting events for me every summer: California Rodeo Salinas and the U.S. Moto Grand Prix. My goal was to run the 2.0 TC III through the rounds at both events and next to the 1.4 TC II. I shot it on both a D300 (rodeo) and a D700 (MotoGP) and on an AF-s 80-200 f/2.8 and AF-s 300 f/2.8 II.
Like most lenses, the images look the best if the subject is as close to the camera as possible and the background is clean. Shooting at distant subjects, everything becomes kind of blobby and soft, but with close subjects, the images are surprisingly sharp and saturated.
With the longer rodeo photos of the cowboys roping, I was probably 50-to-100-yards away from the action, whereas with the motorcycle racing, I was sometimes closer with a longer lens.
Wide-open (on an f/2.8 lens, so effective usage of f/5.6) there is some softness, unless you nail the focus perfectly, but even stopped down to f/6.3, the images jump up in quality quite a bit.
Unlike with an f/2.8 or f/4 lens, your backgrounds donâ€™t disappear in a wash of creamy goodness, so real-world usage with the 2.0 TC has to be judicial. Cleaner, far-away backgrounds are key.
Focus drops off to a noticeable amount, but in good, bright light, there shouldnâ€™t be any issue. If you focus from one extreme to the other, of course it is going to be slow, but for the most part, I roughly focused on the area where my subject was coming from, like in the corner of the race track or focused on the bull riding chute. With a fast-focusing camera and lens, tracking never seemed to be an issue, even as the light started to dim during the rodeo.
I did not get to test it on a 400 f/2.8 or a D3 or D4, but I would wager the results to be even more usable and stellar.
Bottom Line: Better than expected. Sharp up-close, soft far away and works best on the best fast glass and more advanced AF cameras. Easy to pack and works in a pinch.