Awhile back on this blog I did a quick review of the Nikon Z 1.4x converter. Hands down it was the best teleconverter I have ever used, and I saw little difference in both image quality and autofocus using it on my Z mount 70-200mm F2.8. The biggest downside for many photographers was this converter only works on the Z 70-200mm F2.8. I’m anxiously waiting for Nikon to announce the 100-400mm (maybe this week?), then I will have a 400mm native mount lens for my Z. In the meantime, I purchased the Nikon 2x Z teleconverter to see how that worked with my 70-200mm F2.8. Once again I wasn’t disappointed.
Take a look at the squirrel (exotic backyard wildlife) at the top of this post. This image was taken using the 2x and 70-200mm F2.8 Z mount lenses on my Z6II. This is the sharpest 2x converter image I have ever taken. I enlarged this image to 100 percent and even 200 percent and couldn’t believe the quality. Since the 70-200mm F2.8 Z lenses is so sharp to start with, even with a little loss in acuity using the 2x, the image was incredibly sharp. As I normally do when using teleconverters, I stopped down my aperture to increase sharpness. The 2x turns the 70-200mm into a F5.6 400mm at the long end. Images were slightly sharper at F8, and the squirrel image was taken at F11.
Autofocus also did fine in normal light conditions (using the Z6 II which works better in low light), I really didn’t see a performance change. At very low light in the backyard bird blinds I did see autofocus hunt for frequently, as one would expect. Remember a 2x teleconverter eliminates two stops of light which is going to affect autofocus at some point. Using the 1.4x converter I really didn’t see any autofocus difference, but you only lose one stop of light.
I’ve used 2x converters through the years, and they have done okay when I really need to get some reach. Generally I use my 2x on my 600mm F4, but at 1200mm, your technique has to be perfect. But with the new Z lenses being so sharp, it only makes sense this new 2x is going to set new standards of performance. I’m excited to hit 400mm on a native Z mount lens while I wait for longer glass to be introduced. I get many questions about whether photographers should buy the 1.4x and 2x converters (assuming you own the 70-200mm Z F2.8). The 1.4x is an unqualified yes. The 2x also does a great job, but there is a little more loss of light and quality. Looking ahead, and assuming you can use a converter on the 100-400mm, the 1.4x should work great. If this lens maxes out a F5.6 at 400mm, then with the 1.4x it would be 560mm at F8. This should work well in many situations. And of course let’s not forget Nikon will also introduce their Z 200-600mm later this year, which I think will be a hugely popular lens. I can’t wait to see how sharp it is. Stay tuned!