Canon Extender EF 1.4x or 2.0x? II or III?

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On Wednesday I posted a photo of our (formerly my dad’s) cat, Mouser. Without the photography accessory that I purchased earlier this week, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot that photo, anyway not as “up close.”

With a boatload of gift certificates from past Christmases and Mother’s Day, at Christian Photo* I purchased a Canon Extender** EF 1.4x III. Canon offers two versions of the 1.4x: the II and the III.

Why did I purchase the 1.4x extender? Because most (but not everything) of what I photograph is at medium-range distances, and sometimes a little further away. The most telephoto quality lens I have at present is a 135mm lens. When using the 1.4x extender with my 135mm lens, the resulting focal length is 135mm x 1.4 = 189mm. I.e., the extender gives me extra reach.

Also, I didn’t want to spend the money to purchase a really good long telephoto lens. (Even if I could afford one, I wouldn’t use it enough to justify the cost.) While the extender is pricey, it isn’t as pricey as purchasing a quality long lens.

Why did I get the III instead of the II? One of the perks of the III is it is supposed to offer more optical crispness. Also, I had accumulated the gift certificates for something special and didn’t want to get the II and later wish I had purchased the III. (When I got my first dSLR camera, to economize I opted for one model down from what my gut said was a fit for me. I’ve regretted it ever since.)

Comparison of Photos: With and Without the 1.4x Extender

This photo was taken with a 135mm lens and no extender.

From the same location and with the same camera settings as the previous photo, this photo was taken with a 135mm lens and a 1.4x extender, resulting in a 189mm focal length (135mm x 1.4 = 189mm).

For a few, but rare, situations, I wish I had telephoto capabilities even greater than 189mm, like with a 2.0x extender. (135mm x 2.0 = 270mm) However, most of the time when I photograph, I’m moving around. That means I rarely use a tripod. My hands are not as still as a tripod. Therefore, as still as I try to be, I still have some camera shake.

This shake (and therefore fuzziness in my photos) would be even more evident if I had taken these two mailbox photos with the 2.0x extender. This is because…a 1.4x extender cuts back the amount of light by only one f/stop. In comparison, a 2.0x extender cuts back the amount of light by two f/stops. Less light usually means slower shutter speeds. Slower shutter speeds without a tripod usually mean more camera shake visible in photos. When photographing in some rather dark environments, for less evident camera shake I need all the light I can get. I get more light with the 1.4x than with the 2.0x.

I like the telephoto capabilities of a 2.0x, but the following three things made me decide to go with the 1.4x extender, instead. 1.) Without a tripod, my camera shake was just too pronounced with the 2.0 extender. 2.) I don’t need a 2.0x extender for the distance of things I most frequently photograph. 3.) If I don’t have too much camera shake, I can always crop and still have a relatively focused enlarged photo, for example, like the cropped photo at the bottom of this post.

Yes, I could crop/enlarge to a certain degree even if I didn’t have the 1.4x extender. I guess the 1.4x extender lets me have the best of both worlds…a little bit longer focal length, but without as much concern regarding visible camera shake as I would have with the 2.0x extender.

One thing to check out before purchasing an extender is whether or not it is designed to work with one or more of your lenses.

* * * * * * * *

If you are thinking that the photo of Mouser (at the bottom of this post) seems a little fuzzy, just know that it would be even fuzzier (due to that whole camera shake/shutter speed thing) with the 2.0x extender.

This photo was taken with my 135mm lens and the 1.4x extender (i.e., a focal length of 189mm).

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Same photo as above, but cropped. His face (where I was focusing) is a teensy fuzzy, but he was on the move and so was I. Especially when enlarged by clicking on it, I'll take it!

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* * * * * * * *

I know I’m kind of like the blind leading the blind when explaining things about photography. But, maybe there’s someone blind out there who wants to listen!

*The pricing of the III at Christian Photo was exactly the same as online at reputable B & H. All the more reason for me to shop locally.

**An extender is also called a teleconverter. It connects between the camera lens and the camera body.

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

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One Response to “Canon Extender EF 1.4x or 2.0x? II or III?”

  1. jeff moore Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! I enjoyed reading them. I’m contemplating getting a teleconverter for my camera. I really want a big telephoto lens but I don’t have them money to spend on one. So this seems like something doable that will get me closer to where I want to be.

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