Comparing Canon’s Newest Teleconverters

Short-eared Owl
Image made with Canon 7d mkii, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens and Canon Extender EF 2X III

I don’t usually like to discuss gear on this blog, but once in a while I think there are some things new or interesting enough to talk about, particularly when I think they may be critical for producing the best possible results. I have been wanting to test and compare the 2 latest Canon teleconverters (Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, Canon Extender EF 2X III) in a head to head test for sometime and this past weekend found me with an opportunity to do so. To be clear, this was not the optimal situation to make this test. The light was poor and the subject was probably too far away and not covering enough pixels to make a relevant comparison. But, I thought I’d give it a try.

These tests were setup as equally, but not scientifically, as possible. For these first two images, I processed as normal and tried my best to be equal in all capture and processing steps. I cropped to make the bird approximately the same size in both images, so obviously, the photo made with the 1.4X tc was enlarged more than the one made with the 2X tc. I then resized each to make them 1000 pixels on the horizontal. The purpose here was to see if there is a discernible difference in sharpness and image quality between the two. The 2X tc often gets poor reviews, but just as often gets raves by those who claim to know what they’re doing. Many claim that the better results are made by using a 1.4X tc, or native lens and cropping in post to obtain better results than those obtained by using the 2X tc for an optical zoom.

Short-eared Owl Image made with Canon 7d mkii, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens and Canon Extender EF 1.4X III

Open the two images above in separate tabs to see a roughly equal comparison. In my opinion, I was pretty pleased with the results of the 2X tc in sub-optimal conditions. Both photos are fine for sharing on the web, although the IQ would limit print size. Like I said, the conditions were poor and the bird at a great distance. However, I think I would give a slight edge to the photo made with the 2X converter. This edge might just as well be due to differences in how I processed or with changing conditions within the few minutes between captured images.

Let’s look next at the “100% crops” of both photos. This simply means that these photos were both cropped at the same dimensions (4″ x 6″) and not resized. These examples were NOT sharpened.

Focal length equivalent = 500 x 1.6 x 2.0 = 1,600mm


Focal length equivalent = 500 x 1.6 x 1.4 = 1,120mm

Again, with this comparison, I find the two very close. Either one would work well enough, but if your goal was to maximize print/display size, I would probably go with the 2X tc. I guess this has surprised me a bit. I was expecting that, under these sub-optimal conditions, the 2x tc would fall behind the supposedly sharper combination of the 500mm + 1.4X tc.

What do you think? Did I make any major blunders in my comparison or analysis? Please let me know. I do hope to make this comparison again under perfect light and optimally placed subject sometime in the future.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this far!



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