Tele-converters or Tele-Extrenders
There was no confirmed source which Company has first came out the idea of an optical extender that can be use between a working lens and camera body to increase the focal length of the lens in use. But it was believed to be third party lens manufacturer that has pioneered with such brilliant idea for photographers. The theory for such a compact device is, it can double or triples the focal length of the lens in use which is an effective cost saving method and greatly improves mobility for photographers. Although some of these offering have already emerged and getting popular among amateurs towards the beginning of the '70 but Nikon has adopted a cautious approach to such idea as meeting high standards of mechanical and optical quality was not easy and more importantly, they must be designed so as to affect Nikkor lens performance as little as possible. It was not until 1976 that they have finally developed its first version of the two 2x teleconverters (the TC-1, TC-2 with full diaphragm and meter coupling in a non-Ai lens coupling design, similar devices introduced at later stages which has a revised Ai lens coupling system was termed as TC-200 and TC-300, the Ai-S version were called TC-201 and TC-301respectively ) with multi-layer lens coatings and made them available to the public.
Three generations of the Nikon 2X Tele-converter(s), TC-1, TC-200 and TC-201 for manual focus Nikkor lenses below 200mm focal length.
Credit: Images of the Nikkor TC-200 courtesy of Mr. Steve Balalos® <firstname.lastname@example.org> copyright © 2003. Images of the Nikkor TC-201 downloaded from NikonUSA website Images of the Nikkor TC-1 downloaded from Roland Vink's website, all images have been retouched for broadcasting.
Such optical extender, or more affectionately referred as "Teleconverter", acts as a negative lens group and extends the focus point of the converging light rays further back. Thus, a moderate focal length such as a 200mm telephoto lens may be "converted" into a 400mm super-telephoto optic. Both TC-1 and TC-2 (Ai TC-200, TC-300 and Ai-S TC-201, TC-301) are 2X extender which was designed to serve Nikkor lenses with focal length below 200mm and beyond 300mm as optical designs and maximum lens speed for both series of lenses may be different and demand for such differentiation of converters. In 1978, Nikon has again developed a 1.4X teleconverter which proves 40% lens extension to primary lens for some of their selective Nikkor super-telephoto lenses either as a dedicated companion on specific super-tele Nikkor lenses or can be use them individually while converter with 1.6X extension was only being introduced much later in 1984. Incidentally, it was also Nikon's first AF teleconverter.
However, there are some advantages and a number of disadvantages when these devices are used in combination with a primary lens. Firstly, teleconverter not only multiplies focal length, but they also multiply the f-number of the prime lens as once mounted, some degree of light illumination for the working lens is lost and the actual maximum aperture of the lens is effectively "reduced" by multiples. For an instance, if a converter is used onto a Nikkor 200mm f/4.0s telephoto lens, the lens will lost 2X illumination by a factor of two times i.e. 2 stops (the 1.4X 's TC-14 lost light by 1-stop) which means using tele-extenders may force you to use shutter speeds that are slower than you prefer. For an instance, if given the preferred shutter speed for any given scene is a constant value (for an example, the breeze is strong and you think 1/125 sec would be the ideal shutter speed to minimize possible blurry image caused by movement during exposure) the lens may become a 400mm f/8.0 lens. To offset such negative effect, it is best to use in combination with a prime lens with moderately fast maximum lens speed. However, with today's many high resolution film types, the right choice of faster film types is another alternative solution. Other than TC-1 and TC-2, all subsequent tele-converters produced by Nikon will couple fully to both the camera's metering and automatic diaphragm mechanisms and a single converter generally fits many lenses and thus it can be very convenient to use and its compact size making them easy to carry around as an good supplementary optical accessory to any prime lens.
1.4X Teleconverter(s), TC-14, TC-14A , TC-14B and TC-14C for MF Nikkor lenses.
Credit: Images of the Nikkor TC-14B downloaded from NikonUSA website. Images of the Nikkor TC-14A and TC-14C used pending permission(s) as I cannot wait to meet self-set deadline for broadcasting. If you have any original images of this TCs for me to use them in this section, please mail them to me to substitute them.
The decrease of effective working aperture by 2 stops may be too drastic and proved to be unfavorable for many serious Nikkor users, in particular where maximum aperture of most popular super telephoto lenses have comparable smaller maximum aperture than other lenses of shorter focal lengths. Nikon thus, has provided a good solution with an Ai 1.4X TC-14 teleconverter in 1978 specifically to be used with telephoto Nikkor lenses. An interesting aspect of the TC-14 (A, B and TC-14C***) is, it only magnifies focal length of the prime lens by a factor of 1.4X BUT the f-number by merely ONE f-stop ! So, say if such a matched extender is used with a Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 EDIF lens, it will increase the focal length to 840mm while the effective aperture will stopped down to only f/8.0. In addition, TC-14 series of teleconverter have been designed to be extremely compact, flat and light weight, all these positive elements have greatly enhance and extend the functionality and practicality of telephoto lenses. Further, some selective Nikkor lenses with shorter focal length (and zoom lenses where applicable with respective TC-14 model) may also be used. There are a few TC-14 models - other than the original TC-14, BOTH TC-14A and TC-14B were introduced in 1983 to serve more precisely to many groups of MF-Nikkor lenses which include Nikon Series-E lenses, Reflex-Nikkor, Zoom-Nikkor lenses and some selective high speed Nikkor lenses (see respective sections for more info).
Nikon 2X Teleconverter(s), TC-2, TC-300 and TC-301 for MF Nikkor beyond 300mm. Credit: Images of the Nikkor TC-300 courtesy of Mr. Brandon Wittnebel® <www.natcam.com> copyright © 2003. Images of the Nikkor TC-301 downloaded from NikonUSA website
Note: What are the differences ? Since BOTH TC-1(TC-200, TC-201) and TC-2 (TC-300, TC-301) multiply lens focal length and f-number by factor of 2. TC-1(TC-200, TC-201) is for use with lenses that are without a deeply recessed rear elements design, usually found in those Nikkor lenses under 200mm focal length while the latter TC-2 (TC-300, TC-301) is for use with a different group of Nikkor optic that has a design of recessed rear elements popularly found in Nikkor telephoto lenses above 300mm focal length.
Instruction Manual for TC-201/TC-301 (New Upload) Last update: 23-02-2003
However, an interesting aspect is, it can maintain the same focusing ability as the prime lens in used. Which means to say - the minimum focusing distance of the camera lens is unaffected by the presence of a tele-extender. So, the minimum focusing of the Nikkor 200mm f/4.0's 2m (6 ft.) to infinity (OO) will remain unaffected even if it is a "converted" 400mm lens. So, depends on priorities, sometimes an advantage because it allows larger images on the film. It allows you to apply its unique optical behavior in many other applications such close-up photography, for an instance, a close-up Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8s lens may become a 210mm f/5.6 close focus lens while its superior close focusing capability of the Micro-Nikkor lens is still retained while at the same time, extends a more comfortable working distance between subject of interest and the photographer. In certain ways, the viewfinder of the camera will also be dimmed slightly due to light lost which may at times making the split image rangefinder darken and it is good to select a appropriate focusing screen type*.
It certainly sounds like a brilliant idea a teleconverter is a must-owned item for every photographer, huh ? Well, If such was the case, all lenses should have packaged with such a device in the box but Companies usually do not practice such a move - mainly due to commercial reasons which may affect sales of other prime lenses and also because many converters, regardless how these matched converters have been claimed by respective manufacturers that optically they have been designed to approach that of the original lens but generally, it does suffer from some optical ills as it is not possible to match every lens with different optical design with a converter in place to ensure overall definition for the prime lens not being affected at all. Thus, regardless what lens is used with a converter in place, there will be be slightly decreased in their overall optical performance compared to the original lens alone. Well, although such differences may not be visible in a normal course unless being enlarged significantly but to some purists, such thoughts may affect one's decision Besides, sometimes, it may also adds with more flare in some unfavorable situations as more lens elements are within the optical path during an exposure. So, if you buy one, buy from a reputable manufacturer and although sometimes I'd love to believe cheap thing can be good but in this area, I would rather advised you - don't buy the cheapest.
The first teleconverter that offers 1.6X extension was debuted along with Nikon F3AF SLR camera in 1983/4. An amazing feat is, with F3AF, it can also "convert" all MANUAL FOCUS Nikkor lenses from 24mm to 300mm focal length with an aperture of f/2.0 or faster into a autofocus lens.
Credit: Images courtesy of Mr MCLau/Edward Ngoh ® <www.MIR.com.my/MClau> copyright © 2003.
General perception of users towards using teleconverter is, It is always advisable to use a smaller** lens aperture to increase definition and minimize chances of flare as most often, except in fairly bright lighting, it is quite difficult stopping the aperture to smaller value as the compensated decreasing of working aperture would mean it often needs to use a maximum aperture of the lens in use in order to maintain a workable shutter speed to minimize camera shake. Whatever it is, teleconverter are very popular among amateurs but they are also quite often being used in many professional applications as it offers a cheap, practical means of doubling focal length and easy to carry around However, it is not entirely a solution provider, so use them wisely.
Lastly, as this website is only confined to feature various MF Nikon Tele-Converters, the rest of the Nikon AF versions will be addressed as and when it relates in future sections that follows.
Important Note: * Sometimes, certain combinations of various lenses, teleconverter(s) and focusing screen(s) used on respective Nikon SLRs may require additional exposure compensation, where applicable. The leaflet that comes along with the hardware may outlined the requirements. ** When used with certain lenses, there may be occasional uneven exposure if aperture is set smaller than f/11 or beyond and/or in some cases, may cause vignetting of image. *** The TC-14C was designed specifically as a dedicated matching Tele-Converter for the ultra-high speed Nikkor 300mm f/2.0s telephoto lens, it was supplied as a packaged accessory.
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Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E
Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
Recommended Reading Reference on Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses | about this photographic web site
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Co-developed with my web buddy, Rick Oleson® & Denmark, Creator of the Nikon Repair Group Mailing-List; A contributing effort to Michael Liu's Classic Nikon SLRs and Nikkor optic site.
Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.