70-200: It was all going so well…

So I have to say, now that I’ve got used to the focus ring being in a different place on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD, I love it. The handling is absolutely marvellous, and the balance is perfect on my D300 (with a grip).

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I’ve not been out as much as I’d like over the last week or so, but that happens sometimes when you work shifts. Some weeks are better than others. But it’s a good time of year for birds at my local hotspots, so I thought I’d give that a go. Then I hit a hurdle.

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As you may be aware, most of my gear is Nikon branded. A few years ago I sold my Kenko 2x teleconverter for the far superior Nikon 1.7 TC. A focal length of 200mm is pretty modest for bird photography, so I usually take this piece of kit with me when I want to shoot anything like that. This week however, I found that there’s a bit of an issue with compatibility btween my 1.7 TC and the Tamron 70-200mm.

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The Nikon TC has elements which protrude inside the bodies of their larger lenses, which tend to have quite a gap between the rear elements and the lens mount. To make sure that users aren’t tempted to use it with lenses that it could damage, they appear to have varied the mount slightly. Normally the Nikon mount is made up of three tabs. If you look at the mount of the 1.7 TC, you can see a small, fourth metal tab. It’s this little intrusion that has caused me to miss some shots I’d normally be able to get this week.

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There is no reason I can see to limit the use of this teleconverter with the Tamron lens. The protruding elements of the Nikon TC would have enough clearance within the Tamron lens to sit safely in there. Now, it’s hard to say who is at fault here. Nikon have clearly got the patents on the mounts, and as such can restrict third party manufacturers in some respects, effectively boosting their own sales. But I’m inclined to think that Tamron have missed a trick here, as they are making their lenses to Nikon specifications.

The issue is, even at this early stage, I can see real benefits to swapping my Nikon lens for the Tamron model. The dimensions are a bit more favourable, and as I keep saying, the handling is noticeably better. However, I’m very aware that I’d also have to change my teleconverter. And it wasn’t exactly cheap. If I had more than one lens to use it with, I’d certainly not be prepared to do this.

In short, not allowing a cut-out for this little tab means that I’m not getting the reach I’m used too. Which is why I’m unhappy with the in-flight shots of herons that I took the other day. I’d strongly urge Tamron to consider making that change, as it will allow users to broaden their options. Now I realise I may not be getting the whole picture, as there’s also some eletrical communication between lenses and converters, and I’m not qualified to say whether or not those connections are the reason for this, but it’s certainly worth being aware of if you have a lens to replace and also own a Nikon converter. It was a bit of a disappointment. But at least it will make me work on my fieldcraft!

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It’s not all bad though. I had about three seconds to react to this tern flying overhead, and the focus snapped into focus almost immediately. That was pretty impressive.

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8 responses to “70-200: It was all going so well…

  1. Pingback: 70-200 Extension tubes and teleconverters | the days zoom past

    • Thank you Wendy. Officially, no. Even the Kenko Pro 300 series of converters (which is not the one I owned originally), although very good quality, list Tamron lenses as incompatible.
      Since writing this post I have converted my Nikon converter for use with the lens, but found that the autofocus simply won’t work at all, causing a rapid cycle of focus hunting. I have got some decent results with manual focus, but I’ve had to accept the risk that comes with using incompatible gear. I wouldn’t recommend it, I may have just been lucky in not breaking anything electronic.
      I hope that helps you, and that you get a lot of enjoyment out of your lens. Please let me know how you get on.

    • Just to follow up on this Wendy, I’ve since found out that although the phrase detection autofocus employed during typical use does not work, contrast detection ie. Live view, does work with the above combination.

      • Thanks so much for responding. Are you speaking of the Kenko phase detection not working in the above? What about the Tameron teleconverters? and are you shooting all of these images on a tripod? I would love to know more about your actual process. Assume I know nothing 🙂 I am also mesmerized by your elephant photo.

      • No, it’s my camera that has the phase detection, although the kenko converter interrupts the camera’s attempts to focus in all modes apart from live view. The earlier images were taken with a Nikon D300, and newer ones with the D800 (so it’s not merely an age thing).
        I’ve not taken many images tripod mounted, just long-range landscapes really. I usually hand-hold for most things, which is fine for most cameras. The D800 is forcing me to use it a bit more often though.
        My “process” is usually just to go out, see what I can see, and react to it. I’m afraid I can’t be more specific than that, as each image usually has it’s own considerations. Glad you liked the elephant, I think that’s one of my favourites too.

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