Mega-Amazing Discovery: 800 f/5.6 + 1.4X TC + Canon EOS-1DX

least-sandpiper-juvenile-flapping-after-bath-flat-wings-_q8r0111-east-pond-jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge-queens-ny

This juvenile Least Sandpiper image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX. Mongoose M3.6 with the Skimmer II Ground Pod.

ISO 400: Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9. Why -1 stop??? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Mega-Amazing Discovery: 800 f/5.6 + 1.4X TC + Canon EOS-1DX

As I readied my gear I was a bit concerned about trying to photograph small sandpipers with only the 800 and a full frame body…. Man, I would miss having a 1.4X TC to use with my new camera and my favorite super-telephoto lens…. By design, the 1DX focuses only to f/5.6….

I first purchased the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter in hopes that it would autofocus with the 800mm f/5.6L IS and the EOS-5D Mark III. But that, as noted here, was a no-go. With the Kenko TC in place the aperture read 00.

I finally got my 1DX from Canon through the Explorers of Light program on Tuesday and promptly headed out to the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge that afternoon. As I was gathering my gear I noticed the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag. I grabbed it and mounted it between the 800 and my new camera body. Based on my experience with the 5D III I assumed that the 1DX would not focus with the TC in place. Again, the 1DX, by design, focuses only to f/5.6. I raised the lens, pointed it at a sign in the parking lot, and pushed the star button which I use for rear focus. I was stunned. My new rig not only focused but it focused quickly. I was about half way to the turn onto Patterson Boulevard–there are few people in the world who know the name of that basalt-covered road–when I had another thought. I put my tripod down, raised the lens, pushed the grid button, pushed the M-Fn button and was again stunned; I was able to toggle through the various AF Area Selection Modes. Then I pressed the edge of the newly designed joystick; stunned times three. Not only did the 1DX focus with the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, I was able to move the active AF sensor. I felt like the proverbial kid in the candy store.

Once I got down in the mud I discovered that AF with the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter was fast and sure and accurate. I have been out every morning and afternoon since then and have totally fallen in love with the 1DX. That first afternoon I managed to get a huge gob of black, sticky, gooey much all over my brand new camera :). It was a proper baptism.

laughing-bull-flapping-after-bath-_q8r0383-east-pond-jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge-queens-ny

This adult Laughing Gull molting to winter plumage was photographed with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX. Mongoose M3.6 with the Skimmer II Ground Pod.

ISO 800: Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops: 1/1250 sec. at f/9. Why -1 1/3 stops? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

When I got back to my Mom’s and reviewed my images I was thrilled with the sharpness and the image quality. Thrilled!

killdeer-worn-juvenal-plumage-_q8r1242-hecksher-state-park-long-island-ny

This worn juvenile Killdeer was photographed from my car at a local state park with my rig resting on a folded up sweatshirt on the lowered driver’s side window; oh how I wish that I had brought my travel BLUBB to NY! With the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX.

ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9. Why -1 stops???? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Sharpness and Image Quality with the 800 f/5.6 + Kenko 1.4X TC + Canon EOS-1DX

Judge for yourself….

semipalmated-sandpiper-juvenile-with-invertebrate-prey-item-_q8r1414-hecksher-state-park-long-island-ny

This juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper with an invertebrate prey item was photographed will sitting behind my lowered tripod at a local state park with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX.

ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9. Why -1 stops???? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

The 1DX: Changing My Photography

I have spent a lot of time lately teaching folks to make at least a few images in rapid succession when everything is perfect. Though I have never been a hold the hammer down guy and though I have been using the 1DX for less than two days, it has already changed the way I do photography. The 12 frames per second frame rate allows me to capture moments that I never knew existed. When everything is perfect I simply hold the shutter button down and let the 1DX do its thing. I have been amazed at the results. All sharp, with many of the images revealing things and capturing poses that I never even saw. As with breakfast in the image above….

semipalmated-sandpiper-juvenile-iso-10000-_q8r0708-east-pond-jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge-queens-ny

This juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper image was created pretty much in the pre-dawn darkness with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX. Mongoose M3.6 with the Skimmer II Ground Pod.

ISO 10000: Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/8 in Tv Mode.

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

ISO 10000

The ISO setting for the image above is not a typo. I had heard great things about the high ISO performance of the 1DX and wanted to see for myself. Quite amazing.

laughing-gull-bathing-_q8r0631-east-pond-jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge-queens-ny

This bathing adult Laughing Gull molting to winter plumage was photographed with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1DX. Mongoose M3.6 with the Skimmer II Ground Pod.

ISO 800: Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/8. Why -1 stop? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

ISO 800

As you can see in this image–be sure to click on the larger version, ISO 800 with the 1DX looks as good or better than ISO 400 on all previous Canon camera bodies.

When asked about the 1DX I always replied, “It will be a 5D III on steroids. I have no idea…. One thing that I forgot to mention is that I am 100% convinced that the 1DX will be superb for flight photography, the best ever by far. As I was photographing the bathing gulls and sandpipers I said to buddy Tom Pfiefer nearby, this camera is so good that the birds have no chance; I feel guilty.

Buying a 1DX?

Many of you have been waiting for my evaluation of the 1DX. I will do something more formal soon. In the meantime, as pretty much all of you know I have been working my butt off to make the blog interesting, informative, beautiful, and educational. All free to you. Please, please, pretty please use our main B&H affiliate link in the side column when making your B&H purchases. If you are gonna order a 1DX, please use this link: Canon EOS-1DX. Click on the link and then complete your purchase to help us out. It’s that simple.

Own an 800 and a 1DX?

If you already own a Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS and a 1DX, you will want to click on the following link and get yourself a the Kenko 1.4X TC before B&H is out of stock: the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter. Good friend Patrick Sparkman ordered his 1DX and his Kenko 1.4X TC using our links last night and was thrilled that both were in stock. But that was yesterday :). Me? I am headed out to make some more great images.

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173 comments to Mega-Amazing Discovery: 800 f/5.6 + 1.4X TC + Canon EOS-1DX

  • Just for fun, I tried a crazy combination the other day, and was surprised to get AF at F/16. I used my 1dmkIV, a tamron 2x, and a canon 1.4xII on a 400mm f/5.6 lens, together in that order, and still had autofocus in good light. It was very slow, but it worked! The image quality left something to be desired though. I never expected that AF would still work at F/16.

    Only the canon 1.4x is reported in the metadata, maybe that’s why it works, since it seems the camera doesn’t recognize the Tamron converter.

  • Hi Artie, it’s good to see u r in love with 1Dx. So, far I remember, u were not so when announced. I maintain that a full frame is not the perfect platform to capture wildlife. Don’t u miss the crop factor on it?

    I’m sure u know its equivalent Nikon D4 can shoot both FX and DX. How nice would it be if 1Dx had the same feature!

    For us, the prosumers, we can only keep guessing what Canon has up it sleeves!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am doing fine with my full frame cameras and have pretty much switched to the 1D X and the 5D III completely. :)

      • Nice to know that. Thanks for your views on the 2 useful but pricey equipment.

        But you know Artie what concerns me most? Actually we are losing wildlife faster than we thought. As per BBC reports yesterday; 300 elephants (80% of total population) were killed in last year alone in the Cameroon wilds by poachers who are actually mercenaries. At this moment Cameroonian army is on high alert as there are reports they are returning to clean off the balance. In our country few of us are fighting hard to save the beautiful Spoon-billed Sandpipers that arrive in winter from Russia for survival. They are critically endangered species. We can only hope things will change for the better.

  • avatar Scott Shoemaker

    Woo-hoo! Firmware update with autofocus at f/8!!!

  • avatar Ralf

    Hi Scott, yes I am aware of this setting and I set it to manual. Anyway, right now it is not that big issue anymore for me. I’m more concerned about the high energy consume the 1DX has. Just came from a party where I did some shoots and now there is only 40% juice in the battery. 500 pictures over the last 3 days total. I know there are 3 “CPUs” working in that camera and the screen has more pixels etc. so I know it is normal to have a higher consumption. In the end It seems I will get only approx. 1000Pictures with one battery and with my old 1D mark III, i got always around 3000 to 3600! Thats a big difference ;) I mean, that camera is heavy enough (500g more than the mark III) and now I need to bring extra spare battery’s, just in case ;) But say this, it is it absolutely worth!!! The lowlight quality, especially without flash, is amazing good. ISO40000 also 51200 is nice and for press and event pictures more than a good quality. Love it!

    Greetings from Germany,
    Ralf

  • Hi,

    I got an update from my friend. He had assumed that he was within 11ft which is the MFD of the Canon 400 f5.6L lens. But when he checked the images he was in fact beyond that and hence it could AF.

    But the news of AF with 1DX is definitely interesting and looking forward to getting this converter for my existing 800mm and the 1DX which I will be getting in a couple of weeks.

    Regards,
    Sudhir

  • avatar Marcurion

    Wow, what great news. Does Auto AF Selection and/or EOS iTR color Detection also work with f5.6 + Kenko 1.4x converter? Thanks alot for posting this info, it could be the reason for me to buy the 1Dx.

    Greetings Marcurion

  • Hello Arthur,

    Thanks a lot for this find. I have a 800mm and will be getting my 1DX in October. Have you tried the combination of Canon 2x III + 1.4x Kenko on 1DX + 800mm? I had tried 800mm+ 1DM3 + Canon 1.4xII + Canon 2x II at f16 and the sharpness was quite decent.

    On a separate note, a friend of mine posted the below note who uses the same Kenko TC. Has anyone noticed this?:

    I have witnessed a strange phenomenon with my Canon 400,F5.6 L USM today @ Rajarhat when I was casually focusing (AUTO) a dragonfly ,about 7ft away,knowing very well that it would not focus,but was pleasantly surprised to find that it focused the dragonfly,and focused rather well(one of the images uploaded under insects).I had my Kenko Pro 300 DGX 1.4 X TC on the Canon 400,f5.6 L while doing the above.Later I repeated the same action thrice,and on all the occasions the AF was spot on.

    Regards,
    Sudhir

  • Hi Arthur
    New discovery this afternoon. Photographed with Canon 300mm ,2.8 lens with Kenko 300 1.4 TC attached to body (1DX )with Canon2x TC attached to lens.This combo gives you 840mm focal length.
    A/f worked well. I was quite impressed with the detail with this combo .
    Many people that see how good the IQ is might change their mind in buying an 800 lens.

    Results are posted at http://www.pbase.com/image/146176531

  • Hi Author. Since updated to 1.06 the combo has worked flawlessly. The a/f snaps on very quickly and definitely very sharp. This last weekend i tried out live subjects to see how sharp the pictures are with the 1DX combo with the 800 and Kenko. Here are some macro shots of a dragonfly (66%crop) with this combo. http://www.pbase.com/decor/image/146095773 and a pileated woodpecker http://www.pbase.com/decor/image/146066557. Now its time to sell my 1D mk4 since it can’t compete with IQ of the 1DX and will keep my 1DS mk3 for my backup.

    Cheers
    Peter

  • Artie you need to create a list (spreadsheet) of the combos people have tried and had success with! Has anyone used the Kenko 1.4 on the 100-400 with the 1Dx and/or 5DM3 with success? And I read someone got the Kenko 2 x to work with the 500 f4, but you mention the 2x is not that sharp, is that correct?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Lewis, Great to see you here. (Note to all: Lewis is big time. See here.

      Great plan, but, the problem is that different folks are reporting different findings. One thing that seems a fact is that none of the Kenko 2X TCs, not even the newest one, is anywhere near sharp. See the BPN thread here and lot more Kenko info here.

      I am working hard to get to the bottom of the mystery which you will see as you peruse the various threads.

    • avatar Aki Sasaki

      I just tried this with the 1DX + 100-400mm + Kenko 1.4 pro… it works!
      Autofocus, moving the focus point around, and about a stop overexposed.

  • avatar Clive Culverwell

    Hi Art……

    Just some feedback on my previous comment on transplanting the Kenko PCB (printed circuit board) into the Canon 1.4X TC mk2….

    Well I finally managed to strip and totally modify the Canon 1.4X TC mk by machining a pocket inside to fit the Kenko PCB. After much tweeking and hardwiring the pins to the PCB I finally got it to work (not recommended for people without sophisticated DIY skills)

    Results are awesome! The AF is as good as the original Kenko converter on the 800mm plus 1DX and the optics are the genuine Canon 1.4X TC mk2 with the added bonus of better Canon build quality.

    So now I have proved that it is possible to AF a Canon TC with fast and reliable results on this combo. How do we now put pressure on Canon to unlock their firmware for us to use this combo as stock standard supply. I would like to rather use my mk3 teleconverter with the better coatings if they give us this option.

    Thanks for the great info you supply us…

    Regards
    Clive

  • avatar Micha Fager

    Hello again.
    Today I had the chance to test the following combinations:
    1Dx + 500/4 II + Kenko 2x DXG extender: Combo returns F8 and AF works wonderfully. Tested in light rain, so there was not much light there. Exposure is messed up, needs about 2 stops underexposure. Result seems sharp enough, no extensive sharpness tests were done.
    Next test:
    1Dx + 500/4 II + Canon 1,4x III + Kenko 1,4x DXG. Combo returns F8, but NO AF.
    Next test:
    7D + 500/4 II + Kenko 2x DXG: Combo return F8, AF occasionally if light and contrast is good.

    Thank you Artie for bringing up the F8 AF with 1Dx. Now I dare not upgrade any camera firmware just in case the F8 stops working!
    /M

  • Firmware upgraded to 1.06 fixes the problem . The a/f feels as fast as canons 1.4TC III and seems just as sharp. Amazing find thanks again for sharing your findings. A shot from this afternoon showing IQ. http://www.pbase.com/decor/image/145968366

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Now I am really confused. Just to confirm, you are getting AF with the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, the 800, and a 1DX???

      If yes, have you set any micro-adjustments???

      • Yes i have perfect A/f and at very fast speed. No micro adjustments on the 800. All I can say is that I”m extremely happy with
        the results.

      • avatar Ralf

        Hi Arthur, now you confused me with your question. Didn’t you post on top of this page that the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter will work absolute fine with the EOS-1DX with EF800, and now you ask Peter to confirm this?! Please can you bring some light into it?

        And maybe it is not the right place but, how do you handle with the fact that the AF-Point is not red anymore and it is harder to impossible to see the AF-Point in dark environment and or the subject is dark? How is your experience on this?

        Appreciate your answer,
        Ralf

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Yes. At first it seemed that with firmware 1.06 that AF was disabled but that seems not to be the case. Nearly all are reporting AF with the 1D X and the 800 f/5.6L IS and the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x. Different folks report different things so I do my best to count on reports from folks I know to be reliable…. Without 1.06 folks are reporting problems with the camera locking up if you have entered micro-adjustments….

          I plan on loading 1.06 soon. I currently have 1.02 on my 1D X.

          As far as folks having a cow on the color of the AF point with the 1D X and the 5D III I have never noticed that :).

          • avatar Clive Culverwell

            I had problems with AF not working when micro adjustment turned on with 1DX + 800mm + Kenko. I had to reset camera settings then turn off micro adjustment, pull battery out then it worked fine again.

            Thanks Clive. That is what I am hearing. If you install 1.06 that problem should disappear. That from Patrick Sparkman. And you should still have AF with the Kenko 1.4X. artie

          • avatar Ralf

            Thanks Arthur,

            Yeah, about the black focus point, I don’t like him and miss my red one but I do like the fast, crisp and accurate focus on the 1DX.

            Cheers,
            ralf

          • avatar Scott Shoemaker

            Ralf, are you aware that setting [AF5: VF display illumination] to [ON] will cause the AF point to flash red? It won’t stay red, but at least you’ll be able to see where it is. The default setting is [AUTO], which only causes the AF point(s) to flash red if the 1DX thinks it’s dark enough to warrant the color.
            –Scott

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