Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20Es Suck! Or do they? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20Es Suck! Or do they?


It rained overnight from Tuesday into Wednesday and there were some big clouds to the east early on Wednesday. We did OK but not great. We found a few Cinnamon Teal, an adult male and two young males Hooded Mergansers, and lots of Green-winged Teal, but we were missing the gorgeous light and still water that we enjoyed on Tuesday. But heck, Thursday morning will be here soon.

We are having dinner on Wednesday evening in Gilbert with a couple who have been friends with my older sister Ilene for several decades.

The Streak

Today makes two hundred thirteen days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 50 minutes to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not…), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.

New Listings

Action on the Used Gear Page recently has been fantastic. You can see all current listings on the Used Photo Gear page here.


Several folks on the Spoonbill IPTs used the Booking.Com link below and got great rates and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.


This image was created at the Gilbert Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert Arizona on the morning of Tuesday February 27. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III, and the 9fps mega mega-pixel Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering -2/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/10. AWB2 at 7:57am on a sunny morning.

Upper center d-9 Shutter Button AF. The selected AF point was on the base of the ducks green head where it met the white of the flank.

AF Focus peaking Fine-tune -5.

Northern Shoveler drake

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20Es Suck! Or do they?

For many decades Nikon-users (and many of the internet experts who have never used them) have maligned the various iterations of the Nikon TC-20Es, the 2X teleconverters. With the introduction of the latest version — the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III — I heard from a few folks that it Nikon Series III 2X TC was “okay.” But when I first began using the new 2X I did so with an open mind. And I expected the results to be excellent. I can firmly state that in competent hands, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III when Focus Fine-tuned and used with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens is more than sharp enough for me.


This image was also created at the Gilbert Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert Arizona on the morning of Tuesday February 27. Again I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III, and the 9fps mega mega-pixel Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering -2/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/10. AWB2 at 7:57am on a sunny morning.

Center d-9 Shutter Button AF. The selected AF point was on the front of the shorebird’s neck where it meets the upper breast (directly below and on the same plane as the bird’s eye).

AF Focus peaking Fine-tune -5.

American Avocet breeding plumage, striding

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Shutter Speeds and Photographing Movement and Action

I have been making an effort to keep my shutter speeds up — all three 1200mm images so far were created at 1/2000 sec. In addition I have been working at f/10 rather than at f/9 or f/8. I will be experimenting with slower and slower shutter speeds as time goes on. This morning I raised my ISO from 800 to 1600 in anticipation of a Cinnamon Teal wing flap. The images were sharp at 1/400 sec. Perhaps in time I will become confident that I can consistently make sharp images down to 1/60 sec. at 1200mm … Time will tell.


Early Spring Photo Opportunities at ILE

BIRDS AS ART first-ever Master Classes

Master Class Session 1. Two Full and two Half Days/Friday afternoon, March 16 through lunch on Monday, March 19, 2018: course fee: $1,999. Limit: 4/openings:3

Master Class Session 2. Two Full and two Half Days/Friday afternoon, March 30 through lunch on Monday, April 2, 2018. Limit: 4/openings:3

The Master Classes will be small groups — strictly limited to four photographers — with the first folks who register having the option of staying at my home ($50/night) or at a chain motel in nearby Lake Wales. Live, think, and breathe photography from Friday afternoon through lunch on Monday (late-morning); all meals included. There will be three afternoon photo sessions (FRI – SUN) hopefully with glorious sunsets like the ones you saw one the blog in December we should have good opportunities with the cranes even in the afternoon. We will enjoy three morning photography sessions (SAT – MON) with the main subjects being tame Sandhill Cranes almost surely with chicks or colts. Also vultures and Cattle Egrets and more. Limpkins are possible. Intermediate telephoto lenses are fine for the cranes, even the chicks at times. A 500 or 600mm lens would be best for many of the situations that we will encounter.

During the day we will sit together around my dining room table and pick everyone’s keepers and enjoy guided Photoshop sessions. On Monday before lunch, folks can make a single large print of their favorite image from the weekend. If you so choose, I will micro-adjust one of your lenses (at one focal length with your #1 camera body–Canon or Nikon) during a group instructional session. All will be welcome to practice what they have learned during the breaks using my set-up and my lighting gear.

To register, please first shoot me an e-mail to check on availability. Then you will be instructed to call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 during weekday business hours (except for Friday afternoons) to leave you non-refundable (unless the session sells out) $500 deposit. Only the deposit may be left on credit card. Balances must be paid by check immediately after you register (unless you wish to pay by credit card plus 4% to cover our fees).

I hope that you can join me on this new adventure.

with love, artie

ps: bring your bathing suit if you would like to try my pool!

The Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide

I hope to be working on a Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide while I am in Phoenix. There is lots of mis-information out there on Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune. Working with Patrick Sparkman, we perfected a method of using the Focus Peaking feature available only on the D850 to quickly and accurately micro-adjust all of your lenses and TC-Es with your D-850. Both Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune and D850 Focus Peaking AF Fine-tune require a LensAlign Mark II kit. If you know for sure whether the very popular Nikon D500 DSLR Camera (Body Only) (or any other of the newer Nikon dSLRs) offer Automatic AF Fine-tune.

Folks who purchase a Nikon D850, a Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Body Only, Dual XQD Slots), or any Nikon gear totaling more than $2,000 will receive the new guide free. I hope to have it finished in three weeks but don’t hold me to it 🙂

Help Support the Blog

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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13 comments to Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20Es Suck! Or do they?

  • Hi Artie,
    I am so glad you have achieved sharp images with the 600mm f4 and the 2 x TCE.
    I have used this combination on my D5 and struggle big time to get a sharp image,
    although mine is the TC-20E MK II.
    So, should I buy the MK III, or do you have any other tips (other than those above) for this combination ?


  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. They do look sharp. My only experiences with a 2X TC were (1) a borrowed 2X TCII with a borrowed Canon 600 f/4L IS II lens on a tripod of a snowy owl in snow, and I used f/13. I was surprised by how sharp the image was. And (2) a borrowed Canon 2X TC III with a borrowed Canon 300 f/2.8L IS II lens, and this combo was just amazingly sharp, hand-held.

  • Oops, I meant my Nikon 80-400 lens.

  • I only use the Nikon AF-S TC-1.4es with my longest lens which is currently the Nikon 200-500 f/5.6. I have also used the TC -1.4 with my Nikon 70-200 and my old Nikon 200-400. It worked well with them but not with a tested Nikon 100-400 lens.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As I would expect. By a “tested” lens do you mean a Focus fine-tuned lens?

      with love, artie

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    Hi Artie,
    Just curious why you took the shot at f10.I would have shot at 7.1 or 8.0 to lower the ISO
    because I am using a 7D Mark II body.
    Was your reason because of a clean background or compression from a long lens??

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill, With the 2X TC and an f/4 lens wide open is f/8 so I could not have worked at f/7.1. And I prefer to stop down one or two thirds of a stop for a bit of extra sharpness/d-o-f. With both of today’s featured images I did not have to worry too much about bringing up unwanted background detail.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Adam

    It is possible to achieve great images with 2x converters under the right circumstances. (that’s a period)

  • Artie, I agree it is sharp enough. My only question, Did you also use Cannon 2x Stopped down to f/10 or will be is it sharp enough wide open like Cannon 2x Teleconverter ? Regardless I think 2x is nice TC to be used in right lighting conditions.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Artie. I have two of the D810s and love them. I also have the LensAlign Mark II kit which I purchased from you. Please send me the calibration procedures. I doubt that there is much difference between this function on the D810 and D850.

    Welcome to the world of Nikon.

    Regards, and Thanks,