Nikon D40 with 300mm lens AND teleconverter (Nikkor AF-STeleconverter TC-20E II)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Guest, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Guest


    Jul 25, 2018
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    I'm very close to purchasing a Nikon D40 - my first SLR. My interest
    is birds and wildlife so a high zoom is essential.

    My questions are:

    1. Will a 300mm lens and a 1.7x teleconverter give me 510mm zoom?

    2. What "optical zoom" number is this equiv. to? (I'm used to a
    generous 15x on my Fuji bridge camera)

    3. Will autofocus still work?

    4. Would I be better off getting a super zoom lens in the first place
    (though this option looks VERY expensive)?

    Be gentle with me - I'm new to photography.

    Many thanks
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2018
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
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  2. Precisely which 300mm lens?

    A 300mm (optical) lens on its own is already 450mm (35mm equivalent) on
    the D40.
    That depends on what wide-angle lens you have. 18mm is typical, so you
    get 510:18 or 28.3 "optical zoom" from the pair of lenes.
    It depends on which 300mm lens.
    I think the 300mm lens will be just fine on its own. If you need a little
    more detail get the 10MP D40X instead of the 6MP D40. I have the D40 and
    the 70-300mm VR zoom, and I do rather like it.

    David J Taylor, Jan 9, 2008
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  3. A long focal length is what you need. "High zoom" might
    be that, or might not be.
    Yes. And added to that, the Nikon D40 has a 1.5 crop
    factor, so this is equivalent to a 765mm lense on a 35mm

    There is no such thing as a long enough lense for
    birding, but that's certainly a good start.
    Wellllll... Usually that means the ratio of the longest
    focal length to the shortest focal length, but it also
    can mean the focal length compared to a "normal" lense.
    "Normal" for a 35mm camera is about 45mm, so perhaps
    that is a 17x lense? Or, if "Normal" is considered 50mm
    it would be 15x.
    Depends on the widest f/stop for your 300mm lense, and
    on the loss through the 1.7x telextender. If your 300mm
    is an f/2.8, it will likely continue to work fine
    (assuming almost a 2 stop loss in the telextender). If
    your 300mm is an f/6.3, it probably will have a hard
    time with autofocus. (That is much the same as saying
    that if your 300mm is expensive it will work, but might
    not if you are looking at an economy class model.)
    Of course it would be better. All that money buys
    If you *really* want to get it right, Nikon has the lense
    for you: 600mm f/4, with VR, and it only costs $7000.

    But it *will* work with a D40.

    You might want to reconsider the D40 though, because as
    the lowest end of the Nikon DSLR line, it simply doesn't
    have some of the features you might need in the future.
    And working with manual focus lenses is one of the
    missing features.

    An option to consider is whether you want to go with a
    more expensive camera so that you can use less expensive
    lenses, or stick with a less expensive camera that will
    only work with the more expensive lenses. For example,
    the D200, D2x, D300, D3 models will work with virtually
    any 600mm or 800mm lense you can find in a Nikon mount,
    including old manual focus models.

    It happens that I live in a place famous for birds, but
    it is also flat and treeless and a 600mm lense won't get
    close enough to many birds here by about half. So I use
    a D2x and an old 800mm manual focus lense made by Canon
    30 years ago. (With a 1.6x telextender and the 1.5 crop
    factor, that amounts to the same as a 1920mm lense on a
    35mm camera. It *still* isn't long enough!)

    But the penalty in using a MF lense is that I'll
    probably _never_ get a good shot of a bird just after
    taking to flight. It is just impossible to focus a
    monster like that fast enough. To get that, those $7000
    Nikon beasts are the only way go...
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 9, 2008
  4. Guest

    greg Guest

    Thank you David.

    I see there's more to focal length measurements than I realised!

    Not sure which 300mm lens I'd go for, but likely it would be a good
    Nikon one). Bit vague on that!!

    I think I'll consider playing with the D40 (or D40x) and a Nikon 300mm
    lens without the teleconverter first to see how I get on.

    Many thanks indeed.

    greg, Jan 9, 2008
  5. Guest

    greg Guest

    Thank you Floyd. That's a lot of detail to take in, but I will look at
    what you said very closely.

    I will also consider your very valid points about my choice of camera.
    It's certainly not set in stone and I will apply more thought.

    Thank you for your time and trouble.

    greg, Jan 9, 2008
  6. Yes, a simple rule is that with cameras like the D40, multiply the optical
    focal length (the one on the barrel, and the speicifcation) by 1.5 to get
    the equivalent filed of view, so the 18-55mm kit lens has the same FoV as
    a 27 - 82mm lens on a film SLR, and the 70 - 300mm lens has a 105 - 450mm
    The 70 - 300mm VR lens is excellent value for money and good optical
    quality as well, not too heavy - useful if you can get close enough to the

    David J Taylor, Jan 9, 2008
  7. Why? I can see the need for a long tele-lens, but why a high zoom?
    No. It will give you a 510mm tele lens, not a zoom.
    However, because the D40 uses a smaller sensor (DX size) than the 35mm film
    you will have an additional factor of 1.5 in the angle of view, i.e. that
    300mm tele lens plus a 1.7x converter plus the 1.5 DX factor will give you a
    magnification (or angle of view) that is the same as a 765mm tele lens on a
    traditional 35mm camera. Which in turn would be a magnification of about
    The zoom factor is simply the longest focal length divided by shortest focal
    length of a zoom lens. A fixed focal length lens cannot zoom, therefore it
    has a zoom factor of 1 (300mm/300mm).
    That depends on which aperture this lens has. Nikon recommends a smallest
    aperture of 5.6 for autofocus to work reliably although people report that
    they are successful with smaller apertures.
    Please note that the 1.7x converter reduces the aperture by 1.7 f-stops,
    Example: With the converter the popular 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR may
    have some trouble auto-focussing correctly while the 300mm f/4 or f/2.8 will
    work even with the converter, although at 1200$ US resp. 4300$ US they don't
    come cheap.
    Quite the contrary. There are limits on how you can build a lens and all
    designs are compromises. The lenses with the very best image quality are
    still lenses with fixed focal lenght (often called prime lenses). However
    today people are not willing to buy and to carry a lot of different lenses.
    Therefore industry invented the zoom lens as a tribut to human convenience,
    but at the price of sacrificing picture quality at least somewhat.

    Zoom lenses with a small zoom factor can be build to produce a very good
    picture quality because the optical behaviour is not that much different
    between the short and the long end.

    Super zooms with a zoom factor of 10x or more on the other hand must
    compromise much more because the optics need to be much different on the
    short and the long end. And for those you can actually see the weaknesses
    even in high-quality lenses. They are handy if you don't want to carry (or
    buy) a lot of glass. But they don't produce as good pictures as zooms with
    smaller zoom factors, not to mention fixed focal length lenses.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 9, 2008
  8. Two remarks on that note:
    First dont' buy a camera like this by mail order or in a closed box without
    handling it first. Take the camera into your hands, take some dummy shots,
    change settings, take some more shots, run the camera through it's paces.
    The reason is the camera must feel right for you and your hands. If it feels
    awkward in your hands then it is not the right camera for you, no matter how
    impressive the feature list and reviews are.
    For me the ergonomics were one major reason why I decided against a D40[x]
    in favour of a D80.

    And second I would suggest to consider the D80 because the D40 is indeed
    missing some important features:
    - autofocus on a D40[x] requires an AF-S lens which came out only recently.
    Most high-end lenses are still AF only and manual focus is a pain on a
    D40[x]. The D80 will autofocus with any AF lens since 1986 or so.
    - the D40 does not have a connector for a cable remote shutter release which
    could be very useful for long tele shots from a tripod.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 9, 2008
  9. Guest

    Frank Arthur Guest

    Forget the teleconverter. Any teleconverter no matter how expensive
    will cost the loss of light and deteriorate the image. Nikon has a
    70-300AF VR lens at moderate price. A big step uo - for bird
    photography - is the Nikon 80-400mm. Anything over 400mm is not
    Frank Arthur, Jan 9, 2008
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    the nikon 80-400vr is not that cheap and not that fast to focus either
    (especially on a d40 where it will be manual focus). however, it is
    stabilized, which for longer lenses is *very* useful.

    alternatives include the tamron 200-500 and the sigma 50-500 which are
    both less expensive than the nikon 80-400vr. the tamron will also be
    manual focus on the d40, but the sigma *will* autofocus on it.

    of course, if money isn't an issue, nikon has several stabilized afs
    telephoto lenses that will work quite well on the d40.

    however, the best bet is probably the nikon 70-300vr. it's very
    affordable ($450ish), stabilized, and will autofocus on a d40.
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    if recent is roughly a decade, sure. there are over 40 compatible
    lenses from both nikon and sigma, and tamron just announced one too.
    actually, most high end lenses are afs, including nikon's new
    stabilized telephotos.
    but it has an infrared sensor and uses a very inexpensive remote (or
    even a universal television remote can be made to work).
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
  12. I think you may be little bit too optimistic wrt the D40:
    You are right, AF-S was first introduced in 1996. But most lenses remained
    AF and only in the last 1-2 years there was a widespread move to AF-S.
    Nowadays (almost?) all new lenses are released as AF-S and it definitely
    seems to be the way to go moving forward.
    Yes, you are right. I forgot about those very recently released upgrades.
    But that still doesn't mean that older used lenses will autofocus on the
    Which is a pain to use if you are not standing in front of the camera.

    Don't get me wrong. I think the D40[x] is a very nice camera. You just need
    to be aware that a few things will be a little bit more difficult or maybe
    not work at all.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 9, 2008
  13. I third that. A very good value for the money.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 9, 2008
  14. I think you have a very valid point. My assumption was
    and still is that anyone who considers a D40[x] (the low
    end of the Nikon DSLR line) is obviously looking at
    restricting the budget in any way possible.

    I just can't see buying a D40 and then getting that
    600mm f/4 Nikkor to go with it!

    It's a fine balance between how expensive the lenses are
    and how expensive the camera is. I'd tend toward going
    with the best optics (but not necessarily other
    features) possible, simply because it _will_ outlive the
    camera body. But sometimes spending a little more on
    the body allows the use of high quality older lenses,
    and it's a tough decision to figure out where to draw
    that line.
    I didn't look, but does it have mirror lockup? And is
    there a third party split prism focusing screen
    available for it? Along with the remote release, those
    items are useful to me, though all together they don't
    rise to the level of being able to use manual focusing
    lenses, or even the AF-D lenses for that matter.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 9, 2008
  15. Guest

    Warren Block Guest

    For completeness, you should also point out that there are lenses that
    can be used on the D40 but will damage other Nikon digital cameras
    unless the lens is modified:
    Warren Block, Jan 9, 2008
  16. Guest

    Guest Guest

    actually it works fairly well from above and the sides, and even from
    behind if there's something in front from which it can reflect. it's
    not that limiting.
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest

    you are looking at it the wrong way.

    after buying the 600mm f/4 nikkor, the only thing he will be able to
    afford is a d40. perhaps even a used one. :)
    d40 doesn't; d80 has a 0.4 second mirror pre-fire.
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
  18. Except that the OP started of by saying his interests
    are "birds and wildlife", and 300mm is just far too

    The basic problem is that zoom lenses don't work well
    with telextenders except in rare instances. Hence it
    might be possible to use a telextender with the Nikkor
    80-200mm series of lenses, but the 70-300mm probably
    won't be as good, and the 80-400mm is most likely not at
    all useful.

    On the other hand, a fixed focal length 300, 400 or even
    500mm will almost certainly be useful with a 1.5x
    extender, and with a bit of trial and error one might
    find a 2x that does okay too.

    Granted that *all* of these solutions have major
    deficiencies compared to Nikon's top of the line fixed
    focal length lenses... But the trick is not limited to
    drawing a line on the budget, as it also includes
    determining the minimum capability that has to be met to
    make it worth spending any money at all. If seagulls or
    chickens on the neighbor's farm are the only birds one
    can approach close enough to photograph, I just don't see
    much point in spending money on it...
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 9, 2008
  19. Very well said, indeed.
    Yes, Katz Eye does have a focusing Screen for the D40/D40x

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 9, 2008
  20. Guest

    Ray Paseur Guest

    wrote in

    Hi, Greg - I've seen some of the questions answered here, so I won't
    repeat those things, but here are a couple of things to consider.

    The TC-20E II teleconverter doubles your focal length and costs you two
    stops of light, so your choices for the long glass are somewhat limited.
    In fact, the Nikon web site can tell you which lenses will work with the

    The central issue in mounting the TC on a lens is that the TC has a
    protruding tube that fits into the lens. Mount it on the wrong lens,
    and you can damage the rear element.

    The second issue is autofocus. With some of the Nikkor lenses, you can
    mount the TC, but you lose autofocus. Not so great for wildlife. Read
    this page carefully before you make a final choice:

    The last issue I'd like to raise is that the long lenses are also heavy
    lenses. Consider getting a good monopod, like the Gitzo carbon fiber.
    It will save you from having to support the camera's weight all the
    time. The monopod doubles as a hiking stick when there is no camera
    attached to it.

    And add the Acratech quick-release clamp. It screws right on the top of
    the monopod and will hold your camera with the steadiness of a vise.

    Get the model-specific quick release plate for your lens (the long
    lenses usually have their own tripod mount collars; the plate fits on
    the foot of the collar).

    This camera support rig, while expensive, will last a lifetime. You'll
    upgrade your DSLR in just a few years. So make the investment now and
    enjoy years of happy birding.

    Last suggestion: If you use your VR lens on a monopod, leave the VR
    turned on. If you use it on a tripod, turn the VR off.

    Happy Shooting. Post some shots for the group! ~Ray
    Ray Paseur, Jan 9, 2008
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