Teleconverter vs Crop Sensor: Why a Teleconverter is a Bad Decision

If you’re a wildlife photographer, always aiming for more reach without sacrificing sharpness or shutter speed, this is a question you’ve probably asked yourself: Is it better to use a full-frame camera with a teleconverter, or switch to a crop sensor camera instead? Photographer Steve Perry has your answer.

Perry—who previously compared using a teleconverter to shooting without one and cropping—wanted to look at every pro and con that this decision entails. From sharpness, to ISO, to autofocus, and more, he breaks down every piece of the puzzle and explains why using a teleconverter is almost always a bad decision.

The video breaks each bit down in detail, but we’ll summarize each of his points below.


1. Sharpness

There is really no comparison. Given roughly the same megapixel count, a teleconverter robs you of precious sharpness. Of course, this by itself is not a deal breaker when paired with some sharpening in post, but it’s one serious strike against using a 1.4x teleconverter instead of a camera with a 1.5x crop factor.

2. ISO Advantage

A full-frame camera has an ISO advantage over a crop sensor, but that advantage is all but eliminated when you slap on a teleconverter. Oops…


3. AF Performance

Losing some aperture on that nice long f/4 lens doesn’t just mean you need to use higher ISO or slower shutter speed to compensate, it also means losing some autofocus performance. Your AF sensor needs a nice wide open aperture to take full advantage of the cross type points your camera body boasts.

4. Contrast

Short and sweet on this one: you lose some contrast when you slap a teleconverter on that full-frame body.


Bottom Line

If you can afford it, buy yourself a good crop camera instead of a teleconverter for the extra reach. It’s going to be more expensive, yes, but the benefits are obvious. And if you want to dive deeper into each of those benefits, check out the video up top or head over to Steve’s related blog post by clicking here.

Image credits: Images and screenshots by Steve Perry and used with permission.

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