As some of you have already discovered, I have acquired the new Nikon TC and tried it with my 80-200 AF-S. Since I'm going to use it at a race circuit the coming weekend, I had to do some relatively controlled tests today, so that I know how to get the best possible quality out of the combo.
There are two reasons why I bought the TC:
- I planned to buy a D700 this week, a camera that would have made my 80-200 considerably wider than on the DX cameras. Unfortunately, weird things happened, so I don't have a D700, at least not yet.
- Carrying two bodies with the 80-200 plus the 300 f/4 and the Tamron 17-50 around on the circuit is heavy. My hope is that the 80-200 with TC mostly can replace the 300 for this purpose.
It's been stated many times that this TC will work better on an FX than a DX sensor, and I've seen samples that have proved that beyond any doubt. But there are differences between DX sensors too, something that I've seen demonstrated fully today.
On the D80
At f/5.6, the images are usable, but needs sharpening. I found that USM 70-90%, radius 1-1.2 gave a suitable sharpness. The problem with this on the D80 is that USM at this level will also enhance noise at and above ISO400.
At f/8.0, the images are rather sharp, and USM can be reduced to radius 0.7-0.9. That is much more friendly to the D80 noise. A stop gained in one end and lost in the other, but the image is much more robust and easier to work with.
At f/11, the images are sharp, period.
Interestingly, images seem to be sharper towards 200mm than at the short end. There's some blooming around OOF highlights, particularly at f/5.6.
On the S5
At f/5.6, photos are sharper than with the D80, and since the S5 images can take more USM without falling apart, even this aperture can be useful. Stopped down to f/6.3, images are visibly sharper.
At f/8, images are sharp, and this is a very useful aperture when used on the S5. There's a little gain in sharpness up to f/11, but not enough to worry about.
There's also less blooming in OOF highlights, and the S5's excellent highlight control makes this much easier to handle during pp. Colours look good with both cameras, but with the S5, they can be enhanced a lot if needed. I had expected lower contrast and less colour with the TC, but that is not the case.
I get a feeling that the TC enhances the qualities of the Fuji sensor and the weaknesses of the D80 sensor. Although it's possible to make sharp, rich, contrasty images with both camera-combos, this one is clearly going to live on the S5 most of the time. I'll see if I can find time to post some crops tomorrow, but there are some photos up on the photo thread already.