TC-E2!

Nikon TC-E2 Teleconverter. (Updated November 30, 2000)

Picture

Nikon TC-E2 2X teleconverter on the CP950. The same lens also fits the CP900 and CP700 (you need the adapter ring for the CP700) You get the nice lens caps, and (not shown) a nice bag.

This is a great lens! The lens seems to be a much higher quality than the competing 2X teleconverters. See the sample shots below.

Pros:

* Very well made.

* Coated

* Very flat sharp field

* Little if any chromatic aberration

* Perfect design gathers a lot of light, so it does not change the exposure of your shot. Lens has about a 55mm aperture to let in more light so that it works that way.

Cons:

* Well, it is heavy. If your swivel is weak watch out. I don't think that this is really a concern with the 950 design.

* The front element is right there, don't scratch it. Get a sun shade for it!

* Blocks the viewfinder (they all do). Since the LCD is hard to see in sunlight, it can be hard to use.

* It is more expensive than most other teleconverters.

Usage notes:

* You don't have to set the telephoto lens selection on the camera if you don't want to. Just don't  use the flash, and don't zoom out all the way or the lens will vignette. The lens could use a sunshade because of internal reflections when you are shooting into the sun. It is a standard 62 mm filter thread if you want to buy one.  You are getting up to 220 mm focal length, so it is going to be hard to hand hold these shots. If you don't have a tripod with you, try to brace against something or use the Best Shot Selector feature.  I would not try to hand hold at less than 1/125 sec. Consider using shutter priority to boost the speed at the expense of aperture.

* Because this lens can be used zoomed in half way, you can use it even when shooting 55mm equivelent zoom which gives you 110 mm actual zoom with the 2X conversion factor. This gives you about 1/2 f stop over using the camera fully zoomed without the converter. For example, at 110 mm, a sample shot was 1/125 at F6.8 Using the TC-E2, and zooming to the 55mm level (110mm effective zoom), you can get 1/125 at  F8.8.

* When using Manual Focus, the numbers shown are wrong when you have the TC-E2 on. The infinity setting is also incorrect. I found this after trying to take some star shots at night. For me, the "10 ft" setting is infinity with the TC-E2 on the camera.

Picture
Picture

35mm wide angle shot (resized)

Actual sizeCrop of central portion of 35mm shot

Picture
Picture

110 mm maximum zoom (resized)

Actual size crop of central portion of 110mm shot

Picture

TC-E2 teleconverter at maximum zoom (resized)

Picture
Picture

Crop of upper right corner of  TC-E2 shot, showing good field flatness for a teleconverter.

Actual size crop of central part of TC-E2 shot

Picture
Picture

 

Crops from larger shots showing INFinity setting with TC-E2 at left, and 10 foot manual focus setting at right, demonstrating that the manual focus "markings" are incorrect. The farm is about 1/3 mile away. This is with CP950 firmware 1.0. The manual focus settings changed when I installed firmware 1.1, see below.

Picture
Picture
Picture

Manual focus, 10 feet

Manual focus, 30 feet

Manual focus, INF

Now (CP950 firmware 1.1) it appears that the 30 foot setting is now the sharpest for infinity shots with the TC-E2 teleconverter at full zoom, and the INF setting is not as bad. Again, these are full size crops from larger shots, taken within a few feet of the previous shots. These setting changes probably also affect the camera without the TC-E2 attached, but will not be as evident. On my CP990, the best focus is at the 20 foot manual setting.

Picture

The TC-E2 is very sensitive to ambient light. To the left is a sample shot that was taken in the direction of the sun; washed out by sunlight scattered inside the lens. I think that a 62mm lens shade would be a good idea, but I don't have one.

Sunshades for use with the TC-E2

Because you can't really see the LCD monitor in sunlight, and because you have to use the LCD when you use the TC-E2, you might want to make or buy a sunshade similar to one of these below.

Picture
Picture

Sunshade viewfinder

You really can't see the CP950 LCD in sunlight. this is a problem when using the TC-E2 because you don't have any way to frame or focus; the lens blocks the viewfinder. Several people have made viewfinders or sunshades for the CP950 out of inexpensive slide viewers. This wasn't my idea, but I did make some small changes. Here are some links to other pages showing viewfinders here is one, here is another, here is another and here is another. These are getting to be commonplace for the CP950.

Here are a few notes about mine,

The viewer is the common super cheap type that you find at a camera store. It has a 2X lens. Mine was $4, and I paid too much at that. Get a black one if you can so you will not feel too stupid with it on your camera. It had a white plastic diffuser on the end, I took that off. Then I cut and filed the end flat to the focal plane, where the slide would normally rest. There was a plastic tab that had to be removed. Then I filed the right edge (see this in the photo above) to match the curve on the camera's surface. Next I filed the top and bottom edges flat (you can see this in the picture above right also) tso that the viewer would not cover any of the buttons on the camera. Use your own judgement. I smoothed all the corners. I don't feel that this cheap plastic will be able to scratch the camera. Next I drilled a couple small holes. Note that I placed the holes a bit off center so that the elastic cord would not cover any buttons or the LCD on top and so it would rest at the base of the "grip" on the front of the camera. If I had it to do over again, I would move the bottom hole over a bit more. The band is an elastic cord from the fabric shop. Black is nice. You don't need to make the elastic very tight, the viewer is light and does not have to be totally light proof. By not making it too tight you minimize any possiblity of scratching and make it easier to get on and off. Plus it will not cut loose and wack you in the eye.

I'm not entirely sure that this thing would not be just as effective without the 2X lens. All that does is make it so you can see every element in the LCD.

Mark II Sunshade.

Well, I didn't like the elastic strap. It is hard to put the viewer on and off either over the lens, or over the camera strap. So I'm trying this Mark II version that just sticks somehow in between the camera body. Just stick it on, pop it off, really easy to use.  I plan to make a neater version of the Mark II.

Issues with the Mark II:

* Only electrical tape touches the camera, so it can't scratch.

* The whole viewer weighs just 18.5 gm, about 1/2 ounce. All of the force is applied to the camera body and not the swivel, of course some is transmitted to the swivel. I think that it probably results in far far less force on the swivel than the TC-E2 lens, for example. I'll bet that because of the leverage, my 37mm step up ring exerts more force on the swivel. Don't build this unless you are comfortable with that..

* The assembly just hangs there. It  should take very little force to remove, you don't want to put any additional force on the swivel. The plastic electrical tape helps because it is a little sticky.

* The bracket thing is a piece of aluminum ducting material that I cut by eye to fit. I used some hot melt glue to stick it to the viewer. Put tape on the parts that touch the camera. You may want more than one thickness. Don't put on too much. It should be enough that the viewer will not fall off while you move the camera around, but not too much so as to cause any unneeded force on the swivel joint.  The bracket should not touch the swivel at all.

* In the Mark II unit, I put a small drop of hot melt glue at each of the four corners of the viewer where it touches the camera, again to be double sure not to scratch the camera.

* You can't turn the swivel with the viewer on, or it will pop off.

 

Picture
Picture
Picture

Mark II Sunshade, on and off the camera.

Mark I Optical Sight.

In trying to actually use the sunshades, I was still frustrated. It was too hard to take action shots with the TC-E2 through the sunshade; the field of view was too small, and the 0.1 second delay on the LCD made it hard to follow the ball. Also, every time I took a shot, the LCD would stop updating, and I would loose the action. I decided that I wanted just a simple optical sight. Here is the Mark I optical sight, it is a standard stereo plug, with a straw glued to it. With the camera at arms length, you just look through the straw and put your subject in the center. I borrowed Denny Cannon's idea of using the adapter plugged into the video plug on top of the camera.  I painted the straw black so it would not look quite so dumb.

So far, this has worked the best in actual use.

Picture

The Mark I Optical Sight.