Fujifilm 2x Teleconverter and sibling
I've had a pretty short period of time with the Fujifilm 2x teleconverter TC WR and with an increasing amount of time dedicated to the exciting Flight of the Swans project, I had get out with this teleconverter wherever possible. I'm going to cover things like image quality with both the XF50-140mm F2.8 WR OIS and the XF100-400mm WR OIS, as well as looking at autofocus speeds and comparisons against 'naked' lenses. Hopefully this will give you real world advice on how helpful this teleconverter will be for you.
Disclosure - This review is based on a preproduction version so image quality is not finalised.
XF50-140mm F2.8 OIS WR with 2x TC WR
Nothing new here - It is wonderfully well built, just like its little brother, the 1.4x teleconverter TC WR. The build quality of Fujifilm products continues to increase, like the rest of my X-Series equipment, I know that this product will be able to take a beating out in the field.
Took a few quick product shots, but I don't do this anywhere near as good as Jonas Rask, so check out his beautiful review of this 2x teleconverter here. Hopefully the pictures give you an indication of the size difference between the two teleconverters.
Performance with XF50-140mm F2.8 OIS WR
The teleconverter is best suited to this lens. When attached, it becomes a 100-280mm F5.6. A very handy focal range for a variety of subjects. But more than that, the image quality output is still very impressive from this superb lens. The lens is still excellent to handhold with the below wagtail by the stream example taken at 1/20sec, F16 ISO200 (at 280mm) handheld (all images are handheld).
Autofocus - I think this was the most impressive thing about this set up. Generally 2x teleconverters have a pretty disastrous effect on overall autofocus capabilities, but combined with the X-Pro2 this combo was able to track my MAD dog at full speed, as well as birds flying around London.
Using the teleconverters alongside the XF50-140mm F2.8 OIS WR makes for a very versatile set up, particularly helpful for those trying to keep their kit light and/or don't want to buy the XF100-400mm.
Performance with XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OIS WR
I know this is the headline combination, everyone is getting excited about, offering a 800mm capable lens. It certainly fulfils that criteria but expectations need to be managed. Becoming a 200-800mm F11... This thing is a beast, with plenty of quirks. To reiterate, this was a preproduction 2x teleconverter so I won't be sharing high resolution examples
Image quality - this deteriorates compared to the lens without a teleconverter. This really is to be expected, its not like this is a super telephoto prime lens, this is a high quality zoom designed specific for its original focal range. Once the 2x is introduced defraction becomes a problem. The lens is a bit soft wide open with this attached so it needs to be stopped down to gain sharpness but then you run into more defraction!
Autofocus - Unlike the XF50-140mm, there is a difference here, the camera is hunting a lot more if a subject is moving(or not finding it if the subject is moving too fast). If a subject is still, it is very impressive considering the combo is trying to focus at F11! This generally isn't even possible with other brands! When it finds focus it is great but it isn't going to break any speed records.
Summary - This all sounds pretty bad, it isn't really though, this was exactly what I was expecting from pairing a 2x teleconverter with a lens like this. And don't get me wrong this is certainly very useable for those situations where you can't get closer to your subject. Combining the XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OIS WR with the new Fujifilm 2x teleconverter TC WR will definitely help in certain situations, but not all situations.
All three of the images below were taken with the XF100-400mm and 2x teleconverter because I wasn't able to get closer to the subjects. There is an image quality sacrifice, but it was that or not getting the shot, overall I am pretty happy with this teleconverter on this lens and look forward to seeing how a production version acts.
Comparing Focal lengths and Image Quality
This was an interesting exercise. All of the images can be found at internet resolution here.
Both the 2x and 1.4x teleconverters are preproduction so I am not able (and wouldn't anyway) to share high resolution examples. Hopefully it can give you a rough indication of image IQ as well as how the focal range of both lenses change.
You'll have to take my word for it as I can't share 100% crops. Here is a brief summary:
XF50-140mm and XF100-400mm - Both absolutely stunning lenses.
XF50-140mm with 1.4x teleconverter - IQ is still incredibly high, no real drop off.
XF50-140mm with 2x teleconverter - IQ really good, maybe a tiny drop off.
XF100-400mm with 1.4x teleconverter - Very good, I would say on the same level as the XF50-140mm with the 2x teleconverter.
XF100-400mm with 2x teleconverter - Surprisingly good IQ in focus area but out of focus areas start to go a bit ugly. Still very useable and will definitely be helpful.
In due course I'll upload a minimum focusing distance gallery but right now this will have to do (far too long sitting in front of a screen)... The actual distance doesn't change when a teleconverter is added so you simply get the benefits of the increased reach, thus giving you a tighter crop on your subject.
Focal Range Test
XF50-140mm - 50mm F8
This is a great teleconverter, particularly for those with the XF50-140mm F2.8 OIS WR. It does work with the XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 OIS WR but you have to be realistic considering how this lens is designed. The fact that it is weather resistant (WR) is great, meaning that if your lenses and cameras are WR sealed then you should be fine in inclement weather. Having abused WR protected X-Series cameras and lenses for most of last year in tropical rainforests, I'm confident that this teleconverter will also be up for any challenge.
Overall it is a brilliant accessory to keep in your bag when you might be need of some extra reach. I have no doubt this will find its way into the bags of many photographers.