This Brewer’s blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) was photographed outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming on a beautiful morning. I’ve been shooting with Fuji’s 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens lately, and for the past couple of months have added Fuji’s new 2.0x TC for a bit of extra reach. The 1.4x TC has been astounding in its performance, so when the 2.0x TC became available, I started shooting with it to compare the performance. Like any teleconverter, it increases apparent focal length of a lens by a magnification factor, in this case, doubling the focal length. Nothing is free, particularly with optics, so the drawback is a drop in the amount of light flux. With the 2.0x TC, you lose two stops of light. This is a reality of physics, but with the X-Trans II sensors capable of high performance while maintaining low sensor noise and good color fidelity, the workaround is simply pushing up the ISO to compensate. The X-Trans III sensor in the Fuji X-Pro2 and the soon to arrive X-T2 will have even better performance here.
The other classic drawback of teleconverters is some loss of overall sharpness in the optical solution. However, the Fuji lenses are so good that you have to look *hard* to see the performance drop. The above image for instance, is a 100% crop of the introductory image showing even the individual barbs on the birds feathers. This image was shot handheld, at 1/320 of a second to stop movement which is important in fast moving birds, at full zoom with a 2.0x teleconverter making for a ~1200mm equivalent image. Stunning performance, really.
I was pretty excited for this lens and the teleconverters to be released. If you are into bird photography or any other wildlife photography, there really is no reason to deal with the hassle of lugging around and having to set up a digiscoping apparatus anymore. This has become my go to bird photography solution as it is more portable than a digiscoping setup, gives me autofocus and metering, more rapid response, repositioning and followup than you can get with a digiscoping solution, all of which help you to photograph and observe birds and their behavior. This is also a more flexible, relatively compact and light weight imaging solution compared with other options, at 1/3 what the digiscoping solution with the necessary tripod weighed.
Look forward to more images to come with this combination in the Bird Category.