Shooting horse races with Teleplus HD by Okada Yuki

Staff Blog

Shooting horse races with Teleplus HD by Okada Yuki

Feb 5, 2018

Kenko Teleplus HD (referred to hereafter as Teleplus HD) is a tele converter that, when installed between the camera body and a master lens, will expand the lens’ focal length.
Teleplus HD series comes in two magnifications, the 1.4x and the 2.0x. When installed, it can multiply the focal length of your lens by 1.4x or 2x respectively. Also, as compensation for the expanded focal length, the aperture value will get 1 stop darker with a 1.4x Teleplus, and 2 stops with a 2.0x Teleplus.
It is true that other manufacturers’ genuine tele converters already exist on the market, but usually most of them can be installed on expensive super tele lenses only.
This time, the reason why I became interested in and particularly attracted by Kenko Teleplus tele converters is their strong merit of being attachable to almost any lens.
By the way, for Canon users, when installed on a EF-S lens Telepluses make it possible to use full frame cameras, therefore playing the role, so to speak, of a converter from EF to EF-S format.

My occupation brings me sometime to shoot at horse races, and the equipment I usually bring in such places consists basically of a Nikon D5 camera and a Nikkor 400mm/F2.8 fixed lens. This time I opted for a Nikon D500 sub camera in set with the Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 lens of the so-called “Double Zoom Kit”, and got interested in what kind of shots I could make when combining them with a Teleplus HD. So I went there as if for any usual shooting session and tested the power of the Teleplus when shooting at horse races.

The setting for this test was a horse race, shot from twilight to night-time: though it can’t be said I had great expectations due to these strict shooting conditions, my bad expectations were betrayed by some good results I’m going to show you in this review.

First, I would like you to look at the below pictures.

D500+55-200x2(1).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

D500+55-200x2(2).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

These two pictures were taken using my beloved D500 camera with a 55-200 f/4.5-5.6 lens and the 2.0x Teleplus. Here, the angle of view got equivalent to 600mm, the aperture value at F5.6 lost two stops turning into F11 and, therefore, the AF didn’t work (AF operations are possible from 5.6 or larger aperture). But in this case, for those who are used to manually preset the focusing distance on a fixed value, shooting won’t be difficult. This time, the impressive photos I could take with the equipment mentioned above went beyond my expectations.

The photo below was taken without any Teleplus installed. Now, I would like you to observe and compare this picture with the one above, and focus on the “4 furlong” mark. It is true that it appears also quite big in this last picture –the one taken without Teleplus – but it appears a lot bigger in the one taken with the Teleplus installed. Not to show off but with a 600mm the impact of the image had already increased.

D500+55-200(1).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6
Without Teleplus HD 2.0x

After that, I tried to see what kind of photos I could take when using a 2.0x Teleplus on a 24-120mm f/4, the lens that is considered to be part of a lens kit for full frame cameras.

D500+24-120x2(1).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 24-120mm f/4
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

D500+24-120x2(2).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 24-120mm f/4
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

Among Nikkor lenses, this lens is one of the most sold standard zoom lenses for general purposes. By  combining this lens for full frame cameras with an APS-C camera, you can get immediately a 120mm x APS-C 1.5x = 180mm, and 360mm by adding the Teleplus 2x. As for the aperture value, it loses 2 stops from F4 to F8.
With this combination, I had to assist the focusing under these low contrast and low brightness conditions, but it seems that in an environment with better conditions it would have worked without difficulties.
Actually, none of the various manufacturer genuine teleconverters can be installed and used on the above introduced two lenses. On the contrary, you can install a Teleplus HD on these lenses and easily take impressive photos, making your standard lens acting like a sort of tele lens. I think this aspect of using Teleplus converters is enormously fascinating.

At last, I would like you to look at the following pictures taken with Teleplus HD 1.4 x and Teleplus HD 2.0x installed on the very popular Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 super tele zoom lens, which has the reputation of being a valuable lens. About the camera, I used a Nikon D5.

I took these first pictures with the 1.4x Teleplus.

D5+200-500x1.4(1).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D5
Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6
With Teleplus HD 1.4x

D5+200-500x1.4(2).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D5
Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6
With Teleplus HD 1.4x

What impressed me most here was the focusing accuracy of the AF mode. I completely felt like using a genuine teleconverter and, as long as the depth won’t drastically change, I was pleased with the image being well in focus. Bokeh effects that may appear on the background are extremely smooth and those restrains about colors I was worried about did not show up on the image. These prove that, even if you consider using this combination in your working fields, you won’t be bothered with the quality of the photos.

Next, I would like you to look at the first following picture, taken with Teleplus HD 2x. The second one was taken with a Nikon D500 camera and 55-200mm (300mm in 35mm equivalent) lens combination. It’s a shot taken the moment the gate opened.

D5+200-500x2(1).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D5
Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

D500+55-200(2).jpg

Equipment used:
Nikon D500
Nikkor 55-200mm  f/4.5-5.6
With Teleplus HD 2.0x

If you use a Teleplus HD 2x in combination with D5 camera and 200-500mm lens, the focal length will turn into 1000mm. As the aperture value loses 2 stops turning from F5.6 into F11, the AF mode won’t work. However, as those objects that appear small when seen by naked eye get now extremely bigger, the plus side of bringing more impact to your images is undeniable.

As my considerations after using Kenko Teleplus HD tele converter I can say that it is better than I had imagined.
The 1.4x model had showed performances not inferior to an equivalent genuine tele converter. Though being pictures taken for work, I could operate comfortably.
About the 2.0x, with the lens/camera combination I used this time there were some restrictions about AF mode but, considering that you can still maintain the focus steady in position, the photos I could take exceeded my expectations. Furthermore, there is the undeniable alluring potential of a wider range of lenses supported by Kenko Teleplus tele converters, compared to those few matched with genuine tele converters. With any kit you have at hand you can easily jump into the world of super tele photography and, when installing the Teleplus HD 1.4x on a 50mm fixed lens, you will be also able to use it as a fixed semi telephoto lens.

In the end, the biggest charm Teleplus tele converters have is making possible not only to extend the focal length but also to be compatible and combinable with a various range of lenses out there. And I like to think that, as they continue meeting users’ needs and ideas, Teleplus series will keep extensively spreading out. 

Okada Yuki
Japanese Racing Association (JRA) Official Photographer