What exactly does Canon 2x iii Extender offer for telephoto lenses?
We’ve all seen those amazing close up shots of lions on the Serengeti, birds of prey perfectly sharp, and of course the actions sports shots that perfectly capture the heroic play at the far end of the field. You might ask yourself, “What kind of lens does it take to get that kind of shot?”. The answer oftentimes is a $10K plus 400mm, 600mm, or 800mm SuperTelephoto that weighs a ton. But what if there was another way? Well, the Canon 2x iii Extender offers you the closest opportunity to get such images short of draining your bank account for one of those amazing super telephoto primes.
The Canon 2x iii Extender basically doubles the focal length of your lens. It connects to the camera body and then the lens connects to the extender. There are some things to take into account:
- Your max aperture setting is reduced by a factor of 2. This means your 2.8 is now a 5.6
- Your autofocus will still work on Canon lenses, but the speed will be slightly reduced.
- Any chromatic aberrations or flaws in your lens will also be magnified.
- Does not work with all lenses. Check B&H’s compatibility chart to see which lenses work.
- IS does work when using the extender iii.
How does the Canon 2x iii Extender Perform for Video?
We are primarily focused on video production at Pixel Bokeh so we are going to focus on using the Extender for that purpose. However if you’re looking for more information on using it in regards to photography, then we’d suggest checking out Bryan Carnathan’s really fantastic review that covers the photography aspects in depth.
For video we found that the Extender performed extremely well on the 5D Mark iii. When mounting the lens to a tripod, it sometimes feels like the body is a little precariously attached. If you were shooting with anything bigger than the 5D (say a Cinema cerise) then you’d want to make sure you had rods to support the lens and mount the body to the tripod.
Here’s a video comparison between the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 II USM with and without the Canon 2x III Extender on a Canon 5D Mark iii. Footage shows fully zoomed out, as well as, fully zoomed in. No post processing was applied to the images and the camera settings were left the same.
The 2x iii Extender has worked great for us on several occasions where having a 400mm prime would be either cost prohibitive or result in us being too conspicuous to get natural looking video. People stop and look when you have a big lens out and about, so shooting with the 70-200 2.8 and the 2x iii Extender works great. We also felt we would be able to shoot on a monopod if necessary, though a tripod is generally going to get you the most usable footage. For photography, you could certainly shoot handheld with this, no problem, but video would be probably too shaky.
Using it with a 2.8 means you’re really at 5.6. This is still very usable to get decent rack photos given that most of your subjects are going to be further away (the reason you’re probably using the extender in the first place.) However when used on lenses that are F4, you’re effectively getting an F8 as your most open aperture and this means you’re going to either need a lot of light or start bumping up the ISO.
Shooting at a higher aperture isn’t bad as you are going to have to work to keep things in focus at longer focal lengths so having the great DOF will help, but once you’ve worked with the extender for a while, you’ll get familiar with how it impacts your framing and focusing, and having those extra stops is always a nice thing when trying to capture a great looking image.
A great way to see what the 2x iii Extender really can do is to try it out before buying. You can rent them easily enough from any good camera rental store. (Glazer’s in Seattle has them.)
Overall, we’ve been truly impressed with the 2x iii Extender and would recommend it as a viable alternative to going with a larger prime lens. It’s certainly no replacement, but unless you’re a frequent traveler to the plaines of Africa or the sidelines of the stadium, then this is a great way of getting a lot closer to your subject for a lot less expense.
– Happy Shooting!