The wildlife photographer is a master of compromise. Rarely faced with an ideal composition in great light, we are forced to strike a balance between getting the shot and missing a fleeting moment. The proximity of our quarry is never close enough, and we are forever fighting uncontrollable distractions. All too often, the field of view is obscured by branches, highlights create overexposed patches, and parasites distract our focus. Furthermore, safety and respect for the animal forces a cautious approach, and should always temper the impulse to move in. While few hobbyists can afford the $6000 to purchase a super-telephoto, there is one inexpensive technique for making something distant appear close... the tele-converter. Generally produced by the camera manufacturer in two flavors,1.4x and 2x, these lenses can reduce distracting elements by narrowing the angle of view and increasing the focal length of a lens. With a price of $300-$500, the real cost of a converter is the loss light (one or two stops) and the moderate reduction of sharpness and contrast. However, when paired with a high quality fixed focal length lens, a teleconverter is a great compromise that allows us to capture distant objects without draining the college fund.
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