I dreamt I overslept and woke up at 4am, and just could not get back to sleep. So, I stayed up and did some photo sorting, and CF/SD Card clearing. Waiting for Wing to get up as I wanted to get a few things done today before he had do to the gradings at the dojo.
I also did a bit of research on a Kenko 1.4x extension for the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens. Canon makes it and a 2x, but you lose the autofocus on the 5DmkIII with them if you look through the viewfinder, but you do keep it if you use Live View. Now, if I was shooting a stationary subject, the loss of autofocus is no biggie. However, since I photograph birds, and the autofocus on moving animals is not only necessary, but vital. My eyesight isn’t good enough to use manual focus (I know, I’ve got the blurry images to prove it), and using Live View with a heavy lens/extender and holding it out in front of you to focus? Again, I’ve got the blurry images to show why that isn’t such a great alternative.
There is a way to rig the Canon 1.4x (a small piece of sticky tape over the first 3 contacts) that will return some autofocus function, but it’s woefully slow and can hunt if light isn’t bright enough. Again, not ideal.
I stumbled upon the right search phrase, and followed the links to reviews of the Kenko Pro 300 DGX 1.4x. After reading just about all of them for almost 2 hours, ignoring the posts from people saying ‘just get an 800mm prime” or “Just get yourself a 600mm” (yeah,right, do you know anyone who wants to buy a kidney while you’re at it?) I decided to ask about them at Camera Electronic. I was heading there to get a small filter pouch I could clip to a belt loop, so it wouldn’t be going out of my way.
I had checked the prices on Amazon, eBay etc etc, so knew what I would be willing to spend to not have to wait a few weeks for it to arrive. I told Gavin what lens, what camera body, and he set it up to let me give it a test drive at the store. Not only did it retain focus, but it focused significantly faster than the rigged Canon 1.4x, it was able to do so in lower lighting. Asked the price.. was told how much. I said uhh no, what can you do for me. Well, I got it for $40 more than I would have spent on eBay, but I didn’t have to wait, I knew it was in good working order, and brought it home.
Turning a 400mm into a 600mm comes in very handy when stalking birds.
The problem with the Canon MkIII 1.4x and 2x extenders could be fixed with a firmware update. I got this from tech, not from forums. So, question remains, why did Canon hobble the capabilities of their MkIII extenders?