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Telephoto Conversion Lenses for Bridge Cameras

Home > Wildlife & Safari Photography > Teleconverter Lenses on Safari

Panasonic FZ100 with the Raynox DCR-2025 Telephoto Lens

Contents


Introduction

The main feature of a superzoom bridge camera is that in comparison to an SLR camera, you get a cheap telephoto lens that is very powerful even on their own. But if you add a 1.7x, or even 2.2x telephoto conversion lens to the camera, you can now get much closer to the action without a huge addition to cost or weight and in my experience, in many scenarios that you encounter on safari, they can help you take far better wildlife and bird photographs.


What Difference a Telephoto Converter Lens Makes

2.2x Telephoto Converter Lens

Attaching a 2.2x teleconverter to your superzoom bridge camera makes a huge difference. For comparison, take a look at the three test photos below, all were taken with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18 from the same location, the first is just using the camera without a zoom, the second is using the cameras full zoom without a Tele Conversion Lens (18x) and the third is at full zoom using the Raynox DCR-2025PRO Super Telephoto Conversion Lens (39.6x):

Taken without any zoom to show the distance from the subject
Using the 18x zoom of the Panasonic FZ18 - so without any teleconverter attached
Using the Raynox DCR-2025PRO at full zoom - 39.6x

Taken without any zoom to show the distance from the subject

Using the 18x zoom of the Panasonic FZ18 - so without any teleconverter attached

Using the Raynox DCR-2025PRO at full zoom - 39.6x

1.7x Telephoto Converter Lens

Both of the photos below were taken on safari in Zimbabwe with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18, the first is at full zoom with the Olympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17), the second is at full zoom without a Tele Conversion Lens.

Kariba Elepahnts, taken with 1.7x Tele Converter Kariba Elepahnts, taken without Tele Converter

With Telephoto Lens
The Photo above was taken at full zoom with the Olympus TCON-17 1.7x Tele Conversion lens fitted to my Panasonic DMC FZ19. (Click image to see larger version)

Without Telephoto Lens
The Photo above was taken with my Panasonic DMC FZ19 shortly after the first at full zoom (18x) without a Telephoto Conversion lens fitted. (Click image to see larger version)



DMW-LT55 1.7 x Tele-conversion lensWhich Tele Conversion Lens?

If you already have, or are planning to get either a superzoom bridge camera that is able to accept a teleconverter lens (see below) there a few options of Teleconversion Lenses available:

1.7x Teleconversion Lenses

Here for me the best choices are between Panasonic DMW-LT55 55mm 1.7x Telephoto Conversion Lens or the Olympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17), which also uses a 55mm thread.

They both fit very easily with an adapter to all of the Panasonic FZ superzoom cameras, but can also be used with other superzooms as well. For more see my guide to Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic FZ cameras.

In my opinion, but both will work equally well and I would just going with which one is cheaper at the time.

Warning: if you enter "Olympus TCON-17" into some shopping comparison sites, or search engines a listing of vendors for the similarly named Olympus TCON-17f tele-converter will appear. This is a different (and less expensive) tele-converter that does not work with the FZ cameras (unless you use a different adapter). So make sure you just get the standard Olympus TCON-17. ( no letters after it's name)

2.2x Teleconversion Lens

Panasonic FZ18 and the Raynox DCR-2025PRO Telephoto Conversion LensFor even more reach you may consider getting the Raynox DCR-2025Pro 2.2x Super Telephoto Conversion Lens.

The Raynox 2025 Pro comes with a a LS-082 lens shade and has a 62mm thread and the kit comes with 43, 52, 55 and 58mm step up rings.

The Raynox Pro is a little more expensive than the 1.7x teleconverters above, but you are getting a high quality, high definition lens which according to the manufacturer will not reduce the light value (F.Number) when this conversion lens is attached on the camera's lens.

You could also get the DCR-2020PRO which is exactly the same quality as the 2025Pro but only comes with 2-adapter rings for 52mm and 58mm filter sizes and without the lens shade. For more read my full review of the Raynox DCR-2025PRO Lens.



Difference between 1.7x and 2.2x teleconverters

Below is the comparison between using a camera (Panasonic DMC-FZ18) with the 1.7x Olympus Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17) attached and then with the 2.2x Raynox 2025PRO attached:

Taken without any zoom to show the distance from the subject
Using the 18x zoom of the Panasonic FZ18 - so without any teleconverter attached
Using the Raynox DCR-2025PRO at full zoom - 39.6x

Taken without any zoom to show the distance from the subject

Olympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17) - 30.6x

Using the Raynox DCR-2025PRO at full zoom - 39.6x


Advantages of using a Tele Conversion Lens

There is no question that using a telephoto-conversion lens with you camera will bring you closer to the action. This has many advantages in photography, but if we talk in terms of taking photographs on safari, the advantages of being able to take excellent photos of wildlife from a distance are:

  • Keeps you at a safe distance from potentially dangerous animals
  • Don't disturb their natural behavior as you don't move into their comfort zone, so get more natural photographs.
  • Often get photos that others don't, especially birds that will probably flee at a closer distance
  • Take detailed photos of parts of large mammals, the eye of an elephant for example – can make for a more interesting photograph

Disadvantages of using a Telephoto Lens

  • Increased Size. One of my main reasons for buying and using a SuperZoom camera, rather than a Digital SLR camera, is size (See why I recommend superzoom bridge cameras as the best cameras for safaris). Even without the Telephoto Lens, cameras like the Panasonic DMC-FZ100 and the Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR DMC-FZ45 (FZ40) have very powerful telephoto lenses and are very compact especially when compared to an SLR camera. The addition of the Teleconverter lens does increase the size of the camera, but it must be said this is still much smaller and lighter than if you had the equivalent SLR camera with a Telephoto Lens.
  • Fiddly. If you are out in the field and need to swap back to using your camera, removing the telephoto lens, whilst easy, can be a little fiddly, however the same can be said for SLR cameras.
  • Increased Camera Shake. The added power of the zoom means that there is much more chance of camera shake which your digital stabiliser may not be able to handle. All the photos in the examples on this page were taken without a tripod, however for the very best results I would recommend using a tripod. For more, take a look at my guide to The best Tripods for Travel & Safari.

How to attach and use Teleconverter Lenses

Step Up RingWhat you need
Fitting and using a telephoto lens to most superzoom bridge cameras is usually very simple. The fist thing you need to find out is if your camera has a lens thread and what diameter that thread is.

With that knowledge you will be able to get a step-up or even sometimes step-down ring (they are sometimes called adapter rings) that will screw onto your camera lens, and then onto the telephoto conversion lens.

Occasionally as is the case with most of the Panasonic FZ cameras including the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ100, FZ45, and FZ40, you may need to get a specific adapter from the manufacturer because the camera uses a non standard thread or uses a different type of system to attach lenses and filters to their lenses, or sometimes rather than just a ring, you need more of a tube, to allow for the cameras lens to extend into it when you zoom. For more on this take a look at my guide to Telephoto Conversion Lenses for the Panasonic FZ cameras.

Fitting a Teleconverter Lens to a bridge camera

Other than that it is all very straight forward:

Fitting the Lens:

  • First screw on the Lens Adapter or step-up (down) ring (or both) depending on what is needed to the camera
  • Then screw your Telephoto Lens onto the Adapter.
  • Done, you are now ready to take photos!

Using The Telephoto Lens:

  • Turn your camera on as normal
  • With most cameras, you don't have to do anything specific to the settings of the camera other than zoom in so that you avoid the tunnel effect. Some cameras like the Panasonic FZ cameras have a specific 'Conversion' setting. In this case set the camera to any mode other Intelligent-Auto (iA), press the menu button on the back of your camera and scroll down to the 'Conversion' option, change it from off to 'T' for telephoto. T his step is not vital, I think it only ensures that you don't take photos that will show the inside of the camera barrel – If you don't change the setting, just zoom in on your chosen subject.
  • Take photos as normal!

Example Photographs

African Fish Eagle, Kariba, ZimbabweOlympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17)

For an example of what you can expect, take a look at my gallery of photographs taken with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18 and the Olympus 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (TCON-17). All the photos were taken in on a recent Houseboat Safari in Kariba (Zimbabwe), that I went on. >> Olympus TCON-17 Gallery

2.2x Raynox DCR-2025PRO

As I mentioned above, I have only recently purchased this lens and so I have not as yet had time to get back to Africa and take some real safari photos. In the next few months I will be spending some time on safari in Zimbabwe, where I plan to take many with this lens, attached to my new camera, the Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR, giving me a massive 66x or 1584mm (35mm equiv lens)

Until then, please take a look at some of my photos of birds taken in my garden in the UK. All photos are uncropped and were taken with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18 and the Raynox DMC-2025Pro Telephoto Lens.

European Robin Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) P1100276


Also take a look at these excellent photos below published on flickr using the Dcr-2025 Pro Tele lens. All 4 photos were taken by using a Panasonic DMC-FZ28 and the Raynox Telephoto Lens.

Female Cardinal Blue Jay
Northern Flicker Tufted titmouse

Sony FX7 and the Raynox DCR-2025ProCamcorders and Video Cameras

As well as many bridge cameras, you can also mount many telephoto conversion lenses including the Raynox 2025/2020 pro to many High Definition Digital Camcorders that many people also take on safari.

Indeed I recently went on safari with the excellent Canon Legria HF M406 camcorder that comes with a 43mm threaded lens, making it very simple to attach to a teleconverter lens like the 2.2x Raynox 2025 Pro.

The list of camcorders that can accept a teleconverter is huge and includes the popular SONY HDR-FX7, VX-2100, VX-2000, VX-1000, PD-170, PD-150, PD-100, TRV-900,/950 Canon GL-1, GL-2, XM-1/2 and many more.

For a full list take a look at this Camcorder cross reference table.

Fitting a Teleconverter to the Canon Legria HF M406 Video Camera


Cost & Where to Buy

Apart from the extremely powerful zoom, one of the main advantages of buying a teleconverter lens and combining it with your SuperZoom bridge camera is cost. When you compare the total cost with that of buying an SLR with a large telephoto lens the saving is huge and whilst there is no doubting an SLR with a top of the range telephoto lens will take higher resolution photos, a bridge camera with a good teleconversion lens will be more than enough to satisfy the needs of most keen amateur photographers who don't have bottomless pockets.

Shop in the UKUK: Buy from Amazon.co.uk

In the UK, the Panasonic DMW-LT55 55mm 1.7x Telephoto Conversion Lens retails for around £110, the Olympus TCON 17 Converter costs around £100 and the Raynox DCR-2025 PRO costs about £140, to check current prices, click on the links below:

 

Shop in the USAUSA: Buy from Amazon.com

In the USA, the Panasonic DMW-LT55 55mm 1.7x Telephoto Conversion Lens retails for around $200, the Olympus TCON 17 Converter costs around $95 and the Raynox 2025 PRO Lens costs about $140. To check current prices, click on the links below:



Recommended Cameras

Below are a few cameras that I have reviewed that are ideal to use with a teleconverter and take with you on safari.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

With a super powerful 24x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 600mm), much higher 14.1 MP image resolution, rotating LCD screen, movie recording in full HD and a 25mm ultra wide angle lens, this is the best superzoom compact digital camera on the market and an ideal safari holiday companion.

>> Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Digital Camera


Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXRFujifilm FinePix HS20EXR

The successor to the very popular FinePix HS10 from Fujifilm, comes very powerful Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR with it's 30x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent 720mm), much higher 16 MP image resolution, faster auto focus and movie recording in full 1080p HD. This camera has to be one of the very best for taking with you on any safari holiday.

>> Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR Camera Review


Further Reading

Below are some more articles that you may also find useful:


The Best Digital Superzoom cameras for SafarisThe Best Compact Superzoom Cameras for Safari

If you do decide that a superzoom compact camera, rather than a digital SLR, here is our guide to the best compact super zoom safari cameras. Includes features to look out for and review of the top two cameras with a side by side comparison.

>> Best Safari Camera (compact superzooms)




Visit The Africa Guide for desert, dune, wildlife, people and culture photography

 


What to Take on Safari

This page is part of a series of posts on what to take on safari, for further reading try:


Search the Safari Holiday Guide

Best Cameras for Safari Digital Cameras for Safari

My guide to the best digital cameras for travel and wildlife photography. Including the best camera to take on Safari, bird photography and where you can buy cheap digital cameras >> more




Shop in the UKUK: Buy from Amazon.co.uk



Shop in the USAUSA: Buy from Amazon.com


Safari Photography


Steiner Safari BinocularsAfter your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews

 

 

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