Nikon AF-S TC-14E III review: boost your telephoto powers

The Nikon AF-S TC-14E III gives a 1.4x boost in reach for compatible F-mount lenses but you’ll lose the usual f/stop along the way.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I’m sold on the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III. It gives a 1.4x magnification of focal length and maximum magnification factor for close-ups, with minimal degradation of image quality. And it’s a whole lot more cost-effective and easier to lug around than a hefty additional super-telephoto lens.

Pros

  • +

    1.4x magnification of focal length

  • +

    Small, lightweight and cost-effective

  • +

    High-quality, weather-sealed build

Cons

  • -

    1 f/stop aperture reduction

  • -

    Slight degradation of lens performance

  • -

    Limited lens compatibility range

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

This is the 1.4x version of Nikon’s latest (and probably last) F-mount teleconverter, designed for Nikon cameras and compatible F-mount Nikon telephoto lenses. It’s primarily designed for DSLRs but can also be used on Z-mount mirrorless cameras via an FTZ or FTZ II mount adapter. As such, it’s one of the best teleconverters on the market. Typically for a 1.4x teleconverter, the focal length of the attached lens is magnified by a factor of 1.4x, with a 1 f/stop reduction in aperture rating, so a Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR zoom effectively becomes a 98-280mm f/4 lens.

To avoid confusion, the specialist front cap is colored in a distinctive gray. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

The aperture reduction naturally means you’ll suffer a drop in shutter speeds but can also rule out autofocus in some cases. For example, if you use the teleconverter with a Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens, you’ll need a DSLR that supports autofocus at f/8. A plus point is that, when using the teleconverter, the minimum focus distance of the main lens remains unchanged. You therefore get a 1.4x boost in the maximum magnification ratio, which can edge into macro territory for close-ups with some lenses.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: What's changed?

As billed in the product name, this is the third edition of Nikon’s TC-14E teleconverter. Headline upgrades include a new optical path to boost image quality, along with better build quality that adds weather seals and fluorine coatings on the outer elements. However, the mechanical design precludes fitment of older Nikon AF lenses with an aperture ring, so it’ll only work with newer AF-S G and E type lenses, and there’s no mechanical autofocus screw-drive, again ruling out AF rather than AF-S lenses. Here's Nikon’s official teleconverter and lens compatibility list.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
MountNikon F
Lens construction7 elements in 4 groups
Focal length multiplier1.4x that of main lens
Aperture reduction1 f/stop
Minimum focus distanceSame as main lens
Maximum magnification1.4x that of main lens
Dimensions64 x 24.5mm
Weight190g

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Price & Availability

The Nikon AF-S TC-14E III is widely available from photographic retailers around the world, as well as from Nikon’s own regional online stores. Priced at $497 / £479 / AU$799, it might seem pretty pricey for such a small bit of kit but it’s naturally a whole lot cheaper than buying an additional super-telephoto lens for when you need a bit of extra reach.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Design & Handling

I like that the teleconverter looks and feels like a pancake lens, measuring just under an inch thick. It’s also really lightweight, at a mere 190g. That’s just a tiny fraction of the size and weight of carrying around an extra telephoto or super-telephoto lens.

A locking release lever ensures safe and secure fitment of the lens. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Although lightweight, the build quality feels very solid and robust. That’s an important point if you’re mounting a big, heavyweight lens to it, like the Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR that I used during testing, which weighs in at a comparatively massive 3,800g. Version III is upgraded for greater durability and features weather seals. I like that the new fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements repel moisture and grease, and make the surfaces easier to clean.

As usual, the front section of the optical path inserts into a cavity at the rear of compatible lenses. But you need to be careful not to try to fit the teleconverter to a lens where there’s not enough clearance between the rear glass element and the mounting plate. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Although small, the teleconverter packs no less than 7 optical elements arranged in 4 groups. The optical design is revised, with claims of a reduction in chromatic aberration, while full electronic connectivity is maintained between the main lens and the host camera body.

A full set of electronic connection pins enables data communication between the main lens and camera body. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Here’s the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III mounted on a Nikon D780 DSLR camera body. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

There’s next to nothing added to the overall size and weight of the D780 and big Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR prime lens. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Weather-seals include a rubber gasket on the mounting plate that connects to the camera body. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Photo Performance

There’s always a bit of a question mark over the performance of teleconverters, compared with using a bigger lens fitted directly to the camera body. In essence, a teleconverter acts a bit like a glorified magnifying glass, enlarging the central area of the image circle produced by the main lens and passing it through to the camera.

On the plus side, you’re only effectively using the central region of the image circle, where quality is typically best. However, a teleconverter will also draw more attention to any flaw or failure. Autofocus speed can also take a hit, along with the effectiveness of optical VR (Vibration Reduction).

While testing the teleconverter with a high-performance Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR and a Nikon D780 camera body, I found that autofocus speed remained very snappy and was well able to track moving subjects. The performance of VR remained pretty much the same as well, giving me about 4-stop effectiveness in real-world handheld shooting when taking the longer focal length into account.

There’s surprisingly little impact on image quality when using this teleconverter. Sharpness remains excellent across the entire image frame and any increase in color fringing is very negligible. Overall performance is outstanding, much the same as when using Nikon’s newer Z-mount edition of the teleconverter.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Sample Images

For the sake of comparison, the following gallery includes a series of shots taken with a Nikon D780 and a Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR on its own, as well as with both Nikon AF-S TC-14E III and Nikon AF-S TC-20E III teleconverters. This shows differences between using the lens natively, as well as with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. 

The first sequence was taken from a viewpoint overlooking the city of Bath, UK, from a distance of half a mile, on an overcast morning. Due to deteriorating weather conditions with strong winds and heavy rain, the subsequent shots were taken indoors with bounced flash. 

All of the example images were taken using a sturdy tripod and exposure delay mode and shot several times to ensure the consistency of results. As per our usual testing regime, all of these images were taken in addition to the lab-test shots that we captured, based on the use of official test charts.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Lab Results

We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), and then analyzed for sharpness, distortion, and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners, and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Sharpness:

(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Future)

In our lab tests, the outstanding sharpness of the Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E remained largely unaffected when adding the 1.4x teleconverter, compared with using most rival teleconverters.

Fringing:

(Image credit: Future)

There’s only a marginal increase in color fringing towards the extreme edges and corners of the image frame, again putting this Nikon 1.4x teleconverter ahead of most competitors.

Distortion: -0.26

The slight pincushion distortion of the native lens is switched to very minor barrel distortion with the teleconverter attached.

Nikon AF-S TC-14E III: Verdict

I love lenses. I certainly don’t need much of an excuse to add to my collection. However, when you get into super-telephoto territory, extra lenses can be fiendishly expensive to buy, and very heavy to carry around. The Nikon AF-S TC-14E III gives me a useful boost in telephoto reach at comparatively little expense. And being just an inch thick and weighing only 190g, I can pop it in my kit bag and not even notice the difference. Performance of the main lens remains excellent in terms of autofocus speed, VR, and image quality. It’s a win!

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Should you buy the Nikon AF-S TC-14E III?

✅ Buy this...

  • You need more reach
  • Much cheaper than an extra lens
  • Good build and performance

🚫 Don't buy this...

  • You lose an f/stop
  • Limited lens compatibility
  • Slight performance degradation

Alternatives

Nikon AF-S TC-20E III

The Nikon AF-S TC-20E III gives 2x magnification rather than 1.4x, so it’s more powerful but bigger and heavier, and you lose two f/stops in aperture instead of just one.

Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x

Got a Nikon Z-system camera? The Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x is the native equivalent for mirrorless camera bodies and compatible Z-mount telephoto lenses.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1