Lens extenders, or also known as teleconverters, are a simple way to extend the focal length of a lens. These little units are usually fitted on telephoto lenses for an extra-long reach. This means the likes of a 400mm prime lens can instantly have the viewpoint of an 800mm.
This all sounds wonderful, but the Canon versions can be quite expensive. This is why we’re bringing you a shortlist of the best Canon extender 2x alternatives.
As with any piece of glass that you put between a lens and camera, an extender can potentially change the optical characteristics, which is why most people don’t venture past Canon’s own offerings in this department. Especially when you’ve paid thousands for a high-quality prime and you don’t want to degrade the light waves.
So, an extender will increase the focal length of a lens, but what are the other advantages? Cost and weight saving are the first factors to consider.
An extender weighs far less than buying into another heavy duty telephoto lens. Then there is the versatility that is added to a prime lens, obtaining two focal lengths for the price of one. An extender also opens up focal lengths which you can’t simply buy off the shelf.
However, there are a few caveats you need to know about. The maximum aperture width is reduced, which means an f/2.8 lens with a 2x extender becomes f/5.6. This makes a lens have less light gathering ability, so you have to be more careful with its usage in low light conditions.
Another area is with autofocusing speed. This is not so much a problem with static subjects, but with anything moving, your hit rate can be much lower. Lastly, some complain that image quality becomes degraded with an extender. This is why an extender is generally used with the highest quality prime lenses to obtain the best possible workflow.
The use of extenders and telephoto lenses is a whole topic upon itself. So, if your still in the camp of needing a high quality version, then read on to our list of Canon extender 2x alternatives.
1. Sigma 2X Teleconverter TC-2001 (Overall Winner)
To be completely upfront, you’re not going to save a whole bucket of cash buying into the Sigma 2X Teleconverter TC-2001 over the Canon version. But you will have an extender that will double up your focal length with very good optical qualities.
The extender itself is fully compatible with Canon cameras. Which means you get full communication between the camera body and lens. Internally, the extender features two Special Low Dispersion elements to increase image clarity, while its whole outer shell has been weather-proofed for all types of weather conditions.
As with most 2x extenders, you will lose two stops of light from the aperture, but where this extender excels is in its optics as long as good technique is adhered to.
The Sigma is a worthy option to Canon’s own varieties but with a few caveats. It’s only compatible with certain lenses, so it’s essential you check your own particular glass is in the lineup.
Then, there is the issue of autofocusing with this extender. It officially allows autofocusing up to f/8, especially with some Sigma lenses. But with others, you will have to cope with manual focusing only.
2. Tamron Teleconverter 2.0x (Model TC-X20)
If you have a bunch of the latest high-quality Tamron lenses for the Canon platform, then the Tamron Teleconverter 2.0x can fit the bill. This extender retains full communication between the camera body and lens, featuring a very simple design and extremely solid fit.
Internally, the extender features an optical arrangement of nine elements in five groups with one low dispersion element, plus a BBAR coating to increase image quality and reduce artifacts such as lens flare and ghosting. As typical of these high-quality versions, the Tamron is fully weather-proofed and built for the rigors of everyday use.
Depending on the camera and lens choice, i.e. with a Tamron 70-200mm G2, autofocusing works reasonably well. Ideally, a tripod is needed for the sharpest results and the most keeper images were with static subjects.
As with all these extenders, the ultimate aperture width is reduced. But if you feed your lens with enough light and you have a compatible camera and lens, the Tamron can make for a worthwhile alternative.
3. Kenko TELEPLUS HD pro 2X DGX
Not to be confused with the British instant coffee makers Kenco, the Kenko TELEPLUS HD pro 2X DGX is not always an obvious, but very reliable lens extender. With a price point coming in at just a few hundred dollars, the Kenko works on all Canon EF-mounts.
Full metering and autofocus capabilities are retained, with the usual two stops of light reduction applied. Multi-layer anti-reflective coatings have been applied to all lens elements for increased image definition, with this aspect also reducing the likes of lens flare and ghosting.
If your particular subject matter is wildlife or far-off sports events, the Kenko will produce very sharp results with hardly any reduction in quality.
4. Kenko TELEPLUS PRO300 2X DGX (Budget Winner)
One alternative extender that has been a long-time favorite is the Kenko TELEPLUS PRO300 2X DGX. At less than half the price of Canon’s own version, the PRO300 will double your focal length in a very affordable package.
The extender itself looks like an old school lens, featuring a ridged ring around its barrel and a very solid build construction. Internally, the optics are arranged around seven elements in four groups with multi coatings applied to all elements to increase the overall optical quality.
This extender can’t be used with EF-S lenses, only being compatible with EF mounts. In use, the extender will reduce the overall aperture by two stops and the autofocus system is slightly slower than usual. But if you work within its boundaries, there’s no reason why you can’t produce very respectable images while also increasing the overall focal length of a lens.
Ultimately, if you’re on a tight budget, the PRO300 is probably best quality version available in exchange for your hard earned cash.
Focusing in on the Best Canon Extender 2x Alternatives
When using any type of lens extender, you have to give some leeway with its workings. In use, you are essentially fitting the equivalent of another lens in between your chosen optics and camera.
To maintain the same optical qualities and seamless workings, it’s amazing these Canon extender 2x alternatives perform as well as they do. This means you can’t be overly critical if the autofocus is slightly slower than usual or the aperture doesn’t go as wide.
It’s advisable even with the Canon versions, to always try before you buy. This will ensure you’re entirely happy with its workings and most importantly, it’s completely compatible with your chosen camera and lens.