Along with the 400mm f/2.8E VR lens, Nikon has also announced the TC-14E III 1.4x teleconverter. The older TC-14E II version has been out since 2001 and Nikon finally decided to update it, most likely to match the performance of the new generation super telephoto lenses like the new Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR and Nikon 800mm f/5.6E VR. The now previous-generation TC-14E II has always been praised by our team at Photography Life, thanks to its superb performance and very little performance degradation that is almost unnoticeable to the eye when using with most super telephoto lenses (see our article on how teleconverters impact image quality). In fact, my copy of the TC-14E II stays glued to my wildlife travel companion, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S (see my in-depth review) and I only detach it when I need to use the teleconverter with the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR, 200-400mm f/4G VR or other telephoto lenses.
So what does the new TC-14E III bring to the table? Similar to the new “E” lenses, the TC-14E III has been optically re-designed. It now features 7 elements in 4 groups, versus the 5 elements in 5 groups design of the TC-14E II, so there are more optical elements to maintain high image quality and reduce lens aberrations. Here is a comparison of lens construction of both TC-14E II (left) and TC-14E III (right):
It is also a tad smaller and 10 grams lighter in comparison. Optically, it should be superb, making it a very attractive choice for those that want to extend the reach of their lenses. And if you factor in the fact that Nikon actually slightly reduced the selling price of the teleconverter, the TC-14E III will be a “no brainer” for many of us. Existing owners of the TC-14E II might not feel the need to upgrade, but those that have never owned one should take a serious look. I expect the new TC-14E III to couple well with all modern Nikkor “G” telephoto lenses, including the f/4 line of lenses like 70-200mm f/4G, 200-400mm f/4G, 500mm f/4G and 600mm f/4G. Unfortunately, looks like the older “D” lenses are not going to be compatible, including the 300mm f/4D AF-S – see this link for a full list of compatible lenses (thanks to Marty and Kambiz for correcting me on this).
Lastly, the lens is also coated with a new Nikon “fluorine” coating technology, as explained in detail in the following video:
At this time, there are only three lenses that come with this technology – the TC-14E III, the new Nikon 400mm f/2.8E and 800mm f/5.6E. I expect all future pro-grade lenses to come with fluorine coating.
The best way to see improvements would be to use both the TC-14E II and TC-14E III in a lab and measure the optical quality of the two, which is exactly what I am planning to do as soon as I get my hands on a sample.
Meanwhile, you can pre-order your copy of the TC-14E III at B&H Photo Video for $496.95.