The Olympus MC-20 has been a long awaited inclusion in the Olympus line up for budding wildlife and sports photographers and the day has finally arrived! I had the privilege of testing this incredible piece of kit earlier in 2019 and here are my thoughts on the capabilities and quality of this teleconverter. Since there are naturally going to be a few key things people want to know about, I will try and cover these fully!

Olympus EM1X  |  40-150mm + MC-20  |  1/1600th  |  F/6.3  |  ISO 400

Image Quality

Prior to moving to the Olympus system, I would have never considered purchasing a 2x converter. There’s no getting around the fact that using any teleconverter is going to have some impact on image quality, no matter how negligible.

I’ve now used the MC-20 extensively over several weeks and can attest to the fact that this converter is capable of producing tack sharp images, but it will be less forgiving when you make technical mistakes. Below are some examples with 100% crops of what it possible with this converter and various lens combinations.

Olympus EM1X  |   300mm + MC-20  |  1/640th  |  F/8  |  ISO 400

100% crop

Olympus EM1X  |  40-150mm + MC-20  |  1/1000th  |  F/5.6  |  ISO 400

100% crop

Autofocus

Whilst the MC20 will still find and lock the focus on, there’s no denying that it slows the performance slightly (what do you expect at f/8 with the 300mm!). To really push the kit to its absolute limits, I used the MC20 with the Olympus 300mm which has an equivalent focal length of 1,200mm to photograph some birds in flight. This is a challenge in any scenario when trying to track and photograph erratic moving birds, and many failed shots were down to user error (accidentally cropping wing tips, feet etc) but I was still able to walk away with sharp images. The hit rate was significantly improved with the 40-150mm, partially down to a flexible focal length but also the aperture range achievable.

Olympus EM1X  |  300mm + MC-20  |  1/2000th  |  F/8  |  ISO 1000

Olympus EM1X  |  300mm + MC-20  |  1/1250th  |  F/8  |  ISO 1000

Compatibility

This converter will work with the following lenses and covers all the bases for what I need in wildlife photography:

– Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8
– Olympus 300mm f/4
Olympus 150-400mm F/4.5 (coming 2020)

Olympus EM1X  |  40-150mm + MC-20  |  1/640th  |  F/5.6  |  ISO 1000

Final Thoughts

In short, this converter is a worthwhile inclusion in any wildlife photographers kit bag. It will not be suitable in all circumstances such as low light but when conditions are ideal and you need that extra reach for whatever reason, the MC20 will deliver.

Olympus EM1X  |  300mm + MC-20  |  1/640th  |  F/8  |  ISO 1600