Curious about what a fresh comparison would reveal, I headed out the door with the 180/2X combo today With the help of a few patient little friends, I was able to see that—at the very least—handling is more comfortable with the lighter setup.
Knowing that pixel noise is part of why I’m not getting in my images the details I see through the EVF, method of carriage struck me as a possible cause of inconsistent critical focus. With the 180/2X combo, the strap is anchored to the tripod foot of the R-Adapter-M, leaving a teleconverter in front and the M-Adapter-L to the rear, two joints on each side of the anchor.
With the 280/1.4X combo, the strap is anchored to the tripod socket of the lens, resulting in an off-balance setup, as well as a heavy camera at the end of FOUR connecting joints. Although everything is Leica-made and there’s no noticeable play other than a bit of rotational in the camera side of the M-Adapter-L, even the tiniest bit of strain multiplied times four could throw focus off, especially when one considers how short the focus throw is at the distant end.
What to do? I’m not sure that, with that much weight, using the R-Adapter-M’s tripod foot to anchor the strap would solve any looseness issue if that does happen to be a part of the problem. A better solution would be keeping the anchor on the base of the lens, using fewer joints, and (see justification) attaching a lighter camera body.
Whatever the case, everything seems to be point me back towards what I concluded the first two times around with the lens: that it’s better without a teleconverter when shot handheld. No panic this time, as I inch towards a day when using a monopod or tripod doesn’t seem like such an unpalatable idea. More significantly, with other genres on the agenda, there will be uses in addition to bird photography for such a capable lens.
Now if only I can get the SL2’s user profiles to stop changing my settings . . .