Europe river cruise with my Olympus gear

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mrkrw Forum Member • Posts: 96
Europe river cruise with my Olympus gear

I went on a 2 .5 week holiday/river cruise in Europe recently. This is a short report on my experience with Olympus gear.

The river cruise went from Hungary to the Netherlands, via the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers.

We stopped in many locations and there were daily walking tours and some additional activities.

The itinerary was known well ahead and I was expecting mostly outdoor locations and indoor static scenes inside churches and castles etc. I was also expecting crowds and little time to analyse a scene, recompose or to change lenses.

I took the following

Primary kit

  • Olympus EM1 M2
  • Olympus 12-100 f4 Pro + CPL filter
  • Olympus 7-14 f2.8 Pro
  • Olympus 17mm f1.2 Pro +CPL filter
  • Olympus 45mm f1.2 Pro
  • Olympus FL-LM3 flash ( the small one that comes included)
  • 2 spare BLH1 batteries
  • Peak design wrist strap and a Peak design sling camera strap.
  • Pacsafe - Camsafe X Slingbag

Backup body / alternative for less conspicuous use

  • Olympus PEN - F
  • Olympus 12mm F2.0
  • Olympus 17mm F 1.8
  • Olympus 45mm F 1.8
  • 2 spare BLF 1 batteries

MacBook Pro 15 inch laptop + 2 SSD drives for backup.

Gorillapod tripod - the equivalent of the Gorillapod 5K ( i got mine before the head and legs were sold a single kit)

I can already feel some people already saying - too much stuff!

(However, I once went from Melbourne to the Bungle Bungles with my Canon 1Dx and 3 lenses, and the Canon just died on day one - so my entire trip was shot on an iPhone and I had a 5kg paperweight for the rest of the trip)

The trip

Most of the time we were indeed outdoors, or briefly indoors whilst exploring churches, castles, palaces etc.

Budapest at sunrise

Seczeny baths

St Stephen's Cathedral in Budapest

Most of the time the activities started about 9 am, and since this was summer time, the sun was already high, and it was mostly full sunlight with minimal cloud coverage. So this was a harsh directed light - often directly overhead, with deep shadows, often bleached colours - arguably the second worst possible light (after low or no light ….)

I like lots of colour so I've processed the pictures accordingly.

Cycling in the Wachau valley

As expected, the locations were generally crowded and on the tours there was little time to analyze a scene and change position..

Locations: Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Wachau Valley, Passau, Regensburg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nurnburg, Wertheim, Miltenberg, Rudesheim, Middle Rhine valley, Koblenz, Cologne, Drachenberg Castle, Amsterndam, Haarlem

I’ve done some statistics on the downloaded pictures that I have kept. (I had a very low overall reject rate for technically flawed images < 5%, normally due to the camera activating in the bag since I don’t turn off the camera, it just sleeps)

Images with each piece of equipment

Here are some stats for the 12-100

Focal lengths used for the 12-100

ISO used for the 12-100 lens

Apertures used for the 12-100

Shutter speeds used for the 12-100

Focal lengths used for the 7-14mm

ISO used for the 7-14mm

Apertures used for the 7-14mm

Shutter speeds used for the 7-14mm


  • Not surprisingly, the 12-100 was the most used lens
  • The 7-14 had more use than I was expecting.
  • The pro primes were hardly used at all, and could have been safely left at home, in fact I stopped carrying them on day 2
  • The vast majority of pictures were close to base ISO and that included even poorly lit churches and museum, such was the usefulness of IBIS and dual IS

Body museum exhibit in Amsterdam

  • I only used 1 battery in a day even with days of 600-700 shots + chimping
  • The tripod was not required, even with hand holding on a boat taking a 1 second exposure of the parliament buliding.

Budapest Parliament house

  • Low light shooting is not a problem with static objects and the 12-100 and the 7-14.
  • I used flash rarely, mostly as some daylight fill, but the small FL-LM3 often did not have enough power for the typical scenario where I wanted about F8 to have my subject in focus with a far off background also showing reasonable detail. I normally took several shots to get acceptable results.
  • The polarizer filter was more useful for cutting reflections than enhancing the sky. I had to use the fabulous Capture1 colour tools to tone down the blues in post-processing
  • The Pen F has some special magic and actually got used - I was mainly packing it in case of doom…
  • The Pacsafe - Camsafe X Slingbag was an excellent purchase, I was able to pack the EM1M2 with thee 12-100 attached, and have the 7-14 and the two pro primes in the bag, with filter, battery etc, as well as a water bottle in the outside pocket ( it was mid to high 30-'s all the time). Once I ditched the primes, I had space for some food or sunscreen or something else.
  • The Peak Design straps and wrist straps were excellent.


  1. The EM1M2 and the 12-100 F4 Pro together with the 7-14 F2.8 Pro are probably an unbeatable two lens all purpose travel combo. I would have no hesitation recommending the purchase of either of these lenses if someone already had overlapping focal lengths. They are that good.
  2. If I was only allowed one camera and lens it would be the EM1m2 and the 12-100.
  3. The PenF has that something extra about its design that makes it hard to resist for a minimalistic outfit - I would be happy to have the 12mm on it and the 45mm in my pocket, but I wish It was as responsive as the EM1M2

I hope my experience helps someone else pack.

There are more pictures in my gallery - i'm mindful of not overloading the post with images.

Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN-F
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