My Budget m4/3 Eurotrip 2013 with the Olympus E-PL1
By Igor Kolonic
Last summer, after years of postponing, two friends and I finally decided to go on a trip across Europe. With the amazing Interrail train ticket it was possible to see a lot of amazing places in short amount of time. We went for 10 days and started in Austria and went all the way to Frankfurt, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Berlin and Prag.
I developed my interest in photography a few years back, and started with lomography and polaroid pictures but soon moved to the Olympus m4/3 system. I was never a fan of huge DSLRs so the PEN series was a real refreshment. Two years ago I bought an E-PL1 with the kit lens (14-42mm) and soon after that the amazing Oly 45mm1.8 lens. I wanted to travel as light as possible and give myself an additional challenge so I decided to take only the 45mm lens with me. At first it was quite strange shooting at this focal length all the time but after a couple of hours shooting with it I started being comfortable with it. Although there were a few missed shots due to the camera which is rather outdated compared to everything else on the current market, I was still really satisfied with the results from a combination which is now available for less than 300 euros ( cca. 400 USD )
The whole trip was an amazing experience and I can really recommend everyone to try it at least once. The Interrail tickets are really affordable and the trains in central Europe are extremely comfortable and fast way to travel, besides, you get to see all the beautiful landscapes when travelling by train. So here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:
1 & 2 Since I’m an architecture student I really enjoyed all the amazing architecture in Amsterdam and loved taking detail shots of the buildings.
3 & 4 Amsterdam really is a city of bicycles, it’s hard to imagine how much bicycles there’s in the city until you see it yourself.
5 One of my favorite shots from the trip, we were enjoying a break in the park when this guy decided to take a break from the everyday struggles. He sat nearby, lit up his cigarette and started reading his comic book.
6 Vintage cars and motorcycles are also a quite common thing to see while walking around Amsterdam.
7 Couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of these tourists.
8 When you’re in Amsterdam don’t miss the opportunity to rent a bike and take a ride through the city!
9 Loved how surreal the scene looked – an artificial “hill” next to the amazing “Stedelijk Museum” in front of some historical buildings.
10&11 M. Enjoying the ride through the city.
12 Some typical Amsterdam architecture.
13 I was actually pleasantly surprised that E-PL1 could handle moments like this.
14 I. sitting at the amazing Holocaust Memorial in Berlin by Peter Eisenman.
15 Street musician at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
16 Visiting the New National Gallery by Mies van der Rohe was a must! At the time we were there it was hosting an sculpture exhibition.
17 M. and I. enjoying a beer in the Kreuzberg area in Berlin
18 M. writing “Ich bin ein Berliner” in his sketchbook.
19 M. waiting for the late night train to Prag in Cottbus (Germany)
I hope you enjoyed the photos, I didn’t bother putting any technical details about them since there isn’t anything new about the camera or lens I was using. For me photography is about telling a story so the “tool” I’m using has to be simple and intuitive as possible, otherwise you could forget that you’re the part of the story you’re taking the photo of. For the next trip I really hope I’ll manage to get the Fuji x100s since I realized that I don’t really have the need to have multiple lenses and really could use a viewfinder.
Thank you for your time!
Great set of pics, I did a similar experiment using just a tiny E-PM1 and the Panasonic 20/1.7
It gave me pleasing results in Portugal last year. Now I have the Fuji X100 for this job.
Nicely done Igor … although you did have a great lens and accomplished a lot with it. Perhaps you’ll trythe EP5 which is fantastic and has an optional viewfinder. Enjoy your travels.
Thanks! Yeah, I like the EP5 and it would probably be mine upgrade option no.1 if it had the integrated viewfinder, still, the combo with 17mm lens and VF-4 is really nice!
Nice Photos! You could add more…
I still use my Olympus E-PL2 and Canon 40D which are old and outdated in today’s standards. Also I use mostly old budget Manual focus lenses that I bought used off ebay. People worry a lot about their gears but I love to see photos like yours which confirms that one just need a good tool and do the best with what one has. Living the momenta and capturing them in best possible way is more important than worrying about the gears…
Thanks! I agree, it’s all about the moment!
Igor, How did you manage to get this Interrail ticket? That’s what I got from the official website:
“To use an InterRail pass you must be a European resident and must have lived in Europe for at least 6 months before the first day of travel with the pass. Non-European residents cannot travel with an InterRail pass and can instead use a Eurail pass.”
We are planning to go to Europe this spring and really exploring our options …
Hey, oh I didn’t know about the “European resident” thing. I’m from Croatia and living in Austria so that wasn’t a problem, but I just checked the Eurail pass and it looks pretty similar to the interrail pass. For example 490e for 17 consecutive days on train is quite ok if you consider that you it lets you take the high speed trains which are normally rather expensive and cost up to 140e for a 2h-3h drive.
Hope you manage find a good solution for you!
The first four or five shots were interesting – I too liked the look of enjoyment of the comic reader.
A number of the latter shots suffered from indifferent focus/sharpness. That’s fine for trip memories but maybe not as “inspiration”.
Look how nice the e-Pl1 renders. I own one too and the newer mft bodies are not really better in regard to iq. I like your pictures, they remind me of my own adventures when I was a college student 😉
Nice series and great use of a tool rather than going crazy with mulitple lenses, etc. Also agree with your comment on train travel across the pond (I am in USA). My wife and I love traveling by train not only for the scenery but for the opportunity to meet and mingle among locals!!
Fascinated by the variety you have got from 90mm equivalent. I don’t think I would have dared!
Excellent photos, do not apologize for your gear, it is the result that matters!
My favourite is the bicycle frames shot.
Thank you for your comment!
You’re right, if the results are satisfying the gear isn’t really that important. I actually really enjoy shooting with the e-pl1.
Great pictures, what software did you use for post processing?
Thanks! Actually only the second and the last one were post-processed in photoshop (slight color adjustments and vignetting), the rest of them are straight out of camera jpegs. I really liked the results so I kept them like that.
Nice submission. I like that you can produce such great shots with an old and budget camera with 1 prime lens.
That was the problem with the EPL-1. There was so much good about the camera, it was hard to justify upgrading until recently. Add good glass and it is even harder to justify upgrading.
No shots of M puffing on a joint or oggling a prostitute!
How did you find Brussels? I was just there and loved it!
hahah, well to be honest we only spent like an afternoon in Bruxelles, I enjoyed the city center but it’s hard to tell how to whole city feels since we didn’t really get to experience it like for example Berlin and Amsterdam