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Lanzarote and Olympus User Meeting

by Yvonne Steinmann

John Ellis asked me about the meeting of Olympus e-series user on Lanzarote, which took place in the last week of November 2004, and of which I have been posting photos here recently. After I gave him a short report on it by e-mail he suggested I posted information about it here, which I am very pleased to do.

The members of the forum meet up twice a year for discussions about photography, methods and equipment, and not least at all, to go on photo excursions together. Locations are chosen on suggestions from members, usually in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, with the occasional exception (as was Lanzarote). The meetings are usually for 3 - 4 days. Usually there are between 30 and 45 participants. The meeting on Lanzarote was different from the regular ones insomuch as we spent a week together and combined the meeting with a holiday and there were 22 participants. is – most likely – the most important Olympus (e-series) user forum in the German speaking part of the world and Olympus Europe seems well aware of this fact. The forum is run privately by Stefan Hendricks and is not supported by Olympus.

The date of the meeting is agreed on in a discussion thread in the forum. Each time there are two or three members who offer to organise the meeting. Then Stefan sets up a registration form. Stefan coordinates the participation of an Oly rep and their support of the meeting. For Lanzarote one forum member organised the ‘official’ activities, in this case a day trip to Fuerteventura and a VIP day trip around Lanzarote. I organised the hotel bookings (I speak Spanish - not that this mattered much, they speak English and German there..), which people had to pay directly. Every member booked their own flight.

We spend the bigger part of the meeting with visiting sites to photograph. For half a day there is an official Olympus event on the hotel premises, Olympus Hamburg provides a rep, sometimes two, who answer/s questions, bring/s gear that we can try out - the rep has to put up with our suggestions and critisism of the system ;-). Olympus also supports the meetings financially, in this case they paid for the VIP tour and one dinner for the group, all of which was a considerable contribution! This time we had the chance to try out the new 7-14 (at the time the only one in Europe we were told and we were asked not to publish the photos taken with it, as it was still a pre-production version), the E-300 with the new zoom lenses 40-150 and 14-45 and the flash FL 36. There is usually a short workshop presented by a member.

The remaining part of the week we went on tours in smaller groups, as the occasion offered. Renting cars was easy, you just talked to the receptionist at the hotel, they would organise the car to be brought to the hotel.

Lanzarote is a photographer’s paradise, especially in winter, as you can use most of the day for shooting, the sun never rises as high as it would during summer. The light was wonderful during the first couple of days, then the wind turned and came from Africa, eventually bringing the grasshoppers, warmer and hazier air, and thin clouds.

The island is small, but it consists of many different types of landscapes; there are so many details that catch your eye and 'scream' to be photographed.. One day a small group of us just took off from the hotel along the beach on foot (we stayed in Puerto del Carmen, the main tourist place of the island) and it took us at least a couple of hours for 3 kms .. at the end of which we sat down at a tapas bar and there were 200 photos more on my chip..

There used to be an artist-cum-politician called César Manrique who largely prevented the locals from ruining their island with big hotel blocks or other architectural sins. Apart from a couple of ‘sins’ the hotels are built like small whitewashed villages, never higher than two storeys, usually as terraced bungalows or in clusters of several units together, if not pretty, at least of an inoffensive style.

There are lots of gardens, striking as they are filled not with earth as we know it, but with black volcano ash. There are cacti of all shapes and sizes, as well as hundreds of different types of palm trees. It is all so full of colours, something I would not have expected to find in a volcanic island. There are long, sandy beaches, interrupted with areas of black lava rocks. There are volcanoes all over the island, some dormant, and some active. They come in different shapes and colours, which amounts for a thrilling photo experience as the landscape invites to play with perspective, lines and textures.

Because in some parts of the island there are volcanic / seismic activities (mostly consisting in steam rising from holes in the ground, and uneven territory with cracks and hidden cavities prone to breaking in if walked on), it is advisable to respect the instructions.. In the heart of the Timanfaya national park (in the south of the island) tourists are not allowed to walk on their own, they are restricted to the guided tours and must not even leave the buses, both for security reasons and to prevent the unique area to be filled with litter.

The north of the island is sort of green, i. e. this is where they grow crops such as a special type of sweet potato and a very succulent type of onion. They also grow wine, mainly in the middle part of the island. They do this in a unique Lanzarote kind of way.. The cultivations consist of neatly lined up hollows in the ground, the earth is covered in black ash to retain moisture and there is a low stone (or rather lava pieces) wall in a semi-circle to each cavity; this is where they grow the vines, one to each hollow. This gives the vineyards a striking appearance: There is a garden full of cacti, arranged as exposition in a place towards the north of the island, wonderful! That is one of the reasons there are so many cacti in my gallery..

If you are interested in more pictures of the island, I invite you to visit my gallery: and here you find snapshots of the participants (not entirely serious sometimes ;-D):

Don't hesitate to ask questions. I hope this was of interest to you and I wish you all the best for the New Year and lots of wonderful photos.


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Sounds like a very nice and active forum Yvonne. :-)

I'm most interested in the 7-14mm. What is your impression of it? I started saving as soon as I heard about it, but maybe I should just go for the other wide angle lens? What do you think?

p.t. Inactive Win ¤ $ at 11:00 EST on 2005-Jan-02 [Reply]


.*lol* Wouldn't it be great if MFT members could meet in Sligo, Ireland? :-) (I've been looking at Eugene's picture from there.)

p.t. Inactive Win ¤ $ at 11:03 EST on 2005-Jan-02 [Reply]

7-14 and an MFT meeting...

Caroline, thanks for your comments. Yes, the forum is a great place to linger.

1. 7-14:

my impression of it was that it is a first-rate piece of glass, offering unique and surprising angles to creativity ;-). I personally liked it so much I decided then and there that I was going to buy it. Afterwards I am not so sure how often I would use it, but still... one has to get rid of one's money somehow (if not, there is a very slight danger of getting rich, lol). Seriously though, I have started to have second thoughts just because I am not sure whether the investment of USD 1800 (if Adorama is to be believed) will be justified in my case for the amount of use I am likely to put it to. So I guess I'll buy the 11-22 first, as this is also first-rate (that means, in my opinion it could not possibly be better, same level of quality of the 50-200). I will have another testing spree with the 7-14 during the next meeting in spring and depending on conclusions then may buy it 2006. I found that barrell distortion is at a low and excellent level, not visible unless there is a straight line that follows the edge of the frame, and in such a case very slight, given the wide angle at 7. What I also found is that while I was using it I hardly ever zoomed in, mostly using it at its widest position to get the maximum effect. I took a number of portraits with it, for fun of course, as they look really weird. The picture of the 7 m x 15 m (or so) swimming pool at the hotel seems to show an Olympic sized pool.. ;-).

2. MFT member meeting.

John Ellis, Doro and me have been talking about this, and it seems time is ripe to actually think about a meeting of the European members to start with. John mentioned that agreeing on a location might pose a problem and suggested Holland as being quite central considering Europe as an entity. I am in two minds about that as Holland can be wonderful as well as terribly dull (I am talking about the weather here, mind) - what is beyond doubt IMO is that Holland offers a lot of unique and enchanting photo opportunities, next to great hospitality and an easy-going and friendly population. And there is Amsterdam which is top on my list of fascinating European cities (of the ones I have seen so far) for several reasons.

OTOH there are lots of breathtaking and interesting places all over Europe. With cheap flights into most bigger centres in Europe available (e. g. Hapag-Lloyd, Air Berlin, Easyjet etc.) we might want to choose a location according to how easy it is to get there cheaply and in a reasonable amount of time for the members interested in participating.

Having said all that, I would not mind Ireland at all, as a matter of fact, only that it seems that prices there seem at a high level... Ireland has the advantage of its weather (am I being funny?), as it never seems to stay the same for a long time. And we all have a weather-sealed camera, so rain should not be an issue at all, should it ;-)?

I hope nobody here minds my ramblings - I am basically just thinking 'aloud'.

What are the members' thoughts about a meeting?


Yvonne Steinmann HoF ¤ $ at 12:35 EST on 2005-Jan-02 [Reply]


I like the idea of a European meeting very much; I also want to volunteer with helping with any arrangements, designing photo-trips, workshop-organisation, hotel-reservations, and whatever else, when such a meeting would be held in Holland!

I live in Breda which is in the south, reasonably photogenic but too small (pop.200.000 or so) I guess, to spend many days there as a tourist. however Antwerp is close, and so is Rotterdam. (modern, but also one of the biggest ports in the world and very photogenic.) Breda is about 100 Km from Amsterdam.

I will consider flying to a MFT meeting in Europe probably only if it can be reached by some low-cost airline. Places I would like to see are Scotland and Stockholm, and Berlin. London would be cool too. I am going to Rome next week!


Lourens Smak Win ¤ at 16:21 EST on 2005-Jan-02 [Reply]


Many thanks Yvonne for your very informative and helpful 'column'. It sounds like you had a wonderful time in a very rich environment.

I am very keen to meet up with people here! In fact I was thinking this very much to myself in the run up to Christmas and thinking back over what a very fruitful year it has been for me in all sorts of ways but from a photography point of view its just been fantastic - the learning curves from being on this site and 'meeting' so many good people and photographers so the next step of spending some time with you seems not only logical but very much desired as well. Lets talk!

Caroline wondered about Ireland. John Ellis also wondered the same in an email. I think you would enjoy it here, especially on the west coast where all sorts of vistas and possibilities abound. I am happy to help out with the organisation of this if this is what people want to do. However there are drawbacks. They're not insurmountable but its worth referencing them. As Yvonne says the cost of living has gone up here dramatically over the past few years because of the success in our economy. Not si many years ago our standard of living was 40% that of Europe. Now its 150%! Staggering. The gulf between the rich and poor is ever widening. So prices are high but manageable. Ireland of course is on the edge of Europe and there's no avoiding flights - but thats true of a lot of places. Also, I live in Dublin on the east coast. So if it was here in Ireland then there would be the additional trip to the west.....which is further time consuming but again manageable if people want to do it. I would be happy to drive and take three but that wouldn't solve the problem for the remainder. A lot of organisation would have to gointo it. We could of course opt for an east coast expedition. The county of Wicklow is beautiful and is known here as the Garden of Ireland. Against that option is the cost of accommodation on this side of the country which can be very expensive. I would offer to put people up except that I live in a small two bedroomed house :-) Finally, of course there is the problem of the weather. It can be foul here at times and is completely unpredictable. This may or may not be insurmountable. The month of May is usually a good bet, but as I say...

So if we identify cost, accessibility and likely weather scenarios, Ireland may not be top of peoples choices. I don't want to be negative but its good to be realistic too. Don't get me wrong either, I would love to have you all visit here and spend time together. When its good here its brilliant.....Have to go now and spend time with mates. Talk again.

Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 17:37 EST on 2005-Jan-02 [Reply]


I like the idea of Croatia. From what I've seen of it in magazines etc etc and read about its history, it seems a very interesting place from many points of view. Flights should not be a problem especially with time to plan ahead. Costs are pretty manageable once there. And most importantly the weather is certainly a lot better than here! or northern Europe :-)) Pre or post summer sounds good to me. Just another two cents.

Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 14:29 EST on 2005-Jan-03 [Reply]

Croatia II

I wasn't going to bring this up until later in the year but this discussion has peaked my interests. My family is planning on travelling to Croatia this August (my father is from the Island of Cres) so although I'll be swamped with gatherings amongst relatives and juggling the needs of a 7-month old baby and my 3-year old daughter, I thought it might be nice to meet some MFT members if possible. The weather and scenery there will be stunning (just look at some of Bojan's pics :-).

Not only will we be travelling to Croatia but possibly Paris as well. This is yet to be determined but we are planning a month long vacation consisting of Croatia and another European destination (that being my wife's choice) this August. So just please keep this in mind if anyone is interested.

In the meantime, I'll work on encouraging Alan to make the same trip (he's gonna kill me for this :-).


Zguy ¤ at 17:15 EST on 2005-Jan-03 [Reply]

Brilliant Mario!!

Brilliant Mario!! Alan will forgive you!! I'm certainly up for this. In terms of heat etc the second half of august would probably be more bearable for us northern europeans who are more at home in cold and wind and rain and guinness :-)) What do the others think??

Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 20:51 EST on 2005-Jan-03 [Reply]


i love the idea of a MFT member meeting. living in germany and well knowing forum it was unfortunately impossible to me to finance the lanzerote meeting. and my finanacial situation seems not getting better in foreseeable time. but i m hoping...lets see what future brings...

michael hoefner HoF Win ¤ $1 at 04:12 EST on 2005-Jan-04 [Reply]


Just an idea, how about something like this:

It's relatively cheap, fun, and how more Dutch can it get? (site in D and NL only, sorry) There are many more ships like these, in various sizes, and visiting the islands this way is very nice. The trip could be extended with other normal accommodation.

Lourens Smak Win ¤1 at 07:41 EST on 2005-Jan-04 [Reply]

Holland, Croatia or.. ?

Hello All

Well, I personally think both ideas are great!

Croatia: + probably cheaper than Holland, (I am guessing here) most likely more 'exotic' for a majority of us. The climate is likely to be more dependable ;-). Fabulously beautiful, judging from pictures, e. g. Bojan's. Mediterranean mood. - flight cost might be high. Communication with the locals.

Holland + lovely environment, communication with the locals. Easy-going mentality. Fairly cheap flights from most major cities. - costly accommodation, weather..

Although I have omitted the obvious plusses of both locations (fascinating cities, historic points of interest, friendly people, the sea etc.) I am looking at my short and incomplete list, and think I would prefer Croatia. One of the reasons is: I have not yet been there, but to Macedonia (*grin*, some of you might remember my photos..), which although I realise is a completely different country is in the same area of the world, and visiting was a delightful experience. I may love Croatia even more, as it has access to the sea..

Croatia has the added advantage of the climate, which is an undeniable asset, especially later in the season. As John pointed out we don't really want to plan a meeting during the main holiday season, so I second his thought of a meeting during September or even October.

Coming back to the meeting in Lanzarote, choosing end of November for it was a stroke of genius IMO. Which reminds me: how about introducing another location to confuse us all? What about Tenerifa? And I would love Ireland (know very little of it), but frankly I shirk the cost. Unless, you Eugene, know of a way of having a stay of lets say approx. 5 days and not kill us all financially...

@Lourens: your idea with the ship is original and attractive, but I am a landlubber, so I am not so sure if I would not get seasick.. I don't most of the time, but have been once or twice..

So: more thoughts or a vote? Is there a way of making more members aware of this discussion (the front page)? ...

I would love to meet the MFT members and am sure this would be a very interesting and rewarding experience.

All the best


Yvonne Steinmann HoF ¤ $1 at 13:59 EST on 2005-Jan-04 [Reply]

Croatia again - What About A Poll

I;m with you on this one Yvonne. Croatia it is for me for all the same reasons as you so I wont repeat. We could have a poll and that would get it up on the front page fairly quick. I would love to have you all in Ireland as that would suit me very well personally but I'm wary of taking responsibility for here in case the weather is awful for the duration. I think we should go somewhere where the weather may have a better chance of being good. In relation to the boat idea, many thanks Laurens for checking this out as a possibility. I'm not that comfortable with boats personally. Also, I am mindful that a lot of us havn't met and while I'm confident it will go well between us, one never knows either and some of us may feel the need for some space. Being on a boat might make that difficult. But thats just my own personal feeling. Basically, somewhere really interesting, nice, lots of photo ops, cheapish, chances of good weather to me = southern europe and I have wanted to go to Croatia for quite some time. Bojan's photos reinforce this for me. I'm open to September but would prefer not to go in October - wherever we end up. Gotta go now. How about the poll idea? Will get back later.

Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 14:47 EST on 2005-Jan-04 [Reply]


Eugene Donohoe HoF Win ¤1 $ at 15:25 EST on 2005-Jan-05 [Reply]