Lenses Needed for Rhine River Cruise?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by john chapman, Oct 6, 2003.

  1. john chapman

    john chapman Guest

    In a few weeks I will be taking a river cruise on the Rhine River
    between Basel, Switzerland and Antwerp, Belgium with a side trip on
    the Mosel River. I have visions of sitting on deck leisurely taking
    photos of castles and the like as we drift by. My question is given
    the width of the rivers, what lenses do I have to take to do this. My
    basic kit includes in long lenses a Nikon 80-200/2.8 AFS with Kenko
    Pro 1.4x and 2x extenders. But I can also take my Sigma 50-500 AFS,
    which can also produce good results with the 1.4X even at 700mm.
    However, given its weight and all the other photo equipment, I would
    prefer not to unless really necessary.

    For those who address the photo aspects, can you give me some idea how
    wide the rivers are at various points?

    Thanks in advance for any advice that can be provided.
    john chapman, Oct 6, 2003
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  2. The Rhine is about 400 to 600 yards wide, somewhat narrower in the
    Southern part of your journey until around Bonn. This is the more
    interesting part (castles, vineyards etc.). In this section, the river
    mostly flows in a rather deep valley so your objects are rarely more
    than a mile away, often much less. Beyond Bonn, the valley widens and
    turns into an open plain by the time you reach Cologne. The country is
    flatter and the landscape is more industrialised.

    The Mosel is a mere 200 to 300 yards wide and also flows in a deep and
    narrow valley, so nothing much beyond a mile or two there, either.
    On deck? You mean outside? In a few weeks from now....?!?

    You might want to have a look at this:


    Whatever lenses you chose, bring warm cloathing and do enjoy your visit.

    Ralf R. Radermacher, Oct 6, 2003
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  3. I could not begin to tell you how wide the river is; but I can tell you that
    I got some decent pictures of the castles in the Rhine Gorge with a 35 to 80 mm
    lens that I travel with; had I had my 80 to 200 zoom and 2x convertor (the
    former was accidentally left behind) I could have gotten any photo I wanted.

    Mine was a day cruise from Koblenz to Bingen. I could have hoped for a closer
    shot of the Lorlei. You can see a few of the photos I took that dat at:



    Juliana L Holm, Oct 6, 2003
  4. The 80-200 should give you plenty of reach for overall castle shots
    and maybe "large" details for the castles. (In addition to the width,
    most of the castles are high up on the hillsides.) The extenders
    should give you plenty of reach for details. I would not add the
    50-500. However, given the time of year, the reach may be the least of
    your worries as the weather has been quite dreary, so you'd need fast
    film (400+ I would guess) to be out out 320/4.0 (i.e., 200+1.4 ext). A
    bigger problem than light may be haze/mist/fog. You can always use
    faster film if it's too dark, but nothing is going to get you around
    the amount of moisture in the air when using long lenses along the

    Hope this helps and enjoy your trip.
    Paul Sanschagrin
    [email protected] COMBINE
    mailer. THESE
    uni-marburg. LINES

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    Dr. Paul Sanschagrin, Oct 6, 2003
  5. john chapman

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes
    Another concern is the movement that will be created by the vibration of the
    ship's engines, and the effect of waves and other tidal conditions.

    Even if a tripod is used, there is to be a presumption that the shots will
    be less sharp than if they were taken from a position on land. This will be
    especially noticeable due to the small negative size and the relatively high
    magnification of the zoom lens (which tends to accentuate camera shake).

    So, I second you in your recommendation for the use of fast film, if only to
    allow for maximum shutter speed. I would also recommend the use of a tripod
    if any of the shots can be taken from land, to minimize camera shake.
    Finally, if large expanses of sky will be in the photos, use of a lens hood
    and a skylight filter are recommended.

    Finally, the images may look better if not enlarged too much. If the OP is
    planning on, say, 5x7 sized prints, the camera shake issue probably will not
    be too noticeable. Still, he should do everything possible to minimize the
    effect of camera shake, to maximize image quality.

    As for using a tripod on board ship, that may or may not be a good idea. If
    the tripod transmits vibration to the camera, he might find that handholding
    might actually dempen the effect of the ship's vibration in this particular
    type of situation. If he can use lower focal lengths--more toward the
    normal-to-wide-angle end of the spectrum, that might also minimize the
    camera shake effects. It's those far-away telephoto shots that will be the
    most problematic.
    Jeremy, Oct 6, 2003
  6. john chapman

    Go Fig Guest

    I don't know your taste, but I don't travel w/out a 24mm or 28mm. I
    always have long lenses with me... but I rarely use them

    Mon, Oct 6, 2003
    Go Fig, Oct 6, 2003
  7. Those would be great to catch the sweeping scenery, but would probably
    render the castles as mere specks on the pictures.
    Juliana L Holm, Oct 6, 2003
  8. Oh, one other thing. Keep in mind you will be on a moving boat. There will
    be a limit to what amount of magnification you can use and still keep the
    camera steady enough to take a good picture.


    Juliana L Holm, Oct 6, 2003
  9. john chapman

    john chapman Guest

    Since I posted the initial message my main concern has now turned to
    the water level and whether river cruise ships will be able to
    navigate the river. Know anything about this aspect?
    john chapman, Oct 6, 2003
  10. john chapman

    Lourens Smak Guest

    The water level is very low, but this mainly concerns freight-boats who
    can now (the entire summer actually) only take 1/3 of their normal cargo.

    It has started to rain a bit overhere (NL, light showers now and then)
    but I don't know the situation in south-germany or switzerland. There
    will need to be some serious rain in the alps to make a significant
    change in the water-level.

    I wouldn't worry too much about it though.

    Lourens Smak, Oct 6, 2003
  11. No risk whatsoever. Recent problems with extremely low water levels have
    only affected freight ships. It's been raining a lot, during the last
    days, more rain has been forecast, and it is expected that the remaining
    restrictions to shipping will be lifted next week.

    The last thing you'll be complaining about in a few weeks time will be a
    lack of water.... ;-)

    Ralf R. Radermacher, Oct 6, 2003
  12. Having said that, taking pictures wherever possible from the bow
    rather than the stern should minimise vibration.

    Some of the Rhine ships I've worked on have been pretty much devoid of
    noise/vibration at the "sharp end" unless the bow thrusters were used
    to manouvre in locks or at landing-stages.
    Keith Anderson, Oct 6, 2003
  13. john chapman

    john chapman Guest

    My standard travel kit has 3 bodies and lenses from 17 thru my 80-200.
    I take the 50-500 as needed.
    john chapman, Oct 7, 2003
  14. It's not the width of the river that causes problems. Many of the
    castles are located on heights overlooking the river. They can be a
    significant distance from the river edge. FFM
    Frank F. Matthews, Oct 7, 2003
  15. john chapman

    john chapman Guest

    Having just returned from the trip, I can state that the answer is
    that 400mm should provide a close crop on any castle that I
    encountered. The 50-500 would have been a better choice (I left it
    home because of the weight) since it would have allowed wide
    environmental portraits of the castles without using a second lens,
    but my 80-200 with 1.4x and 2x extenders was completely adequate.
    john chapman, Nov 3, 2003
  16. john chapman

    nhampton Guest

    One thing that has not been mentioned. After the middle of November or
    so it is very overcast and very often foggy along the Rhein.
    Photography is not often very good or possible. When we lived there we
    took visitors to the Rhein gorge but in the winter often they saw
    nothing on the heights because of fog.
    nhampton, Nov 3, 2003
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