Shooting winter in Budapest with… a Digicam
In January 2023, the 79th issue of the Fuji X Passion magazine was published. On the cover, it was stated that there was an article, “The vast beauty of Budapest”, by Cory Plowman.
I liked the article and the photos that were taken in the warmer months (although published in January). And then I remembered that I had pictures of Budapest under the snow.
We visited Budapest in the first week of January 2016, right after the New Year’s Eve celebrations. The desire to go arose suddenly; we had a few days to spare. We wanted to see the city without the pre-holiday fuss.
In those days, only one camera was at my disposal for this trip: the Olympus SP-565UZ.
The Olympus SP-565 UZ is a so-called bridge camera (or digicam, if you like).
This means the camera offers much more functionality than the average point-and-shoot, but it doesn’t provide all the features of a DSLR. This camera used a 10-megapixel sensor and 20x, 26-520mm zoom lens, covering everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-up action shots.
Olympus (and other vendors at that time) got the idea after ‘ultra-zoom” that the very broad focal range provided by one lens is good for the compact camera for most users. And no need to change the lenses, as on a digital SLR.
The SP-565 UZ is a compact camera with manual controls if you want them, and full automation if you just want to point and shoot.
I’ve used this camera on many trips since 2008.
Two main problems are related to the use of this camera (at least for me):
1. A picture with the maximum resolution in the JPEG format takes at least 2 seconds to be recorded in the memory.
2. In low light, it is difficult to focus; and photos lose “volume” and color accuracy.
When shooting in optimal conditions, the camera produced perfectly acceptable photographs with natural colors and lots of detail. A lot of photos taken with this camera can be seen on my website. So, I had no doubt that the camera in Budapest would not let me down.
The weather forecast promised us some cold but clear days in Budapest. But, as they say – “‘weather forecasters always give accurate forecasts, but nature does not always fulfill them accurately”. Snow began to fall in large flakes as soon as our taxi left the airport. A few hours later, the city was covered with snow.
Our acquaintance with Budapest began from the left bank of the Danube – through the Pest district located on it.
Someone is trying to take a picture of a lonely woman with a bright red umbrella in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica. This Basilica is the largest temple in Budapest and deserves attention for its unparalleled architecture and dome, which offers a wonderful view of Buda.
A lone cyclist looks weird in the snow, just like people with bright summer umbrellas.
A frozen waiter offers to visit a café with a smile.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @4.60 . f/2.8 . 1/8″ . ISO 160
Hungarian desserts are incomparable!
The palace on the Buda side looks gloomy against the lead-colored water in the Danube.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @7.68 . f/3.3 . 1/250″ . ISO 80
Snow does not interfere with monuments and tourists.
Ferenc II Rákóczi – the leader of his people’s war of liberation, the national hero of Hungary.
Monument to the Soldiers of the Soviet Army
Monument to Imre Nagy – on the openwork bridge stood an intelligent-looking man, dressed for the winter weather. Imre Nagy is an important historical figure, not only for Hungary but also for Russia. In 2018, the monument was removed for restoration and moved to another place in the city.
Not far from this monument, lightly dressed President Reagan walks through the snow to the U.S. Embassy. The monument to Reagan was unveiled in 2011 on his 100th birthday in Freedom Square. President Reagan contributed to the end of the Cold War and Hungary’s independence.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @6.02 . f/3.1 . 1/200″ . ISO 250
There are a lot of monuments, old and modern, in Budapest. They are being restored, moved, and even changed their name. You can dedicate a few days to the monuments in Budapest.
Monument to the Victims of the German Occupation
The official name of this monument is “Guardian of Order”. A guardian of the law of past centuries, he seems to be walking around and keeping a close eye on what is happening.
Statue of Liberty, erected on Gellert Mountain. The height of the female sculpture with a palm branch in her hands is 14 meters. The statue symbolizes the victory over fascism.
Shoes on the Danube embankment. Shoes of different sizes and different styles – women’s, men’s and even children’s – are placed on the embankment, not far from the parliament building. They remind us of how Jewish families were shot here during World War II. Perhaps this is one of the most symbolic and touching monuments in the world.
Even the cloudy weather could not hide the magnificent beauty of the architecture and the scope of Pest’s avenues.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @4.60 . f/5.6 . 1/160″ . ISO 64
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @4.60 . f/2.8 . 1/200″ . ISO 64
The celebration of the New Year has left its signs.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @10.66 . f/3.6 . 1/320″ . ISO 125
The snowfall stopped, and more people appeared on the streets.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @20.60 . f/4.2 . 1/125″ . ISO 125
The building of the central market, covered with a multi-colored roof, is a real architectural masterpiece of the late 19th century. The façade with turrets and openwork windows hides a modernist inner hall.
Another outstanding architectural object of Budapest is the largest in Europe Great Synagogue. It is designed in rare Eastern Byzantine style. The building is more than 150 years old. The organ of the Great Synagogue was played by Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns.
A separate journey through gastronomic Budapest can be made, but it is impossible to do it even in a few days!
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @4.60 . f/5.6 . 1/200″ . ISO 64
Since Budapest stands on the banks of the Danube, where there were previously three cities – Buda, Óbuda and Pest, it is famous not only for its architecture, but also for its bridges, views of the city and the Danube. One of the most recognizable bridges is the Freedom Bridge. Some residents and tourists say that it is the most beautiful in the city.
The tram is a public transport that has become a landmark in Budapest (as well as in Lisbon). A great alternative for sightseeing tours! On a clear, cold day, when the weather decided to match the forecast, it was time to visit Buda.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @27.37 . f/4.3 . 1/250″ . ISO 64
In front of the bridge that connects Pest and Buda stands a striking Art Nouveau building, the Gresham Palace.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @11.46 . f/3.6 . 1/640″ . ISO 64
Another symbol of the city is the Chain bridge that connected Buda and Pest at the end of the 18th century (first bridge built to cross the Danube in the whole of Hungary). It is called chain because of the large number of thick chains that support the bridge deck, which stretches for 375 meters.
The district of Buda is located on the high right bank of the Danube, historically it was a separate city, but in 1873 it became part of the united capital of Hungary. The Chain bridge leads to Castle Hill, which dominates the city and is crowned with the Buda Castle. Buda Castle, the Royal Palace, the Fisherman’s Bastion, many churches and monuments are just a small list of attractions on Castle Hill and Buda.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @10.25 . f/5.6 . 1/250″ . ISO 64
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @14.88 . f/5.6 . 1/500″ . ISO 64
The Fisherman’s Bastion is an elegant white-stone building in the form of a fairy-tale castle that rises on the Buda Hill. The bastion takes its name from the square on the site of which it was built: fish caught in the Danube were once sold here.
Wonderful views of Pest can be enjoyed from the Fisherman’s Bastion.
RIGHT: Olympus SP-565UZ . @13.76 . f/5.6 . 1/400″ . ISO 64
The Parliament is the most recognizable and certainly the most elegant building in Budapest. A true symbol of the city and Hungary, this building is the largest European seat of government.
It got warmer, and a street musician appeared. To the sound of the wonderful Czardas, we left Buda and Budapest.
Budapest attracts by the atmosphere of an ancient imperial city, majestic architecture, and a lot of monuments. To visit interesting places, temples, and museums, to see the first metro in Europe, a few days will not be enough. And then there’s the great cooking, Hungarian wine and the city’s nightlife. This is a city that you want to come back to.
And a few words about the camera. The photos speak for themselves. They can’t be called remarkable or outstanding. But even this small part (more than 300 photographs were taken in Budapest) fulfills the most important function – it preserves the memory of this journey.
Wandering around an unfamiliar city with a lightweight, stealthy camera and taking snapshots without worrying too much about exposure, ISO etc., is a pleasure. A lot of people try to shoot on film again; many have returned to the music on vinyl or CD (despite the latest streaming services). And this is also for pleasure.
Photographers also love old manual focus lenses for their “character”. Outdated things don’t always mean “worst”.
These digicams paved the way for today’s technology. For example, already at that time, Olympus offered a camera with an electronic viewfinder, face detection system which can detect 16 faces simultaneously, dual shake-proof sensor shift, and high ISO stabilization systems.
With state-of-the-art cameras at home, will I continue to use this Olympus? The answer is no. But if suddenly I find myself in a situation again, when only this camera is at hand, I will use it. And I’ll get my pleasure again.
“My name is Michael Mesh, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics.
Now retired. Worked for the last 25 years in different high-tech companies in the field of optical communications. Now family, travel, photography, movies, books and music fill my time.”