We took our Olympus E-510 DSLR to Bologna…


As we announced, we packed the Olympus along on its first mission, reporting on the clever 500 and Panda Mild Hybrid.

Taking shots in the beautiful town centre of Bologna with its truly stunning historic buildings and its people was a boon for this smooth operating Olympus.

We just show you here the results of the photo sessions. The 10 megapixel sensor of the Olympus did an excellent job, and with the noise reduction engaged, the photo quality was outstanding also at higher ISO values.

To be on the safe side, we took also the compact Canon along, which we still used by the way for the driving and presentation shots at the Fiat press conference. We were also not sure the battery of the older Olympus would hold, as we bought the camera “as is” and we didn’t know whether this original battery would have enough stamina and staying power. Now we know, after a good week without recharging, it does!

The Olympus proved surprisingly well up to the job. All the photos shown here are without any colour or contrast correction, shot at 0 exposure compensation. We show you here the portrait photo of two students of the Bologna Law faculty, who were celebrating their graduation, hence the laurels in their heads… The picture was taken at 54 mm focal length (35 mm equivalent) stop F5,shutter 1/60 and ISO-400 sensitivity.   


We also climbed the world famous Bologna Asinelli tower, which is not less than 97,2 meters high, and you need to climb not less than 498 steps… Here the Olympus 14-42 mm lens coped very well with high light contrasts in the staircase, with very little lens flare, and the in-built image stabilization did its job as here the shutter speed was as slow as 1/3 of a sec, with ISO-400 and 28 mm focal length (35 mm equiv.)


Arrived at the top of the tower, we took a shot of the rooftops through the grilles, with the evening setting in rapidly. Lens opening F 5,3, again a slow shutter speed of 1/15 sec, ISO-400, 70 mm focal length, 35 mm equiv.


We stayed at the Art Hotel Orologio, situated in a traffic-free area overlooking Piazza Maggiore square and Bologna’s historic center. The photo was taken early the next morning, F 4,3, 1/40 sec, ISO-400 and focal length 42 mm, 35 mm equivalent. Tonal values and contrast were well contained and balanced.


Last but not least we took a photo of the tower of the Palazzo d’Accursio (or Palazzo Comunale) from our hotel room window, which we then in post processing converted to b&w. There is still some detail in the shadows, as you see. High contrast is well mastered. This palace once formulated to house major administrative offices of the city of Bologna. The building is located on the Piazza Maggiore, and is the city’s Town Hall.

Besides its functions as a town hall, it also houses the Civic Art Collection, with paintings from the Middle Ages to the 19th century; there you find also the Museo Morandi, with the works by Giorgio Morandi; and last but not least there is the Biblioteca Salaborsa, the town libraries.

The photo was taken with ISO set at 100, F8, 1/160 sec, focal length 62 mm, again 35 mm equivalent.


Finally a street shot of some illuminated texts spanning over the streets, F 4,9, ISO-200 and taken at 1/50 sec, focal length 54 mm (35 mm equiv.) The building to the left was under restoration and therefore clad with a protective canvas.

The Olympus showed now already what it can do with the 14-42 mm lens, next time we take the telelens through its paces!

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Is it worth to buy and use an older digital camera?

We bought for barely more than 100 Euros a pristine Olympus E-510….

We are using regularly our faithful Canon G 9 X, which has now shot thousands and thousands of pictures and is still soldiering on fine.

But then, what if it breaks down on an important photo shoot? Is a cheaper but sturdy backup not useful? Bringing along the big Nikons or Canons is not always the practical answer either, so we were looking for something just a little bit more compact. We love the “sturdy” touch and feel of an old school SLR however, so when we stumbled in an Antwerp photo shop on an older  Olympus E-510 with two lenses, we took a closer look.

The camera body and lenses were looking immaculate and pristine, totally “as new”, with all the controls working smoothly. Also the lenses moved smoothly in their barrels, no traces of use on the focus rings, no grease or dirt, just nothing which betrays any unloving previous use. Also the base of the camera body had never seen any rough surfaces, as it was totally scratch-free.

The asking price for the camera body with both lenses and their lens hoods was some 129 Euros, and this convinced us to risk this purchase. We also have a fairly good range for the two lenses, 14-42 mm and 40-150 mm respectively. One has to multiply the focal length by two to get the 35 mm equivalent. This means we have a focal range of 28 to 300 mm, which is not bad for this price.        

In good Olympus tradition, the camera body is compact , and for its day and age, it had some impressive specifications. It features sensor cleaning, image stabilization in the camera body (using Gyro sensors to register camera shake, with supersonic wave drive motor then moving the image sensor to compensate) , and the rear electronic screen can also act as a viewfinder, a special feature then, now of course totally common on our cameras.

The focus and exposure modes are impressive, the 10 megapixel 4/3 type Live MOS sensor is quite OK and after taking some convincing test shots we decide to take it along on our next photo assignment to Bologna, where we will drive the Mild Hybrid Panda and 500.

Just stay tuned to have a look at the photos of our “new” bargain Olympus soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Alfa Romeo exhibits dramatic photos of a “Long Drive” with the Stelvio at the Brussels Sablon…

It is the dream of many: take an iconic thoroughbred for an extended Gran Turismo tour or “Long Drive” through the most beautiful roads and cities of Europe and take some stunning photos as a timeless memory of the car amidst the scenic places and landscapes on the tour…

This is just what celebrated photographer Frederik Herregods did, on a “Long Drive” of 7.000 kilometres behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.2 JTDm 180 pk Super, magnificently sprayed in « Verde Visconti », with matching beige leather interior with wooden inlays on the dashboard and door panels.

Frederik Herregods has to travel a lot, and along with the mission of attending the presentation of the B-tech versions of the Stelvio in Turin, Frederik needed a media car to photograph a rally with supercars organised by the Royal Automobile Club de Belgique (RACB). This would take him through different legendary cities like Bormio, Andorra, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Montpellier, Arles en Saint-Tropez, en finally Brussels and the Zoute Grand Prix, held from 4 to 7 October, where Alfa Romeo is present every year.

The idea came, together with the dynamic PR people of Alfa Romeo Belgium, to wrap this in a project “The Long Drive”, where the car could be extensively tested on its reliability and economy, and in the meantime illustrate this with lasting photos.

The result can be seen in an exhibition held until March 17 in the 9Hotel  Sablon, a premium boutique hotel which has been opened only three years ago in the heart of Brussels.

We had a long talk with the hotel management at the opening of this exhibition, and were very impressed by the outstanding quality of the personal service and the unique artistic design of the hotel and its rooms.

The management organises regularly photo exhibitions, so it was only logical that the exhibition was held here. The visitor can even book a special personalized room Alfa Romeo « The Long Drive »… need we say more? We invite you here to have a look at the photos taken by your servant at the opening of the exhibition…

Practical info: Address: 9Hotel Sablon, Rue de la Paille, 2 , 1000 Brussels. Exhibition runs until March 17.

Hans Knol ten Bensel



The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…

Whilst we are driving now the stunning and totally impressive Abarth 124 GT, the news reaches us that the 2019 racing season began with success for Abarth in the FIA R-GT Cup in the Monte Carlo Rally, where the Abarth 124 rally driven by Italians Enrico Brazzoli and Manuel Fenoli reached top position.

This makes the Abarth 124 rally again the GT to beat in its category, having won in 2018 with Frenchmen Raphael Astier and Frédéric Vauclare who can be considered the world championship of this category… Just read on and look at the photos!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The Abarth 124 shines already in 2019 with a FIA R-GT Cup Win in the Monte Carlo Rally…”

Quantum leap in Turin: the new generation Fiat 500X gets a new heart…

The redesigned and rejuvenated 500X, Italian’s Crossover bestseller, starts also a new epoch in state-of-the-art petrol engine engineering, with a new generation of so-called “FireFly” engines. This is innovative engine design at its best, and we will very probably see this new generation of engines soon in other models of the FCA group.
The engine was a true revelation for us, but this is not all. The 500X has gained in style and character, has now even more original “Cinquecento” content. It now carries an impressive standard equipment in driving aids and infotainment, and has more style than ever.
Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Quantum leap in Turin: the new generation Fiat 500X gets a new heart…”

We drove the BMW X3 xDrive20i: again a class of its own…

With the X series model range, BMW is certainly making its mark in the SUV class. The X3 has gained already not less than 1,5 million followers all over the globe and understandably expectations are very high indeed when a successor enters the field.

The third generation of the iconic X3 range made its entry a few months ago in 2017, and we tested – in the trend of the times – the petrol engined 2 litre version, and were truly impressed by the utter refinement, smoothness and power of the drivetrain.

But that is not all, the subtly restyled body and the further perfected suspension add the necessary ingredients to make this X3 again a winner. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We added a Nikon 5600 to our camera stable…


Looking for improved DSLR connectivity with a smartphone, and still having that trusted Nikon image quality, we opted lately for the Nikon 5600. We did not have yet a DSLR with a moveable screen to enable selfie videos for vlogging, so this was also a good reason to have a go here. It came with a Nikon 18-140 mm lens, which makes it also very versatile. With the 1,5 focal length multiplier, this actually boils down to 27-210 mm.

Here follows our story of unpacking and the first weeks of use…

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Compact body

What we liked first was the compactness of the body, and the nice “feel” of the grip.  Nikon has nevertheless found room for a 3.2″ touchscreen. This screen comes in quite handy when shooting with your right eye, as the right-hand side of the rear LCD can be swiped to position the initial AF point. It’s got a good autofocus system (39 points) which performs wonderfully in terms of simply being given a target and then left to the job of keeping that subject in focus.


Excellent images

Of course, Nikon excellence also comes with the 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, giving also lively and quite good images, also in JPEG format.

It has also 1080/60p video capability, and what’s more, a time-lapse movie feature.

Of course, one of the good features of a DSLR is its battery stamina: it will “take” 970 images on a full battery charge.


As said, the camera featurs SnapBridge, which is primarily a Bluetooth-based system which uses a low-energy connection to stay connected to your smart device and to transfer images. Although the camera is Wi-Fi capable, that capability is used solely for remote live view operation and video transfer. It works well, as long as you stay in the 2 MP format which is suitable for instance for Facebook use.

The first shots are taken, and results can be seen for instance on the photos of the VW T-Roc. We are quite pleased with the punchy images!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We drove the Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI DSG: the beauty of space…


The Tiguan is an absolute bestseller in its home country, and VW decided to widen its appeal by offering a longer version, which allows it to be a 7 seater, or rather 5+2 as VW calls it, as the extra two seats are meant for smaller kids. The Tiguan has gained in stance and elegance with this elongated body, and it was also for us an opportunity to drive the latest generation Tiguan, and again be amazed by its chassis, suspension and the state of the art petrol engined drivetrain…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We purchased a Sony A5100: our compact camera collection grows…


For travel photography, the small cameras are getting ever more attractive. We fell in love with them already quite a while ago, with the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-H3 and the DSC-W170 with its Zeiss lens. We used them very often on our first website http://www.autoprova.net, where you can still admire them and the photos they shot. Of course there we show also the Hasselblad, and our other workhorses, the Canon and Nikon cameras. Just look at this site, on http://autoprova.net/how_we_photograph_cars.

But quite a lot has happened since then. Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We purchased a Sony A5100: our compact camera collection grows…”