Thank you, Manuel, for all your availability for this interview. Could you please introduce yourself?
I live in the south of Bavaria, Germany, between Augsburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Professionally, I work in a public small authority.
My favorite hobby is walking through the countryside with my camera to take photos. I love to travel. I also like to listen to music, especially good old rock music. I used to play bass guitar for a while, but only for myself.
Could you tell us how your interest in photography started?
I first got into photography in 2003. I traveled to Egypt for diving. In addition, I bought a small Canon camera with an underwater housing. At that time, however, I couldn’t take really good photos. After that, I kept doing landscape and macro and a little bit of studio photography.
What reasons led you to focus on Landscape photography?
Over the years, I ended up doing landscape photography. I love to be outside, to enjoy the beauty of nature and the silence. When I go out and find a great motive in beautiful light, the stress of the week is forgotten. It’s the perfect balance for my office work. At home, I prefer to photograph fields, lakes and lonely trees.
Could you name here some of the places you’ve travelled to, and one that especially impressed you and you’d like to return to?
A few years ago, I went on a little road trip with a friend to Liguria and Tuscany in Italy. There are great landscapes and coastal strips as well as magnificent old buildings. We went somewhere different every day, and I really liked that.
I have been to the Canary Islands several times over the past few years. I especially liked the islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote. Tenerife is one of the most varied places I know. Lanzarote has a cool crater landscape and is a nice island to relax in.
For someone who travels a lot, what are the advantages of the M43 system?
The M43 system is ideal for travelers, as it gives you a great package of performance and compactness. I can stow all my camera equipment in a small camera backpack for a flight and take it on board as hand luggage. This means that you never reach the weight limit for hand luggage. I can be out all day with a camera body with a wide-angle or standard lens in my hand without it getting too heavy.
Could you share some tips for using the available light, regardless of the time of day?
For landscape photography, I almost always use a polarizing filter on my lenses. This gives me beautiful, rich colors, and good contrast. Strong reflections are reduced. Clouds in the sky are also shown with better detail using it. If necessary, an additional gray graduated filter can darken the sky further. Most of the time, I also use a tripod, which allows me to compose a picture better and use the high-resolution mode of my camera.
Do you still remember your first camera? How important was it in your passion for photography?
It was a Canon Powershot A70 that I bought for my Egypt diving vacation. This camera didn’t have a particularly good image quality by today’s standards, but it enabled me to know a little about camera technology and the basics of photography. After a while, I bought an Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom, a great compact camera with an excellent zoom lens. From then on, it wasn’t the camera anymore if my pictures weren’t good 😄
We understand that over the years, you went from Olympus to Lumix and Fuji, and finally back to Olympus. Would you like to tell us that story?
As a technology enthusiast, I was, of course always very interested when new camera models came onto the market. I have always liked the Olympus cameras best and have owned a number of them over the years. 2012 was a particularly exciting year for Olympus fans when the Olympus OM-D E-M5 came on the market and offered great image quality in a compact format.
I used the camera until 2016. Then, more out of technical curiosity, I decided to try out Lumix cameras and first bought a G81 (G80/G85 in other countries) and later a Lumix GH5. I particularly enjoyed taking photos with the GH5 because it had an excellent professional camera body and a great viewfinder. Compared to the E-M5 I had before, it was rather large and could have been a full-frame camera in terms of size.
In 2018, I wanted to try a completely different camera system, as I had always photographed with Micro Four Thirds cameras before. Since the Fuji X system has always interested me, I bought a Fuji X-T3 and a couple of lenses like the XF10-24mm F4.0 for landscape photography.
It was a good camera, but technically it never worked as perfectly as my Olympus and Lumix cameras did before. A small example of this was that, for example, the level gauge did not work if you pointed the camera up to photograph trees in a forest. I often had to use a tripod for photos with a short shooting distance to get sharp photos. With my Olympus or Lumix camera, this was never a problem.
There were many little things that made me switch back to a Micro Four Thirds camera in 2020. My choice fell on the new OM-D E-M5 Mark III because it has a great compact camera body and many remarkable features, such as the high-resolution recording with 80 megapixels from the tripod. I also bought the brand new little M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4.0 PRO lens, which is really great. For me, the perfect lightweight combination for landscape and travel photography.
What are your first impressions of the Olympus E-M5 Mark III and the main advantages compared to your previous camera?
More compact camera body and smaller lenses with a smaller front diameter, so I can also use the great little NiSi M75 filter system. Better handheld image stabilization. Possibility of using the 80-megapixel high-resolution mode, which really enables very good image quality, great details, dynamic range and noise performance. And I also really like the look of the E-M5 Mark III. The shape looks a little more classic than the high-end models.
What lenses do you currently use? Do you have any favourites?
For landscape photography, I use three lenses, which offer great image quality:
• Panasonic Leica 8-18mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH
• Olympus M.Zuiko 12-45mm F4.0 PRO
• Olmypus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO
My favorite lens is the 12-45mm F4.0 M.Zuiko PRO lens because of its focal range and compact size. But I also like to use the Leica 8-18mm F2.8-4.0 quite often. For more distant objects and detailed shots, I use the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens.
As for the post-processing of your files, which software do you use?
I use Adobe Photoshop/Bridge for Raw conversion and Luminar AI for post-processing. Sometimes the good old Nik filters, that can be found on the web for free.
To conclude, could you briefly describe your post-processing workflow?
First, I open my Raw photos in Adobe Bridge and adjust the white balance if necessary.
I try to adjust the exposure and lights/shadows so that as much color information as possible is contained in the converted image for later processing. I sharpen the image a little bit to improve the details. Then I convert the Raw file into a 16-bit file (Tiff or PSD). After that, I usually use Luminar AI. There are a few cool controls for structure, landscape and contrast. But here, less is often more, so as not to get an unnatural look.
“I live in the south of Bavaria, Germany, between Augsburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Professionally, I work in a public small authority.”