I want to start this post with a bit of a caveat. I am not a camera expert or a professional photographer these are just a few of my Olympus Pen camera settings that I use when I shoot outfit pictures, blog photos and flatlays and I started to get asked so often what they were and for tips, that I thought it would be easiest to do a post. These settings are just a starting point only as every situation will always need some manual adjustment based upon what you are shooting, the light etc but I'm hoping ths post will give you some ideas of where to start and also explain some of the camera functions in less techy speak so its a bit easier to understand.
This post is based upon the OLYMPUS PEN EPL7 as thats the one I have. I'm not sure if the location of some of the settings is different on the EPL8 but the settings themselves will all do the same thing on the EPL8.
Now everyone has a mode they like to shoot in and for me I like to shoot in APERTURE PRIORITY (A on the dial). Ideally you want to get out of shooting in AUTO just because you'll have more control over the way your pictures look. Here's a quick explanation of what each mode is.
iAUTO - Basically point and shoot. This means all the settings will be selected for you.
P - This is halfway between Auto and Manual. The camera will select the optimum shutter speed and aperture but by clicking the top wheel you can adjust the exposure.
A - Aperture priority mode means you adjust the aperture and the camera will auto adjust the shutter speed to suit. Great for adjusting background blur You can also adjust all other settings.
S - Shutter priority mode means you adjust the shutter speed and the camera will auto adjust the aperture to suit. Great for moving subjects. You can also adjust all other settings.
M- Manual mode means you can adjust shutter speed AND aperture giving you full control over your images.
I shoot in APERTURE mode simply because I like to adjust my blur without having to worry about shutter speed. It gives me the amount of control I want and I've always understood aperture better than shutter speeds, so I don't often use manual on the Olympus Pen.
I think there are so many photography terms thrown around and for many they can be pretty confusing so I thought I would give a couple of simple explanations of some of these terms. If you know all of this then do skip down to my settings!
APERTURE AND F-STOP
This can be the most confusing one for many. The aperture is essentially the opening in the lens through which light passes. Its controlled by the F-STOP which when adjusted varies the size of the hole through which the light comes. I think the confusing bit can be that the lower the F-STOP number the bigger the hole! Imagine it like an iris. If you lower the Fstop number the iris opens. The below diagram is really brilliant at helping to understand both Aperture and Depth of Field.
The kit lens that comes with the Pen only goes down to F/3.5 but the gorgeous 45mm lens will give you a lower F-Stop of f/1.8. By adjusting the Aperture you also control the depth of field. This basically means how much blur you get on a photo. The bigger (wider) the aperture the narrower the depth of field ie more blur! Thats why the 45mm lens gives such a lovely blur to photos because it has a lower f-stop. I'll be covering lens in another post though.
Large aperture = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field = more blur
Small aperture = Larger f-number = Deeper (larger) depth of field = less blur
This is basically the amount of time the shutter is open. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of seconds. The bigger the underneath number the faster the speed eg 1/1000 is much faster than 1/60.
The ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera has to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. If its a bright sunny day you will only need a low ISO number whereas if its a lower light situation you will need a higher ISO number. Bear in mind that the higher the ISO the more "noise" you will get in images eg grainyness. I tend to keep my camera on AUTO ISO but I'll talk about what I set it to manually below.
Exposure compensation on a camera is used to alter the exposure from the value that has been auto selected by the camera, making photographs brighter or darker. In A Mode you can adjust this yourself to make your snaps brighter if need be. But beware in A mode if you make your Exposure too high the shutter speed will automatically slow down and you may get blur.
Within the SUPER CONTROL MENU you'll be able to adjust so many settings quickly.
WHITE BALANCE - I'll be honest I set mine to AUTO. But you can adjust for the specific type of weather/situation eg sunny, cloudy. Also if you are at an event and the lighting is a funny colour then try Incandescent (Light bulb symbol). Also try Custom White balance which I'll teach you how to do in my Flatlay settings below.
AUTO FOCUS MODE - In here you can choose how you want your camera to focus. I choose S-AF which means SPOT AUTOFOCUS. This means when I half press the shutter it will focus to where I have placed my focal square (the magic green square I will come to later)
If you always want your focus to always be at the centre of the photo then choose C-AF.
FACIAL RECOGNITION - Great for when outfit shooting but I turn it off in any other shooting situation.
METERING - Metering is how your camera decides what the shutter speed and aperture should be, depending on the amount of light that goes into the camera. I set mine to ESP which is essentially auto.
IMAGE RATIO - Here you can adjust your images to square for instagram setting 1:1 and other sizes too. I shoot outfits/products in 4:3 with the occasional long photo in 16:9.
IMAGE FORMAT - Here you can choose the type and quality of your image. I mostly shoot in jpeg but sometimes I will shoot my outfits in RAW. RAW is only needed if you want to be able to do lots of editing and retain the image quality. JPEG is fine for most people.
FOCUS GRID - This is where you control the magic green square. The green square is the focus point which you can set by opening the grid and moving the square using the click buttons.
ISO & WHITE BALANCE - Here you can adjust your ISO and White Balance easily.
When your not in the SUPER CONTROL MENU and just taking a photo you can use the circular click button to access the below settings.
ADJUSTING FSTOP AND EXPOSURE
By pressing UP on the circle button you can access the F-STOP and EXPOSURE COMPENSATION.
Press up and down to adjust the F-STOP.
Remember the lower the number the wider the aperture.
Press left and right to adjust EXPOSURE COMPENSATION.
The higher the number the brighter the photo.
ADJUST SHOOTING MODE
Press down on the circle wheel to access shooting mode. Here you can select single photo and self timer options as well as sequential shooting options. The rectangle and H (HIGH) will take a series of shots as long as you hold the shutter down at a fast speed. The rectangle and L (LOW) will take a series of pictures but at a slower speed. Some people nickname this burst and use it for outfit shooting to capture movement. It is good but beware its very easy to end up with hundreds of blurry photos you have to go through.
By pressing left you will bring up the focus point grid. Here you can use the click up/down/left/right buttons, click wheel or touch screen to move your green square to where you want your focus point to be. If you press INFO once in the grid you can also adjust the size of green square using the click wheel.
USING THE TOUCH SCREEN TO FOCUS /TAKE PHOTOS
When taking a photo you'll notice a box on the left hand side of the screen with a green square in it. This has three options all you need to do is tap it to switch between them. Note if it keeps disappearing just press MENU, then come out and it will reappear!
OFF - No touch screen, half press the shutter to focus or manually move the green square on the grid menu above.
GREEN RECTANGLE AND FINGER - Touch the screen to select the focus area. This means you can tap the screen to locate the focus point but still take the picture with the shutter release button.
GREEN BUTTON WITH FINGER - By pressing the screen now you will not only focus where you tap but also take the photo too
I haven't mentioned FLASH because to be honest I never use it. Its included in the box but I hate the look of flashes so only ever shoot without it.
OLYMPUS PEN CAMERA SETTINGS FOR OUTFIT PICTURES
I shoot outfit photos using my 45mm lens as I like the blurry background. I have my F-Stop at 1.8 the lowest it will go and I adjust my exposure until my photos look bright enough. Usually I will have my ISO on AUTO but I never want it higher than 400. I never shoot in direct sunlight but if an outfit is dark or the background is white which bounces light I may need to adjust the exposure to a negative to keep the photo from over exposing. I always opt for ever so slightly darker photos that are crisp and brighten in Photoshop than go too high with the exposure.
I keep Face priority on and adjust the green square so it is at the top of the photo where my head will be when the camera is in portrait orientation. Then use the shutter release button to take the photos. When shooting outfit detail photos I tap the green square to where I want to focus to be eg the earring and then take using the shutter release button.
SETTINGS FOR BLOG PHOTOS
I shoot my product photography using my 45mm lens. I have my F-STOP a little higher usually around 2 just to make sure the whole product including the label is in focus. You can shoot with the kit lens and get a blurry background you just need to have the camera close to the product and the background far away from the product to create blur. I have WHITE BALANCE and ISO on AUTO and again try to shoot in natural light. If I do use my ring light / soft boxes I ALWAYS bounce my lights off my white ceiling, never point them at what I'm shooting. Again I adjust my EXPOSURE by pressing up and adjust it until my photos look nice and bright. I use the green square to make sure the label or product name is in focus.
For interior posts I use my 17mm lens. This goes down to f1.8 too so I tend to set it on that and again just adjust my exposure to suit.
SETTINGS FOR FLATLAYS
I shoot my flatlays using the Olympus Pen kit lens. I always try and shoot with natural light and usually on a white board or my white bedding. Settings wise I shoot in A with my F-STOP at 3.5/4 and to make sure my picture is nice and bright I up the EXPOSURE to usually 1 or sometimes higher. I also most of the time shoot my flatlays in square 1:1.
To make sure your background is crisp and white then try setting up Custom White Balance. Click WHITE BALANCE on the SUPER CONTROL MENU, then scroll to the right to Capture WB Info and then press the Info button. You'll be prompted to photograph a white sheet of paper or anything bright white. Click to take the picture then select YES if happy. Now when you take your photos you should get a perfect white background!
So that turned into a mammoth post!! If you made it to the end, well done!! You can read my other Olympus posts here too Olympus Pen Review Updated & Olympus Pen Camera Accessories and I have a post coming all about lens including photos taken with each one!
If you have any questions at all please do tweet me or comment below and I will try my best to answer them and I really hope you've found this Olympus pen camera settings post useful? Do let me know