15 Tips & Tricks For Your Olympus Pen E-PL7

So I’ve had my lovely little Olympus Pen E-PL7 for several months now and I’ve been getting to know my way round it quite well. Needless to say, I have a few tips and tricks I’d like to share with you…

These are the ones I always find myself falling over myself to tell blogger pals because really there’s so much this little camera can do and there are lots of ways to optimise your experience and get the most out of it.

This menu gives you access to all sorts of things!

1. Bring up your Settings Menu

One of the handiest things I found is to set your Settings Menu to show (the one with the little cogs icon). This allows you to do things like assign functions to buttons, get into Movie settings and access the Super Control Panel – more on that in the next point!

To do this: Press the Menu button, scroll down to the spanner icon and click on that. In that menu scroll down to Menu Display with the cogs icon and go in and turn the cogs Menu display to On.

Voila! Now when you press Menu the cogs icon will display and you can go in there and have a look at the things you can do!

This is what the Super Control Menu looks like… so useful!

2. Bring up the Super Control Panel

This is something you can do on all the Olympus cameras but you have to turn it on. It’s a full-screen menu that allows you to easily access all you camera settings like ISO, aperture, white balance, manual focus and so in. It’s much better than using the sidebar menu that you’ll currently have set up.

To do this: Press Menu. Go to your (now showing) cogs Menu and go to D. Disp/PC and then go to Control Settings. In Control Settings first select P/A/S/M, click in and tick Live SCP and untick the other boxes. Do this for iAuto and ART and SCN too if you want to. Depends what mode you usually shoot in.

Now, back on your main camera screen, press OK and the Super Control Panel will now show across your whole screen with little touchscreen buttons for ISO, WB, S-AF and so on.


3. Turn off Face Priority 

Now that you’ve got the SCP working, the first thing I would do is turn Face Priority off, as I find this often conflicts with where you’re trying to focus the camera. But do have it on if you want to easily focus on faces.

4. Tap the screen to focus

I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to selecting my focus point – I use the round control to do that. Much easier is to tap the screen. To do this, get familiar with the little on-screen tap icon in the bottom lefthand corner. If this isn’t showing, press Menu and then go back to your active camera screen. If the finger tapping a rectangle is showing, then you can tap by focussing. Tap the icon and it changes to finger on two lines, that means by tapping you’ll take the picture (which tbh, I find a bit annoying as I always like to see my focus properly first!) and tap again to turn off, the icon will go white.

Use 1:1 for taking square Instagram shots!

5. Change your aspect ratio

This is so useful, mainly because you can set you camera to square to take shots for Instagram. Quite telling that my camera is practically always set to square these days! To access, bring up your SCP and find it on the bottom line. Yours may be set to 4:3 or 3:2. For square set it to 1:1. I quite like using 16:9 to change things up every now and then!

You can select Blur Background on the iAuto setting

6. Use Blur Background

If you are new to your camera and still using iAuto then you can use the Blur Background button. I wouldn’t say this is the magic answer to getting great blur, but it’s helpful if you’re just using the kit lens. To do this you need to make sure the Live Guide box is ticked for iAuto in Display Settings (see point 1 for how to access this). Then on your live camera screen, press OK and a sidebar with coloured icons will come up. Blur Background is the fourth one down – select with your finger or the controller and a slider will come up which you can move to make more blurry.

This lens is brilliant for beautiful blur…

7. Buy a 45mm 1.8 lens

However, if you’re really after some beautiful blur in your backgrounds, then I would advise buying the 45mm 1.8 lens. Such a little beauty and really the first step towards creating stunning, professional blog photography.

8. Change your highlights & shadow settings

One way to introduce a bit of contrast and depth to your photos is to play around with the highlights & shadows settings. Above the OK button on the back of your camera is the + & – symbol which is your shadows and highlights. Click that, then press INFO. You can now change the 0 value of your shadows (highlighted in green) up and down by 7 each way. Press INFO again, and you move to your highlights value. I set mine at -3 and +3 for extra contrast in my photos. But play around with the values and see what suits you.


9. Set your button & dial functions

The  dial on top of your camera should be pre-set to change your aperture. So if you roll this you can see your aperture, highlighted in green at the bottom of the screen change from its lowest to highest. For the kit lens, 3.5 is the widest your aperture will go – the wider your aperture, the shallower your depth of field. ie more of your photo will be blurry, which is great for more artistic type shots. But if you want to assign particular functions to your dial and buttons, press Menu, go into the cog Settings icon and go to B Button/Dial. You can pretty much choose what you want to do, e.g. I have my Fn button set to select my focus point, so it brings up a grid and I can navigate where I want the focus. And I have the magnify button set to WB so I can access that easily, which I always useful when you’re in changing light situations like showrooms at press days.


10. Flip out your screen

I’m sure you know this one, but just in case, the Pen E-PL7 screen flips both ways. It flips up which is useful for surreptitiously shooting from the hip and it flips all the way down for selfie taking – tap the screen to take the shot, you have a couple of seconds to pull you hand away. The most useful, I find, is flipping it out about halfway up to take food shots without having to stand up. This is also great for any kind of flatlay situation. To release the screen down, don’t pull but first nudge the left-hand corner down a smidgen and then pull.


11. Get the Olympus Share app

I’m assuming you’ve already done this but just in case you haven’t go straight to the App Store and download immediately! Being able to transfer pictures straight onto your phone is life-changing!

Troubleshooting Tip: If you find the connection is not working properly, turn everything off and re-make the connection again. I’ve had this a few times, it always ends up working again. If for some reason your photos aren’t loading up properly, check you haven’t got you images only set to RAW in the SCP as they need to be Jpeg files to show up on your phone.

12. Use your phone as a remote

In all honestly, this was one of the main reasons I bought my first Olympus camera. I wanted to be able to take pictures of myself with my tripod. Using my phone as a shutter release, but also being able to see myself on my phone screen and access all the settings was life-changing!

Shooting tip: Set the self-timer to 6 seconds to give you time to hide your phone and pose! And for all you vloggers out there, a new software update in the next couple of months will allow you to trigger the record button from your phone too!

13. Edit on your phone

Practically all my Instagram shots are ones taken on my camera. Once I’ve uploaded a photo, I edit mainly in VSCOcam (sometimes Snapseed or Afterlight) and then share. The great thing is that the photo file sizes aren’t compressed so the images are large enough to stick straight up on your blog too, which I do when away from my laptop, using the WordPress app.

14. Get involved!

I love photo challenges and hashtag projects and come across them on Instagram all the time. From Instagram’s own Weekend Hashtag Project (announced every Friday) to #mystillsundaycompetition by Kim Klassen and #mymonthofsundays by Me & Orla. And I’ve just started my own Instagram hashtag #PENInPractice in conjunction with my monthly Olympus Pen In Practice column – I’m choosing my fave photos each week to feature on the @olympusUK account, so do and join in!


15. Get a new strap!

And last, but by no means least, add a little leather chic to you Pen with a lovely new strap! Find my collab straps over at sailhandmade.com – 10% off with the code STYLONYLON

So, I hope that was more useful than confusing! And leave any questions in the comments below… You can find the Olympus Pen E-PL7 online here. Read my introduction to it here. Also check out my Pen In Practice posts, also here in the Photography section.

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  1. I actually squeaked with happiness whilst reading this post – so many good tips and tricks! Thank you so so much for sharing. Looking forward to setting up my new camera tonight ready for my holiday :-) x

  2. This post is an absolute god send! I just bought a Pen and you’ve honestly made it so easy to navigate around each section. Thank you!

    Katie. X

  3. Thank you so much for these tips! I really want to get a camera this fall to throw in my bag and take better pictures with but shopping for a camera is like shopping for jeans; there are just WAY TOO MANY options! This one is a tad pricey but seems to be really good for blogging so I’ll definitely put it on my list of possibilities and I’m bookmarking this post for all your great tips!


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  4. Hey! Thanks so much for sharing these little tips. I would like to say that it was because of your recommendation that I bought the Olympus Pen El7! I absolutely love it. I also took your advice and got the 42mm lens which is great. Now i Just need to save up for the 17mm. I have an old OM10 and put my 50mm lens on too with a converter – its great but the manual focus is tricky when shooting children 😉 but the lovely soft blur or ‘bokeh’ you get is awesome.

    1. Ooh that sounds interesting re the 50mm & adapter, would love to see the results! It’s great to see a little camera getting great blur – one of the reasons I love it! Yes manual & children don’t really go together haha! Great stuff, and the 17mm well worth it. Between that, the 45mm and a lovely old 50, you’ll really covered! :))

  5. Can’t tell you how glad I was to read these tips! Recently bought a pen, but couldn’t figure out the menus at all – and googling just brought up …. photographers …. this was a perfect introduction, thank you very much. My instagram has gone a bit insane this last week, hoorah!

    Also, the tip about the 45mm lens? Perfect. thanks so much!
    Get Lippie recently posted…A Parosmic at the (An)OsmothequeMy Profile

    1. Oh I’m so glad it’s been useful! Hope you enjoy & yay to the 45mm, you’ll love it! :))

    1. Hmmm. Are you unchecking the boxes that say Live Guide and Live Control? As I think this will override the Live SCP. And have you done it for the mode you are using? Either Auto or P/A/S/M. I know other readers have managed so I don’t think I’vd left out anything vital. But there might be a more helpful You Tube video if you google ‘setting up Super Control Panel on Olympus Pen’… Hope that helps. If you’re really stuck, email me on stylonylon@gmail.com :)

  6. I’ve seen this camera a lot since I started blogging a few months ago, now I want one! Not only is it a sexy retro look but you’ve convinced me it has all the substance too! I’m still not where I want to be with my images, I’m a bit hit & miss with bokeh & they’re definitely not as sharp as I’d like. I’m using a Nikon 50mm lense & still getting a handle on using the remote control, it’s definately an exciting challenge taking the pics myself 😉
    Thanks for a great post x
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    1. It definitely has the substance! Glad this was helpful. In the end, it just takes practice and l000s of photos, I’m still learning! :) x

  7. Oh my god,thank you so much for the tips and tricks!i’ve been using Nikon all these years and got the Olympus PEN E-PL7 last week.I was confused for a while until I see your blogpost!You’re a lifesaver!can’t wait to use this for my upcoming trip! <3

  8. Your Instagram comment has sent me over to this post… Thank you so much!! I have just bought the Olympus Pen E-PL7 and this will definitely help me get to grips using it quickly.
    You have also answered my question on if to purchase the addition 45mm lens… It will be purchased this weekend!
    Talisa x

  9. My epl7 crop and aspect function decline, “the images cannot be edited”. Is it camera faulty or settling fault?

    Appreciate your advise.


    1. That dose sound strange. So you’re just going into the SCP and pressing the aspect ration button and it’s coming up with that message? I’ve never seen that before, I must admit. Might be worth taking into your local camera shop and getting them to take a look. Sorry not to be more helpful, hard without having the camera in my hands to see… I will mention it to the tech team as well as see what they say….

  10. I just bought the PEN EPL-7, thought it would be a good step up from a point in shoot without having to commit to a real DSLR. I love your tips. I ‘ve been reading that this camera can be customised to bring it to the next level. I’ve been playing around with it and I noticed that when I’m in certain modes, for example the A mode, in dim lighting once I take a pic the screen goes blank for like 5 secs then the memory card icon will flash and the picture will basically show up completely white. Is it normal that the screen goes blank? I’m wondering if it’s because not enough light is present so it’s taking time to capture the image?I’m slowly learning about the Apenture and shutter modes. Slightly more complicated than a point and shoot.
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  11. Hi, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this post! I’ve only just started blogging and have been having to use my iphone. I’ve been wanting to learn photography and improve my blog images and have been looking into cameras. I was pretty sure this was the one for me, but your post and all your tips have made me definitely decide on it. I’m lucky enough to be getting it as a Christmas present and I can’t wait. I was wondering though if you could please recommend a tripod? Does it work with any? X x

    1. Fab news! Yes, fits with any tripod, it’s a standard fitting. I just use an old battered one and a travel one tbh. :) do check in end of next week tho as I’m launching a 25% discount to buy the camera through my site!! Xx

  12. Hey,

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading it, and if I do purchase one of these cameras, I will definitely be back here, reading up on how to use it, so thank you!

    I just have another question, the blurred background… Are you able to create that effect on videos, so the face is focussed and behind is slightly blurred, and would that work on just the normal kit, or would you need to buy a specific lens?

    I’m going to stroll through the questions, so apologies if it has already been asked, but I look forward to your response.


    Chanelle xo

    1. Ah, great! Yes, you can get the blurred effect in video, but it is mainly down to the lens… I would recommend the 45mm 1.8 – although you do need to have space for this lens, you need to be further away to get full picture in xx

  13. NICE POST :) Thanks for sharing! Useful tips to explore for my EPL -7. Understand that you had recommend 45mm F1.8. How about 25mm F1.8 len?

    1. Glad you enjoyed! Ah, I don’t have the 25mm, but I understand it’s a lovely lens, and on my wishlist! The most similar I have is the 17mm 1.8, which to be honest, I pretty much have on my camera as a default as it’s easier to shoot with in close quarters than the 45mm (which requires a bit of distance). My 2nd most used lens is a 25mm tho, but the Panasonic one (25mm 1.4) which is gorgeous, if a little heavy for the E-PL7. This is usually on my Pen E-P5 which is slightly bigger.

  14. I just gifted myself to this beauty (in black/silver) and since it arrived, I am raiding the internet for tips and tricks. That´s when I came across this post (Thank you so much!) and I basically didn´t leave your blog since then, browsing your Photography archives like a crazy person :)

    I have two questions still, and hope you will see this and help me out :)

    1. I looove the thin camera strap you designed with SailHandmade and was about to order one but then the different lengths confused me. In the product gallery is a photo of you in a striped shirt wearing the camera around your neck and to me that´s the perfect length! I just don´t know if you´re wearing a 110cm or 115cm there. Would be great if you could tell me!

    2. My new Oly Pen and I are just in the beginning phase of dating, you know, it´s a little bit wonky but with a huge crush on each other, ha! I love how tiny it is and that I can and will actually take it with me wherever I go (something I never did with my bulky Canon DSLR). The only thing that worries me a bit is that I can´t hide the screen when carrying in my bag and therefore it´s not save from scratches. How do you protect the screen? Do you use a special screen protector like you would for your phone or an extra case? I mean, I´d love to just “throw” it in my bag with my keys and wallet and everything but I don´t believe the screen would tolerate that long enough!

    Thank you! And keep the Pen tips coming! Sooo useful!

    xo Martina
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    1. Hi Martina! That’s fab to hear :) Ok, yes, I’m wearing the longer 115cm version and as for second question, yes, constant problem! I have to admit I’ve been pretty lax and just toss in my bag – although if big bag I protect in a woolly hat, but I have lots of smaller shoulder bags that my Pen sits quite safely in – but Olympus have a new line of accessories out including camera pouches, either available now or very soon, on their site! 👍🏼

      1. Thank you for the super fast response, Julia!

        Then the 115cm it is :)
        I know, I love those small bags too but usually I am wearing a big bag with my whole household in there – ha – and that´s when I would feel bad for the screen. I do believe it´s not easy to scratch though, seems built pretty durable to me, but still I don´t wanna chance it! Thanks for the woolly hat tip, I will use that for now and look out for the new accessories :)
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    1. Yes, that is true. But you can get a little slider gadget that can fix this. Let me find out what it is exactly and will let you know … But it does work, as have seen it in action. Also software update soon on the app is meant to add Record function, so you’ll be able to see yourself on phone and trigger the remote from there too…

  15. Thank you so much. Spent a week with the stupid camera manual download and was unable to find a setting method for ISO. You did it in 1!!!!!

  16. LOVE THIS POST!! I was wondering what tripod you use babe? I want to buy one so I can get some photos when my poor brother isn’t around haha! Thank you xxx

    1. Hi lovely! Ah I have a very shonky old one and a newer mini travel one – the Slik Sprint Mini II GM Tripod which is good if a little short, but great for travel xx

  17. Thank you so much for this!
    I was going nuts because I couldn’t find how to change the ISO myself and I was afraid it wasn’t even possible. But thanks to you I finally have it figured out and gotten a bunch of other great tips as well :)
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  18. Great tips! I’m considering getting this. Do you think this camera works as well when taking landscape/scenic photos? Or more for people photos since it blurs the background. Is it right we can switch off the function?


    1. Great for scenic & landscape too! To get the blurriness you really need certain lenses you need to shoot in a certain way – low aperture, close to subject with distance behind. Fir scenic you ideally want the kit lens or wide angle and to set your aperture to something like F11. It’s all about adjusting the settings to get the type of shot you want. If that makes sense. On Auto there is a blur option, but you need to turn it on, it’s not on by default…

  19. I am smiling like the Cheshire cat, thank goodness for your tips and tricks. I just treated myself to the Pen E-pl7 and am thrilled with it. Thank you for providing such an interesting and colourful site. I have taken on board all your comments and hope to add some photo’s to Olympus very soon. You already made me braver in the menu section.
    Many thanks again.

  20. Hi!
    I want to ask for number 6 and 8.
    For number 6 : i did’t find blur background..can u more explain to me?
    For number 8 : i didn’t find the higlights too…i see the symbol S +/- ..is it the symbol of the highlight?
    Cause when i used that..it’s only have 1 choice to decrease or increase the number..so, can you give me a solution?

    Last question, i like to take a food pictures and sometimes it’s looks like a warm and i don’t like it and also i feel it’s a less sharp…i need your solution..

    Thank u

    Please reply me

    1. For blur background, you need to be set on iAuto. Press OK to bring up the righthand sidebar Menu. Scroll through that menu with the wheel dial and you find Blur Blackground.
      For 8 – press the +/- on the wheel dial. Then immediately press Info, this highlights the shadows value which you can adjust by 7 each way, then press Info again to access the highlights (it’ll light in green).
      For food, are you shooting in artificial light? Natural light by the window is best. I think maybe the sharpness is to do with good light quality?

  21. Great blog post, really informative thank you!
    I really want to get one – which lens would you recommend for starting out the 14-42mm kit lens?
    And what difference does the Pancake Zoom lens make, is that one better for blurred background etc?
    Also when does your 25% link up discount start? I just missed one with inthefrow which finished last week, v annoying!
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    1. Hi Maggie – glad you enjoyed it! Both the 14-42mm kits lenses do just the same thing – only difference is the Pancake is smaller and automatic. For real blur, you want to look at the 45mm lens. Drop me a line on stylonylon@gmail.com re discount :)

  22. I just purchased the same camera for taking action shot of my kids playing waterpolo. Any suggestions on what would be a good settings? I have tried the default by selecting the SCN but it does not seem to give me a clear pic.


  23. Delighted to find your page but I just tried your recommendation for the super control panel several times but nothing changed – not sure what I am doing wrong!

      1. Hi,

        what is your preferred focus mode when filming? In my opinion C-AF is pumping a lot, producing bad results. Better is S-AF+MF, I think.

        1. Yes, I have to admit I’m always on S-AF as very rarely shooting anything moving and feel more in control with it…

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  25. Hola! I’m so glad I read your post on tips & tricks with the Olympus Pen E-PL7. I’m a newbie and still on the learning ropes thus you would help a lot with how to change ISO on the camera. I’ve been trying to find the settings to change ISO but can’t figure it out and I’m starting to feel real dumb. lol

    1. Hi! Ok, easiest way is to come off Auto, switch to A, and use tips 1 & 2 above to set up the Super Control Panel. Then when you press OK you will bring up all the settings including the ISO. If you don’t want the SCP, come off Auto and access the menu along the right hand side by using the round control on back of camera…

  26. Hi there! I have been reading up on your photography blog but still having some issues with my camera shooting on a white background, every time I do I get a hint of gray instead of bright white? any advice of what I may be doing wrong. I usually shoot on “A” and have my settings at ISO 100-200 w/ exposure of .7-1 & F/3.5 (as I only currently have the standard lenses). Should I try setting my shutter speed manually or is it my lighting? I am still very new to all of this so Its been trial and error but still need some extra help.

    1. Hi Andrea, it’s quite easy. When shooting on a white background (or a snowy landscape, etc.), every camera will set the shutter speed too short for correct exposure. So you have to adjust the exposure compensation: Choose “+” to make the picture brighter (+1.0 should be ok, just try it with various values).

    2. Hey there! Another option is to set your custom white balance to get a really good white. I wrote a post on this if you look through my photography section. But upping your exposure value is good too. But your best result is going to come from natural light and white surrounds, so shoot on white next to a window. Also check what’s surrounding you, is it reflecting darker colours onto your subject. Some people set up a white reflector or piece of white cardboard next to what they’re shooting to brighten the white up. Hope that helps! :)

  27. Thank you so much for these tips! These have been much more useful to me than the manual :)
    Without this post I never would have known how to make the SCP appear and it has been sooo much easier for me to learn and use with the control acess like this. I’m not only learning how to use the camera but also digitial photography from scratch – I’ve just got to grips with what ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed do!

    I do have one question that I would be so grateful if you could help me with as I can’t seem to find anything in the manual or online: The Spot Metering on the Pen EPL7 – does this just spot meter from the center of the screen or is it spot metering from the focus point? I’ve read it can be either with DSLR’s but I can’t seem to find any info on how the PEN EPL7 does this? (If it is from the center then how do you spot meter when your subject is off center?!)

    Many thanks!

    1. So so glad! Yes, with E-PL7 it’s just centre weighted, but on the new Pen F it moves with the focal point. Something I need to use more tbh! You’ve inspired me :) and sounds like you’re whizzing ahead so have fun!! :)

      1. Thanks for the pointer! Once pointed in the right direction I did a bit of further investigating/experimenting and just in case anyone else wants to know as it is not clear in the manual:

        1)Set the metering mode to Spot. You get a little circle in the center of the view showing you the meter spot.

        In Manual mode:
        2) Move the view until the circle is over your subject. Change your ISO/aperture/shutter speed as desired until meter is showing correct exposure for your subject. Half press down the shutter button – this locks both focus and exposure. Keep pressed halfway down and move viewer to required composition. When in place fully press down shutter button.

        In A/S/P modes:
        2) Move the viewer until the circle is over your subject. Camera automatically changes settings (excluding your mode setting, you can control this yourself) so subject is in correct exposure. Half press down the shutter button – this locks both focus and exposure. Keep pressed halfway down and move viewer to required composition. When in place fully press down shutter button.

        Really useful for when taking backlit photos and your subject is dark and it is the background that is being correctly exposed, not your subject! By spot metering your subject you get your subject exposed correctly and the background gets overexpsoed instead.

  28. hello :) you helped me a lot in the descision of buying the e-pl7!
    now i want to buy a cute pouch for the camera (“Ink Couture”) .
    do you know if the camera with the pancake lens ON fits into the camera pouch (not lens pouch)?
    greets from germany <3

  29. Hi, This post is brilliant and it’s what I’ve used to set my camera up, however i’m struggling with the blur part. I’ve got my Live Guide ticked in iAuto but the sidebar doesn’t come up. I’ve managed to work everything else out except this :( Thank you Claudia

    1. Hi Claudia – have you got the Live SCP unticked? I think that needs to be the case. Live Guide: ticked. SCP: unticked. Then should work! best, Julia

      1. Hi Julia, thank you for your quick reply. The sidebar is now showing but the blur options isn’t. Sorry I’m so useless, I was doing ok with it and now I’m more confused. Claudia

  30. Great tips! May I know is there any difference in image quality between the e-pl7, e-p5 and pen f (if all using the same lens says 45mm f1.8)? I’m looking to upgrade my e-pl5, looking at the above choices more on the first 2. TIA :)