#PENinPractice | How To Shoot Video

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis month in the Olympus magazine, I did a little takeover on a doublespread all about how to shoot video on the Olympus Pen. Read on… 

The Basics

If you haven’t used your Pen for video before, here’s what you need to know. Switch your dial to the video camera icon (or for quick filming press the red Record button straightaway!). Then press OK to bring up all the settings functions in the side menus. Here you can set up your shot just like you would a normal photography – adjust the white balance, ISO, choose your focus point and so on. Along the bottom you’ll notice some touchscreen icons which you can set before or during filming – you can choose the filter (from normal ones like Natural and Vivid to the fun Art Filters like Cross Process and Grainy); you can also apply effects like old-fashioned leak lines and a shuddery effect. (See my demonstration video below to have a look!)

One of great features of the Pen is the Image Stabilization – make sure this is turned on for Movie by going to Menu, the Camera 2 icon, and Image Stabilizer. Make sure M-IS is selected On for Movie.


Shooting for You Tube

Once you’ve got your shooting location set up – many You Tubers shoot in their bedrooms or at their desk – the main thing is to get yourself in shot and focus. For the Pen E-PL7 you will need to set the focus first. Position a stand-in where you’re going to be sitting– this can be anything from a cushion to a large toy or even a broomstick, or another person if handy! – and set the focus on that. Then you can press Record and get into shot. As you film, don’t worry about making mistakes, you can always edit these out afterwards. (I use iMovie to edit my You Tube videos – it’s surprisingly easy and intuitive to use!)

SCENES FROM THE SUMMER TIME from xanthe berkeley on Vimeo

Shooting time capsule videos

If You Tube is not your thing, making beautiful mini-films for platforms like Instagram is another option. Blogger and photographer @xantheb creates stunning time capsule videos for Instagram, capturing special moments and memories incorporating her life and family. Here are her tips:

  1. Use a variety of shots to make your story richer in content, and therefore more interesting to view. Try and incorporate a mixture of wide, medium and close up shots and interesting angles into your story.
  1. Consider how the music you use in your film can dictate the pace and flow of the footage and also create emotion.
  1. Fill your films with moments from your life that you’ll want to remember in years to come. Focus on the details that are often fleeting, it will be wonderful to have them preserved to watch back in the future.

Check out Xanthe’s online courses in making films for Instagram



  1. Tripod slider

This is just the thing if you are filming yourself for You Tube. This clever little slider (just £5.99) allows you to flip the screen down so you can see yourself in shot while filming. Just make sure your tripod is nice and steady before you move your camera left and right!


  1. Microphone

I find the in-built microphone in the Pen perfectly adequate to be honest, but if you really want to amp up the sound you can get an external microphone which you can attach via the hotshoe.


  1. Lights

If you are shooting indoors for You Tube, then a couple of softbox lights (loads of bloggers and You Tubers use these ones, two for £70). If you’re shooting by a window, angle a light on the other side to fill in shadows, or use both on either side to add to the natural light and increase the overall brightness of your video. (If beauty vlogging is your thing, you might want to look into getting a diva ring light, or halo ring light which will throw focused light onto you face.)

Time lapse

Another way to create video is to make a Time Lapse movie with a sequence of photographs. To do this, make sure the main dial is turned to A,P, S or M and go to Menu. Then go to the Camera 2 icon and click into Time Lapse Settings to turn it On and set the parameters the timings – the longer the interval between lapses the faster elements will move. Shoot on a tripod or flat surface, set up your shot and press the shutter release as normal – you’ll see the countdown of shots being taken at the top of the screen. Once finished, the shots will play back as a movie. The Time Lapse setting automatically reverts to Off, so if you want to use it again you will need to go back into Menu to turn it on again.


Play around

Get creative and play around with creating different effects by shooting through a clear acrylic block (99p on eBay!) smeared with Vaseline. This will give you a lovely romantic, hazy effect. The trick to making this work is to keep the center clear of Vaseline and just smudge it around where your subject is going to be. (This tip from @kipkat – above, a still from a little video we shot using this technique.)



Make a high quality GIF

Another fun thing to with the video feature is to turn it into a very slick GIF. This is extremely easy to do if you have Photoshop. Shoot your video and import onto your computer. Then in Photoshop go to File, Import and select Video Frames to Layers. Choose the snippet of video you want with the sliders and import into Photoshop. Then just make sure to Save For Web and ensure the Forever looping box is checked. (Above: Backstage footage I shot at LFW!)

Leave a Comment


  1. I enjoyed your article in the Olympus magazine. Just got a Pen-F to go with my E-M1 and E-M5II.

    In your article, you said to add a microphone for better audio. However, since the Pen-F does not have a microphone input, how do you deal with this?

      1. Actually this is wrong. The PEN-F is not compatible with the SEMA-1, or any external sound input for that matter. It’s internal or nothing, unless you want to buy a whole separate sound recorder.

        1. Hi Sam! This article was actually written before the Pen F even came out 🙂 The Pen model featured in this article is the Pen E-PL7 which is compatible with SEMA-1, as is the E-PL6 and E-PL8. No idea why the PEN F isn’t! Is this what you are using?

    1. Hi Kate! Sorry got late reply – have to admit this is a very old cheap shaky one I have! Not one I’d recommend – the only other one I have is a travel tripod which is steady but doesn’t go very high! Will look into a new one I think! 🙂

  2. Hi Kate..
    May i know which travel tripod do you use for this camera? I can’t find any review about this. Thank you for your review.

      1. Thank you. I’ll wait your link.. btw are you sure that e pl7 is able to use an external microphone? I found many review about it and it isnt work for epl7.

        Thanks before ????????

  3. Nice article 🙂
    Little question: how can you attach the slider to the tripod?


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