A beginners guide to the Olympus PEN E-PL9 & top tips for shooting interiors

This post is a paid partnership with Olympus cameras. I use the Olympus PEN E-PL9 which I bought full price in 2018. I have an exclusive discount code for you at the end of the post. I feel like I need to start this blog post with a confession. I have owned the Olympus PEN…


This post is a paid partnership with Olympus cameras. I use the Olympus PEN E-PL9 which I bought full price in 2018. I have an exclusive discount code for you at the end of the post.

Beach days in Ibiza with my Olympus Pen

I feel like I need to start this blog post with a confession. I have owned the Olympus PEN E-PL9 for the last year and a half but have only recently started using it because of the most ridiculous reason, I’ve been a little scared of it. The idea of letting go of my safety blanket, which in this case is my iPhone 8 plus has been an overwhelming thought. How on earth am I going to find the time to learn how to use it and how do I even turn it on were the first thoughts that raced through my mind. However, after a few weeks of really committing to it, I finally feel like I am getting there. I want to share my journey so far and some tips if you want to take your photography to another level and up your Instagram/Blog game. I also have an amazing exclusive offer if you want to buy one or pop it on your Christmas list. 

So how did I end up with the Olympus PEN E-PL9? I have been following fashion bloggers for years and there is a lot of hype around this particular camera and it’s definitely not all about looks (although it is a very good looking camera!). It takes amazing quality photographs which pick up the tiniest of details, it’s light and easy to carry around, it doesn’t cost the earth and you can share photos from the camera straight to your phone. This is really great because I edit all of my photos on my phone using third party apps such as VSCO and Snapseed, although I am hoping to learn how to use Lightroom next. 

I had dropped many hints before my husband finally got the hint and surprised me on my birthday with the Olympus PEN E-PL9. After nearly three years on Instagram and blogging, I want to improve my photography and editing skills and this is why I (or should I give credit to the husband) have invested in a camera.

I often get asked for high resolution photographs from magazines when I write features for them so I would like to be able to offer better quality pictures.

I have the Olympus PEN E-PL9 in white but they now have one in an amazing navy finish

Even though I had wanted the camera for a long time, I was really overwhelmed and have been slow and a little scared to start using it. However, that all changed earlier this year when I went to meet the fountain of all Olympus Camera knowledge Julia Rebaudo @stylonylon I booked a 1:1 with Julia and she showed me the basics of turning it on, what settings to use and what to leave well alone in the fear of me ditching my camera forever, it can do so much! Julia also advised me on the best lenses to use. Olympus also run free workshops in London and you can go and try them out before committing. I will tell you more about what lenses I have and why they are great for shooting interiors. 

If you are more self sufficient than me and want to teach yourself there are plenty of YouTube tutorials as well as the “My Olympus” App which you can download to your phone.

Whilst I may not know my stuff when it comes to cameras, I do know a thing or two about composition and taking a good photograph. If you are just starting out the kit lens is fine but with this offer that I have for you, you may want to invest in an additional lens. 

I am currently torn between 17mm and 25mm lenses, both have a great F stop which is F1.8. This means there is more glass in the lens and more light coming in. The lower the F number the more you will pay for a lens and because they let in more light you can also shoot when it’s darker. The F stop number also allows you to play around with depth of field and add some blur to your pictures. Find out more about depth of field at Olypmus

Another difference between the 17mm and 25mm is how much scenery/stuff you will get in the picture so this is a personal preference but the wider the lens you go for (say 12mm for example) the more it can distort the image so for interiors I am leaning towards the 25mm and especially as the kit lens is 14mm which isn’t a million miles away from the 17mm. Don’t forget to shoot in portrait mode for Instagram although note you will get less in your picture. And I go for landscape for the blog so I can show off more of the room. 

See the below shots which were taken on the 17mm F1.8 lens. 

Our living room in the rental
Making our rental home more homily
Photograph taken in portrait on a 17mm Lens
Cosy corner with a little bit of blur taken with 17mm F1.8 Lens
Photograph taken in landscape on 17mm Lens
I am really impressed with the quality of the pictures all taken on the 17mm F1.8 Lens

I also wanted to share some photographs I took using the kit lens, it’s 14mm but the F stop number isn’t as low as the 17mm.

My little ladies bedroom
Light and shadows can be playful and creative in photos if you fancy a change
I really like the detail the camera picks up

My top tips for composition and taking a show stopping photo for Instagram or your blog:

  • I have a Pinterest Photography board as well as lots of pictures cut out from magazines of different interiors to get inspiration for views, angles and composition and then try to recreate my favourites. This is especially important for those of us that don’t have huge houses with lots of rooms or time to keep redecorating. It’s about showing people all of the views that you see every day and translating that into a picture and those views will help to vary your content of the rooms that you share.
  • I try not to overwhelm a picture with too much stuff although if you are a maximalist that’s fine, you can still think about the placement of all your beautiful objects.  
  • Natural light is the first must. However, overcast light is far better than glaring sunshine. In the height of the summer this year, I would take my photo’s much later on in the day. However, some of my favourite Instagram pictures have been taken with light and shadows so if you have a knack for capturing shots like this I would still do that. 
  • Use a tripod, this is one that I rarely stick too because I end up taking my photos in a rush but am going to try now. The benefit of a tripod is that it keeps the camera still and you can adjust the height at which you want to take the photo. I think the reason why I don’t use the tripod at the moment it because I always feel like I am on borrowed time and spend so much time setting up the shot I don’t leave any time for setting up the equipment. 
  • In an idea world, our photo’s would have straight lines but I have found that this can be impossible as I am not shooting large spaces, my old house was a Victorian Terrace so I would have to stand in some weird places at strange angles including in the bath. So I wouldn’t worry about this. Not everything has to be by the “photography rule book.” 
  • Make sure you hide any loose cables or in my case Peppa pig figurines and lego 😉 The amount of times I have taken photos and spotted a bright plastic toy is significant!
  • If you can create space and move some things out of the way it’s great for the focal point of the picture to be able to breathe. 
  • If you want to push the boat out you could also go for a 45mm lens or failing that just move closer to shoot vignettes and capture blurry backgrounds. I really enjoy using the portrait mode on my iPhone so it was great fun capturing this kind of content on my Olympus Pen.

Although close up shots are not always popular on the “gram” I love shooting in this way and any excuse I get to do this for the blog, I do! Here are a selection I took using the 45mm lens. I am really keen to get some outdoorsy photos of our new garden with our black clad house in the background. 

I love a close up detailed vignette

It’s surprising how far away I was stood to take this shot on the 45mm Lens
I love the blur you can achieve with a 45mm Lens
I have another confession to make, I can’t remember which Lens I took this shot on…
I can’t get over the detail, you can almost feel the cushion and texture

Top tips for taking Interior photographs continued…

  • Remember not to go too wide on the lens, if you look at any interior design magazine, they go for much tighter compositions. 
  • Create depth and drama by styling items and furniture. Set up your shot and take a moment to take it all in, is there something distracting you in the background and where do you want to draw the eye to. 
  • Although I mentioned that a low F stop number is great if you want a blurry background, most interior photos will have been taken with F stops that range from F8-F16. 

And my very last tip: Think about what would make you stop scrolling and try and create that powerful show stopping picture.

If I have convinced you that you now need an Olypmus camera in your life, check out this exclusive offer that you won’t find anywhere else online. This is perfect timing for an early Christmas present or to get hinting at your loved ones, it worked for me.

Use the code: HYGGE150 to save £150 on selected Olympus kits. This code is valid until midnight on the 15th of October 2019.

  • You can get the same camera as I have, Olympus PEN E-L9 for £354 instead of £504
  • Save £150 on the OM-D E-M10 Mark 11 1442 11 R Kit and buy for £299 instead of £449 
  • Save £150 on the PEN E-PL8 1442 11 R Kit and buy for £249 instead of £399

You can also save a further 20% off on any products or accessories using the code HYGGE20 There is no time limit on this code so remember to come back to it if you need it. 

Feel free to ask me any questions below.

Reena Simon

One response to “A beginners guide to the Olympus PEN E-PL9 & top tips for shooting interiors”

  1. Thank you Reena for the discount code, that’s my Christmas present sorted. I ordered my Olympus Pen PL9 today x

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