Creating images for an eBay auction.
The digital camera.
Probably the most versatile means of acquiring an image is the digital camera.
There are many good quality cameras on the market, the key feature to look for is a good quality macro lens. This is needed for taking close up photos; ideal for auction photography. An optical zoom lens is desirable as it gives more control when composing the picture, the megapixel rating is of lesser importance as most give pictures suitable for auctions.
It may seem expensive to buy such a camera but it should pay for itself with better auction prices. I use an Olympus mju 400 and all of the photos here and in my auctions were taken with this. In addition I use a tripod , especially helpful when there are several items to photo.
Buying tips; Digital cameras have been around for a few years now which means that there should be second-hand cameras available at reasonable prices. For example, my camera an Olympus mju 400 is about 3 or 4 years old but is still good for taking photographs for Ebay. Any savings made by buying second-hand could be put towards a tripod or lighting equipment.
Camera update: After several years of service the screen of my Olympus no longer works and so I now have a Canon Powershot A720 IS.
Battery recommendation: The Canon Powershot A720 IS requires two AA type batteries. I use Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries as they maintain their charge longer than other types of battery.
Another consideration is the cost of the memory card required by the camera. There are four types of memory cards, SD, MMC, XD and Memory Stick. Of these the Memory Stick is normally the most expensive but is only used by Sony cameras. Also, if buying an older camera check that it is compatible with newer and larger memory cards.
There is a trend for new digital compact cameras not to have an optical viewfinder, this is not good. Whatever the makers may say a screen is still difficult to view in bright sunlight. Also, those who need reading glasses may find a screen inconvenient to use or just a blur. Optical viewfinders are good for panning when taking shots of moving subjects.
Fortunately there are some good new cameras which still have optical viewfinders, for example Canon Powershot and the Sony Cyber shot.
www.imaging-resource.com This is a website that has comprehensive and informative digital camera reviews.
The scanner is another versatile tool for capturing images and is relatively inexpensive. Scanners can be used for various flat faced objects, for example; stamps, envelopes, postcards, books, some jewellery, CD's and DVD's. Once the image has been captured it can be edited with a photo editor.
The photo editor.
The photo will need some adjustment before it ready
to display in the auction, to do this a photo editor is needed.
These are available commercially but can be expensive, fortunately there is
The Gimp photo editor which can be
downloaded for free.
There are three main tasks to be done to produce a good auction photo;
- Cropping is used to isolate an area of the photo containing the item.
- Resizing of the photo to fit the web page, this should always be a reduction in size.
- Compressing a photo reduces the file size and so reduces the web page loading time.
These are photos I have cropped, resized and created a clickable thumbnail for. The full size coin picture has not been resized and shows how much detail can be shown with a good camera. With larger items such as the jacket it is possible to pick out key details, just like this zip. Click on a phot to see the full size version.
Cropping and resizing.
This screen shot is of the zip photo prior to cropping and resizing.
The dotted square is the area to be copied, pasted into a new image and saved. Click on the screen shot to view how to use The Gimp to crop and resize photographs. Note; before editing an image make a backup copy of it.
The Gimp is a very good and free image editor and can be downloaded from www.gimp.org.
Cropping means selecting the item plus some background area around it to form a new image.
Once the new image has been saved it can be resized. The width and height dimensions (measured in pixels) can be reduced to
fit the screen resolution of the bidders PCs.
This will also reduce the image file size making it easier to upload to the image hoster and also easier for the bidder to download.
In this example the original photo size was 870kb measuring 2272 × 1704 pixels, this has been reduced to 150kb measuring 800 × 661 pixels.
Ebay update. Ebay have announced some changes to their picture service requirements, details here; Ebay requirements.
When using the Ebay picture service the longest side of the photograph will have to be more than 500px. For best results Ebay recommends the longest side to be at least 1600px. This is to preserve image quality and also for the zoom function to work, if available.
Ebay picture service requirement's for 2013
New sizes for the gallery photo's are as follows;
- Longest-sized side
- 500px required minimum size (smaller will not be accepted)
- 500px-1000px allowed but with warning notice
- 1000px-1600px allowed
- 1600px recommended minimum size
These sizes do not apply to photo's embedded in the listing.
If the photo is to be embedded directly into the auction listing then the width needs to fit either the screen resolution or the HTML template width. A photo with a width of 700px will fit templates with a width of 940px or more and is also suitable for a wide range of screen resolutions.
Another consideration is the file size of the photograph as this affects the time taken for the ebay auction listing to display. This is measured in kilobits, the larger the size the longer the time taken to display. As a guide the file size can be between 150kb and 400kb.
Cropping and resizing will reduce the file size and some photo editors can reduce the file size by compressing the image data. When taking the photographs try a lower resolution camera setting as this may also help.
There may be occasions where large sized photographs have to be used due to the nature of the items in the auction. Alternately, clickable thumbnails could be used. These are small images linked to the main photos, they give the viewer a preview of the item and they then can choose to click.