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Finding the Best Digital Camera for eBay

eBay Photo Basics – Part Two

By: Skip McGrath ©2009

Your first task is to select a good digital camera with all the features you will need. There are hundreds of digital cameras on the market and new models are coming out virtually every week. The trend today is towards higher and higher image quality. This is expressed in the number of pixels –or mega pixels a camera can resolve. The higher this number, the more expensive the camera.

Fortunately you do not need extreme high-resolution for your auction photography. In fact, high-resolution photos are undesirable because they take a long time to download when someone opens an auction.

eBay recommends that photo file sizes be limited to 64 kilobytes. Actually you can go up to 90 kilobytes with no problem. Sixty-four kilobytes (64kb) is the size of what is called the email setting on most digital cameras. So this is one of the first features you need to look for when buying a camera –make sure it has a low resolution or email setting.

Most digital cameras have this feature, so it is not a hard option to locate. The email setting is OK for most digital photos if you are not going to crop them. When you do, you lose detail. If you are selling a product where detail is important, then you will want to shoot at a higher resolution, at least 1 or 2 Megapixels, and crop or resize the photo in your software to get down to 65KB. Shooting at this higher resolution will preserve the detail when you crop or resize.

Here are some of the features you need in a camera for auction photography and why they are important:

  • Tripod: Almost all cameras have a standard tripod screw mount in the bottom. It is very important to use a tripod when taking auction photos to avoid blurred images that occur when you handhold a camera.
  • Macro Setting: Macro is the photographic term for the ability to focus very close to an object. Typically the macro feature will allow you to focus as close at 3 or 4 inches from the subject. This is important to photograph small objects or to get up close to details you may want to show such as the original manufacturer’s price tag or a maker’s mark on pottery or silver.
  • White Balance Adjustment: We will talk about white balance in detail below. Basically this is how you adjust a camera to account for different color temperatures of light. Almost all cameras have an automatic white balance, but you want to make sure you get one where you can manually select the white balance between daylight, fluorescent and incandescent.
  • Manual Focus: The auto focus on digital cameras is often fooled. The ability to manually focus on an object or part of an object is very important.
  • Exposure adjustment: The light meter in a camera can be fooled by bright backgrounds. Since we often shoot against a white background especially when using a lighting tent, you need a camera that can adjust for this exposure.
  • Optical zoom: Digital cameras come with both optical zoom and digital zoom. Digital zoom is very restrictive and difficult to work with. Make sure your camera has a basic optical zoom feature. You can tell if it does by pushing the zoom button and seeing if the lens actually moves in and out. If not, they the camera is using digital zoom.
  • Aperture priority setting: The ability to select a small lens opening (aperture) allows you to achieve what is called depth of field. This means that objects close to you and far away are both in focus.

Nikon, Sony, Cannon and Panasonic all make fairly low cost cameras that fit these criteria. Many are available in the $100-$200 range.

Here is a link to Skip’s Recommended Camera Store that features cameras in several price ranges that all meet the needs of the eBay seller.

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