Pictures for ebay
March 23, 2011 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Hi I am trying to sell stuff on ebay. However, my pictures are never as sharp and clear as some others. I have a $130 Nikon and there is adequate lighting in the room. Please help a novice.
posted by Noodles to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You need a light box, luckily you can build one yourself for cheap.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:19 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

A light tent is what you need.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:26 PM on March 23, 2011

I'm assuming it's an auto focus camera? If you're taking photos of small things up close, check to see if your camera has any kind of macro setting. (On canon point and shoots, it's symbolized a little flower, but I'm not sure about nikons.) That should help focus in close more clearly if you have the setting.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:28 PM on March 23, 2011

Try taking your pictures outside or near a window as natural light can really help. If the stuff is small having a tripod or resting the camera on something, as well as using the macro setting as geegollygosh, suggested could help.

Make sure you also have a good background as that can make a big difference try photoing stuff against a solid coloured piece of paper or a sheet.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:35 PM on March 23, 2011

If you're using a cheap camera, you almost certainly don't have as much light as you think you have. Put your stuff up against a white sheet, shine far more light on it than you think you need, and use a tripod.
posted by mhoye at 1:37 PM on March 23, 2011

Can you link to a couple samples? This might allow a more precise answer to your specific issues.
posted by The Deej at 2:08 PM on March 23, 2011

You basically can't have too much light. If you're using room light you have 1/4 the light you need (or possibly much less). Go to the hardware store/home center and buy some cheap 250-500w lamps. Make sure they're all the same (incandescent or halogen). And pick up the stuff for a cheap and easy light box. If shadows are too harsh reflect the lights off of something white or the dull side of aluminum foil.

A tripod is nice, but not necessary if you have a moderately steady hand. (And having more light usually means a faster shutter so less motion blur.)

Do not use your on camera flash for any reason.
posted by Ookseer at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2011

It's difficult to say what's wrong without some sample photos.... tripod comes to mind, as well as proper exposure.
posted by TrinsicWS at 3:00 PM on March 23, 2011

I use a homemade lightbox, plenty of light, camera in macro mode (macro mode lets me get very close). Then I adjust the levels to lighten the background to be completely white, and crop. Then I use a sharpen filter.

Here is an original photo and here is the final output for eBay.

Make sure you are using macro mode. If you are zooming in from far away without a tripod you are almost certainly going to incur motion blur.

One other very important factor: if you upload your photos to eBay they will compress them and make them look much less sharp. By hosting your own photos you can guarantee that they will be displayed exactly as you uploaded.

Please show us a sample of yours, then we can give you more specific advice!
posted by reeddavid at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

does your camera have a timer? I find I can get better photos when light conditions aren't optimal by setting the camera down, setting up my item in front of it and using the timer to take the picture - even the steadiest hand can still wobble a bit
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:41 PM on March 23, 2011

Nthing homemade lightbox. Made mine out of a moving box and cut-up plastic grocery bags.
posted by elpea at 5:41 PM on March 23, 2011

It is hard to say without seeing samples. My guess is that you're not resizing the picture before uploading it to eBay.

The photo that comes raw off a camera is gigantic. The way that eBay resizes it down for you will make it look like crap. So if you're not cropping and resizing your photos yourself, you definitely need to.

Photoshop Elements is what most people use for this purpose. It costs a bit, but it's worth it, and if you're using it for your eBay sales it's a business deduction on your taxes (assuming your taxes swing that way).
posted by ErikaB at 7:03 PM on March 23, 2011

Best answer: Cameras such as yours have small image sensors as well as lenses that don't let much light through -- that is the tradeoff they make for being small and having the ability to zoom. To compensate for those factors, they have to take longer exposures in order to get enough light. A longer exposure means the picture is more sensitive to the camera being moved during the exposure, which causes blur and is why everyone is telling you to get a tripod. It's also why even if you think you have enough light you probably don't -- even if it seems like the camera has enough light to take the picture, adding more light will enable the camera to operate the sensors with less gain (amplification) which means less image noise. When you force the camera to use lots of gain, it's like when you turn your stereo system's volume up really high while nothing is playing and you hear a "sssssshh" like static-y noise sound, only in image form (like pixel speckles) instead of audible form. The amount of gain is referred to the ISO level, which is a reference to the old days when you had to buy film in a certain speed like ISO100 or ISO400. The lower the number means less gain and less noise, but it requires more light.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:20 AM on March 24, 2011

Also, make sure you select the right white balance on your camera. The camera will be guessing, and sometimes that's enough, but you'll probably have better results by manually setting it to Tungsten or the relevant alternative.
posted by Magnakai at 2:49 AM on March 24, 2011

« Older NameThatNovel: NYC, A Messiah, Elvis Costello?   |   What kind of hiking/gym shoes should I buy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.