How to take photos for eBay – With a Compact Camera

Posted by The A-Team on

Need to take photos of something you want to sell on eBay?

In this tutorial we’re going to show you how…with a compact camera. Using common sense and a few basic supplies, you can get something that displays your stuff in a clean and crisp manner to prospective buyers.

To illustrate, I had an old Macbook Pro that I needed to get rid of, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out product photography with my new Canon S100. Usually I do product photography with a DSLR and studio strobes and a host of other equipment. But this time I wanted to keep it more simple and applicable to people who don’t have these resources at their disposal.

So let’s get started. First a couple of pointers to get the best shots possible:

  • Use a clean background, such as a black sheet in this case
  • Use the self-timer and a tripod
  • Use the lowest ISO possible
  • Zoom in to about 50mm
  • Clean your products with a soft cloth to remove dust
  • Use natural window light instead of flash
  • Use macro mode for close up shots
  • Clean up your images in Photoshop

Here are a few images to give you a clear idea of how to shoot your stuff.

Compact cameras don’t have the best ISO performance, so set your camera’s ISO to the lowest possible value. Then set your camera to self-timer mode to avoid any camera shake during the exposure.

Why natural window light? Because it is soft and diffused, giving your product a flattering look. Whatever you do, don’t use the on-camera flash. Northern window light is preferred to direct sunlight, as it is softer and more evenly spread and will create less shadows. I also had some fluorescent lights on the ceiling turned on to give a little extra dimension.

Since you’re shooting at low ISOs and slower shutter speeds, you’ll also want to use a tripod to avoid camera shake. If you don’t have a tripod, simply prop your camera on a desk or stool.

For your background, go with a clean solid color such as black or white. A bed sheet will work if it is solid enough. The darker/lighter, the better, since you’ll have to do minimal processing in Photoshop later.

A soft fiber cloth will help you remove any dust, specs, and most importantly smudges and smears accrued from years of use. I used the same cloth and fluid used to clean my computer’s LCD screen and it worked like a charm.

One of the advantages of compact cameras over DSLRs is that they have excellent built-in macro modes, enabling you to focus anywhere from 1-5cm from your subject. This will help you capture the special details of your product.

Also, don’t shoot at wide angles, as these can distort your product. Zoom in to about 50-100mm for a natural look. This is easy on cameras such as the Canon S-series, with its built-in zoom step settings.

You’ll want to use Photoshop to clean up a few details, especially the background. By using the Magic Wand tool, you can select the areas you want to fill in, then use the Paint Bucket to fill it in with the color of your choice. You can also use the Clone Stamp to accomplish the same thing. By shooting on a very clean dark or white background, you should be able to avoid any extensive work and keep it simple.

Finally, apply some auto contrast, resize and sharpen your pictures to give them a little extra punch. I find this combination works well for almost any photo. And now, the pictures…

Good luck shooting your own products, and selling them for the best price possible!

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