Why are pictures of camera items for sale on places like eBay so poor?

Stanga

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I can't help noticing that most pictures for cameras and lenses on places like eBay look so terrible. I can often not work out what exactly is for sale from the size of the product in the image, or the level of lighting on it. A lot of time you see the seller describe items as hardly used etc., but the displayed image is so poor it is hard to say if the seller is economical with the truth or not. Last week I had to import a picture from eBay into Acdsee and then increase the exposure of the picture to see exactly what accessories were included, and what state the lens is in.
I keep wondering whether those sellers are selling up because they were just not good enough in photography, or that they have something to hide that is best not shown in a clear picture, or that it might be stolen goods being off loaded by someone who is not a photographer.
 

wjiang

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I'd say that the primary reason is that they can't be bothered, or they do not know how. Typically the shots I see are taken with a phone, under poor artificial lighting, or worse, with the phone flash.

Very rarely do I see shots that are done as if they were product photography. I used to do this, but I've stopped bothering with lightbox, background, fill lighting with multiple flash, and just make do with a hot shoe TTL flash bounced off the ceiling and a plain curtain as the background...
 
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I managed to get best prices when I sold all my Canon stuff because I put up good images and made sure all dust spots were removed. Here's a few examples.

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wjiang

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I managed to get best prices when I sold all my Canon stuff because I put up good images and made sure all dust spots were removed.
Dust spots are the bane of product shots for me... I just don't have the patience to remove anything but the obvious. Surely everybody knows that dust is inevitable and will just reappear immediately after cleaning?
 
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Yeah that's what I mean, if it looks pristine then it's a lie, nothing that has been opened is that free of dust!
Marketing is a lie I guess, making your product look better than anyone else's but pricing it well is the key, as long as the seller doesn't hide genuine flaws - a bit like removing zits in a portrait, but leaving the moles.
 

gnarlydog australia

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I can't help noticing that most pictures for cameras and lenses on places like eBay look so terrible. I can often not work out what exactly is for sale from the size of the product in the image, or the level of lighting on it. A lot of time you see the seller describe items as hardly used etc., but the displayed image is so poor it is hard to say if the seller is economical with the truth or not. Last week I had to import a picture from eBay into Acdsee and then increase the exposure of the picture to see exactly what accessories were included, and what state the lens is in.
I keep wondering whether those sellers are selling up because they were just not good enough in photography, or that they have something to hide that is best not shown in a clear picture, or that it might be stolen goods being off loaded by someone who is not a photographer.
all of the above, sometimes intentionally
Some sellers are obviously lazy, others are clueless to what they are trying to market and in the worse case scenario the ones that want to pass an old POS for "minty". If the image is kind of fuzzy and the description vague while not accepting returns (possibly from Russia) that for me is a red flag: DO NOT BID/BUY
In other cases where the sellers is clueless and the images are poor but just good enough to make out what is offered with a certain degree of accuracy in the details, it can work to my advantage. I have purchased some items for much less than the "going rate" because of poor description/images :)
 

demiro

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I get that ebay is hit or miss when it comes to the quality of photographs. One big reason is that the sellers are not necessarily photographers. What I really have issues with are places like this when people don't bother to post any photos. You're on a photography forum, take a couple of shots!
 

drknaim

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I like to take photos with my cell phone as well.. I just use a little 40x40cm lightbox I got from amazon, which has some lights I can power by micro usb/power bank and fold away if not needed. I crop/upload the images directly via e.g. the eBay app and save a lot of time this way. Still better than 95% of the photos you see on eBay :)

Also can't understand people taking photos (or just 1 photo!) with no lighting and/or on messy tables, etc...

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John M Flores

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I built my ex father-in-law a lightbox for his ebay auctions. He enjoyed using it and the process of taking good product photos.
 

tkbslc

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I guess I intentionally make my items for sale pictures low resolution. The reason being that at full resolution, you are looking at the item through a microscope. Every little dust or faint mark shows up, even if you literally cannot see it with the naked eye. Call that misleading if you want, but I don't want to sell to someone who is shopping for lenses like they are grading rare coins, anyway.

That said, if there is a real scratch or defect that is noticeable in real life, I take detail shots of the damage and describe it as best I can.
 

PakkyT

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To be fair, I have seen for sale ads here in the mu-43 Buy & Sell forum lacking photos at all sometimes or having very poor shots. You would think a forum dedicated to photography, that the users could at least muster up some level of effort to photograph their items properly. But alas, no, even here we often get poor product photos.
 

demiro

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Sometimes it simply boils down to them selling the only kit they have left and they don't have a camera to photograph a camera so make do with a phone in dim lighting
I have no issue with phone photos. But you gotta have a little light. I much prefer basic photos that clearly show the item. No artistic merit is necessary.

It's funny, I just was looking at a camera+lens for sale on another forum. One shot is the camera with all accessories, box, etc. at a distance. Nice shot, but provides no value beyond seeing what is included. Other photo was landscape shot to ostensibly show off the capabilities of the camera, but it was edited (which was called out by the seller). Kudos to him for his honesty, but what good does that do anybody?
 
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One shot is the camera with all accessories, box, etc.
I have to say I did that, and with lots of individual pics too. Although there doesn't seem a market for old bodies, despite my efforts I only got £340 for all this, at least with quality glass there is some value.

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RogerM

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We shouldn't always complain...some of my best bargains have come from crappy photos taken by clueless but honest sellers. I got my lovely Tokina 90mm that way.
I've sold a lot of gear; a good set of photos can make a big difference (though not always).
That Canon 7D is a great cheap body nowadays.
 

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