Jumping on the dSLR Bandwagon

Christmas is coming, and you’re thinking about that new camera you’ve been wanting, right?  And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get a dSLR so you don’t have to deal with those crappy compacts anymore, right?  Yep, no more excuses — it’s time for great photos.  Whoa, not so fast!

I’m not going to repeat what’s already been written hundreds of times about the pros and cons of point-and-shoots versus SLRs (do a quick search and you’ll find a pretty nice selection of helpful articles).  What I am going to do, however, is make one irrefutable statement for all you jewelry (and other small item) sellers out there:

Don’t spend your hard-earned money on a dSLR unless you have even more hard-earned money to invest in a good macro lens.

Yes, it’s that simple.  Compacts have some pretty nice macro features built-in.  SLRs do not (sorry, that little flower on your EOS Rebel is worthless).  Here’s one new term you need to learn:

Reproduction Ratio – The ratio of the size of an image projected on the camera sensor (or film) to the size of the subject itself.

So if you want to shoot something at “life size,” then you need a lens that gives you a reproduction ratio of 1.0 (sometimes denoted 1:1).  60 mm and 105 mm macro lenses from Canon and Nikon have reproduction ratios of 1:1.  If you buy a dSLR kit, it’ll probably come with a nice, all-purpose 18-55 mm lens.  Great lenses, they are, but with reproduction ratios in the 0.3 to 0.35 range (about 1/3 life-size).  What that means is that the full-size image of your 15 mm beads is only going to be about 5 mm.

Make sense?  Good.  Now you know what to ask your camera salesperson when you go shopping for that well-deserved gift for yourself.

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

Dealing with Etsy’s Huge Photos

I know I haven’t posted lately, but I’ve been quite busy in my other life.  Apologies to my faithful readers!  With that out of the way, here we go again…

The majority of Etsy sellers don’t seem at all happy about the “new and improved” photo sizes that go along with the “new and improved” wider pages.  There really aren’t any good solutions, other than the Etsy site adapting to its users’ needs rather than the other way around (but we all know that’s not going to happen!).  But there are a few things you can do to deal with it.

First, let me give you a summary of what’s happening.  I did a post a few months ago explaining how your photos should have a minimum width of 570 pixels.  Thankfully, that hasn’t changed.  But … while in the past you didn’t need to concern yourself too much with the height of your photos, now you do!  The biggest complaints seem to be from sellers who don’t like the idea of shoppers having to scroll down the page just to get to the bottom of the photo — and therefore  the description.  Etsy used to do a pretty nice job handling “vertically oriented” photos, but what the site now does (whether we want it to or not) is display the entire image at 570 pixels wide x whatever height you feed it.  Upload a 570 wide x 1200 high image and that’s exactly what will show on your main listing page.

Okay, so what?  Well, for anyone selling small items that photograph well in a landscape orientation, it’s no big deal.  But if your items (and therefore your photos) are much higher then they are wide, you’ve got a problem.  My wife (click here for her shop), for example, sells doll clothes.  If you look at any of her listings, you’ll see that she likes to have at least a few photos showing the entire outfit on one of her dolls.  Assuming that most folks like to see the doll upright as opposed to laying on a table, she really doesn’t have much choice but to have photos that are almost twice as high as they are wide.  She decided to go with…

Option 1 — Leave the photos as  is, and accept that viewers are going to have to scroll down to get to the description.

A lot of folks don’t like that idea, though.  Well, that’s why they’re called options, right?  Here’s what else you can do:

Option 2 — Include a lot of “wide” background in your photos of “tall” items, and crop your image to a 1:1 or wider aspect ratio.

Option 3 — Using your photo editor, place your “tall” image on a larger white canvas (the Photoshop term) with a 1:1 or wider aspect ratio.

Option 4 — Upload undersized photos (less than 570 pixels wide x a reasonable height) and let Etsy fill in the sides with that ugly taupe(?) color.

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger — I already told you that there weren’t any good options.  But I thought I’d at least give you some points to consider so you can decide what’s best for you.

Until next time … Happy Shooting!