Choosing a Camera for Photographing Your Etsy Products
Although you can use a film camera to take photos of your Etsy pieces and then use a scanner to digitize those images, it’s not recommended. All that film is expensive, and scanning your photos takes time. Truth be told, if you plan to use Etsy to sell your handmade pieces, you need a digital camera. And, no, the one on your phone doesn’t count.
Read your camera’s manual! Yes, it’s boring; but if you want to get the most out of your camera, you need to know what it can and can’t do. If you’ve lost your manual, don’t fret — chances are, you can download a copy from your camera manufacturer’s website.
If you’re in the market for a new camera, get the best model you can afford. And don’t be turned off by gently used models — they can be just the ticket for an Etsy seller, at a much lower price!
Key camera features
You don’t need some fancy camera that can do everything for you and draw you a bubble bath afterward. A trusty digital point-and-shoot in the 4-megapixel range will serve you well, especially if it offers a few key features:
A macro setting: This setting, typically represented by a flower icon, enables you to shoot extreme close-ups — critical when photographing smaller pieces, such as jewelry, or when you want to reveal the texture of an item.
Autofocus: These days, pretty much all cameras offer autofocus. In most cases, you use it by pointing your camera at your subject and pressing the camera’s shutter button halfway down; the camera automatically focuses on the subject. To capture the image, simply press the shutter button the rest of the way.
If you want the area of focus to be off center, just move your camera to the left or right while keeping the shutter button pressed halfway down; then, when you’ve achieved the desired composition, press the shutter button the rest of the way.
A white balance setting: With this setting, usually represented with a light bulb icon, you can help your camera identify pure white. The idea here is that if the camera can capture pure white correctly, it can correctly capture all other colors as well. Setting your camera’s white balance before you shoot can save you a bushel of time later trying to correct the color in image-editing programs.
A few other camera features may serve you well:
An aperture-priority mode: Although this feature is less “must have” and more “nice to have,” aperture-priority mode helps you achieve the photography equivalent of a mullet: an image that’s sharp in the front, blurry in the back. Simply engage aperture-priority mode, set your camera’s f-stop as low as it goes, press the shutter button halfway down to autofocus on your item, and then snap your photo.
A manual mode: Although you can certainly use the automatic settings on your digital camera, switching to manual mode gives you scads more control over your image’s exposure. With manual mode, you can set the camera’s aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO. In this way, you prevent the image from being underexposed (too dark) or overexposed (like Justin Bieber).
If your camera doesn’t offer a manual mode, see if it supports a feature called exposure compensation. This feature enables you to instruct the camera to expose more or less than it normally would, given the lighting conditions.