One of the most basic yet vital aspects of successfully marketing vehicles online is photos. We hammer this area harder and more often than any other. Quite simply, if you cannot get the basics of good photos, there is no need to be concentrating on more advanced areas. Customers want to see what you are selling. A picture truly is worth a thousand words in online marketing.
But how do you get these photos? Some dealerships choose to outsource this task to a lot service company; and this can be an effective solution. For those who choose to keep the task in-house, you need to have the proper equipment starting with a digital camera. And that is what I wanted to take a minute to cover. For those who use a lot service company or those who have a well-established process of photographing your vehicles, this will be way below your level but there are still many who are just starting to do their own photos and may not know where to start.
What’s the number one thing you always see marketed when looking at a digital camera? The number of Megapixels. A Megapixel (MP) is a million pixels. A 1MP camera uses 1 million pixels while a 3MP camera uses 3 million pixels. So the greater the MP rating of the camera, the larger the photo it can take. For taking photos to be used on the Internet, you don’t need to break the bank. Honestly, the number of Megapixels is one of the least important factors in your camera choice. Your final photo presentation is going to be of a size that is a fraction of what most cameras are capable of taking. You don’t need to spend huge amounts of money to get the best camera in the market just to use an even tinier fraction of its capability.
Probably the most important qualifier for selecting a digital camera to photo your vehicles is the available aspect ratios it can take. The aspect ratio is the relation between how wide a photo is versus how tall. A majority of higher cost digital cameras will use 3:2 aspect ratio. Computers and websites generally use a 4:3 aspect ratio however and that is what you want to take your photos in. If a camera cannot take photos in 4:3, you will run into problems.
Image resolution is the next factor to consider. Frankly, if you have chosen more than a 1MP camera that can take photos in 4:3 aspect ratio, image resolution is already taken care of. Most websites will not display photos any larger than 1280 x 960 pixels and anything below 640 x 480 won’t show the detail you desire. So your main choices to shoot in are 640×480, 800×600, and 1280×960. All of these should be available on the camera mentioned above. Higher resolution images will be reduced on most sites. Any time you change the original photo resolution, you run the risk of losing quality so taking huge photos just to have them reduced is counterproductive.
(If you really want to prove you don’t need an 11.1MP camera, you can calculate the actual photo pixels by multiplying your photo pixel width times pixel height. So a 1280×960 photo will use 1,228,800 pixels = 1.23Megapixels. So a 3MP camera more than handles this while the 11.1MP camera would only be utilized at 11%)
There are many external devices that can improve the final quality of your images. Items like a polarized lens or filter and an external flash can improve lighting quality and make your images more uniform. But at its most basic, a camera that can take images in a 4:3 ratio and is comfortable and convenient to use is what you need to get started on your way to good photos of your vehicles.