Adding images to your online auctions doesn't mean you have to invest in a digital camera, scanner, or other expensive computer hardware. A new crop of online photofinishers will develop your plain old 35mm film and make digital versions available for download on the Web.
After you download those digital photos to your computer, you can move them to an image storage space or FTP site. Poof, you've got auction images! You can, if you wish, also get prints on standard photo paper. (How very 20th century.)
Ofoto (ofoto.com) offers free film developing and scanning of those images. Send them your film rolls in a prepaid mailer. In a few days, you can view the digital pictures in an online photo album with unlimited storage space. If you want prints too, the company charges 49 cents per 4x6 print plus a shipping fee of $1.49 per order. There's an ongoing special of 50 free prints for new customers, so you can try the service with a roll or two at no cost. Since developing and scanning is free, the total fee for those of us who just want to get pictures online is zero. I'm guessing Ofoto will close this loophole eventually.
You've Got Pictures is an online photofinisher for America Online members. Rather than mail in your film roll, you must drop off your film at a participating developer (the company says there are 38,000 across the nation.) The cost is $5.95 per roll in addition to the photofinisher's regular fee for developing and prints. When your digital pictures are available, you'll hear the familiar AOL voice announce "You've Got Pictures." You can store up to 50 pictures online for free -- more space is available at additional cost. For more information, visit AOL Keyword: YGP.
The best deal around may be offered by Snapfish. (www.snapfish.com) This site offers film development, a set of prints, and a digital photo album -- all for $1.69 to cover shipping. There's a small catch: the company wants you to view your pictures online within 30 days (so they can show you sponsors' banner ads.) If you don't, you'll be charged $3.99 for film development. Not a bad deal considering you would want to look at the photos online anyway, to download them before your auction.
If the service you're using doesn't seem to offer a function to download pictures to your computer, you can still do it. Right-click the image (if you use Windows) or click-and-hold on the image (Mac) and choose the "Save Image As..." or "Download Image To Disk..." function.
Yahoo has an extensive list of other Web photofinishers. (http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Shopping_and_Services/Photography/Digital/Labs/) Shop around: some of the companies listed there only make prints from digital cameras, and don't process 35mm film.
Web photofinishing is an excellent option for occasional sellers who don't want to buy new hardware. Frequent sellers may be able to save money over the long haul by investing in a scanner or digital camera.