eBay item info only in imperial units!

I was recently browsing SLR camera lenses on eBay, and noticed that there is a box providing detailed information about the item for sale. As well as more technical data, it provides important figures such as the physical size and weight of the lens: important if you are going to carry it around. Unfortunately, eBay UK sees fit only to display this information in imperial units: inches and ounces. Here is an example:

Key Features
Camera Type: 35 mm SLR
Lens Type: Fixed Focal Length Lens
Focal Length: 50mm
Lens Max Aperture: f/1.8
Min Aperture: f/22
Focus Type: Autofocus
Macro Lens: Without Macro Lens
Mount: Canon EF
Other Features
Closest Focusing Distance: 18 in
Picture Angle: 46 degrees
Attachment / Filter Size: 52 mm
Groups / Elements: 6 Elements in 5 Groups
Diameter: 2.7 in
Length: 1.6 in
Weight: 4.6 oz

Thankfully, the focal length and filter size are still given in millimetres. However, even the minimum focussing distance is in inches! While I have a vague notion of how long an inch is, ounces mean nothing to me. I searched in vain for a preference I could set somewhere to select metric units. So I decided to contact customer services to inquire about this feature. I received the following reply a day later:

I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused to you. First of all I would like to assure you that I am always here to assist you in the best possible way. Please note as off we eBay doesn’t provide any measurement converter (sic). Therefore, I recommend you try an online converter available on internet.

For your reference I have provided one online converter web site below:


I thought the response was a little patronising. After all, it’s simple enough to convert between units. In fact, the easiest way is probably to Google 4.6oz in g. The response completely misses the point. The product information is there to make browsing and comparing items quicker, something that is lost if all the measurements must be put into a calculator. In that case, why have the information there at all? Potential buyers could instead go to the manufacturer’s website for specifications.

It isn’t that the people selling the lenses have chosen imperial units. When they add an item, they have to choose from a list of lenses for which the product information is pre-defined; inches, ounces and all. The fact that eBay only provides imperial units just shows that, despite the regional branding, eBay is still very much an American site. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where most users would prefer weights to be in ounces. (I did try logging in to the French eBay site, and even there, it’s inches and ounces!)

I’m surprised that such a large company isn’t in touch with the rest of the world. I hope they realise their mistake, and give logged-in members a choice of units, which would apply to all item info boxes. Then I can’t wait to see the faces of American photographers when the focal length is in inches too. 131/32 inch lens for a 13/8 inch camera, anyone?

Leave a comment

By browsing this site, you agree to its use of cookies. More information. OK