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Web Images Into Gold

Two and a half years ago, Ira Serkes was setting up his Web site, www.home-buy-sell.com, and looked into digital cameras as a way to post pictures on the Web. Not an option, he decided. The cameras were expensive. And the pictures they produced looked cheesy on a computer screen--and even worse when printed. Instead, Serkes opted for a camcorder. Mass-produced and relatively inexpensive, "it has got proven optics and can handle a variety of ambient light conditions," he says.

This may seem like an odd choice--until you understand his business. Serkes, 47, and his wife, Carol, work for real estate agency RE/MAX Bay Area Inc. in Berkeley, Calif. Serkes was one of the first realtors to rely on digital imaging as a business tool. When visiting a new property, he wields a Sony Hi8 Handicam with 12x zoom the same way a professional photographer uses a still camera in the "burst" mode, capturing streams of still pictures. "As an amateur photographer, what I've found is that it's hard to get a good image without taking a lot of pictures," he says.