Photo computer

Discussion in 'Photography / Video' started by TrappedinCO, May 9, 2009.

  1. Lately, I've been trying to dive into photography a little deeper. I'm also at the point at which I'm in need of a new computer - my current machine isn't much newer than an Apple IIc. Other than every day computing, my main use for the computer will be storing media and editing photos. I'll likely be using Photoshop because I can get it cheap as a student.

    What should I consider in terms of hardware and performance to work well in photo editing? Is there anything to consider in terms of monitor quality or graphics processing to make sure you are getting a good visual of the photo you're working with? I'm leaning towards a PC desktop as I don't want to shell out the bucks for a Mac, but (at the risk of opening that can of worms) is there a significant difference between PCs and Macs in terms of photo editing?

    In short, for you photo buffs out there, what would be the specifics of your ideal photo workstation and can that be reasonably approximated without breaking the bank?
  2. It really depends on how much effort you want to put into it, how much money you have to spend, and how serious you are about perfection.

    In reality, any recent computer with a nice chunk of ram and a hard drive or two will do you just fine. If you want to be fancy, you can get something like the Spyder 3 calibration unit:

    But you can also get by with the basic calibration stuff that comes with most operating systems.
  3. If you know something about computers try one of the gaming websites or newegg. I bought a computer almost a year and a half ago now from and got exactly what I wanted for an inexpensive price. However, even though they have warranties I have heard some good and some bad from those places and if my computer goes down I will be relying on myself to fix it.

    If you don't really know what you are doing and want a really good warranty then go with someone like Dell. Some customization still available and decent prices. You do pay for the warranty though.
  4. What I run and really like is a 2.16gb black Macbook w/ 2gig ram connected to a 20" apple cinema display. This way I have the portability of a laptop but the large monitor and a full keyboard and mouse for doing work at home. The computer could be a little faster but works just fine for me. I would suggest doing something similar. New macbook + new cinema display would crush.

    Shit just saw you didnt want mac. Well either way I'd get a small powerful laptop and connect it to a nice big bright monitor.
  5. The primary difference between a Mac and Windows PC is that color management is built in to the Mac operating system. In Windows, color management must be set at an application level, if at all, meaning that there's a minor color shift from application to application when viewing your images.

    While some Windows machines are advertised as being quite inexpensive these days, that doesn't make them ideal for running Photoshop.

    Photoshop requires a LOT of ram to run well (especially on a Vista PC) and a dedicated scratch disk makes it run even better. I'd want a PC with a minimum of 4gb of ram (8gb would be better). Some cheapo PCs don't have enough slots on their motherboard to handle much additional ram. I'd also want at least a 250gb hard drive that I could partition to create a dedicated scratch disk. Finally, look for a machine with a separate video/graphics card that uses it's own memory instead of sharing ram with the cpu.

    Once you start to add up the cost of these goodies on a Windows PC, you'll see that the price is a lot more than the ridiculously low prices you see advertised. When you consider that the Mac operating systems doesn't require nearly as much ram as Windows, especially Vista, buying a Mac won't seem so expensive after all.

  6. I could care less what other people want to use as far as Mac vs PC. But I will say that historically I have had far fewer problems with my macs than I have with my windows machines (I have two macs and one win XP machine running on my desk as I type this).

    Windows always seems to have some crap going wrong with it. Or it needs to be reinstalled, or have the registry repaired, or what have you. Macs fall down in that their laptop batteries are crap, you are going to have to replace them every year or two if you want good life. And their laptop powersupplies break more often than the dell/HP/etc laptops I have seen.

  7. seems like overkill to me. I run PS just fine on an 80gig (filled) hardrive, 1gb of ram, and an amd athlon 2500+. A stand alone GPU is a must though.

    also, i built the PC in 2002 and have not had a single issue in regards to windows OS (xp). never had a blue screen, now registry issues, etc. I think how you manage your computer is more important then which OS you go with.
  8. I think your term 'just fine' is pretty subjective. What's 'just fine' to you may be considerably less than fine to others.

    For instance, I use Photoshop to make a living. I edit images and composite them with other images to build graphics for print and web use. Some of my PSD production files are 250 to 400mb and with 100 or more layers. I turn PS on first thing every morning and it's the last application I close when I shut down 10-12 hours later.

    While PS may open and perform simple tasks on your machine, I guarantee it'll work a whole lot better on mine. The reason is that my computer is optimized to run PS efficiently, with a minimum of compromises and memory bottlenecks. When I was installed PS with the 2mb of ram that came with this machine, legacy files would simply not open. With 16mb, they not only open, but they open quickly and respond immediately when I edit or save them.

    I understand that most folks don't need a machine that will run Photoshop like that. One of the many beauties of Photoshop is that while it will work OK on a stripper machine, it'll work light years better on one that's been optimized.

  9. My problems with that statement are twofold:

    1. I manage my computers very well and I have still had windows OS issues.

    2. Many people simply DON'T manage their computers well and there is little that can be done to make them. So even if your statement is true, it isn't going to save a huge percentage of the people who have issues with their computers.

    Again, I don't think anyone needs a mac to work on photos. Windows works for lots of people in the world, it will probably work for you too. But my Mac friends rarely call me to help save or fix something on their computer. My Windows friends call me all the time.
  10. Kent, Josh,

    Does Photoshop run in a 64 bit system?

    I guess I could look this up but thougt one of you guys might know off the top of you head.

    I run a quad core system with 8 Gigs of ram and 64 bit Vista using Lightroom 2. The system does quite well since Lightroom is able to take advantage of the full 8 gigs ram with the 64 bit os. And of course the quad core processor is fully utilized also.
  11. I believe that the CS4 version does but I'm not positive.

  12. Amen.

    Using a Mac is like owning a watch: you look at it and see immediately what time it is.

    Using a Windows machine (and I have a Dell Inspiron right next to me as I write this) means you need to know how the watch works and how to fix it because it decided not to run when you put it on in the morning.

  13. Alright, enough of the windows bashing. I have been running a 64 bit version of Vista for about a year now with 3 other people (non techie types, my family) sharing the system. I have had no issues what so ever since I setup this machine. No blue screens, no crashes, no lock ups, no viruses, nothing, it has simply purred along. I ordered it with the 64 bit version of Vista installed and other than installing some software this computer is straight out of the box.
  14. Good for you. Maybe that means Microsoft is finally figuring it out. The pre-release reviews of Windows 7 seem to confirm that trend.

    But your experience is contrary to most of what I read about Vista (slooooow start ups) and certainly different from my own using Win95, Me, Win98, NT, 2000, and XP, even XP SP3. The fact that you even mentioned blue screens, crashes, lockups and viruses suggests that your own experience with Windows prior to Vista has not been without its share of grief.

    Which is why some wag referred to the community of Windows users as the 'Brotherhood of Shared Pain'.

  15. Kent, I have been in the computer business for almost 20 years. I have seen everything crash from mainframes to minis to pcs and running anything from vm/cms to System360/70/90 to unix to linux to windows. They all can drop at any time. If you think you are immune to a system crash or hardware failure because of the type of machine or os you are running you are not being realistic. I hope you keep backups because backups are the only real protection for such occurrences but you already know that. Don't you?:p

    Now, I could say that one of the reasons we hear more about wintel systems having more problems than say a Mac is because somewhere in the nieghgorhood of 80% of personal computer systems in the world are running a windows operation system with many different versions of software than the Mac supports but you already know that also.:p
  16. I will preface this post by saying I am a PC guy due to how I make my living. I am DBA using MS SQL Server and have been for a while. I've never owned a Mac so my expertise in the matter is non-existent.

    I can build a PC that is similar to Kent's specs for around $1400 without a monitor. I almost always buy a monitor separately these days and they range in price from $100 to $$$$$.

    I checked the Apple Store real fast (Only place I know to configure a Mac) and while it comes with a monitor, the base model only comes with 2G of RAM and adding more RAM is fairly expensive. $100 for 4G and $1,100 for $8G. To be fair, it is much cheaper to add RAM to the Mac Pro but those start at a much higher price range of $2500+.

    After I typed all this out, I realized that it is pretty far off topic so I will be quiet now.
  17. Kerry, be fair. The first release of Vista was a piece of crap and everyone knows it. the situation was well documented not just in anecdotal forum posts, but in the mainstream media as well.

    As far as the old "well there are more windows users" excuse, that works for explaining why mac users don't have to deal with viruses. But it doesn't cover OS problems. I can only speak to my own experience, but if I compared 10 of my friends with macs and 10 of my friends with win machines in a given year. I would be asked to help out at least 5-6 of the win people and probably only 1-2 of the mac people. Just my experience, but I don't think it's an uncommon one.

    For the average person, Macs are overpriced, have real issues operating in corporate networks, have limited software options (particularly in specialized situations), & have crappy batteries and power supplies. Plus, on the whole, mac owners are more than a little pompous about their white/silver boxes. Mac owners can be as bad as hybrid car owners (or fly fishermen) about their choice.

    But for the average person Windows machines have driver issues, have OS issues, have registry issues, have security holes, are targeted by viruses, have malware/spyware issues, and so on. Nobody talks about a "blue screen of death" for a macintosh because there isn't one. That's a Windows problem. There is no way to hide this kind of thing.
  18. Kerry, I wouldn't know a mainframe from a picture frame and frankly could care less. I'm not a Mac evangelist, so if you're trying to pick a fight with me over which computer is better, it isn't gonna work.

    I do know that I've used both PCs and Macs since the mid-1980s. For me a computer is simply a means to an end - a tool, much the same way a fly rod is. The Windows machines in my life have always meant a much longer journey to get to the same end.

    Since making a paycheck for me means owning a computer that's reliable and doesn't require constant intervention or a dedicated tech support person, experience has pointed me towards Macs, not Windows.

  19. Kent no fight picking. That is why I put the dumb little smiley faces in there. Just making conversation.

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