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Photography Question 
Daniela Meli

computer for photo editing

I need a new computer (laptop, preferably), which Iíll mainly use for photo editing. Also, as I mostly shoot film, Iíll need a negative scanner. But for the time being, letís concentrate on the computer. Iíve heard that Apple is the best option for this kind of thing, but I donít know why. Iím clueless when it comes to what I should be looking for in terms of graphics, processor, memory, etc. I donít really mind spending more if it's stuff I need, but I donít want to get the best-everything if itís not necessary.
Could somebody out there help me?????

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3/16/2005 7:50:36 AM

Michael H. Cothran   There are obviously two opposing camps here - Mac and PC, so you're liable to get some very opposing opinions. Personally, I chose Mac for photo editing, and have been quite pleased. I even have Microsoft Office for Mac installed, so I feel I have the best of both worlds.
Mac offers a consumer line and pro line in their laptops and desktops. The consumer line is called the "iMac" and the pro line is the G4 Powerbook (laptop) and G5 PowerMac (desktop). The big difference in the two is the greater expandability of the Powerbook/Power Mac in terms of peripherals, hard drives, memory, etc.
Whether you get a Mac or PC is strickly up to you. I don't think Photoshop today runs any better on either platform, but Mac's are quality built, and not all PC's are.
One of the concerns with doing photo editing is having a good monitor. Laptops all come with flat LCD monitors which are not that great for accurate imaging. You really need a CRT type monitor if you are serious about photo editing. This means your serious stuff should be saved for a desktop rather than a laptop. I have both. I take the G4 Powerbook in the field with me, but I do all my editing on my G4 Power Mac at home on a 19" CRT monitor.
As far as processors, hard drives, and memory are concerned - get as much as you can, and be sure your machine will accept more when you can afford it. Most photo editing software, and even web designing software, like Photoshop CS and Dreamweaver are HOGS, and need lots of hard drive space, and fast processors. You'll need lots of memory since your files will be quite large, and you'll also need a very large hard drive, or multiple hard drives. My G4 has 3 hard drives currently installed, and will accept up to 12 internal hard drives! Trust me, your large image files will quickly fill up all your hard drive.
Keep in touch with what you do, or contact me if you have any questions about Mac.
If you want, check out my website below - all the images were created and prepared in Photoshop CS on my Mac G4. The website, itself, was designed and built on my G4 using Dreamweaver.
Good luck.
Michael H. Cothran

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3/16/2005 9:04:34 PM

Daniela Meli   Thank you so much for your help! I'll let you know what happens. It'll problably take me a few months to buy it though (I live in europe and refuse to pay 30% more than in the States for the same equipment...I have to wait for a business trip). By the way, loved your website and your work! :)

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3/17/2005 2:17:00 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  I don't disagree with Michael, especially since my son [who is a free-lancer in advertising, swears by the graphics capabilities of the MACs.

However, from a reality check standpoint, a PC may be the better choice, especially from a cost perspective. There are many more PC-based programs available and the differences between MAC and PC photo programs may not be obvious to the non-professional user.

Having said that, I refer you to an article in a recent issue of Shutterbug. The author [one of the Editors (can't recall his name)] gave his recommendations.

Obviously, he said bigger was better if you're buying a new computer, but he suggested that upgrading existing RAM was probably more important than processor speed. If you're not a pro, this seems absolutely correct.

He also recommended upgrading your monitor, opting for the largest you can afford. When I recently purchased my new computer, I went for a 19-inch flat screen. There are, however, lots of folks who suggest that CRTs are better than flat screens for photo work.

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3/24/2005 12:40:02 PM

Terry  R. Hatfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2003
  Hi Daniela! I Use a Pc Laptop It Actually Has A Desktop Processor (2.4Ghz Pentium 4 Processor With A 5400rpm Drive I Use Ps7 And Ps Cs It Works Great!I Would Suggest A Min Of 512mb Of Memory As Ps Uses 50% By Default, It Has An ATI Raedon Video Card On The Motherboard And Delivers Excellent Graphics!Newer Modles Are Avaliable,Check Out The ECS G900...

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3/26/2005 6:20:44 AM

Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  Can't speak to MAC, but do know a bit about PCs. The thing with any image data such as photos or video the most important factor is your RAM. My understanding is that generally speaking there are three different types of ram. SDRAM should be avoided. It's a RAM that is put in low-end systems. DDR RAM is the most common ram and satisfactory. It's put in most mid-line consumer systems. RDRAM is put in high-end systems and is generally best for graphics and video, but it's terribly expensive and rather a pain to upgrade! I know this first-hand because that's the kind of RAM I have. I'm upgrading from 512MB to 1.5GB and it's costing me $540. This RAM also requires that you upgrade in matched pairs which is a bit of a pain. It wasn't terribly easy to figure out which type of RDRAM my computer would accept either.

For most general photo editing DDR RAM is sufficient. I find 512mb to be on the low end, especially when you're dealing with programs like photoshop and editing RAW pictures or video. My kids computer has DDR Ram and we just upgraded from 512 to 1GB. It was a little over $100, well worth the added speed and decrease in system glitches. A lot of times the "freezes" that happen on Windows occur because a fast processor is working with insufficient RAM to handle the RAM hogging programs we all love to use so much. RAM will help when editing pictures, playing games or video, and programs with sound.

People tend to underestimate how important RAM is. I was just told by a "techie" that to get full potential out of your system your MBs of RAM should match your processor. For instance if you have a 2.5MH processor you won't get maximum potential from your computer until you reach 2.5GB of RAM!

So if you go with Windows get a system with a minumum of 512MB DDR RAM and immediately purchase an upgrade to 1GB or 1.5GB. Go for DDR RAM unless you really want to hemorrage cash when upgrading! I bought a "high-end" system and just went with the salesman pitch that this RAM was the best. Mabye, but DDR would have been half the cost to upgrade and a lot easier to find.


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3/26/2005 11:20:56 AM

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