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Photography QnA: Computers and Peripherals

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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Digital Cameras and Accessories : Computers and Peripherals

Interested in a digital photography recommended printer? Wondering which monitor is best to view your images on? Check out this Q&A for some answers.

Page 1 : 1 -8 of 8 questions

   
     
 
Photography Question 
Chuck 

member since: 12/23/2005
  1 .  How Much Computer Needed for PS Elements 6?
I would like to purchase Photoshop Elements 6, but read somewhere that some people were having trouble with running it on older PCs. My PC is approximagely 5 years old - 512mb ram and 2GB hard drive. I know, don't laugh, it's got me this far. I'm kind of on a budget but was wondering if someone could offer some opinions as to system requirements. We are looking at a new PC but I would like to go shopping with a bit of knowledge. Thanks.

12/7/2007 7:41:24 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  At Adobe's Web site, they specify the software's system requirements. For Elements 6, it is a process running at least at 1.3 GHz, 512 Mb RAM, and 1.5 GB of free hard drive space. Consider that an absolute bare minimum. I would get at least a 2 GHz processor and 2 Gb or more of RAM. Hard drives are commonly 100+ Gb. Bigger is better, as is faster = look for a hard drive spinning at 7200 RPM rather than 5600 RPM. Upgrade video card would also be preferred.

12/7/2007 8:01:50 AM

  Just to second the notion: So long as you can find the system requirements on Adobe's site, those are the minimums. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the operating system requirements and any other programs you expect to run at the same time.
I tend to see how long I can last with a system, as the change is not always a lot of fun (see some of my philosophy of upgrades blog), but my 5 year-old system that I am replacing was 2GB RAM and 4x 60GB hard drives. Granted, my demands are on the high end because of the work I do ... but RAM and hard drives these days are cheap.
You can see more of my recommendations in my building the ultimate machine blog. Just a few ideas (and gift ideas ;-).

12/7/2007 8:56:22 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Chuck,

While you can get by with your slower machine, it will be exasperating if you do a lot of post processing; esp when applying filters.
Adobe software designers built Adobe with a simple adage; "Gimme' memory!" LOL It's a memory hog to be sure!

Getting too much machine has diminishing returns. (i.e) You could spend thousands on the latest whiz bang nitrogen cooled blah blah blah and NOT run any faster then a good solid MAC or PC running at 3 Ghz w/ 4mb of RAM.

There are many computers out there, good to go; for around $600-$1000.

Is it "The Ultimate machine?" No; of course not, but I am sure it is far and wide much better than 5 yr old technology.


all the best,

Pete

12/7/2007 4:53:42 PM

  Chuck,
I am running PSE since several years, right now 5.0 (don't find anything I want in 6.0) on a Dual Core CPU with 4 GB (the max under Vista Home), lots of disk andfind it finally quite pleasant. Upgrading the core and disks did not cost me a bomb anymore! And, I agree, especially some filters are CPU killers!
Enjoy and have fun!

12/11/2007 7:49:48 AM

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Photography Question 
Joan E. Herwig
joan-e-photography.com

member since: 4/1/2005
  2 .  How to Make a Copyright Symbol
How do I make a copyright symbol with my computer to put on a card?

8/3/2007 8:52:08 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  I think it's 0935 while holding the alt key down.
But any program can make it with any kind of font with a circle and C

8/3/2007 11:56:09 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Try This Link

8/4/2007 1:20:59 AM

  I've got a BetterPhoto article about this, but essentially:
Mac: Press Option+G
PC: Hold down the ALT key and press 0,1,6,9 on the number pad and then release the ALT key.
You can also copy/paste:

8/4/2007 8:33:53 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Then again it could be some other combination of numbers.

8/4/2007 4:20:22 PM

  Gregory, If I were on a PC right now I'd try that out to see what it pulls up, but I'm afraid of the bogeyman.

Standard character sets will have 256 characters (including 31 invisibles and such), so mostly you won't go beyond 0,2,5,6...but I don't think I've ever tested past there.

Some other common ones I use:
0151 emdash
0149 bullet

but here's a full list:
http://charlie.balch.org/asp/ascii.asp

8/4/2007 5:47:21 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  No, the 0169 is right.
I was just making fun of being so off.

8/4/2007 6:27:23 PM

  Eventually we'll get our comedy in sync...I think the bogeyman keycode is 0666

8/4/2007 6:40:18 PM

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Photography Question 
Naomi Weiser
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Naomi
Naomi's Gallery

member since: 11/22/2005
  3 .  Difference Between Computer Monitors
I have noticed that when I look at my digital pictures on my computer screen they look great. But when I look at the same pictures on other screens/computers they don't look as good - the coloring is sometimes different. I know my equipment is not the latest and greatest, but short of buying a new screen, any suggestions as how to avoid this?

4/17/2007 3:17:10 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Naomi,
Trying to view your images on other monitors can be very frustrating since you have no control over someone else's equipment. What you can, and should, do is to make sure your monitor is correctly calibrated. There are several good hardware/software programs available to help you keep your monitor in calibration: I use Colorvision's Spyder 2. Do a google search on monitor calibration or search the Q&A here on BP for the same term for more info.
John

4/17/2007 6:04:23 AM

  Wow, thanks so much, a quick search shows me that I am not alone in my problem and there are solutions. I was just not searching for the right thing. Gotta love BP - every day I learn that there is always new things to learn :)

4/17/2007 10:51:44 AM

Michael A. Bielat
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/23/2007
  I learned the hard way and did all my photo editing on a "non-calibrated" monitor. I wanted the "cheap" way out and never found the funds to get a Spyder or Huey. I ended up getting one and am now slowly but surely re-editing ALL (yes, all) of my "keepers" to make them even better. Then I got to take them to the lab, again, and re-print them for my portfolio.

4/17/2007 12:12:49 PM

Gorham P. Miscall

member since: 1/13/2007
  Even with a calibrated monior you may still get some surprises/disappointment from your lab's printer. See if you can get the ICC Color Profile from your lab, and use that profile on your monitor. If you can't do that, tell the lab technician what ICC Color Profile you are using on your monitor, and perhaps they can match it on their printer before they reprint your images.
Gorham

4/25/2007 2:33:31 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Naomi, Gorham's advice is good. The first thing I did after getting my calibration program was to contact my online print service and asked them for the exact parameters I needed to set my images to before uploading. I don't get any surprises when my prints arrive now--not so before calibration.

John

4/25/2007 6:48:33 AM

  Thanks Guys, this is so helpful :)

4/25/2007 10:43:37 PM

Celeste McWilliams

member since: 7/20/2004
  Is the Spyder2 software airly user-friendly, and will it work on a laptop?

11/19/2007 5:34:03 PM

  Calibrating is the START of the process of communicating color between your monitor and printer or other devices -- and other computers. You really want to establish a full color workflow, starting with your camera.

* See the color right on screen
* Set up color management and choose a means of profiling
* Make corrections and repairs to optimize your images
* Test your process, adjust if necessary, and implement for all your photography

I cover all this in my From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow. I also recommend the Spyder Pro as I use it with great results, and it is an inexpensive and great way to calibrate.

It works with a laptop! You don't have to do much when using it but follow the instructions on screen.

Richard Lynch

11/20/2007 4:22:47 AM

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Photography Question 
Benjamin A. Leonido

member since: 6/14/2004
  4 .  Videocard for Laptops
I'm looking at buying a laptop for on-the-go photo editing, and I was wondering if a really good graphics card is necessary for photo editing or is it only necessary for 3d graphics editing?

6/23/2004 9:12:59 AM

Dave Cross

member since: 4/8/2004
  Hi Benjamin. It depends on exactly what you define as a "really good graphics card." As a minimum, you need 24 bit colour (48 bit if you like handling maximum quality TIFF files) with the highest resolution you can afford.

That said, I manage just fine with my old Dell Inspiron 8100 at 1600x1200 32 bit, although at only 1.2GHz, it is a little slow handling big TIFFs.

Most of the high-end laptops available today will do the job OK.

Watch your screen calibration, TFT/LCD displays are much harder to calibrate accurately than regular CRTs. For serious work you may want to get one of the calibration pucks that do the job automatically.

Cheers
DC

6/26/2004 11:05:07 AM

Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Hi Benjamin,

If money isn't a big factor, get an Apple iBook or Powerbook. The LCD displays are calibrated for photo/image work. The new systems come with FireWire and USB2.0 ports. There is a video port for connecting to an external CRT or LCD display for detailed work.

If you get the 14" iBook or the Powerbooks, you will also get DVD burning capability.

With Apple, you also get access to iPhoto, which is a pretty good photo organization tool.

Regardless, you will want to get a Spyder color meter to calibrate your display.

Generally, bit depth is the key thing. 2d acceleration helps you since applications take advantage of it to display information more efficiently and thus more quickly.

Your biggest concern, after the display, should be the amount of memory you have. Go with 512MB or more. I would recommend 1GB. You will appreciate the difference in responsiveness when working with large images or alot of images.

Wing Wong

6/30/2004 12:32:51 AM

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Photography Question 
D. Wesley Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2002
  5 .  Looking for photo editing notebook.
What is the best notebook for digital imaging? I would like to carry one with me on vacations and weekend trips. I have seen where some recommend the Imac but I am not that familiar with it. In short what brand and how much memory, gigs, etc. do I need to have a good system?

11/25/2002 5:41:11 PM

Judith A. Clark

member since: 9/14/2002
  This is the question I was going to ask, I need something to take on location shoots, hopefully to download pics immediatly and save time in the order process.

11/26/2002 7:07:58 AM

D. Wesley Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2002
  Exactly what I had in mind. I would like to be able to work with my photos while on location. This way I will know if I "got the shot" or not.

11/26/2002 7:45:54 PM

Judith A. Clark

member since: 9/14/2002
  Ok so now that we are talking to each other and neither one knows what to look for I know I want a fast processor, and enough room to load the pictures quickly, I don't want to sit around all day waiting for a picture to open like I do on my poor old pc. I know I would like to have a cd/rw so I can save my pics to work with latter and not take up to much space. And I know I would like to stay under $2000.00
If anyone has a good prospect to look at please let us know.

11/26/2002 8:17:49 PM

D. Wesley Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2002
  I just received a mailing from Dell that has an Dell 2600 series notebook with Pentium 1.7m processor, CD-RW/DVD combo drive 30Gb drive and several other features for $1199 plus S/H. I am seriously considering it. What do you think? This is the best deal I have seen so far. I think this should be capable of handling what I have in mind. Any suggestions?

11/27/2002 10:21:53 AM

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Photography Question 
DL Bansemer

member since: 9/24/2000
  6 .  Best monitor for a Photoshop Photographer
I am in the process of buying a new screaming computer for my digital photography business, I'm still unsure about monitors. Could anyone using photoshop recommend a good quality monitor. I have been told to stay away from flat screen. Monitor calibration is a big issue and I want to get the most for my money.

Thank You
Deanna

8/7/2002 11:54:19 AM

W. L.

member since: 12/31/2004
  I would like an answer to your question
also? Mine just went out and I was looking at a flat panel and read that they could not produce the colors of the CRT's.

Wayne

12/31/2004 8:14:48 AM

  Deanna: You cannot go wrong with a ViewSonic Professional Series model. (CRT not LCD.)

Many dealers stock that brand.

http://www.viewsonic.com/products/desktopdisplays/crtmonitors/

Cheers! Peter

12/31/2004 10:08:30 AM

W. L.

member since: 12/31/2004
  Thanks Peter,

How does the X series compair to the P series?
For my use I have to decide is the LCD worth the extra cost even if all other things are equal. I do more with photos on the computer than anything else.
What do you use for photos?

Wayne

12/31/2004 3:53:35 PM

  Wayne: I never did any comparisons, but the ViewSonic PRO series was recommended by Tim Grey, author of the best book on color management.

That is what I use for image editing. Superb, especially when color calibrated with one of the Color Vision Spyder products. http://www.colorvision.com/products_adv.shtml

I would not consider an LCD monitor for image editing unless it was a high end one, designed specifically for that purpose.

Many LCD monitors are not as accurate as CRT re: color and contrast and brightness varies depending on the angle that you are viewing the screen.

Regards, Peter Burian

1/1/2005 7:54:25 AM

  Also see the discussion about LCD vs. CRT monitors at

http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=8875

Peter Burian

1/1/2005 8:50:17 AM

  Also see the discussion at http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=9408

About color calibrating your monitor.

Ignore the discussion about using the Epson 2200 printer unless you own that machine.

Peter Burian

1/1/2005 8:56:12 AM

John Wright

member since: 2/26/2004
  I've heard many photographers recommend LaCie monitors. I don't have personal experience with them, but I plan on looking into them further when the need arises...

LaCie monitors on yahoo

Hope that helps... :-)

1/1/2005 8:56:16 AM

  John: Yes, LaCie makes some of the best monitors for digital imaging.

Tim Grey also recommends those.

Regards, Peter Burian

1/1/2005 9:08:35 AM

John Wright

member since: 2/26/2004
  I currently use a ViewSonic (and have had good luck with it). I'll probably do a comparison between the ViewSonics and the LaCies when I need to (or am just ready to) replace my monitor...

1/1/2005 9:21:12 AM

Laura J. Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/1/2003
  Interesting trivia: SOME LaCie's are incompatible with Monaco software for calibration, a quirk that is fixable according to LaCie people.

1/4/2005 8:31:32 AM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I recently bought an LCD monitor which I'm planning to return! I really don't like it! Thanks for the advice guys!

1/4/2005 7:27:40 PM

Wayne l

member since: 3/2/2004
  Just got the LaCie electron blueIV 19" perfect flat CRT and for the first time the Auto Levels in Photoshop do something that looks close to a real photo. Before the colors went crazy.
The old monitor seemed to be fine until it started flickering & blinking . Although it seemed to boot sometimes nothing would come up on the monitor. I would shut down and reboot and it was fine. Finally it just quit-nothing and that solved my problems.
Now it boots everytime and the colors are great!
So "beware" a bad monitor even though working may look like a bad computer.

Wayne

1/24/2005 1:03:48 PM

Dave 

member since: 4/23/2005
  Just picked up the Dell Ultrasharp
1905FP LCD Monitor. Its way to bright
and can't be adjusted.It may have advantages for some applications but completely destroys my image collection,
yuk.

4/23/2005 5:35:27 PM

  Sounds Like Everyone Is Having Problems With LCD Screens,hu?
I Must Be Lucky For Once:-)
My Little Laptop Rules The Colors Are Spot On;-)
Im Thinking Its Your Video Card The Laptop Has a ATI Radeon In Chip Form And Is Superb!!

4/24/2005 8:45:36 AM

  I'm an Apple user and just love my 23 inch LCD cinema display I use Monaco's Monitor calibrator and Epson 24" in printer and also Fuji 4500 my colors on my monitor match my output exactly. I calibrate my monitor often.If uploading your photos to an online photo printing service make sure your digital camera's color profile is set to SRGB most most high end photo services use Kodak of Fuji etc use SRGB as a standard color profile.

4/25/2005 8:52:10 PM

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Photography Question 
Donald E. Murphy

member since: 3/9/2002
  7 .  Computer Purchase?
Anyone know what Type,Speed CPU is best for Photo editing. I considering buying a new computer. Since retiring my hobby now is scanning and storing family photos on CD's for future generations of my family. I have many photo's that are old (early 1900s) from grandparents and parents. I use Adobe PhotoShop 6.0 a memory hog. I don't want to invest alot of money then find out it's the wrong machine.

Thanks
Murph

3/9/2002 7:28:31 AM

Ken Pang

member since: 7/8/2000
  This one is always a problematic question, because it depends a lot on taste an preference. I always believe in getting good bang for the buck, so here's my suggestion:

1) Athlon XP system, using DDR Ram, the rationale being that you are moving large amounts of data, and you want to do it quickly. P4s with RAMBUS is also good, but anything using SDR (Celeron, Duron etc) are not good. While on the topic of RAM, it is so cheap these days, getting 512Mb will allow you to work on 3 or 4 photos simultaneously without slowing the computer to a halt. 256Mb, will let you work on one, two if you're lucky.

2) A fast 32Mb 2D card using AGP 4x. Once again, you want to move data to the screen quickly. A 3D card is not necessary and may cost you extra.

3) A 15" or larger TFT (Flat LCD) screen. This provides better colour accuracy and sharpness.

4) A 2 disk or greater RAID 0 disk sub system. (I personally used a 3 disk sub system as that's where the price performance break was) Scanned photos tend to get very large when scanned at high quality. Once again, you want data to move quickly. It is worth investing the extra $20 or so per drive to go to 7200rpm rather than settle for cheaper 5400rpm drives.

5) A decent scanner with a high contrast ratio capacity, a fine resolution and high quality glass. Test it out before you buy on several brightly coloured photos with very fine sharpness. Inspect the scans up very close. If the scan's aren't as good as you hoped, don't buy.

6) A good printer of at least 1200dpi. Many of them are reaching the point of true photo quality these days. Once again, test out the print. Some consideration may be put into a system with separate ink tanks, to save you money in the longer run. (You don't discard all 4 colours just because, say blue has run out)

If you must forfeit some quality for price, then this is the order I would do it in, if I were you:

1) Screen. (Chose a good CRT instead of a TFT screen)

2) Disk. Use a single drive system instead of a RAID Array. Still choose 7200Rpm drives though.

3) CPU speed.

I would advocate that you don't sacrafice on the scanner or the printer. After all, I would rather wait an extra few minutes for a good quality print while I was working on it, than speed up my processing for a poor quality print.

Just an opinion though. Interesting to see other's.

3/9/2002 9:25:08 AM

doug Nelson
DougNelsonPhoto.com

member since: 6/14/2001
  To start out, I'd get a 40 gig hard drive. You may want to partition that hard drive and allow all of the second piece to serve as scratch disc for Photoshop. Or, as Ken says, you might want to install a second hard drive.
Don't leave a lot of images hanging around on your hard drive. Once you have them the way you want them, archive them to CD, delete them, then defrag your hard drive.

Ken's dead on right about 512 on the RAM.
A Pentium 3 processor works fine for me.

If I had to buy a scanner, I'd look at Epson first. I have a large bed Umax, however, that has been just fine. That 14-inch bed saves some piecemeal scanning, if you have big prints to scan.

Be sure all of your stuff works with the operating system you have, before you buy. Microsoft has, once again, put a product (XP) on the market in haste. Some scanners won't work with XP.

I like the Epson printers. If you want to print larger than 8 x10, look at their 1280.
An additional tip for ya, Murph, as I'm your age and doing the same kind of project. Look at FlipAlbum CD as a means of making a CD slide show,with text, and music. See flipalbum.com.

3/9/2002 4:47:00 PM

Jean-Claude Boulay

member since: 5/10/2002
  Hello All,

I would NOT recommend the Epson Stylus 1280 since it takes an unbelievable 22 minutes to print a full-page photo. I would try to find one that print a full page under 8 minutes.

See test results below

http://www.techtv.com/products/hardware/jump/0,23009,3319421,00.html

Thanks
JCboulay

5/11/2002 2:49:40 PM

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Photography Question 
Jeanette L. McLatchie

member since: 1/23/2002
  8 .  Digital Slide Show
I'm buying a new computer and I need hardware advice. I want to present my digital photgraphs to groups. Should I save the files to my harddrive and create a slide show on my monitor or should I save the files to a DVD and present them on the TV? What do you recommend and why?

1/23/2002 3:59:51 PM

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