BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Digital Cameras and Accessories : Computers and Peripherals

Photography Question 
Donald E. Murphy

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.


To love this question, log in above
3/9/2002 7:28:31 AM

Ken Pang   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.

To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2002 9:25:08 AM

doug Nelson   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

To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2002 4:47:00 PM

Jean-Claude Boulay   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,23009,3319421,00.html


To love this comment, log in above
5/11/2002 2:49:40 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.