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Thread: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

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    Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    I am looking to buy a photo editing pc for a friend, whether it is a self-build or from a manufacturer. He has been taking photos on a high quality SLR previously and is now buying the Canon 1Ds MKIII DSLR (which is 21Mp and takes 60Mb RAW files), he has not done any computer based photography before at all, purely film (he is buying a £500 film scanner to start transferring information to digital). However, I had a few questions about the specifications of it.

    I am aiming for either E6750 or Q6600?
    4Gb RAM (hence 64bit Vista Premium)
    Fairly standard graphics (onboard sound) (8600GT or something...)
    Very nice screen - 20 or 22inches?
    Spyder monitor calibration device.

    This was where I have got to so far. Can I please have some thoughts/recommendations as I know very little about photo editing but a good amount about computers.


    2x LN16546 500 GB Samsung HD501LJ Spinpoint T166, SATA II, 7200 rpm, 16MB Cache, 8.9 ms, £51.07 £120.01
    LN20809 256MB Gainward 8600GT Bliss, PCI-E (x16), Mem 1800MHz, GDDR3, GPU 625MHz, D-Sub / DVI-I, HDMI, HDTV £66.99 £78.71
    LN19398 MSI P35 NEO2-FR, iP35, S 775, PCI-E (x16), DDR2 1066/667/800, SATA II, SATA RAID, ATX £57.89 £68.02
    LN20707 Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600 G0 SLACR, 95W, S775, 2.40 GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 8MB Cache, OEM £132.19 £155.32
    LN13700 700W Xclio X12S4P4 Modular SLi U-Quiet 14cm Fan 87%+ Efficiency Quad+12v EPS 4SATA 4 PCI-E £54.95 £64.57
    2x LN14277 2GB (2x1GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800), 240 Pins, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 4-4-4-12 £37.99 £89.28
    LN18567 Xclio 6030 PLUS Black Midi Tower Case with 36cm Side Panel Fan w/o PSU £28.95 £34.02
    LN16112 Microsoft Desktop 3000 Cordless Keyboard, USB 1.1, 800dpi Optical Mouse, Silver/Black £17.20 £20.21
    LN8306 Creative Inspire SBS560 5.1 Speaker System 70W Total System Power! £29.99 £35.24
    LN18603 22" LG L226WTQ ,Silver/Black , Widescreen ,2 ms , DVI/VGA ,1680x1050 ,3000:1 £159.99 £187.99

    Thank you very much

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Don't make a cracking system only to skimp on the screen. He's doing photography, so it has to be the primary item to consider. Everything else comes after it. Don't get a TN screen like the one you've specced - he'll want something for quality, not for gaming. You can spend thousands on monitors for a good reason - obviously I'm not suggesting he does, as frankly it's not representative of the quality you're getting, but get something like the 30" Dell or Apple Cinema HD if you can possibly afford it - he'll appreciate the 2560x1600 resolution when he's post processing images of that size.

    He'll very quickly fill those 500gb drives with the 1Ds MKIII too.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Hi

    I'm a member of a camera club and we have all switched to digital. The following are my initial thoughts:

    1. I don't recognise the hardware you describe (I'm not that technical) but most of us use fairly basic computers. We don't need the fast graphics that gamers need. Photo editing is a much slower and considered process. I bought mine from PC World!
    2. You will definitely need the appropriate software. The gold standard is Adobe Photoshop CS3. This is a 'must have'. There are other packages available, but if your friend is splashing out on a high end camera, he should have this software, to start at least. He can add other software later for specialised purposes.
    3. Back-up is critical and will to a large extent mean that massive hard drives are not necessary. Consider external hard drives, not DVDs.
    4. I use a 17 inch LCD screen, which is too small. A 20 or 24 inch will be adequate. I know someone who has recently researched the market and bought a Benq 24 inch for photo editing. It was not cheap! But it is very good.
    5. Your friend will need a good quality photo printer. Suggest an Epsom 2400.
    6. Matching the appearance on screen with the appearance on paper is the most difficult to achieve. The Spyder is essential. But also is a professional printer profile. Mine was done by Fotospeed - free if you buy their paper.
    7. After your friend has some experience, he will need to consider continuous ink flow systems to dramatically reduce ink costs. There are various on the market - but read the reviews!

    I think that covers the essentials. Do urge your friend to join his local camera club. He will get all the help he needs from the members.

    Good luck.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    He is getting Photoshop CS3, Lightroom and Vista 64bit as software, separately budgeted.

    I will definitely knock £50 off the CPU price to get a more basic C2D processor from your recommendations.

    I specified two 500Gb drives but intend to add a third as RAID 5 backup.

    I hadnt considered the screen as such an expensive part of the system, I dont think I can go near 30inch cost wise but will obviously now splash out on a better screen. This one looks incredible but dont think I can spend quite that much Benq FP241W 24" Widecreen TFT Monitor 1920x1200 1000:1 500cd/m2 6ms DVI HDMI Silver & Black3 Years Warranty - Ebuyer do you have any slightly cheaper recommendations? 22inch maybe?

    I was looking at the Spyder - dabs.com - ColorVision Spyder 2 Suite (S2100)
    I cant see any real advantages of going to the pro version....

    He was actually going to get the Epson 2400 from what I can remember but was not going to go for the continuous flow ink yet.

    Thanks for your replies so far.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Hello

    The FP241W is a suitable screen but none of the 22" screens are really suitable as they do not accurately display colours. This is a function of the panel type (TN) whereas the most suitable panels are SIPS or PVA normally found in 20" or 24"+ displays.

    Backup would be better if it was a separate system eg an external USB drive or NAS. If a disaster strikes the main system it could take out or corrupt all the drives.

    I guess you have to go with Vista these days but I found XP Pro with 2Gb snappier than Vista 64 with 4Gb.

    Back to the screen as this_is_gav said it is by far the most important item so skimp somewhere else if you can and get at least a 24" SIPS/PVA display.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Quote Originally Posted by explicitlyrics View Post
    I hadnt considered the screen as such an expensive part of the system, I dont think I can go near 30inch cost wise but will obviously now splash out on a better screen. This one looks incredible but dont think I can spend quite that much Benq FP241W 24" Widecreen TFT Monitor 1920x1200 1000:1 500cd/m2 6ms DVI HDMI Silver & Black3 Years Warranty - Ebuyer do you have any slightly cheaper recommendations? 22inch maybe?
    As far as I'm aware all 22" panels are TN, and are frankly useless unless their primary use is gaming. They just don't cut it for creative work.

    My camera is 'only' 10mp, I'm running at 1920x1200 and wish I had more to play with. He'll be knocking his head off the wall if he's limited to 1680x1050 with that 21mp camera! Just to keep this in perspective, 21mp is 5632x3750. 1680x1050 trying to edit 5632x3750 would put you right off post-processing and perhaps even digital photography in my opinion. If he can't afford a better screen then I think he ought to reconsider the camera he's intending to use, or certainly have the limitations of the set up reiterated.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    if he can afford £5k+ for a camera and lenses, then he can afford £1200 for a proper monitor, something like EIZO ColorEdge CG241W-BK PC Monitor from MacWarehouse

    btw, the Spyder 3 Pro is now out, which is supposed to be much improved over the spyder 2
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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Hi

    In reviewing the various replies you've had I am struck by the emphasis on buying only the best, and at a high price. There is a problem in keeping things in perspective when planning to invest in quality equipment when success depends more on art than science.

    I would ask, initially, what digital experience your friend has, and what does he see as his objective? If he is a 'digital novice', I would recommend he buys adequate kit and learns the trade for a year or two before splashing out on expensive kit. If he is already digitally experienced and wants to earn serious money as a professional, then go for it!

    For example, Lightbox to some extent overlaps Photoshop, but is primarily a workflow and image management package for professional photographers dealing with large numbers of images. I would class this as secondary to Photoshop in priority and only to be purchased when the need is clearly understood.

    If your friend has no experience of Photoshop, I suggest it will require many months of study to become 'technically proficient' and all I know are still on the learning curve after several years.

    I will emphasise two points ; the monitor and calibration - inextricably linked.

    I would definitely go for a 24". I know a professional photographer with the 24" Benq I mentioned, and he is delighted with it for high end image editing. Another friend has a 20" Dell 2007WFP that was recommended in Digital Photography a few months ago. He wishes he had bought the 24" version. Check the reviews via Google before buying.

    The issue of camera resolution vs monitor resolution can be misleading. In reality, you really don't want to be able to see on screen every pixel the camera records.

    Of critical importance is calibration of the monitor (using the Spyder) and calibration of the printer with a professional profile. You can buy the most expensive kit in the world, but if you have not calibrated it, you will be frustrated and disillusioned. The converse is true; calibrate a low cost kit and you will be delighted with the result.

    Ultimately, your friend's success will depend on whether he has a good photographic 'eye'. The most expensive of kit will never compensate for a poorly 'seen' image. And I would say that digital photography is far removed from silver-based photography (for many reasons) and is a skill that has to be re-learned, at least from my experience.

    I am aware that much of what I've written can be subjective, and opinions can vary. I am also concerned that your friend should not try to run before he can walk ... If you want to contact me privately, please feel free.

    Good luck

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    *nod*

    But then again if he's got the money, then it's up to him.

    But yes, if he's just after the biggest and best, then he would be better off dropping down to a 40D and buying more lenses/tripod/camerabag/thermal gear for winter etc
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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Hi

    I agree with Stoo's response. But that opens up a whole new aspect to the discussion. As your friend has experience of photography in general, he will know the importance of quality lenses, focal lengths, accessories etc. I have assumed that part of the decision-making process is decided.

    The point is well made, however. Beyond a certain expenditure (actually, quite modest), the incremental benefits of extra spending diminish rapidly. I wonder what others would put as this basic cost?

    Good luck

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Have been away for a week but got back this morning and placed the order this afternoon. I spoke to my friend and he agreed to go for the Benq FP241W and Spyder 3 Pro (plus Epson R2400 printer profiling) which I found for a pretty awesome price of £505inc. I really hope this will keep him satisfied in the short-term. I can see where you are coming from about spending a large percentage of camera cost on the monitor, however, the image editing that he will start with will probably be overall image effects rather than separate areas. Hence I think it should be ok for him.

    Have also decided to go with XP Pro rather than Vista as so many people have complained about the speed of Vista still. I think he will also appreciate knowing a reasonable amount about the OS, hence being a little kick-start for him. Though I have left 4gb of RAM in the machine as that way it is all set for Vista when he decides to change.

    I dropped the processor to an E6750 rather than a Q6600 which now that I look at it again should be ample.

    I went for 4 500Gb Samsung drives, though I have not decided how to split it up yet - either RAID0 (1000gb) or RAID5 (1500gb)...



    THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your responses, they have been very helpful.

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    RAID0 would be 2000gb. I assume you meant RAID1?

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Sorry, indeed I did mean RAID1, my touch typing is still improving :-p

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    how about a mac

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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Quote Originally Posted by explicitlyrics View Post
    =====snip

    I specified two 500Gb drives but intend to add a third as RAID 5 backup.

    snip=====
    Don't confuse RAID with backup - the two are quite different. He probably doesn't need RAID (which is for uptime/resiliance - but he will need offline storage for the native image files. some form of network drive would be good for that. However he also needs to consider archive storage too. Hard drives can be used, as can DVDs - however he might want to consider tape. The initail outlay is quite high for a tape drive, but the cost/megabyte for tapes is quite low, and they are probably the most robust method of staorage there is. Easily portable and duplicated for off site storage. Unfortunately most tape drives are SCSI - which adds to the overall cost.
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    Re: Buying a photo editing PC for a friend

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb View Post
    Don't confuse RAID with backup - the two are quite different. He probably doesn't need RAID (which is for uptime/resiliance - but he will need offline storage for the native image files. some form of network drive would be good for that. However he also needs to consider archive storage too. Hard drives can be used, as can DVDs - however he might want to consider tape. The initail outlay is quite high for a tape drive, but the cost/megabyte for tapes is quite low, and they are probably the most robust method of staorage there is. Easily portable and duplicated for off site storage. Unfortunately most tape drives are SCSI - which adds to the overall cost.


    As far as I am concerned the biggest problem for him is if one hard drive fails and he loses 500gb worth of photos. The chances of both failing, within the time frame of ordering a replacement is not particularly large. The backup option with off-site storage would be nice but the only real things he has to worry about for that is theft (pretty unlikely) or fire (in which case he will have far bigger things to worry about since he will have no house!). Hence I think RAID is quite a good way of keeping backups of loads of photos (especially given the hassle of burning tons of DVD's - I've done it once but not again - they are not a reliable enough storage medium at all).

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